Chrysler, now FCA North America, has a long history of producing solid SUVs. This article takes a look at the top vintage models.
It could easily be argued that Chrysler has the richest SUV history in the automotive world. Of course, the Jeep and Dodge brand names fall under the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) umbrella, so the presence of their many model SUVs certainly helps that argument. No matter where you live across the United States, you won't have to travel far down any road to spot an SUV that has been born out of one of the FCA product lines. Below, we have collected a list of five of the most important SUV models in the history of Chrysler.
This is the only place for this list to start. Sure, this is not the oldest Jeep SUV—not by a long shot—but it is the one most people would associate with the Jeep brand when they see one driving down the road. First on sale in 1986 for the 1987 model year, the Wrangler is still going strong after three decades on the market. Millions of Wranglers have been sold since this versatile and rugged vehicle first became available.
One of the incredible attributes of the Wrangler, and one of the many reasons for its popularity, is its versatility. Over the years, the Wrangler has been offered in an incredible number of different transmission, engine, and body style configurations. It would be an exaggeration to say that no two Wranglers are exactly alike, but you can certainly find a model to suit just about any need.
First-Generation Dodge Ramcharger
The Ramcharger was an SUV sold under the Dodge name beginning in 1974. In addition, there was a similar vehicle sold under the Plymouth badge, which was called the Trailduster. Either way, these were interesting early SUVs that competed directly with other makes of the time, such as the Ford Bronco, the International Scout and the Chevy Blazer.
Incredibly, early Ramchargers could be purchased without a top. If a roof was desired, there were options for either a fabric top or a removable steel roof. V8 engines powered all versions of the first-gen Ramcharger. This model line would go on to have an impressively long lifespan, finally with production ceasing in 2002.
If you are interested in the history of the SUV—and, indeed, the history of the automobile as a whole—few have more to offer than the Jeep CJ. This is a predecessor to the Wrangler, and it is one of the most important automobiles in history. Originally the Willys Jeep, this vehicle was a critical part of the WWII effort. As the war concluded, the vehicle was manufactured for the civilian market. While it took a few years for this vehicle to find its niche from a commercial perspective, it would eventually gain popularity. For instance, well over 100,000 of the Willys-Overland CJ-3A models were sold during its run from 1949-1953.
It might not have anywhere near the history as some of the models within the Jeep line, but the Dodge Durango has played an important role on the roads of America nonetheless. The Durango has been produced for 20 years, with the first models coming available in 1997. Well over a million Durangos have been sold in that time, with the popularity of the vehicle peaking in the early 2000s. The current iteration of this SUV is closely related to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and is offered with either a V6 or V8 engine.
Few American automobiles have remained mostly unchanged for as long as the legendary Jeep Wagoneer. This was the first vehicle to bring the concept of luxury to the SUV world. The run of the Wagoneer stretched from its beginnings in 1963 all the way to 1991. In the early days of the SUV, all of the other model options on the market were created as work vehicles first and foremost. The Waggoneer, however, went in a different direction, providing owners with a more comfortable ride, an automatic transmission, and more.