What was the first sport-utility vehicle as we now understand the genre? Any answer is bound to be controversial, but the Willys-Overland, produced from 1946 through 1962, and the Jeep Wagoneer, its successor from 1963 through 1991, stand out as some of the earliest fully off-road capable four-wheel drive vehicles civilized enough for everyday use in town. The Willys-Overland, while having only two doors, even had a seven-passenger capacity thanks to a jump seat behind the second-row bench. When it debuted in 1984, the Jeep Cherokee offered four doors as well as the then-standard two, and was designed to be as capable in the city as it was off road.
Interestingly, despite the SUV boom of the 1990s, fueled in large part by vehicles like Jeep's own Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, the Wagoneer was the last large Jeep. It's taken until now, with the 2006 Jeep Commander, to fill that void in the lineup.
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Source: The Auto Channel