2012 Chevrolet SuburbanEnlarge Photo
We don’t generally think about history when it comes to family vehicles. Maybe we should. Here we take a look at four family vehicles with the longest continuous production. Besides weathering the whims of the marketplace, myriad design changes, economic booms and busts, these family vehicles prove that some things really still are great after all these years.
The list of family haulers with the longest-running, non-stop production has one nameplate right at the top: the Chevrolet Suburban. In fact, the Suburban has been doing herculean duty for more than 75 years, dating back to its 1935 introduction as a 1936 model year Suburban Carryall, a unique half-ton truck with seating for eight. Over the seven-plus decades since, the Suburban has continued to serve families with distinction. With seating for up to nine, the ability to tow a large boat or trailer, haul building supplies or home improvement materials and landscaping items all in the same day, the Chevrolet Suburban simply does it all. Sure, it eats more gas than those cute crossovers with all their techo-goodies and aerodynamic curves, but when it comes down to a family vehicle that really delivers, for what it is, you can’t beat a Suburban.
2012 Dodge Grand CaravanEnlarge Photo
Going back to 1983, the 1984 Dodge Caravan, in front-wheel drive configuration, ushered in the age of the minivan and the demise (at the time) of the family station wagon. Featuring three rows of forward-facing seats, sliding doors perfect for easy exit in tight parking places, and terrific cargo capacity to boot, the Dodge Caravan simply filled the bill for many American families. Fast-forward to today and the Dodge Grand Caravan still offers spacious utility and comfort for families up to seven passengers, plus many more bells and whistles designed to please Mom, Dad and assorted kids or other family members.
2012 Ford ExplorerEnlarge Photo
Although not the first sport-utility available, when the Ford Explorer came on the scene in 1990 as a 1991 model, it nevertheless did take the market by storm. Ford says that the Explorer’s debut marked the transition of SUVs from a “specialized, functional truck to comfortable, versatile and affordable family vehicle.” Redesigned in 2011 as a crossover, the latest Explorer hit the 100,000 sales mark in October, 2011, making Explorer the fastest-growing mid-size utility in the country. For 2012, the Explorer offers seating for up to seven, up to 81 cubic feet of cargo capacity, class-leading safety, and plenty of entertainment, infotainment and other family-friendly features. Read a more in-depth review of the 2012 Ford Explorer here.
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8Enlarge Photo
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Cherokee was in its tenth model year and consumers were flocking to buy rival Ford Motor Company’s Explorer, introduced in 1990. Jeep decided it was time to respond with a competitive vehicle and the Jeep Grand Cherokee bowed in 1993. Bigger inside than the smaller Cherokee, but offering a smooth highway ride and the legendary Jeep off-road capability, the Grand Cherokee solidified the Jeep lineup and provided families with an alternative to the Ford Explorer. That competition continues today, with the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee offering best-in-class towing of up to 7,400 pounds, 45 standard and available safety features, and comfort and convenience amenities galore. It’s still a Jeep, but offering families the best of both worlds: on- and off-road.
It’s also worth mentioning that three of these vehicles are 2011 Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: the 2012 Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Grand Caravan.