Ready for a Comeback: Five 2000s SUVs That Need Another Chance
While these days it feels like automakers are releasing new SUV and crossover models all the time, there are actually a many once-popular and notable SUV models that are no longer on the market. Most of these were made during the 2000s, which was another era of high SUV sales eventually brought to an end by the dual barriers of skyrocketing gas prices and a sputtering economy.
But given how much the automakers like to play into the idea of "heritage" and bringing back familiar names from the past, we've come up with five discontinued SUVs and crossovers that would likely be welcomed back with open arms to today's market.
Nissan has been leaning hard into its heritage lately, and both its new Frontier pickup and Pathfinder crossover have been seriously improved. What Nissan's lineup still lacks is proper body-on-frame SUV to compete with the Toyota 4Runner.
The formula for this one would be pretty simple, as this vehicle would basically be a Frontier with an SUV body. And while it was only sold for two generations, the Xterra nameplate would be a perfect one to bring back for this vehicle.
This next one is a bit confusing because Chevy recently brought back the Trailblazer name for its new subcompact crossover offering, but name aside it shares nothing from the GMT360 Trailblazer that was sold from 2002-2009.
It'd likely need a new name, but a proper successor to the original Trailblazer would be an SUV based on the Colorado pickup featuring body-on-frame construction and all of the hardware that's made that truck so popular. It would stand-out from GM's car-based crossovers while also being a lot smaller and cheaper than a Chevy Tahoe.
Of all the vehicles on the list, this one is probably the biggest longshot—but it's also one of the most interesting. Although not nearly as popular as its rivals from Toyota and Nissan the Mitsubishi Montero nonetheless earned plenty of fans prior to being discontinued in the US in 2006.
Other parts of the world continued to get their own Montero up until this year, and with the alliance between Mitsubishi and Nissan, a modern Montero or Montero Sport could possibly work as a Mitsubishi version of the Nissan Pathfinder (or a reborn Xterra).
With brands like Subaru showing that "active' vehicles are more popular than ever, the timing seems right for Honda to take another go at the Element. The boxy, funky Element was sold between 2003 and 2011 and is easily on the most recognizable crossovers of the 2000s.
There are many different ways Honda could go with a new Element, from a boxier, more rugged version of the CRV to an outdoorsy electrified or hybrid vehicle. It seems like an easy hit.
Toyota FJ Cruiser
Speaking of an easy hit, perhaps no vehicle on this list has a better chance at being a slam dunk than a new version of the Toyota FJ Cruiser—and for proof all you only need to look at the prices of used FJ Cruisers.
For Toyota the playbook should be simple. Do what Ford has done with the new Bronco by taking an existing pickup/SUV platform adding a retro-styled body and a ton of off-road capability. And especially with the Land Cruiser now gone from Toyota's American lineup, this would a great time for a return of the FJ.
Nostalgia has been a big part of the auto market for a long time, and it will be interesting to see if and when that movement grows to includes SUVs from the 2000s. As you can see, there's plenty of potential there.
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