Posts Tagged SUV

Other People’s Cars: GMC Jimmy

GMC JimmyI was out with my non-smartphone again, so I don’t have a photo of my latest find. So you’ll have to use your imagination to conjure an image of a GMC Jimmy like the one above, but with dark blue paint and blacked-out trim, sitting on Bank Street in New Milford, Connecticut, the same street that was filled with Corvettes for the ending of Mr. Deeds.

The Jimmy was a copy of the Chevrolet Blazer. Like the Chevy, it started out as a shortened two-door pickup with a removable top, making it a de facto SUV. Both models eventually left General Motors’ full-size truck chassis behind, downsizing to the compact Chevy S-10/GMC Sonoma chassis.

The Jimmy had to change over the years as the idea of a convertible SUV fell out of favor (weird, right?), but now that idea is coming back.

Everyone laughed when Nissan came out with the Murano CrossCabriolet, but is it really any more ridiculous than this roofless wonder? The GMC gets a bit of a pass for having genuine off-road capability; it’s following the precedent set by the Jeep CJ and Land Rover Series I.

The Murano is a road-going crossover, so it can’t claim that inspiration. Neither can crossover “coupes” like the BMW X6 and Range Rover Evoque, although the latter at least looks good and has some off-road abilities.

That’s a problem, because removing the “utility” from SUV didn’t work for the Jimmy or its brethren. Vehicles like the Jimmy, Blazer, Ford Bronco, and International Scout were popular because they’re optional tops made them more practical than open-bed pickups trucks.

Once SUVs diverged from pickups and became more refined, the appeal dissipated. That’s why the two-door SUV is nearly extinct.

Will the newer, more car-like crossovers turn this niche around? It’s hard to tell, but the Murano CrossCabriolet definitely won’t look as cool in 45 years as this GMC does now.

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Comic Book Cars: Acura MDX

SHIELD Acura MDXContinuing this week’s Avengers theme, I thought I’d take a look at this bruiser of an SUV. It’s actually an Acura MDX, the car Westchester moms drive to the mall. However, it has been rebuilt by S.H.I.E.L.D., the top secret security agency that watches over the United States in the Marvel Comics universe. That’s quite an endorsement, huh?

Acura has always been a low profile brand; even the current spaceship-like TL fails to turn heads. That’s why Acura is taking over the Marvel universe. Last year, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents chased Thor around a desert in a fleet of Acura SUVs. Honda’s luxury division returned as the official car of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Avengers.

This was actually a brilliant move. It got Acura plenty of exposure (Avengers broke the record for highest gross on opening weekend), particularly with an untapped market segment: nerds. Nerds generally aren’t car enthusiasts, so they don’t have any preconceived notions about the brand. They also like technology, which Acura has plenty of. They are also more than likely to buy a car just because Nick Fury drives it.

Does the car fit the role? Acuras look suitably futuristic, befitting an agency that has a helicarrier, and they look downright awesome decked out the way this show model is. Is it odd that S.H.I.E.L.D. has Japanese luxury vehicles when every other government has Fords and Chevys?

Sure, but this is a comic book movie. As long as the Avengers beat the bad guys, all be well. If anyone happens to notice the black SUVs in the background, Acura might make a few extra sales.

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