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Discussion Starter #1
Let's be honest; I think everyone here knows our vehicles get labled as "Cute Utes" by most of the public.

I personally believe the Tracker/Sidekick kicked off this craze because it was a little SUV capable of doing so much, was fuel efficient, and didn't cost you your first born to purchase. Seemingly they were everywhere and soon to follow was the Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, and ultimately (albeit much later) the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner/Mazda Tribute triplets.

One could argue the likes of the Ford Bronco II, or the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer as the beginning, but those are a bit bigger and relied on larger powertrains to propel them.

One could also argue it was the Suzuki Samurai that started it all but, at least in these parts, they never really caught on.

Would most of you agree with this? If not, what vehicle do you believe kicked off the craze?
 

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I always considered the army Jeep to have started it all, as it went to a Willys and CJ. They were small and narrow and had 4 cylinder engines as stock too. Then came the Wrangler which was more stable on the highway. Same to me as how the Sammy went to the more stable Sidekick/Tracker. I always considered the Suzuki as a direct competitor to the Jeep, but like most imports they are smaller and lighter but more efficient than their American competitors.

BTW I've never had anybody call mine "cute". But I've had several people come up and say things like "those are so fun, I used to have one and went all these places with it".
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I hadn't considered the Willy's Jeep but good thinking. The only reason I ruled our the Wrangler was because for what they were, they were expensive to buy and even though that paticular style had been around since WWII, their popularity seemed to be kept at bay.

I remember looking at a brand new Tracker convertible, loaded up for $13,000. At that time the Wranglers were starting at $18,000. Frankly I think the Tracker could do everything the base Wrangler at the time could do, and probably better. Chrysler 2.4 motors were garbage and prone to sludging.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
FJ40, another good thought. I've actually never been up close and personal with one. I've seen pics and even had a matchbox car of one when I was a kid. lol

Most people around here scoff at Trackers/Sidekicks until I'm passing them climbing the snowy hill out of town, then they wish they had one too. There are a few folks around me that swear by them though. I tell everyone give them a chance, you'd be suprised. I sure was! Most people here feel they are girly SUVs but I think that's starting to change as I see MANY guys driving them now.
 

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I. H. Scout II
 

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My 1st 4WD was a 1989 Toyota 4Runner SR5 V6 auto. 89 was the last year they made the removable tops.

The Pros were an awesome suspension for off or on road - it loved snow much more than me.

The Cons - definitely waay overpriced and serviced by arrogant dealers who either didn't know their warranty or were stealing money from their customers.

While the Track/kick also has Pros/Cons it is/was much more affordable but almost a disposable type vehicle. I will say the 2 Door models besides also having an awesome 4WD with a short wheelbase which comes in handy in the woods for turning around. The Track/kick is kept alive by the enthusiast on this site.

What attracted me was the very low resale value when I bought my 1st 95 2D Tracker - white convertible w/AC for $1800.

You can't buy an ATV for that OR legally drive that ATV on the road to work or shopping. The added bonus over an ATV is it has heat AND a windshield. They remind me some of the VW kit cars of days gone by.

But as many know from the passion on this site the Track/kicks boxy looks and features are almost addictive. Esp. once you have driven one.

I don't care for wiki sites but will link a couple here for ref. only but they may not be accurate.

Not linked here but I recall that Toyota made a 4WD Van back in the 70's. AND a 4WD Corolla was avail in some markets but apparently NOT the US.

According to this the 4Runner only goes back to 1984
Toyota 4Runner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

According to this one the long forgotten AMC Eagle goes back to 1979
AMC Eagle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A first in mass production passenger cars,[7][8] the early AMC Eagles came with a true full-time automatic system that operated only in permanent all-wheel drive. The four-wheel drivetrain added approximately 300 pounds (136 kg) to the Eagle's curb weight.[4] The AMC Eagles were also the first mass-produced U.S. four-wheel-drive vehicles with an independent front suspension.[2]
It seems it was more ON-Road than Off.

Anyone here ever have an Eagle or Toyota Van?
 

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Wiki the Suzuki Jimny and it is a striking parallel to the Willys/CJ since the 60s. That became the SJ30/40 which became the Sammy. Suzuki was competition all along but because of the tough availability in the USA they never really caught on.

Around here, any decent sized town had a Ford, GM, or Chrysler dealer and many also sold AMC/Jeep. But if you wanted an import you had to really go seek it out, then you pretty much had to go seek out a dealer if you needed it worked on. Then being looked down on for driving an import. (It's what's on the outside that counted, considering that Chrysler used some Mitsubishi engines and some Fords were rebadged Mazdas....) Even to this day I go into parts stores and can get almost anything for my old GMs off the shelf, but almost anything for the Tracker or other import is special order. Heck 10 years ago I had a coworker with a newer Hyundai Sonata and the nearest rear brake rotor was $90 and 200 miles away.

I don't really consider the Tracker/Sidekick a totally new vehicle when it came out, I think of it as just a next generation Sammy. But what WAS new was Geo, and GM's involvement with CAMI and getting the Tracker sold at the GM dealers that were everywhere. And driving one was more American since after all it did come from a GM dealer, even if it was a rebadged Suzuki. So I think these vehicles were here all along, but the comment about it taking GM's money to get them popular in the USA is right on. I think that also explains why even though they are basically equal, I see 10 Trackers for every Sidekick I see.

Around here if there's anything old and 4WD its most always Ford or GM or Jeep. I've seen a small handful of Gen 1 Trackers over the last year. But if it weren't for GM, I think Trackicks would pretty much be long since forgotten. I don't think there was ever a cute ute craze here. Maybe in a sunny coastal city but not here. Trackers here are primarily used as a light narrow capable off roader that is road legal, same use as a Jeep. Yes smaller and lighter than a Jeep but even a Jeep is small compared to the full size pickups that rule this 4x4 world otherwise. Finding a Tracker that hasn't been chopped up in some way is rare.

I've only seen a few of the Toyota vans ever, and never been in one. Always wondered what it was like to work on, with the engine flat under the floor. But I knew many people with AMC Eagles, they were popular here. Yes it was designed for on-road, that's clear by the full time AWD system. I think it was really the first crossover type vehicle (car based but with ground clearance and AWD.)
 

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I had a first year AMC Eagle (2dr) Bought it to pull snowmobiles. Now the "me" problem...lol! I trashed that thing, treated it like a off rd vehicle. lol

Then while selling cars one came in on trade (Yellow lol) I bought that one also to pull my sleds that winter... then promptly sold it.

Also had a 77 CJ5 and a 78 Chevy stepside. Now that I don't tow much my little Kick and the CJ5 were the funnest.

The little Kick always gets ... " that thing made it thru that" :cool:
 

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I plowed sidewalks and long sections of steps with a 1964 International Scout....one tough vehicle. The Scout 2 not so much. My neighbor has a 1963 Scout with IHC plow gear with the emblem on it.
 

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I plowed sidewalks and long sections of steps with a 1964 International Scout....one tough vehicle. The Scout 2 not so much. My neighbor has a 1963 Scout with IHC plow gear with the emblem on it.
I was only putting up the Scout II for consideration as a small 4 x 4, but, if you're going to introduce full size rigs into the equation, that's for another thread. BTW, never owned a Scout, just a '78 Jeep J-10 P/U (bought new) and a '72 Commando (I loved that thing), but as 4 x 4s go, I only own Trackers, and I live in Toledo, home of the Jeep, LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Well my point being most of the SUVs pointed out in previous discussions were larger then the Tracker, and often more expensive. The "Cute Ute" is a term usually applied to small SUVs. Why just today I saw the new Jeep Renegade concept which is another tiny SUV. Makes you wonder that if more refinement were put into the Trac/Kick, would they would have been just as popular now?

My point being it seems like after the Tracker took off, many of the competitors created their own versions. What they lack though is the sturdiness of the body on frame design and the "true" (for lack of a better term) off road capabilities.

Suzuki never really took off here in the Pittsburgh region. For every 1 Sidekick you see there's probably 20 Trackers. Chevy dealerships are far more common then the Suzuki ones were.

I think many people were surprised that for such a low price how well they tackled snow and how fun they were to drive.

We had a Scout when I was a kid. Cool SUV but if you sneezed in it, it would turn to dust. That's how fast it rusted away!
 

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Those early body style broncos were tiny. Really cool little trucks too. I'd say the trackicks sold because while every company was going bigger they stayed small. Then every company went 4 door and no more 2 doors (except wrangler). it's like the generation that demanded the 2 doors grew up and had families and demanded bigger and 4 door. I hope by the time I am ready to buy a brand new 4x4 there is something other than a jeep that is 2 door. Do they even make 2 door trucks anymore? Haha.


Sent from AutoGuide.com App
 

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The Suzuki Jimny is still in production and uses a separate frame, its available almost everywhere but the US.
 

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The LJ10 was brought out in 1970 and had a 2 cylinder 359 cc engine. I saw one years ago on a trip slick little vehicle. Oh yeah the LJ stood for light jeep..
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Big Ed: I'm inclined to agree with you. Most little SUVs are now of unibody construction. So at least here in the US I believe you're correct in thinking this was the last small SUV on a separate frame.

Riley: I've never heard of an LJ10 so I just looked it up. That's a cool little bucket! I doubt at 6'2" I'd fit in it but it's interesting nonetheless!

Just as a side note, has anyone here seen the Top Gear (British version, the only good one!) when they used a Vitara in the police car competition? Hysterical!
 

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I don't really consider the Tracker/Sidekick a totally new vehicle when it came out, I think of it as just a next generation Sammy.
You are right. In 1988, Consumer Reports declared the Samurai "Not acceptable" due to its alleged rollover tendencies. Shortly thereafter, the Sidekick was introduced to replace the Samurai. The Sidekick had many of the same characteristics as the Samurai but was wider and did not have the same rollover issues.

Here's a comparison between the Samurai and Sidekick in 1989: http://articles.latimes.com/1989-02-19/news/vw-527_1_geo-tracker
 

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You are right. In 1988, Consumer Reports declared the Samurai "Not acceptable" due to its alleged rollover tendencies. Shortly thereafter, the Sidekick was introduced to replace the Samurai. The Sidekick had many of the same characteristics as the Samurai but was wider and did not have the same rollover issues.

Here's a comparison between the Samurai and Sidekick in 1989: [/quote] That whole thing was nothing more than an unwarranted smear piece by Consumer Reports. Samurais were [B]never[/B] roll over hazards. [URL="http://www.aim.org/aim-report/aim-report-a-black-eye-for-consumer-reports/"]AIM Report: A Black Eye for Consumer Reports
 

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That whole thing was nothing more than an unwarranted smear piece by Consumer Reports. Samurais were never roll over hazards.

AIM Report: A Black Eye for Consumer Reports
Me thinks that an inexperienced driver in a Track/Kick is a bad, bad idea, esp. the short wheelbased 2dr. I can't imagine how that combo would fare in a Sammy. Adding snow or ice even sand or rain could be the fatal missing link.
 
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