Home Cars 35 Iconic SUVs Drivers Love More Than The Jeep Wrangler

35 Iconic SUVs Drivers Love More Than The Jeep Wrangler

Cameron Eittreim October 28, 2019

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25. Plymouth Trailduster

Yes, you read the title right, there was a Plymouth SUV at one point. Although the brand was the value leader for Chrysler, the Trailduster was far more than an economy car. The big, burly SUV was based on the Ramcharger, which itself was a big off-road rig. The overall design of the Trailduster was similar to the Bronco and other large SUVs of the period. The removable top would expose a rollbar and the backseat area, giving the truck an open-air feeling.

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The standard 318 V8 engine was in its element, and the manual four-wheel-drive piloted the Trailduster through anything with authority. The Trailduster is very hard to come by nowadays, as the model never sold as well as its Dodge stablemate. In terms of being different then the Ramcharger, the Trailduster only has a few unique features. But the fact that its a Plymouth is enough to garner attention at any car show, not to mention the fact that the Trailduster is a very capable off-road rig.

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24. Suzuki X-90

The 90s were a revolutionary time for the automotive industry. New vehicles were hitting the market left and right. Everyone wanted to take advantage of a booming economy, and Suzuki was quick to jump at the opportunity. The X-90 is unique in terms of style and its two-seat design. Suzuki had success with the Sidekick and Samurai compact SUV models and then decided to introduce the world to something even more unique. The X-90 was a topless two-seater that featured a plethora of unique colors and an even more colorful interior.

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Styling was a mixed bag, combining a sports car and an SUV. The removable top allows drivers to experience the same open-air feeling as the Samurai. Power was limited to a four-cylinder engine, which didn’t offer much in the way of acceleration. The little SUV never really sold well because no one knew exactly what it was. In recent years, however, 90s’ nostalgia has caught up with the X-90 and values have been rising. Some even feel they are now cooler than a Jeep Wrangler.

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23. Isuzu Rodeo

You’ve seen them just about everywhere. In fact, this particular SUV defined the modern mid-size SUV. There was a time when Isuzu was a major player in the domestic automotive market. The brand dominated the SUV segment with its off-road capability. The Rodeo was available in a four or two-door, and it featured a removable top as well. The capable Isuzu had a high ground clearance which made it more capable off-road.

Isuzu Rodeo
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The Rodeo was the pinnacle of the SUV boom where just about every family in the 90s had to have one in the driveway. Sadly, the Rodeo fell out of favor as more modern SUVs hit the marketplace. Still, in recent years, the Rodeo has developed an afterlife on the used car market, especially with its two-door configuration. Isuzu is one of the most renowned brands in the worldwide SUV business to this day, although the company has left the American market.

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22. International Harvester Travelall

There was a time when International was more than a big rig manufacturer. The company had a line of sport utility vehicles that were well-built and offered all of the versatility you see today. Before the Suburban hit mainstream popularity, there was the Harvester Travelall. The Harvester was available in a four-door configuration and initially a two-door before the company discontinued it. The big V8 engine was enough to haul tools around the farm, while the interior volume was enough to take the entire family on a trip. The Harvester had all of the comfort features such as air conditioning and even an 8-track player in the console.

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The body styling was eerily modern for the period, which led a lot of buyers into International showrooms. Unfortunately, by the 80s, sales had begun to tank and the company just didn’t have the resources to compete on a mainstream level. Thus, the Harvester went the way of automotive history. In recent years, the values of these vehicles have skyrocketed, and a good condition one will fetch you a fair amount of money. There’s a huge aftermarket community that has interest in these vehicles.

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21. International Harvester Scout

The Scout is an SUV that has begun to receive a lot of recognition in the last decade. Offered initially as a comparable model to the Trailduster and the Blazer. International marketed the Scout under the Travelall, although the SUV was based on the same platform. The SUV had many of the same features that the Trailduster and other SUVs offered, such as a removable top. The ground clearance of the Scout was also extremely high, making the SUV perform for off-roading. A good deal of Scout models were used by government agencies at the time, such as the Forestry Service. These big SUVs were a breeze to work on and very reliable, which made them great fleet vehicles.

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There has been talking that after the success of the Wrangler the company might attempt to revive the Scout model. The aftermarket community for these SUVs has shot the value up tremendously and the amount of aftermarket accessories is ridiculous. Another thing about the unique Scout is that a lot of fabricators have figured out how to fit a GM 350 into it. This means that a good portion of the customized Scouts you are looking at is powered by a modern motor. Nevertheless, the Scout is a surefire way to get respect off-road or just about anywhere you take this behemoth classic.

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20. Jeep Cherokee XJ

The Cherokee was a revolution in the automotive industry because it was the first SUV that was gas efficient and comfortable. AMC knew that there was a market for a compact-sized SUV, and the Cherokee sold like wildfire. So much so that Chrysler purchased the entire company during the late 80s. Enthusiasts regard the Cherokee as one of the most reliable SUVs to ever hit the market, especially with straight-six engines. The XJ was also in production up until the 2001 model year, making it one of the few platforms to last that long.

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Look at auto classifieds and you’re bound to see an XJ going for a high price tag. These Jeeps have held their value well, and it’s not uncommon to see well over 300k on the odometer. As the years went on, the model was refined with a quieter interior and comfortable seating. But the basic Jeep ruggedness and reliability are still underneath. The XJ was also the platform that graced us with the Comanche pickup truck. If you want to experience a piece of automotive history in the SUV segment, you won’t have to look any further then the Cherokee XJ model.

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19. Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon

The G-Series is famous for being driven by some of the highest-paid celebrities in Hollywood. Even the Kardashians famously have a fleet of G-Series SUVs. But the G-Wagon is one of the oldest production vehicles on the planet. There was a time when the G-Series wasn’t a sign of opulence but a serious contender to the Land Rover brand. Today’s G-Series SUV features the same body that it had almost three decades ago with a modern and luxurious interior.

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When you think of a cool SUV, the G-Wagon is just about as good as it gets. Step into the AMG trim and you have a V-12 powered monster that you can take off-road. When you think of a cool SUV that stands out from the crowd better than a Wrangler, the G-Wagon certainly comes to mind. Any generation of the G-Wagon is going to look great no matter what you do to it. There is a huge aftermarket community that has gained notoriety for perfecting the exterior styling of the G-Wagon. From lift kits to a supercharger, you can do just about anything to a G-Wagon within reason.

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18. Suzuki Samurai

During the 80s, the appetite for cheap and affordable sport utilities and pickup trucks was starting to grow. The Samurai was at the forefront of the affordable new segment. Suzuki was a relatively unknown entity in the automotive market. With that kind of clientele, it would only seem natural to market an off-road SUV. The Samurai was lightweight, good on gas, and featured a removable top. Many attributes were the same as the Wrangler. But the Samurai was better on gas and had a much higher ground clearance.

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Although the Samurai was at the center of the roll-over controversy of the 80s, the overall design was one that you could take just about anywhere. More outdoor enthusiasts were becoming interested in the Samurai. From lightbars to different removable tops, you can customize a Samurai just like a Wrangler. Consumer interest in the Samurai has grown exponentially due to the SUVs inexpensive price. The Samurai is also one of the easiest SUVs to repair, which intrigues many do-it-yourself mechanics.

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17. Dodge Raider

The Mitsubishi partnership with Chrysler during the 80s was fruitful for the domestic automaker. The company got to bring inexpensive imports to its dealership network without having to do the research and development. The appetite for lightweight SUVs was growing and the Samurai was more popular than ever. Chrysler decided to jump on this bandwagon with the Dodge Raider. The Raider was based on the Mitsubishi Montero, which was a great SUV. Take one look at the Raider and it pretty much looks the same except for the Dodge badges.

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But the Raider did have some unique features such as a removable top. The interior featured some enhancements to give it that Dodge flare. Power and refinement were much improved over the barebones Samurai, which lead a lot of drivers into Dodge showrooms. The Raider had an optional V6 engine, which is a lightweight SUV that makes the difference. Ground clearance was also on par with the Samurai, meaning you could take your Raider just about anywhere. These little Dodge SUVs are rare as the model never really sold great and reliability was questionable. But if you can find a well-maintained Raider, you’ll be in for a treat.

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16. Toyota Land Cruiser J40

There are quite a few variations of the Land Cruiser that make for a cool SUV, but the J40 is the pinnacle. You might have seen the J40 at one point or another as a mail truck. But there was a time when the J40 was the go-to off-road SUV. The notoriety of the Land Cruiser brand has been around for a long time, and the J40 is well known for its high ground clearance and superb durability. There were features of the J40 that made it a lot like a Wrangler model. First and foremost was the removable top, a feature that has become synonymous with this type of SUV.

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The J40 was lightweight and the engine was one of the most reliable to come out of Toyota. In terms of features, the J40 was bare, but that’s what you’d expect out of an SUV in this category. Back then, it wasn’t about having a Bluetooth radio or an air conditioner. Instead, the J40 was a serious off-road vehicle that could trek just about anywhere. Toyota built these J40 models to last a long time, and the durability shows in the overall design. The Land Cruiser is a special vehicle line. You can expect to pay a pretty penny for the J40 as these have exploded in value in recent years.

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15. GMC Typhoon

When it comes to iconic SUVs, there’s one that has been a legend since its debut – the GMC Typhoon. Just the name sounds a bit ominous. The Typhoon was a supercharged compact SUV based on the Blazer platform. Interesting features included a limited edition teal paint job and a leather interior that made the SUV stand out from the crowd. To this day, the Typhoon is one of the fastest production SUVs in the world, and getting your hands on one can be a bit tough.

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The Typhoon was developed at a time when GM was trying to reinvent the companies performance car image. The Silverado 454 SS had just hit the market in addition to the GMC Syclone, which was another supercharged pickup truck. While the Typhoon didn’t have the off-road capabilities of a Wrangler, there’s no doubt that the Typhoon is still one of the most iconic SUVs to have hit the road in recent years. If you’re looking for one of the most unique SUV models around, the Typhoon is it.

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14. Land Rover Defender

Long before the Land Rover was associated with celebrities, it was a hardcore outdoor enthusiast’s vehicle. Take one look at the Defender and you know that this isn’t your neighbor’s Range Rover. The Defender is one of the most well-known SUV models in the world, selling millions since 1983.

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During its entire run, the Defender was seldom changed from its original design. The Defender made its way across every part of the world, and along the way became a more modern SUV. There’s nothing simplistic about the Defender, even though the basic design is over 40 years old. Later versions of the vehicle had features such as heated seats and a removable top, all of which make for an exceptional vehicle. Getting your hands on an earlier model Defender is not as easy as you’d think. But if you want an off-road legend sitting in your driveway, the Defender is the way to go.

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13. Land Rover Range Rover

The original Range Rover that came to the US from overseas was universally panned for its lack of reliability. But when they were running right, it was one of the most capable SUVs you could get. The Range Rover was also one of the first luxury SUVs to hit the market before it was a popular thing. The factory V8 engine was a powerhouse when it was running right, and the Range Rover had plenty of low-end torque if you wanted to tow a boat for the weekend. The Range Rover became a popular addition to movies during the late 90s and is one of the more affordable Land Rover body styles.

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Electric problems plagued the first generation of these SUVs, as well as overheating. Still, if you can find an original Range Rover that was maintained properly, you’re in for a treat. The overall design of the Range Rover has survived the test of time. It’s a durable SUV that you can take just about anywhere. Range Rover owners are extremely loyal to the brand and there is a huge aftermarket list of accessories. There are also Range Rover clubs all around the country that have made the SUV an iconic part of off-roading.

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12. Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-80

During the 90s, the SUV was becoming the norm for most car buyers. The high sitting position coupled with cheap fuel prices made the popularity explode. Toyota already had a variation of the Land Cruiser on the market, but it wasn’t up to par for most modern buyers. Thus, the Land Cruiser was redesigned from the ground up into a more modern SUV that featured a quiet ride and leather-appointed interior. SUV buyers have also greeted the legendary off-road capability that made the Land Cruiser one of the most well-known brand names in the world.

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The FJ-80 also brought to America the first Toyota-powered V8 SUV. What made the FJ-80 great was the refined interior that made the SUV a pleasure to own. Drivers were greeted by heated front bucket seats, a six-disc changer, and even dual-zone climate control. There were a lot of features that made this generation of the Land Cruiser stand out the most. The best thing about the FJ-80 is that it’s one of the most affordable body styles of the Land Cruiser to date.

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11. Hummer H1

During the early 2000s, the SUV boom was in full swing and the Hummer brand was on top. Although the H1 was made famous in the 90s during the Iraq War, the civilian incarnation of the SUV was universally panned for its high price tag and lousy fuel economy. But if you want a go-anywhere SUV that can take you just about anywhere, the H1 is it. The H1 featured a powerful V8 diesel engine and a whopping 16 inches of ground clearance. Want to go out into the forest for the weekend? Well, the H1 was able to tackle the elements with ease.

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When it comes to accessories, there’s an endless array that you can get for the H1. From brush guards to bigger wheels, the H1 was a popular aftermarket SUV. Even in today’s world of high fuel prices and increasing smog regulations, the H1 remains an instant classic. This is the go-anywhere and does anything SUV that will take you just about anywhere that you want to go. The Hummer H1 has permanently cemented itself in the world of off-roading with the same level of prestige and respect as the Wrangler.

Toyota 4Runner
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10. Toyota 4Runner

It should be without question that we include the Toyota 4Runner on our list of iconic SUVs. The 4Runner has been around in one form or another since the 80es. It was originally based on the Toyota pickup truck, which was renowned for its reliability and durability. Buyers have always enjoyed the off-road characteristics that make the 4Runner such a special vehicle. The third generation 4Runners were the first to offer a V8 engine, which the Wrangler never has. Ground clearance on the 4Runner is higher than most mid-size SUVs out of the factory. This means buyers can take the 4Runner pretty much anywhere right from the gate.

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Step into the TRD-Pro version of the 4Runner and you’re in for something special. The TRD-Pro is like Toyota’s version of the Raptor. For the foreseeable future, the 4Runner will remain a staple of the Toyota lineup and the SUV world in general. The go-anywhere do-anything design of the ute has made it a hit with buyers for decades. The 4Runner manages to hold its value pretty well so you can expect to pay quite a bit to get one on the used market. But for that price, you get one of the most capable and reliable SUVs that has ever been built.

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9. Ford Bronco

No iconic SUV list would be complete without the Ford Bronco. When you think about a big, burly, do-everything SUV that became a cultural phenomenon, it is the Bronco. What makes the Bronco cool is that it combines a powerful V8 engine with a removable top. The SUV takes command of any road that its on, and to this day a Bronco still garners attention. Broncos came in a variety of packages, one of which included the Eddie Bauer edition. The great thing about a Bronco besides its off-road capability is the price tag.

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You can still get a Bronco for a reasonable amount of money. The Jeep Wrangler, on the other hand, has continued to increase in resale prices, and you can expect to pay a bit. The Bronco is a stellar SUV when coupled with the capable V8 engine. You get a firm amount of power and all of the positives that come with driving an F-Series truck from this era. The modern Broncos that came out toward the end of the brand’s lifespan featured electronic four-wheel-drive. Aftermarket accessories are abundant for the Bronco, which makes owning one even better.

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8. Ford Centurion

Long before Ford had an entire lineup of SUVs, there was the Explorer and the Bronco. If you wanted a full-size four-door SUV, you had to go to a GM dealership. But luckily for Bronco shoppers, there was an aftermarket coach company that designed Ford’s version of the Suburban. The Centurion is a very limited production version of the Bronco that you could order directly at a Ford dealership. The SUV is based on the F-350 design and the company incorporated Bronco body panels to give the SUV that signature Bronco look. The Centurion is a very expensive collector’s item and is a capable SUV.

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The eight-passenger seating was perfect for families who wanted more passenger room without having to opt for a GM product. Nowadays, the Centurion is a collector’s item. You don’t see these big SUVs very often on the road so they stand out from the crowd. A pristine Centurion will set you back quite a bit of money but enthusiasts say that the SUV is worth every penny. The Centurion will forever be one of the most interesting additions to the Ford Bronco lineup to date.

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7. Isuzu VehiCROSS

By the late 90s, the Isuzu brand was one of the dominant forces in the SUV marketplace. But the company was vastly becoming outdated. The product line was stale compared to other SUVs on the market, and Isuzu relied on a partnership with GM for R&D. Take one look at the VehiCROSS and you’ll know it’s something different. There’s nothing about this SUV that looks like anything else on the road. In fact, the VehiCROSS is still one of the most interesting looking vehicles on the road to this day. In terms of actual features, the VehiCROSS wasn’t very unique and was based on the Rodeo SUV.

Isuzu VehiCROSS
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The only thing unique about the VehiCROSS is the exterior paneling; everything else is the same as the Rodeo. But for sheer off-road capability and unique looks, you cannot beat the little Isuzu concept SUV. It looks like something out of a movie, and that’s what the company intended. Sadly, there weren’t many of the VehiCROSS models that hit the market. It was more of a halo SUV for the Isuzu brand to raise awareness. However, if you want an SUV that stands out from anything else on the road, this is it. From the sheer versatility and durability of the Isuzu brand to the stylish sheet metal, the VehiCROSS has it going on.

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6. Lamborghini LM002

There is nothing practical about this entry. The LM002 was an SUV that looked like a ‘Rambo Lambo,’ as it is often called. Powered by the same engine as a Lamborghini Countach, the LM002 was fast and authoritative off-road and on the pavement. Interior-wise, the vehicle was just as roomy and luxurious as you’d expect. Given its huge presence on the road, the LM002 is a big and bold statement on the off-road circuit. Take the time to drive the LM002 and you’ll realize that the vehicle can go just about anywhere with ease. The vehicle looks more like a Hummer H1 then anything.

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Resale values on the LM002 have been going up because the SUV has been experiencing a resurgence in interest. We like the unique styling that makes the LM002 look different than anything else on the road. The high ground clearance of the LM002 makes it an ample performer in anything from a mud hole to the outback. The powerful engine is nice and smooth considering the sheer amount of horsepower it has under the hood. If you want the one SUV that’s going to get stares for years to come, the LM002 is it.

Dodge Durango 5.9RT
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5. Dodge Durango 5.9RT

One SUV model that never gets enough credit is the Dodge Durango 5.9RT. The Durango, in general, revolutionized the automotive industry as the first midsize seven-passenger SUV. Then the brand went a step further and created the first midsize SUV model to feature a full V8 engine. Toward the end of the first-generation Durango’s lifecycle, the brand introduced the 5.9RT. This powerful sports edition came in dark blue or cherry red and featured a powerful 5.9L V8 engine. The sheer exhaust note was something awesome, and the lowered body with the premium alloys gave the SUV a mean look.

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To this day, you can still find 5.9RT models that are in good shape. For a reasonable price, you can get your hands on one that has been well taken care of. The 5.9RT is a cool SUV that combines the Dodge racing spirit with the practicality of a family SUV. The overall design was subtle, but when it came time to take the 5.9RT onto the racetrack, the SUV will handle its own. While it might not be an off-road machine like the other models, the 5.9RT is still hands-down one of the coolest SUVs in our book.

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4. Chevrolet Blazer/Tahoe Two-Door

The modern Tahoe two-door that was produced until 1999 was a leap forward in terms of drivability and refinement. While the SUV didn’t have a removable top like the Bronco, it made up for it in terms of driving dynamics. A common modification for this body style of Tahoe is to transplant a Corvette-derived LS1 motor into it. We love how this generation of Tahoe has managed to age so well, and you can still find these models with low mileage. Ex-government versions of this SUV came with a bench seat, which gives a cool retro feeling to the vehicle.

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A good portion of these two-door Tahoes were used as Government vehicles. At this point, the demand for two-door SUVs had decreased dramatically, which is why the vehicle was finally discontinued. However, the demand for the two-door Tahoe has remained high and you can expect to pay a pretty penny for one. The ’96 and up models featured the new Vortec V8 motor. The Vortec models are the ones that everyone seems to want. The two-door Tahoe will forever remain one cool SUV.

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3. Nissan Xterra

When the Xterra hit the market it was a bit of an odd duck because Nissan already had the Pathfinder. However, in terms of size and functionality, the Xterra is almost on par with the Pathfinder. There was a certain type of buyer that Nissan was targeting with the Xterra, which is why the vehicle had such an extreme looking design. The first thing that you’ll notice about the Xterra was the bold-looking roof-rack. You can utilize the roof rack without having to buy any accessories.

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The Xterra was powered by a solid V6 engine for its entire life. Reliability was a strong suit for the Xterra, and to this day you still see many of them on the roads. When you drive an Xterra, people know that you’re into the outdoors, which is why the vehicles have managed to sell so well over the past few decades. Unfortunately, the Xterra was canceled by Nissan so you’ll have to find one on the used market. You can find reasonably-priced Xterras on the market all the time and many of them come with a plethora of features.

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2. Honda Element

Where do we start with the Element? Maybe it’s the boxy shape or the rubberized floors. The Element was a cool SUV that incorporated most of what outdoorsy types wanted in a vehicle. Honda designed the vehicle to be easy to clean, which is why the floors were rubber. While the Element wasn’t very big in terms of design, the vehicle made up for it in terms of practicality. The Element was a solid blend of the functionality and stellar build quality which Honda is known for. The standard engine was super reliable and the Element owners have nothing but good things to say about the vehicle.

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There was also the special Element SC edition which was lowered and featured a custom paint scheme. The SC is more or less a sports version that is geared toward the urban consumer. Nevertheless, if you want an SUV that stands out from the crowd in terms of design and sheer uniqueness, the Element is it. Values on these things have remained steady and you can get one for a pretty affordable price. Plus you have the Honda reliability which makes the Element a superb choice for anyone who wants to live an outdoor lifestyle in fashionable comfort.

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1. Chevrolet Trailblazer SS

GM loves to slap a supercharger on a vehicle and call it a special edition. A few years back, the company did just that with their aging Trailblazer line. The Trailblazer SS was a screamingly fast SUV that came in black or silver and offered a fire-breathing Corvette engine under the hood. If you want an SUV that will burn rubber, the Trailblazer SS is the one for you. The vehicle looked intimidating when it was new and the style has held to this day. The Trailblazer SS has kept its value relatively high.

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In terms of design and performance, you can’t go wrong with the bulletproof Corvette engine. GM engineers worked tirelessly to get it up to par. The SS model is nothing like the ordinary Trailblazer that you see. You can expect something special when you take this thing out for a Saturday drive. The values of the Trailblazer SS have managed to increase as time has gone on, so you’ll pay a good amount for one of these. But you’ll also be able to drive a true piece of GM history.

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