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I Miss Boxy SUVs

So, I’m looking for a new daily driver. Actually, I’ve already bought it, and I’ll have more on that next week or so. But either way, I’ve spent the last three months looking for a daily driver to replace my old Range Rover, and what I really want is a boxy SUV with some performance and some modern technology. That’s about it. But there’s a problem: nobody makes boxy SUVs anymore.

Have you noticed this? When I grew up, all SUVs were boxy. You had that squared-off first-gen Ford Explorer, you had the “XJ” Jeep Cherokee … even the luxury SUVs were boxy. There was none of this soft-curve Land Rover Discovery stuff. The Discovery back then was all right angles. So was the Toyota Land Cruiser of my youth, and the Lexus LX. Back then, everything was boxy. And oh, did I think it looked cool.

I think the main reason I liked all these boxy SUVs is that the boxy design sort of signified “utility.” Yeah, they weren’t hugely aerodynamic, and they didn’t get great gas mileage, but they looked like you could take them anywhere and sleep in the back. The right angles made them seem strong, tough, capable and unchanged by the forces of aerodynamics and needless styling.

And now … nothing.

One of the cars that kept coming up in my search was the Porsche Macan. Virtually everyone I spoke to recommended this car because I wanted performance and technology, and the Macan is the current reigning king of performance and technology in an SUV wrapper. But … have you looked at a Macan? I know most people like it, but it’s SO CURVY!!! It’s just a jacked up curvy little hatchback, designed with some sweeping lines to appeal to people who have given up on the utilitarian dream. It is NOT for me.

I encountered this problem at virtually every turn. The Porsche Cayenne has the same issue. The Audi SQ5 is better, but still curvier than I wanted. The latest Toyota Land Cruiser, while more delightfully innocuous than ever, has added all sorts of unnecessary soft curves to the exterior. Even Land Rover, the brand that has never let me down in the past, is starting to go curvy. The days of my boxy SUV dreams might be coming to an end.

Of course, I understand the reasoning: boxy means more weight and worse aerodynamics, and everyone is currently (and rightfully) obsessed with fuel economy at the moment. But this is still very sad for a boxy car enthusiast, a connoisseur of boxy automobiles and the owner of a bright yellow Land Rover Defender which literally looks like a rectangle with wheels. Are all the automakers going to abandon that utilitarian look in favor of sweeping curves that have a greater appeal?

Interestingly, the one vehicle that has remained true to its boxy form — the Mercedes G-Class — pretty much proves that I’m not the only person who still likes this design. The G-Class holds its value better than practically any other vehicle on the market, especially over the long term. It may sound crazy, but these are actual statistics: a 2007 G-Class is worth around $40,000 to $50,000. A 2007 Range Rover is worth maybe $7,000. On a good day. Other people like the box.

I ended up finding something reasonably boxy, and I believe I’ll be quite happy with it, but I’ve resigned myself to my fate: the boxy SUV is coming to an end. My next SUV may have curves. I may just have to live with it. Find an SUV for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. I hate it, they all look like someone slightly smashed a station wagon! I need to replace my 2004 Jeep Liberty Limited and I can’t find anything that I like.

  2. I completely agree.  I am currently looking for an SUV, not a crossover body style and there is very little to choose from.  I am sadly letting go of my 2004 Xterra and I am very frustrated with the lack of options for what I am looking for.  A new car purchase is a huge deal for me and spending that much on something that I hate to look at or looks like every other vehicle on the road is disappointing.  I never like station wagons or minivans and the crossover is the product of the two.  I hope things will start to shift back.  We can’t be the only few who feel this way.

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