Here’s a fun breakdown of almost 40 of the first SUVs from the major automakers in the U.S. Some, like Lamborghini, you forget about their earlier forays into the SUV segment, while others, like Toyota or Ford, you know exactly which model was their first SUV. Anyway, here they are in alphabetical order.
First SUVs from Volvo to Mitsubishi
Volvo XC90 2002
The XC90 has proven to have been quite a success for Volvo.
Volkswagen Touraeg 2002
This is the cheaper version of the Porsche Cayenne.
Toyota Land Cruiser 1954
First known as the Toyota BJ, it is one of the company’s first worldwide successes.
Tesla Model X 2015
The first all-electric SUV.
Subaru Forester 1997
In the history of Subaru, if you don’t consider the Outback an SUV, then Suburu’s first was the Forester.
Rolls-Royce Cullinan 2018
The public was not ready for a Rolls-Royce SUV.
Porsche Cayenne 2002
No one expected the first Porsche SUV to sell well as it was too far from the company’s roots.
Nissan Patrol/Armada 1951
The Armada’s roots go all the way back to 1951 as the Nissan Patrol. It came to the U.S. as the Armada in 2004.
Mitsubishi Montero 1981
First out as the Shogun and Pajero in other parts in 1981, it made its way to the U.S. as the Montero in 1983.
First SUVs from Mini to Lamborghini
Mini Countryman 2010
A somewhat awkward takeoff of the Mini hatchback.
Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen 1979
Mercedes’ first G-Class SUV was more rugged SUV than Mercedes-like.
Mazda Tribute (Ford Escape) 2000
This was Mazda’s first SUV, which was a co-development with Ford.
Maserati Levante 2016
The Levante was a close production version of the Kubang concept SUV.
Lincoln Navigator 1998
Lincoln’s first Navigator began production in July 1997 as a 1998 model.
Lexus LX 1995
The LX was Lexus’s version of Toyota’s Land Cruiser.
Land Rover Series 1 1948
One of the earliest SUVs.
Lamborghini LM002 1986
While you may have thought the Urus was the first Lamborghini SUV, it was actually the LM002 built from 1986 to 1993.
First SUVs from Kia to Dodge
Kia Sportage 1993
The first Sportage was in production for 10 years before it was dropped in after 2002. A new version hit showrooms in 2005.
Jeep CJ-2A 1945
This was Jeep’s first civilian vehicle.
Jaguar F-Pace 2016
Though some thought it was spun from a Land Rover platform, it was a total development of Jaguar’s.
Isuzu Trooper 1981
The Trooper was first sold in the U.S. in 1984. Autocar says 11 other companies rebadged it.
Infiniti QX4 1996
Built from the Nissan Infiniti platform.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2000
Originally, Hyundai sold its 1991 Galloper SUV, which was a Mitsubishi Shogun.
Honda CR-V 1995
Honda’s first SUV was in 1993 and was a rebadged Isuzu, so the CR-V was the first real Honda SUV.
Ford Bronco Late-1965
Not the first, but what we consider one of the first Sport Utility Vehicles.
Dodge Town Wagon 1956
This was essentially a Dodge panel truck with windows and another bench seat. In 1957, it got the Power Wagon option.
First SUVs from Chrysler to Acura
Chrysler Pacifica 2004
This original version of the Pacifica was only in production for three years.
Chevrolet Suburban 1935
Basically, a lower-trim Cadillac Escalade, but also the very first full-size SUV.
Cadillac Escalade 1998
Basically, it’s a luxury Chevrolet Suburban.
Buick Rendezvous 2001
The Rendezvous had the unfortunate distinction of being based on the Pontiac Aztek platform.
BMW X5 1999
High-performance versions have the X5 M moniker.
Bentley Bentayga 2012
The top Bentayga came with a W12-cylinder engine, but there were also a diesel, V8, and even a V6.
Audi Q7 2005
The Q7 uses the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg.
Aston Martin DBX 2020
The DBX became the official medical car for F1 in 2021.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2016
Alfa actually had its Matta SUV in the 1950s, built for the military.
Acura MDX 2000
Acura had a previous SUV to the MDX called SLX, but it was just a rebadged Isuzu Trooper. The MDX was the first in-house SUV.