N ot long ago, a certain American big-city mayor (who shall be nameless) was being ferried across town in his official vehicle, a GMC Suburban SUV, not knowing that he was being tailed by a pesky reporter. The reporter later claimed that he had clocked the mayor’s vehicle breaking the speed limit, at some points reaching 72 miles per hour (115 kilometers per hour). The mayor fired back that it simply wasn’t so, that at a speed of 72 mph in such a vehicle he, his driver, and his passengers would have been bounced around inside, which hadn’t happened, and therefore the story was untrue. The next day, a GMC spokesman pointed out respectfully but firmly that, whatever the veracity of the story, it was a fact that the Suburban was so superbly engineered that its passengers would be immune to being bounced around at any speed. The point of the story is twofold: one, that the sport utility vehicle (SUV) phenomenon is so widespread it can be used as an official government prestige transporter; and, two, that a machine that had started as a rugged off-road trailblazer has evolved to the point where its high-line models offer a ride that compares in comfort to luxury-class automobiles. The SUV has become one of the most dynamic motoring forces of modern times. In the half-century- plus since its wartime origins as the battlefield jeep, SUVs have enjoyed astounding success and popularity, with sixty-five million of them currently active on American roads. By 2017, SUVs (and pickup trucks) made up more than 50 percent of all U.S.passenger vehicles.

Introduced in the early 1990s, Chevy’s four-door Suburban swiftly took pride of place in the luxury utility class, empowered by its now-standard 5.7-liter V-8 engine. Shown here is the 1993 model.


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