March 12, 2003

Consumer Reports picks 10 most influential vehicles of last 50 years

In its April New Car issue, Consumer Reports magazine announced its pick of the ten most influential vehicles of the last fifty years.

“Every now and then, a new model sets in motion a trend or movement that has a ripple effect throughout the auto industry, changing how we think about or relate to our cars,” said the magazine. “This selection of the 10 most influential vehicles (listed alphabetically by make) was the result of heated debate among CR’s auto experts.”

The ten vehicles are:

BMW 2002: Introduced in 1968, the BMW 2002 ” laid the groundwork for the modern sports sedan,” said the magazine. “The successful 2002 is the grandfather of the current BMW 3-Series, a car that other automakers have been trying to emulate for years.”

Chevrolet Corvette: Introduced in 1953, the Corvette “..set the tone for future American sports cars.” “The Vette’s influence can be seen in a variety of models–from the 1955 Ford Thunderbird to today’s Dodge Viper.”

Chrysler Caravan and Voyager: The 1984 Chrysler minivans provided the inspiration for today’s minivans, said Consumer Reports.

Ford F-Series pickup: “In 1982, it was one of the first trucks to outsell any passenger car in the U.S., and it has been the highest-selling vehicle ever since, as well as the best-selling truck for the last 26 years.”

Ford Taurus: The 1986 Taurus was a “groundbreaking design for a mainstream family sedan,” said the magazine. “The Taurus popularized the design and initiated an era of aerodynamic styling that is prevalent today.”

Ford Mustang: The 1964 1/2 Mustang was a “sleek, inexpensive sports coupe that gave birth to the ‘pony car’ segment.” “The upcoming 2005 Mustang is being redesigned with cues from the ’60s versions.”

Jeep Cherokee: The 1984 four-door Jeep Cherokee “was one of the catalysts in the transformation of the sport-utility vehicle from a niche 4×4 truck to an everyday family vehicle,” said Consumer Reports.

Toyota RAV4: As the first car-based sport-utility vehicle, the RAV4, “initiated a new movement in SUV design that has since become the fastest-growing segment in the auto market.”

VW Rabbit: The Rabbit “popularized the small front-wheel-drive hatchback design, which became prevalent in the ’70s….and was the first vehicle from an import manufacturer to be built in the U.S., a practice now common with many foreign-based automakers.”

VW Beetle: When the Beetle was introduced in the U.S. in the late 50’s, “it was the humble beginning of the import invasion that changed the face of America’s auto market,” said the magazine.

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