The Untold Legend – Who Made the First SUV?


Before housewives and footballers started buying Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), what were they actually like?

Ever wondered who made the first modern SUV?

… If you’re curious to know, then let’s find out together.

SUV is arguably the world’s fastest-growing vehicle segment. Today, we have all sorts of SUVs; from Small SUV, Mini SUV, Mid-Sized SUV, Full-size SUV to Crossover SUV.

Pretty much enough variant to suits every individual’s taste and purpose.

If you know what SUV stands for or you’ve driven a Sport Utility Vehicle before, you’d better understand why it’s often referred to as “an unconventional fuel feasting vehicle that drives folks around making them feel super powerful and safe.

How did SUVs become popular?

Sport Utility Vehicles are unarguable famous!

  • They are more popular than other vehicle segments because people like them.
  • SUVs are the reason why estates and wagons are becoming rarer.

A lot of people are passionate enough to step out and buy a brand-new SUV after all, and according to the internet, those aren’t people that are crazy about cars.


According to Retronaut, the Soviet “Pobeda,” was history’s first SUV. Although the car was around from 1946 to 1958 and was produced in Limited edition, there is proof that SUVs were made before 1946.

This got me thinking…

So, what and when was the first SUV ever built?

What I found out is that the answer to this question depends on who you ask.

While the term SUV, according to Wikipedia, is a generic marketing term for vehicles built on a light-truck chassis but similar to a Station Wagon; we know quite well that World War II took place between 1939 to 1945, and back then there were lots of SUV-like vehicles used by the military.

In 1940 during World War II, America was in need of a small utility vehicle that could transport people and equipment at the back; is easy to repair, rugged, and could go off-road.

Not quite long, the Willys Jeep came as an answer.


Willys Jeep Station Wagon – the first Modern SUV?

Produced by Willys and Kaiser-Jeep in the United States from 1946 to 1964, the Willy’s Jeep Station Wagon, Jeep Utility Wagon, and Jeep Panel Delivery were the first mass-market all-steel station wagons designed and built as a passenger vehicle.


The Wagon is notably known as Willy’s most successful post-World War II model, with over 300,000 wagons and its variants built in the U.S.

After the introduction of the Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) option in 1949, the 2WD was sold as “Station Wagon” while the 4WD was marketed as “Utility Wagon”.

This happened to be the first SUV passenger vehicle that was produced and sold to regular families as it’s done today.

Well, just before the idea of SUV was accepted, people had different opinions about what exactly qualifies as an SUV.

Assuming a pool was taken, Willy’s Jeep Station Wagon will get the most votes as the first modern SUV. But still, you’d get a decent vote for the Chevrolet Carryall Suburban which date back to 1935 and is referred to as the first SUV in history.


Chevrolet Suburban – The first SUV in history

The Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size SUV from Chevrolet. It has traditionally been one of the general Motor’s most profitable vehicles and referred to the longest continuously used automobile nameplate in production because the name started in 1934.


Having a total of 11 generations today, the 1935 first generation Carryall Suburban was one of the first production all-metal bodied station wagons.

Chevrolet made the world first SUV in 1935. And for over 10 decades, Chevrolet has remained a brand built on innovation and leadership. SUVs have become the world’s fastest-growing vehicle segment.

Written by Larry Cruise

I'm crazy about anecdotes; most especially when they tickle my fancy. I love cars, sometimes I feel like I have 9 lives when crossing the road. When I'm on a Sabbatical leave from SUVradar, you can quickly spot me in a corner talking about cars.

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