Many car enthusiasts insist some period in the past was the golden age of cars and trucks. Different enthusiasts might think the ultimate cars were the classics of the'30s, the finned luxo-barges of the '50s, or the muscle cars of the Sixties, but they all agree that the cars of today just can't compare. That's not true in the 4x4 business. Just about everyone agrees that today is the golden age of four driven wheels.
Having said that, it's not like we don't appreciate our heritage of military Jeeps, Dodge Power Wagons, early Broncos, the original Chevy Blazer, and dozens of other great 4x4s of the past. It's just that the variety and scope of 4x4 offerings has never been greater than today. Consider, for example, Chevrolet. Thirty years ago, GM's biggest division offered four-wheel-drive only in pickups, Blazers, and Suburbans. In 2000, Chevy offers off-roadable vehicles ranging from the micro-sized Tracker through the compact S-10 pickups and Blazers and on to the full-size Tahoes, Suburbans and pickups. Dodge and Ford have similarly expanded their offerings over time, and luxury manufacturers who never would have even considered building a 4x4 30 years ago (BMW, Lincoln, Cadillac, and so on) now count on them to add to their bottom lines. If there isn't a new 4x4 out there for you, you don't really want a 4x4.
The big challenge today is finding out exactly what is a 4x4. There's no doubt the Jeep Wrangler is a true off-road machine or that the Range Rover can traverse awesome terrain while maintaining a sumptuous environment, but what about the Subaru Outback? It's a jacked up station wagon with all-wheel drive and some rugged decoration. Does that make it a true off-roader? For people who consider off-roading a muddy road, yes. For those for whom anything not boulder-strewn may as well be a freeway, no. We wouldn't go pounding through a Florida bog in a Lincoln Navigator, and would feel pretentious driving up to Spago in a Hummer, but both are legitimate 4x4s.
It's up to you to decide what constitutes a true 4x4. Our job for the next several pages is to put them all in front of you. We've taken the loosest definition of off-roader we ever have in order to present you with the most options.
Select from the manufacters listed below to have a look at the 2000 offerings.