When this big, black SUV-like thing came down Willamette Street going the other way in traffic, I could only take my eyes of the road for a second and thought Whoa! What is that? I know that big SUVs are back in style, but I don’t recognize this one. It does looks rather imposing and exclusive.
After a few seconds’ of vainly trying to figure out what I had seen, or thinking maybe it was time for a dementia check-up, I decided I just had to try to catch it and figure out what that was. By the time I found a street to turn into, turn around and get back on Willamette the right way, I knew it was a long shot. But thanks to the timing of the traffic lights and some rather brisk driving, I did catch it. And as I approached it from behind (and shot it) I recognized it: an MV-1! Of course! It was originally designed to be a new “standard taxi”; a Checker Marathon for the new millennium.
I thought that venture went belly-up a few years back. But this thing looks brand new, sporting big upscale alloy rims and the in-color for big SUVs. Is this thing back in production, and being sold as an SUV? Brilliant, if they can pull it off.
A bit of research confirms that MV-1 did go belly up in 2011. But it was resuscitated by AM General, which created a new subsidiary, Mobility Ventures, and substantially revised the vehicle. Whereas it originally sat on a Chevy van frame powered by the 4.3 Vortec V6, it now has a custom-designed frame (engineered by Roush), and is powered by Ford’s 4.6 L V8, driving the rear wheels.
And it’s being sold strictly as a mobility (wheel-chair accessible) vehicle, in three trim levels; the lowest level starting at $39k, and this top-line LX starting at $57k.
Ok; I’ve been enlightened. But now I can’t help but wonder if in this big-SUV-crazy market, this could be sold strictly as a high-end SUV, with all the exclusivity that comes along with driving a car that almost nobody else is. Or even recognizes. Isn’t that the goal of exclusivity?