CC Outtake: Compact SUVs, Then and Now

Yes, cars do change over the decades, especially so SUVs, as this pairing a half century apart makes rather obvious. The gen1 Bronco was arguably the progenitor of this CRV.

The sun got into this picture, but it shows the stark contrast between this gen1 Bronco and a current Honda CRV from the back too.

The Bronco can rightfully be called the first civilized compact SUV, as its new coil-spring front suspension rode more comfortably than the IH Scout’s leaf spring front axle, never mind the Jeep’s. The difference may not have been really big, but it clearly showed the direction the market was going: away from bone-shaking work machines to vehicles that could be used by an increasing number of buyers as a primary car. It bridged the gap between the passenger car and the Jeep better at the time than anything else, although I’m sure one or more Scout fans will chime in to differ.

The base 170 inch six in the Bronco was a curious choice, as it really was a bit weak-chested, but then Scouts and Jeeps were still fielding rough and tumble fours at the time, so certainly it was a whole lot smoother. And the optional 302 V8 was in a league of its own, in terms of being light-weight and smooth-running. The Bronco’s coil spring is clearly visible here. It offered better articulation too than a leaf spring axle, which is why it’s so unusual to find a gen1 Bronco that hasn’t been turned into a mud-hopper.

It’s a bit hard to tell from this shot, but the Bronco’s interior also showed an effort to civilize the military-grade interior of the Jeep and base Scout.

And then there’s those recycled Ford passenger car wheel covers. A glimpse of the future, but who in 1968 would have thought compact SUVs would be the best selling vehicles in 2018?