Question of the Day: When Did Cars Become Modern?

In my recent COAL, I mentioned that our 1993 Corolla still seems like a contemporary car when I look at its design and specifications from today’s perspecctive.

A 16V DOHC transverse engine with EFI, front wheel drive with standard rack and pinion power steering, airbag (though only one), a fairly aerodynamic body style that doesn’t look that different from today’s Corolla … etc. On the other hand, the 1993 Corolla had no electronic traction or stability features, let alone ABS, no infotainment, and still came standard with rollup windows, no air conditioning, and “manual” door locks. Nevertheless, it still seems quite modern to me, 25 years later, compared to a 1968 Corolla when judged by the standards of 1993.

Or look at the recently featured Morris Minor. Over 40 years before my Corolla, it had unibody construction and rack and pinion steering. Perhaps 1948, with the Minor, and the US launch of the ‘49 Ford, which said farewell to transverse leaf springs, and the Jeepster, which heralded Jeep’s later success with lifestyle vehicles. was the start of the modern era of automobiles. Or was it 1994, when the RAV4 popularized the current architecture for crossovers, or 2011, when the last US-made rear wheel drive V8 Ford sedan, a Crown Victoria, rolled off the production line? Perhaps it was 2010, when the Nissan Leaf became the first widely available all-electric car. 

What do you think … when did the automobile reach conformity with the current design norm, and what car best represents that? Hint: there is no wrong answer!