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Weird SUVs ran rampant in the 2000s, with automakers going in strange and exciting directions with their designs. While some were simply silly, others may have just been ahead of their time. A few of the weird SUVs of the Aughts deserve a second chance reboot for the 2020s.

1. Honda Element: bring back the box

Over a decade after its discontinuation, Honda’s weird SUV still has a cult following. The Honda Element was well ahead of its time with its box-on-wheels aesthetic, flexible interior, and generally bold personality. These types of crossovers are common today, but they were a novelty in 2003 when the Element debuted.

A rebooted Element would bring Honda back into the quirky crossover space that has exploded since its retirement. With the Fit now gone and the HR-V serving as Honda’s small crossover, the brand seems to have room for a new Element.

2. Jeep Commander: make a more rugged Wagoneer

The Jeep Commander was a huge, trundling off-road SUV. It wasn’t around for long and didn’t sell well then, but the concept could work well today.

According to Car and Driver, the original Commander was over 5,000 pounds and 188 inches long. It carried a standard V8 engine and a robust four-wheel drive system, seeming to have more in common with GM’s Hummer H2 than with the spry Jeep Wrangler.

Jeep has just come off a robust expansion of its lineup with the resurrection of its Wagoneer brand. However, the new Wagoneer leans into a premium/luxury identity. Jeep could develop a more rugged and capable model on the same platform and call it the new Commander.

3. Pontiac Aztek: GMC could break bad

The Pontiac Aztek was likely the most controversial and weird SUV of the 2000s, riling up critics across the board with its unique appearance and middling performance. But after the success of a particular television show set in New Mexico, the Aztek has found new popularity.

Drivers in 2023 are much more used to vehicles in the vein of the Aztek. GM could capitalize on the moment and bring back the Aztak as a funky crossover for GMC or Chevy.

4. Toyota FJ Cruiser: this one is obvious

A blue Toyota FJ Cruiser sits on display at an auto show.
Toyota FJ Cruiser | Mario Tama via Getty Images

The FJ Cruiser wasn’t a bad idea when it debuted in the late 2000s – it just arrived 10 years too early. The retro-cool off-roader has since become a favorite among enthusiasts and tends to fetch impressive resale value.

With the retro off-road segment heating up again with the Ford Bronco’s return, there’s no better time for Toyota to bring back the FJ Cruiser. The recent loss of the Land Cruiser in the American market means Toyota has room in its lineup for another dedicated off-road SUV.

Other brands have already brought back 2000s SUV names

These wouldn’t be the first models to resurrect SUV nameplates from the 2000s. Chevy already brought back the Trailblazer, albeit in a far different form from the original model. GM has also renewed the Hummer brand for its new EV trucks and SUVs.

As the Y2K era cycles through its 20-year nostalgia phase, why not bring back some of the era’s weird SUV ideas? After all, we’re in the midst of the SUV and crossover renaissance. We’d might as well lean into it.


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