The automotive marketplace used to thrive on variety, with each manufacturer trying to figure out ways to stand out from the crowd. Now, however, consumers are faced with a difficult decision of which crossover they'd like to buy—based mostly on whether Bluetooth connectivity comes standard or one options package higher up.
With crossovers dominating the market, the time has come to go back through the history of the SUV and figure out just where the Sport Utility Vehicle lost all its sportiness and its utility. From early truck-based models to modern-day lifted station wagons, not all SUVs have been created equal. In fact, there have been some majorly disappointing iterations that still managed to sell like hotcakes—and that only furthered the unrelenting development of the crossover.
Keep scrolling for 16 4x4s that are totally useless, both off the road and on it.
16 Kia Sportage
Kia brought the Sportage to the US market in the hopes that buyers would appreciate a small, affordable SUV. It could even be had with four-wheel drive, which was pretty surprising for such a low-end vehicle. Unfortunately, buyers got what they paid for: an SUV that was cheaply built and just about as useless off the road as on it.
15 Jeep Cherokee
Cherokee used to be a legendary nameplate in the Jeep lineup. However, someone along the way lost track of Jeep's heritage, or maybe the penny-pinchers at Fiat-Chrysler just couldn't resist turning the Cherokee into a crossover. By 2015, the Cherokee could be had not with four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, but with four-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.
14 Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V might look like an SUV that can handle a bit of off-roading, but it's not. Just about the only thing going for the CR-V is Honda's legendary build quality. The rest of it is little more than a small minivan with only a tad bit more ground clearance. But don't try to haul seven in this little vehicle even on the pavement.
13 Hummer H2
Eco-conscious consumers just about lost their minds when the Hummer H2 hit the market. After all, this wasn't a military-spec vehicle adapted for the road, this was a huge SUV that was huge, ugly, and had a huge, gas-guzzling engine. But it wasn't great at off-roading like its predecessor and its terrible reliability stats as a parts-bin special don't lend confidence on the tarmac, either.
12 Range Rover Evoque
The Evoque might perfectly sum up how much Range Rover has stopped even pretending to build rugged vehicles and turned fully into a luxury automaker. This little SUV can even be bought with a convertible top! But still, there are going to be drivers who think they're in a Land Rover that can go off-roading—and they're just going to get stuck.
11 Volvo XC90
Volvo has used Haldex-based all-wheel drive in a long list of sporty vehicles, but for some reason, the XC90 just doesn't seem to be able to handle off-roading. Case in point is this trio of guys trying to help an XC90 make its way across slippery grass—that's not even mud, snow, or dirt!
10 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class
Mercedes-Benz may be following the market trend and turning even their (formerly) rugged G-Wagen into a luxury vehicle, but they've also had a few other SUVs in their lineup for a couple of decades now. But don't make the mistake of thinking the ML-Class is nearly on the same level as the G-Wagen when it comes to off-road capability.
9 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
If the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class can't haul a family of five on an off-road adventure, surely the larger, beefier GL-Class can, right? Wrong. Where the G-Wagen features up to three locking differentials from the factory, the GL-Class does not. In fact, the GL-Class only derives an off-roading advantage from its weight, not its engineering.
8 Volkswagen Touareg
The Volkswagen Touareg is probably one of the least-known off-roaders that is, in fact, one of the most capable. In very rare trim, it can be found with a V10 diesel, three locking differentials, and air-lift suspension that can raise the ground clearance by up to eight inches. Unfortunately, it's less reliable than a Tinder date, making it abhorred by anyone hoping to travel out of their driveway.
7 Jeep Wrangler (JL)
The latest generation of the Jeep Wrangler offers greater creature comforts for improved on-road driving, plus greater off-road capability (especially in Rubicon trim) than its predecessors. Unfortunately, it appears that Jeep also engineered the new Wrangler with a greater propensity for literally catching fire, which is especially bad for drivers who take their Jeeps overlanding.
6 Chevrolet Tracker
The Chevy Tracker fits right into GM's history of badge engineering cheap products and trying to foist them on the buying public. Also known as the Geo Tracker when sold by General Motors, it was built in coordination with Suzuki. The first generation was highlighted by an anemic 1.6-liter engine putting out a peak of only 96 horsepower.
5 Ford Bronco II
The Ford Bronco might be well on its way to resurrection, but the excited voices online need to take a second and catch their breath to remember how weak the second-generation Bronco really was. Ford just couldn't decide where to save money, and the Bronco came with a series of cheap engines or cheap axles to keep costs low.
4 BMW X5
BMW might have saved its reputation by introducing one of the world's most popular early luxury SUV models, the X5, but there are sad facts in the X5's popularity, as well. Not only is it one of the least reliable SUVs on the market, but it really helped usher in the crossover era by being so bad at off-roading, as many videos like the easy hill-climbing fail above prove.
3 Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 bears the dubious honor of being considered the world's first compact crossover SUV. Even today—and despite having a 4 in the name—the little commuter car can be had in front-wheel drive. Imagine someone thinking they had a 4x4 and going off-road, only to get stuck in about an inch of snow. Now imagine the same but with four-wheel drive, too.
2 Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover's recent reboot of the Discovery represents the next step in its partnership with Jaguar. Unfortunately, where the Disco used to be at the pinnacle of unreliable SUVs that could actually conquer terrain handily when running, the new Discovery can't even take on foul weather. Just look at the vintage Landie having to tow out the newbie, above, to see how far the brand has fallen.
1 Jaguar F-Pace
There's just something sad about seeing all these SUV models getting stuck in terrain that's not even all that intense. Now, no one should think Jaguar was anywhere close to building a capable off-roader, but instead, they do and Jaguars get stuck left and right. This is a luxury commuter, people, not a truck! (And you still better buy two, because one is going to be in the shop at any given moment.)
Sources: Jalopnik, Wikipedia, and Car and Driver.