Americans love many things, the Superbowl, Kardashians, and of course, trucks and SUVs! It doesn’t matter where you are, at the convenience store, school drop-off and pick-up zones, or in traffic, you’ll spot an SUV. Sport utility vehicles are precious; they combine the comfort of your typical passenger car with the practicality of a pickup truck.
SUVs were initially designed for off-roading and included four-wheel driving capabilities, but with time, more are being manufactured for on-road driving. Japanese automakers maximized this opportunity. In the 2000s, they produced some of the best trucks, crossovers and sport utility vehicles specifically for the U.S market. Here’s a list of the ten best Japanese SUVs of the 2000s.
10 Suzuki Escudo/Grand Vitara
9 Mitsubishi Outlander
The 2004 model had a 2.4L engine, increasing its power to 160 hp. The 2005 version came with an optional manual transmission, disc brakes, new advanced airbags, and safety features. By 2007, Mitsubishi had redesigned the Outlander with a bigger body, a third row, and a V6 engine producing 220 hp. For the 2008 model, buyers had a choice between a six or four-cylinder engine paired with a standard CVT.
8 Nissan Pathfinder (3rd Gen)
7 Honda CR-V (2nd Gen)
6 Nissan Patrol
5 Toyota 4 Runner
The 2000’s 4runner (4th Gen) is based on the Land Cruiser Prado 120 platform. In 2003, Toyota introduced its large body design. It came in two options, a standard 245 hp V6 engine or a 4.7L V8 producing 235 hp and 320 lb. ft of torque. The V6 option was paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission while the V8 option came with a 5-speed transmission.
4 2003 Lexus RX 350( 2nd Gen )
3 Mitsubishi Pajero
The Mitsubishi Pajero is the unsung off-road hero, and what started as a recreational jeep turned out to be one of the most iconic SUVs of its time. Mitsubishi Pajero has had 35 years of success. It’s also a proven Dakar Rally Champion, winning it 12 times. This Japanese off-road SUV is popular in the American market as Montero, Shogun in the UK, and Pajero in Spain, Africa, and Asia. It's no longer sold in North America as of 2006. The Mitsubishi Pajero has a lower, wider stance and unibody construction with an integral ladder frame chassis for torsional rigidity. The 2000’s Pajero (3rd gen) had a 3.8-liter SOCH V6 motor that used an ETV (Electronic Throttle Valve) that produced 210 hp replacing the initial GDI V6.