If you’re old enough to remember the turn of the century, you probably recall how exciting and unknown it seemed. We were really heading into the future: the year 2000!
Look back at the cars of 2000 now and they seem pretty old-fashioned. Most new models of that time have not aged well (remember the Chrysler PT Cruiser?).
But some new cars launched back then really represented the start of something big. Here are five cars born in 2000 that are still going strong (well, newer versions of them) today.
The first-ever Escape medium-SUV was designed in partnership with Mazda (its version was called Tribute). Styling-wise it very much mimicked Ford’s larger US-market SUVs.
After the end of its first decade, the Escape story gets a bit complicated: there was a hybrid, US models branched off into something entirely different and there was some dabbling with the Kuga name from the third-generation model onwards.
But don’t worry about any of that. Because 2020 will be another big year for the all-new fourth-generation model, which will be available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time – including the New Zealand market.
Hyundai Santa Fe
If you want to see how far a carmaker can advance in two decades, consider the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Not that there was anything wrong with the first-generation model, launched in 2000. It was Hyundai’s first-ever SUV and by the standards of the time and the Korean company’s own status as a burgeoning quality-carmaker, it was pretty impressive.
The Santa Fe was an especially big hit in the US, which helped Hyundai become a globally recognised brand.
Mini by BMW
Last year was a big one for Mini, marking 60 years since the iconic original was launched to the public.
We tend to think of the new BMW-produced Mini as being a relative newcomer, but in fact it was launched 20 years ago.
At the time it was a car Mini fans loved to hate, primarily because it was much bigger than the original (although still the smallest car in its segment).
Unlike the original, it was also very expensive. But that’s part of the genius of BMW with the new Mini: it has proved that a tiny car can be premium. And of course it’s much than just a car now – it’s a range comprising everything from a small hatch to an SUV.
It’s the car that launched a million South Island ski holidays and yes, the first Toyota Highlander was launched 20 years ago.
The Highlander represented a departure for Toyota. Previously, its large SUVs were truck-based off-roaders. But perhaps learning from the success of the groundbreaking RAV4, the company decided to make Highlander a crossover, with underpinnings from a road car. It’s always been closely related to the Camry sedan.
Lexus also owes a lot to the Highlander, because the gig Toyota is used as a base for the RX SUV. True, the Lexus is famous for its hybrid powertrain – but the Highlander also offered that right from its first generation, although never as a new vehicle in NZ.
The S60 sedan represented something very important for Volvo: a genuine attempt by the Swedish maker to go head to head with the German establishment, in this case the BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-class.
It was also a showcase for the brand’s highly distinctive new-generation styling themes, especially those enormous hips matched to bulbous tail lights at the rear.
Buyer tastes have changed a lot in the last two decades, but Volvo’s desire to take on the premium German marques – and those padded shoulders – continue today in its range of highly acclaimed SUVs. And there is still an all-new S60 sedan and related V60 wagon set for NZ launch in 2020.
Content: stuff.co.nz/ motoring