QOTD: Farewell To The Body-On-Frame SUV?

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
qotd farewell to the body on frame suv

Pictures of the “production” version of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, which looks about the same as the “concept” version unveiled at Detroit in January. And along with the reveal, another body-on-frame SUV bites the dust.

Having driven the Infiniti JX (essentially, a really nice 2013 Pathfinder), I’m not at all concerned; the Pathfinder has become yet another toddler taxi. The most extreme situations it will ever see is a gravel driveway. This is a “truck” that needs to compete against the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander – not to mention the Ford Explorer, which seems to be doing just fine with a unibody layout.

The body-on-frame SUV is a species in decline. Part of it is obviously cost considerations. There are perfectly good car platforms out there that can be used to create perfectly good, car-like crossovers. But how much of it is because these car-based SUVs are competent enough that having a body-on-frame design doesn’t matter? We can throw out arguments about towing, or off-road prowess, but very few of these vehicles will ever be used for those duties, and even then, they are often strong enough to fulfill the 99 percent of owner expectations.

So, my dear readers, here’s my question; how much of the lamenting of the body-on-frame SUV and its apparent superiority is merely cooked up in the hearts and minds of truck fans, longing for a bygone era? Or am I missing the mark?

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  • Ktm_525 Ktm_525 on Jul 31, 2012

    It's because they are rolling 20's. Ridiculous on a utility vehicle. I had to scrounge the country to find 18's for the Rover.

  • Marineguy Marineguy on Mar 07, 2015

    I couldn't live without my BOF SUV. I'm one of those aforementioned "bad-haircut" guys who gravitate toward this kind of vehicle. I have a family of six, and we often travel up and down the east coast in all weather conditions. Also the beach and mountains from time to time. I'm flying V22 Ospreys now, but before that I flew helicopters that were approaching 50 years old before being retired. The way we made them last that long was through proper maintenance, periodic overhaul, and replacement of major components when they reached their service limits or showed signs of wear. I kind of look at BOF SUVs the way I look at those aircraft and, for instance, high-end Danner Boits: re-craftable. You can spend $80 on a pair of Timberlands and toss them after two years, or you can spend $300 on a set of Danners, wear them for a decade, then send them back to the factory for refurbishment for about the cost of a cheap pair of boots. BOF SUVs are kind of the same thing. When my 04 Yukon XL K1500 SLT starts to show some wear (150k and still in great shape), I fully intend to repower it. At some point (maybe 300k) I'm sure I'll do a complete frame-off restoration. I would have no problem dropping $15k every 15-20 years to keep this truck (which originally cost me nearly $50k) doing what it does for the rest of my days. Kind of tough to do a frame-off resto on a unibody minivan with big tires. Much easier to crush and melt them into new ones. I wonder how many Dodge Nitro, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Jeep Liberty. CUVs have been built and then crushed in the ten years I've been driving this beast. Oh but they're more economical because they get 22 to my 16 mpg, right? I made my last payment in 2009, and have driven it 3-4 times a week, every week, since then. How's that for economy?

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.