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Home » The Resurgence of Three-Door 4x4s: A Niche Worth Exploring

The Resurgence of Three-Door 4x4s: A Niche Worth Exploring

Greetings, fellow automotive enthusiasts! Today, I want to delve into a topic that has been lingering in my mind—the dwindling presence of three-door 4x4s on our roads. Recently, I acquired a three-door Mitsubishi Shogun, the commercial variant devoid of rear seats, essentially a four-wheel-drive van. This practical acquisition got me contemplating the scarcity of these compact off-roaders that were once ubiquitous in the mid-’90s.

In my childhood, three-door SUVs held a special place in my heart. I fondly remember my mom’s three-door V6 Shogun, a common sight back then. Despite being slightly less practical than their long-wheelbase counterparts, short-wheelbase SUVs offer a fantastic driving position, excellent off-road capabilities, and a parking-friendly size comparable to a Ford Focus.

Reflecting on the automotive landscape 15 to 20 years ago, names like the three-door Land Cruiser, Shogun, RAV4, HRV, Trooper, Vitara, and many more come to mind. However, fast forward to 2021, and the list has significantly dwindled. Only a handful, such as the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender 90, have withstood the test of time.

These compact 4x4s, often overlooked in today’s market, are versatile and efficient utility vehicles. Their shorter wheelbase enhances agility and nimbleness off-road, making them ideal for towing without bottoming out. Most importantly, they provide an eco-friendly alternative, especially in a time when larger SUVs roam the streets with minimal occupancy.

Now, you might argue that the demise of three-door 4x4s is a result of Darwinian market forces—survival of the fittest. However, I propose it’s not just about dwindling sales; it’s about streamlining production lines and cutting costs. In an era where environmental consciousness is on the rise, these compact vehicles could serve a purpose, freeing up space in crowded car parks and contributing to more efficient road usage.

Surprisingly, on the used market, three-door 4x4s command a premium. In Australia, for instance, a 2004 five-door RAV4 can be yours for around two grand, while its three-door counterpart demands a hefty six and a half. Clearly, there’s a demand, and where there’s demand, there’s potential for revival.

Imagine a world where short-wheelbase 4x4s make a triumphant return. Picture the convenience of extra parking space and reduced road congestion. Moreover, these compact vehicles have proven to be a lucrative investment, as evidenced by their elevated prices in the used market.

As a proud owner of a three-door Shogun, I can’t help but wonder about missed opportunities. If my beloved Range Rover had a three-door variant, I would have undoubtedly opted for it. Rarely do the rear seats see any action, and folding the front seats for passengers is a minor inconvenience.

Interestingly, Land Rover once teased a limited run of three-door Vogues, handcrafted but priced at a steep £200,000. Unfortunately, the plan was scrapped due to a limited audience. However, the concept sparked interest, highlighting the potential market for these unique offerings.

To the CEOs of large automobile companies, I extend a challenge: revive the short-wheelbase 4×4. The market awaits, with minimal competition in sight. A niche audience is ready to embrace these versatile vehicles, and the time is ripe for their triumphant return.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration of the potential revival of three-door 4x4s. If you enjoyed the discussion, don’t forget to give it a thumbs up. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more automotive insights. Feel free to share your comments or questions below, and I’ll be sure to get back to you. Until next time, happy driving!

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