Why did two-door 4x4s become extinct?

From the 70s until the early 90s, two-door four-wheel-drive vehicles were quite popular. There was sort of a “golden age” of these vehicles - the Ford Bronco, the Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy, the International Harvester Scout, the Dodge Ramcharger, and the original Jeep Cherokee (how many current Jeep owners know that the Cherokee used to look like THIS?) There was a time when these two-door, V8, 4x4 vehicles were quite popular, and were a good compromise between the functionality of a truck and the comfort of a car. This was before SUVs became a status symbol (the Escalade) or a vehicle for “soccer moms” (the Expedition and all the other comfortable SUVs.) At that point, the 4x4 was a utility vehicle primarily intended for hunting, fishing, and traveling on rough terrain, while also offering more comfort and more seating than a pickup truck.

By and by, these two-door SUVs vanished. The Bronco, Scout and Ramcharger were discontinued (the latter is still made in Mexico but is not sold in the U.S.) The Blazer/Jimmy was given a face lift and turned into a 4-door vehicle based on the Chevy S-10 light truck platform, though a 2-door sport edition was also available - and this too was eventually discontinued. The Jeep Cherokee was turned into a 4-door vehicle, and remains so to this day. The K-5 Blazer managed to hold on into the mid-90s in the form of the two-door Tahoe/Yukon, based on the 1500 truck chassis, which was also at one point badged as a “Blazer” (these are now quite rare.) But it, too, went the way of the dinosaur.

Now there are no 2-door 4x4s offered anymore.

Why did this happen?

Don’t forget the first generation Toyota 4Runner. I’ve always got to cheer for a completely awesome truck, except that it’s the slowest damn thing on the planet. It’ll climb almost anything, and is about as reliable as the sun rising in the East. On the other hand, it’s hell getting stuff out of it, which I assume is why people wanted 4 doors. My 1984 4Runner didn’t even have a back seat.

The SUV got it roots when someone put a cap on a pickup truck. There were a lot of utilitarian reasons for doing such a thing. The truck makers then decided to incorporate the the cap in the construction and remove the dividing wall. You had the Bronco and the 4Runner. Nice stuff but geez, why not have a back seat that you can actually use? To do that you need more doors. And on it went, they got nicer and nicer (more like cars).

Remember, the Explorer (which evolved from the Bronco) and the 4Runner are SUV’s that are on the same chassis as the Ranger and the Tacoma. They are trucks turned into cars.

Meanwhile, the guys that wanted open bed trucks also liked the accessibility to the area behind the front seats so now you have extended cabs.

I have a 1987 Blazer, the two door model.

Looks better than the 4 door model, in my opinion, but it’s not very functional. It’s very difficult for the back passengers to get in and out, and it’s very hard on the back to put anything heavy on the backseat, like a case of beer. Also not very good for a baby seat.

So, practicalities, would be my guess for the disappearance of the two doors.

The 4-door Jeep Rubicon.

It happened when the SUV became the status symbol replacement for the mini-van (which was similarly the replacement for the station wagon).

The 2 door vehicles you mentioned sold for around $1500 to $2000 more than corrisponding pickup truck upon which they were based.

At some point automakers realized that they could sell a 4 door version with nice upolstery and cup holders for $10-15,000 more than the pickup truck. Not suprisingly, there were no more 2 door versions offered.

Another strong factor was child safety laws which mandated that infants and toddlers ride in special seats in the rear seat of the vehicle. Putting the child in such a seat is much easier with a 4 door.

There’s still the Jeep Wrangler, although the ugly 4-door models are pretty popular. I like my no-door model though

Why did they disappear? Um, because they were intrinsically impractical. All two-door cars have the built-in impractical compromise of having two sets of seats with only one set of doors. This originally started because it made economic sense, i.e. extra doors are a lot more expensive to build on a car than an extra (rear) seat. And it continued because people got used to and therefore put up with the inconvenience.

But its a terrible design for any vehicle. The only cars that should be two-door are two-seaters! Even as a kid growing up in the 70s I hated two-door cars and thought they were stupid. And its an especially stupid design for an SUV/truck. All that interior space, and you still only have two doors for all the passengers?!

Its a testament to the sensibility of the Jap auto industry. US makers made two-door Blazers & Broncos for decades. Nissan & Toyota, once their initial two-door SUVs were a success, immediately introduced four-door models. And the four-doors immediately outsold the two-doors by huge margins, so they dropped them. The US makers were still playing catch-up only then finally introducing four-door model SUVs.

Two-door 4x4’s extinct? Good riddance!

Wasn’t the Suburban always the vehicle of choice for soccer moms, even way before that phrase was created?