These Big Beasts Have Only Grown Over the Years
Many vehicles have gotten bigger over the years, and after taking a look at the cars that have grown we wanted to take a look at some of the trucks and SUVs that have been around for a few years. Over the generations it’s only natural that they would creep up in size, price, and capability, but just how much have they changed? Here are 10 vehicles that have gotten bigger over the years.
For pickup trucks, unless otherwise noted, we have reported the payload and towing capacity of a single version, typically a regular cab with the standard engine.
Consider the 2004 Chevrolet Colorado, which was a true midsize truck. If you want more capability, there’s the Silverado, but if you’re looking for maneuverability with more versatility the footprint of the first-generation Colorado was just right at 192.8 inches long, 67.6 inches wide, and 64.9 inches tall. Power came from a 175-hp 185-lb-ft inline-four, which allowed owners to tow a 2,000-pound (907 kg) trailer or haul around 1,500 pounds (680 kg) of payload.
Fast forward and the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado, in its smallest extended cab form, measures 212.7 inches long, 74.3 inches wide, and 70.4 inches tall (longer but skinnier and shorter than a 2004 Silverado regular cab) and boasts a standard I-4 engine, which makes 200 hp and 191 lb-ft. Towing is increased to 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg), but payload is down to 1,410 pounds (640 kg) due to the lack of a standard cab option.
The Toyota Tacoma is considered a midsize truck purely by virtue of being smaller than the Tundra, but is it really “midsize” anymore? A 1996 Toyota Tacoma measured 180.5 inches long, 66.5 inches wide, and 61 inches tall. The base 142-hp I-4 churned out 160 lb-ft of torque and boasted a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg) with a max payload of 1,815 pounds (823 kg).
The 2016 Toyota Tacoma is massive in comparison, with a long bed access cab model stretching 212.3 inches long, 74.4 inches wide, and 70.6 inches tall. The base engine is still an I-4 that makes 159-hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, but boasts an identical 3,500 pound (1,588 kg) towing capacity and a 1,620 pound (735 kg) payload. Why the unimpressive numbers? Curb weight is up nearly 800 pounds (363 kg) versus the 1994 Tacoma.
When you want a full-size truck, why not go big? How big was big back in the day though, and how much has it changed? A 2000 Chevrolet C3500 Extra Cab with dual rear wheels and a long wheelbase measured 237.4 inches long, 94.3 inches wide (remember those dually wheels!), and 72.6 inches high. With a payload of 4,573 pounds and a towing capacity of 9,000 pounds, it’s no wonder the truck sold so well.
The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD grew as well, gaining a full set of rear doors, for a total length of 258.4 inches, a width of 96 inches, and a height of 77.8 inches (the Silverado 3500HD is shown here). All those years between have also added capability, to the tune of 5,768 pounds of payload and 13,400 pounds of towing capacity.
The Nissan Frontier started out as a competitor in the midsize segment and has largely stayed in the same segment. A 1998 Frontier with the king cab body style stretched 196.1 inches long, 66.5 inches wide, and 62.6 inches high. Payload was a capable 1,400 pounds (635 kg), while a maximum trailer weight of 1,330 pounds (603 kg) rounded out the capable little truck.
Jump forward and not much has changed: a 2016 Frontier King Cab measures 205.5 inches long, 72.8 inches wide, and 68.7 inches high. Towing capacity has gone up to 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg), but max payload is down a bit to 953 pounds (432 kg).
The Nissan Pathfinder is not only an example of growing vehicles but of shape-shifting nameplates. The 1995 Nissan Pathfinder, which measured 171.9 inches long by 66.5 inches wide by 65.7 inches tall, was based on a truck platform and seated five passengers in two rows. The 2016 Nissan Pathfinder switched to a non-truck platform (more crossover than SUV) and now seats seven passengers in three rows. The new Pathfinder is also significantly larger at 197.2 inches long by 77.2 inches wide and 69.6 inches tall.
How about the king of the torque hill in the truck segment: the headlining 2016 Ram 3500 boasts 900 lb-ft of torque, a 7,390 pound (3,352 kg) maximum payload, and 31,210 pound (14,157 kg) towing capacity, while the more modest truck (with the standard 5.7-liter Hemi V-8) claims 10,990 pounds (4,985 kg) of trailer towing capability and 7,055 pounds (3,200 kg) of payload. The new truck is 248.4 inches long, 79.1 inches wide (single rear wheel), and 79.7 inches tall. How about great grandpa? Towing with the base 5.9-liter V-8 was 8,550 pounds (907 kg) and max payload was 4,690 pounds (2,127 kg). The truck was significantly wider, however, since they often came with the dual rear wheels: 244.1 inches long, 93.5 inches wide, and 77.8 inches tall.
The Honda CR-V arrived in the late 1990s and has become an incredibly popular small SUV. It measured 177.6 inches long, 68.9 inches wide, and 65.9 inches tall. It exemplified many of the things people loved about 1990s Hondas, such as excellent ergonomics, great fuel economy, and great sightlines. Jump up to the 2016 CR-V, and its dimensions don’t bely much change, though it is 179.4 inches long, 71.6 inches wide, and 64.7 inches tall. Shorter, but longer and wider, the 2016 CR-V is a strong seller in the segment.
The Volvo XC90 started out as a two-row crossover, back before the three-row crossover had usurped the role of “people hauler for the minivan-averse” from the full-size SUV, so it seated just five passengers. The 2003 XC90, also a Motor Trend SUV of the Year winner, was 188.9 inches long, 74.4 inches wide, and 70.2 inches tall. The 2016 Volvo XC90 is longer (194.8 inches), wider (79.1 inches), but marginally shorter (69.9 inches) than the 2003 model. It’s also far nicer in the inside than we could have ever imagined back in the early 2000s.
The Ford Explorer nameplate has changed quite a bit over the years, similar to the Nissan Pathfinder, moving from a serious off-road capable rear-wheel drive platform (with available 4WD) to a front-wheel drive based platform. The 1995 Ford Explorer was 188.5 inches long, 70.2 inches wide, 67.5 inches tall, seated five passengers, and had the off-roading chops to back up its reputation. The 2016 Ford Explorer has a mission that doesn’t expressly include off-roading, and thus its front-wheel drive architecture is less of a knock against it. The 2016 Explorer has grown to 198.3 inches long, 78.9 inches wide, 70 inches tall, and now seats seven passengers in three rows.
The Chevrolet Suburban is one of the longest running continuously produced nameplates in the world, and it’s no surprise why: Off-road ability is there when you need it, towing capacity is truck-like, and cargo capacity with a full load of passengers is stellar. Just a few years back in the Suburban’s long life to 1995 it measured 220 inches long, 76.7 inches wide, 70.2 inches tall, and seated nine passengers in three rows. Jump forward to the 2016 model, and you’ll see that with a 224.4 inch length, 80.5 inch width, and 74.4 inch height the SUV has grown considerably. One area, however, that got smaller was the seating capacity: the new 2016 Suburban seats just eight passengers, losing the fold-down armrest seat that enabled three-abreast seating in the front of the 1995 Chevrolet.