Alex Taylor III looks at the demise of the SUV:
It is an ignoble end to a proud motoring era. Not more than 15 years ago, SUVs ruled the automotive landscape and produced record profits during Detroit's last golden age. Now the most popular SUV of that era, the Ford Explorer, is headed to the scrap heap, done in by fuel economy and the lingering effects of tire-shredding and rollover issues from several years ago.
The Explorer has been a shadow of its former self, selling at less than half of the 400,000 units a year it did during its glory years. The name will continue on but the vehicle is moving on the passenger car platform used by the Ford Taurus around 2011. (Those interested in a sneak preview can see Ford's (F, Fortune 500) concept-car version of the new Explorer at the 2008 Detroit auto show in January.) Likewise, the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango, latecomers to the SUV party, will shift onto the unibody platform used by the Jeep Grand Cherokee.