20 years ago: These cars, trucks, and SUVs were introduced in 2001
The turn from 2020 to 2021 was just a few days ago but the changeover from 2000 to 2001 was 20, even though it might seem like "just yesterday". The second year of the 21st century was ripe with iconic model debuts, though some less iconic found their way in there. Let's take a look back at the cars, trucks, and SUVs that were introduced in 2001.
2001 Aston Martin Vanquish
Photo courtesy of Aston Martin Lagonda
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2001, but that wasn't the first time it was seen. The company hinted at the model in January 1998 with the Project Vantage at the New York Motor Show. The car was designed by famed artist Ian Callum.
The Vantage had a carbon fiber and aluminum platform, a 5.9-liter V12 engine, and a six-speed gearbox with paddle shift capability. Its carbon/steel/aluminum subframe carried the engine and front suspension.
Vanquish shared its engine with the CB7 Vantage. Its exterior panels were hot-formed by a process called 'superforming', which was pioneered by the automaker in the late 1970s.
2001 BMW 7 Series
Photo courtesy of BMW
The E65 generation of the BMW 7 Series was in production from 2001 to 2008. Development of the car started in 1996 and it wasn't until 2001 at the Frankfurt Auto Show that the car was revealed. It launched in Europe just eight short weeks later.
At the time it debuted, the new look of the model was a departure from the visual identity many BMWs were sporting at the time. Its kidney grille and similarly sized headlights, as well as squared off back end, created a design trend whose lineage clearly exists today in the company's lineup.
2002 Buick Rendezvous
Photo courtesy of Buick
The Buick Rendezvous may have had most of its success because it was the SUV that Tiger Woods was billed to endorse. The corporate cousin of the Pontiac Aztek debuted in 2001 as a 2002 model. The Redezvous was the first truck Buick brought to market since 1923 and they did all they could to market it as having the comforts of an SUV with the handling of a truck.
The Rendezvous was the shot in the arm Buick needed at the right time. It served as the launching point for the brand's modern North American presence before its run ended with the 2007 model.
2002 Chevrolet Avalanche
Photo courtesy of Chevrolet
With Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade underpinnings, the Chevrolet Avalanche seemed like it had the right stuff to make a lasting impact - and it did. The four-door, five- or six-passenger truck was part SUV with more comfortable appointments and styling. It also had a second row of seats that could be folded down in combination with the Convert-a-Cab system to make a bed.
The product's first buyers could get their Avalanche with either a 5.2-liter V8 or an 8.1-liter V8, making 285 or 340 horsepower, respectively.
Production of the Avalanche started in autumn 2001 and ended in April 2013, spanning two generations.
2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer
Photo courtesy of Chevrolet
From 1999 to 2001, the TrailBlazer was a Chevrolet Blazer trim level. Then, in time for the 2002 model year, the General Motors company gave North America its own Chevrolet TrailBlazer model. It came standard with a 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that produced 273 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Buyers could upgrade to a 5.3-liter V8 that achieved 302 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. All models had four-wheel drive.
Today, the Chevrolet Trailblazer is a small crossover that retains little, if any, of the heritage of its namesake.
2003 Honda Civic Hybrid
Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Mfg. Inc
The Honda Civic Hybrid squeaks in as one of the last models introduced in 2001. It debuted arrived in the Japanese market in December of that year. At that time, it was the most fuel-efficient five-passenger gasoline-powered production vehicle in the world.
This first-generation Honda Civic Hybrid is based on the seventh-generation Civic. It came to the U.S. in the spring of 2002 as a 2003 model year vehicle.
Today, the Civic Hybrid has been replaced by the fuel-efficient Honda Insight in the company's North American lineup.
2008 Honda Fit
Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Mfg. Inc
The Honda Fit, known as the Honda Jazz in international markets, was introduced in Japan in 2001. It would slowly make its way into Europe, Australia, South American, South Africa, Southeast Asia, China, and Mexico before arriving on U.S. shores the better part of a decade later (as shown above).
The small and versatile car is known today for its fuel efficiency, numerous cargo configurations, flat-fold front seat, and easy maneuverability. Honda recently announced that the Fit is leaving the North American market.
2003 Infiniti G35
Photo courtesy of Infiniti
The Infiniti G35 was unveiled in June 2001, sharing a platform with the Nissan 350Z. It made its North American dealership debut in 2002 as a 2003 model year vehicle. The rear-wheel drive sedan had little in common with its G-Series predecessor, the G20, instead taking a note from the BMW M vehicles.
The car was available with a five-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual when it was new. Its V6 achieved 260 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and had 48-52 weight distribution. The AWD model of the G35 sedan is called the G35x.
2002 Jeep Liberty
Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
The Jeep Liberty was introduced as a stepping stone model in the company's lineup. When it debuted as a 2002 model in 2001, it was slotted between the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the smallest four-door SUV the automaker offered.
2001 Jaguar X-Type
Photo courtesy of Jaguar
The Jaguar X-Type was a front-engine compact executive car designed during the period when Ford owned Jaguar. It shared a platform with the Ford Mondero and was available with all-wheel drive.
The model filled a lucrative hole in the Jaguar lineup and Ford hoped that it would help double the company's sales. That didn't happen. Though it was projected to sell 100,000 units per year, just 350,000 total X-Types were produced during the car's eight-year manufacturing run.
2001 Lamborghini Murciélago
Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili
The Lamborghini Murcielago succeeded the Diablo in the company's lineup. Manufacturing of the flagship sports car commenced in 2001 with the first models coming to North America wearing 2002 model year VINs.
The car marked an important moment for Lamborghini as it was the first new design in 11 years and the first model under Audi ownership. The Murcielago was designed by current Chief Creative Officer at Hyundai Motor Group, Luc Donckerwolke.
Just 65 were produced in 2001 but production picked up with 442 coupes coming off the line in 2002.
2002 Lincoln Blackwood
Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company
Ford made the Lincoln Blackwood exclusively for the U.S. and Mexico markets from 2002 to 2003. It was the first pickup truck Lincoln ever sold, and was initially met with enthusiasm when it debut at the North American International Auto Show in January 1999.
The luxury truck was a bit before its time offering more glitz and glam than practicality. The features list included a power tonneau, plush carpeting, a box lined with stainless steel, and a navigation system.
Lincoln made just 3,356 Blackwoods at its Kansas City Assembly plant from August 2001 to December 2002.
2002 Maserati Spyder
Photo courtesy of Maserati
By 2001, Ferrari was well into its ownership of Maserati, having purchased the brand from Fiat in 1999. A series of new vehicles were developed including Quattroporte Evoluzione and 3200 GT. The Maserati Coupé and Spyder replaced the 3200 GT in the company's lineup for the 2002 model year. Those two would eventually be replaced in the company's lineup by the GranTurismo and GranCabrio.
The Spyder was unveiled at the 2001 Frankfurt Auto Show and sales of the model started in March 2002. The Spyder marked Maserati's long-awaited re-emergence in the U.S. market.
Maserati gave the Spyder an electronically operated soft top that took 30 seconds to deploy/stow. The Coupé and Spyder were both powered by a Ferrari 4.2-liter V8 engine that delivered 385 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission was available, as were paddle shifters. The Spyder version of the car had a 176 mph top speed and could get from zero to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds.
2002 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
Design work that began in 1996 to resulted in the Mercedes-Benz SL (R230) debuting in July 2001. It was first presented to the public at the 2001 Frankfurt Auto Show with production beginning the following month. The car was designed using what at the time was state-of-the-art super computer referred to as the "CAVE" (Computer Aided Virtual Environment). The computer used five projectors to create the virtual image.
Mercedes sold the SL in two variants for the 2002 model year: SL350 and SL500. For the 2003 model year (shown above), the SL 55 AMG and SL 600 were added to the company's lineup.
2003 Mitsubishi Outlander
Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors
The Mitsubishi Outlander was introduced to the Japanese market in 2001 but wouldn't make its way to the U.S. until 2003. In Japan, the model was known as the Airtrek and came with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a 2.4-liter diesel engine. Both engines were paired with a four-speed automatic transmission.
When it arrived on U.S. lots looking like the model in the photo above, it replaced the Mitsubishi Montero Sport and featured a modified grille and headlights. In the U.S., Mitsubishi sold the Outlander with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 157 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque. It was available with either front- or four-wheel drive.
The Outlander is still sold in the U.S. It is set for a redesign for the 2022 model year, which will debut in February 2021.
2002 Toyota Camry
Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
The fifth-generation Toyota Camry was introduced in 2001 as a 2002 model. In the U.S., the new generation marked the end the Camry CE trim level and the reintroduction of the Camry SE grade. Toyota sold the 2002 with the buyer's choice of a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (157 brake horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque) or a 3.0-liter V6 (190 brake horsepower and 197 pound-feet of torque). The Camry LE and SE were available with a manual transmission when equipped with the inline-four.
Opting for the top-tier Camry XLE gave owners a model equipped with alloy wheels, a JBL premium audio system, and leather upholstery. Side airbags and vehicle stability control were available as add-ons.