The good, the bad, and the meh that just don't want to die.
Technology used to move slowly but, here in the 21st century, it's moving fast. A car platform's average life is around five years now, as technology evolves, and competition means continual updating by automakers. Not all cars get continual updates, though - whether that's for better or worse. Sometimes, a great platform is a testament to how well it was built in the first place, and sometimes the demographics mean that platform doesn't need the latest and greatest whiz-bang technology installed. Sometimes, though, a once-great car is left to wither and dies on the vine. Either way, these are the oldest cars still in production for 2020.
The Chevrolet Express is the granddaddy of old platforms still on the road. It started production in 1995 to replace the Chevrolet and GMC G-Series vans and celebrate its 25th birthday this year, making the platform older than some of our readers. It had a facelift in 2003, but that has been about it for the old workhorse. The GMT600 platform is a full body-on-frame affair, and the 2021 model was recently announced with an option for the 6.6-liter V8 that's powering the new Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and 3500 HD models. A 4.3-liter V6 liter-V6 is standard, but a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder is the most fuel-efficient engine and turns out an impressive 369 lb-ft of torque. We're still hoping for a special edition with black paint, a red horizontal stripe, and a roof spoiler to commemorate the vans it replaced.
Nissan's mid-size truck has been with us since 1985, but the current generation available in the US started production in 2004. The rest of the word got a replacement in 2014, but the second generation still trundles out of dealerships here. It's one of the cases on this list of a platform that desperately needs replacing to stay relevant, particularly with the Toyota Tacoma continually evolving and getting praise heaped upon it. Nissan has truly neglected the Frontier, with just occasional and minor updates since production started 16 years ago. Thankfully, it looks a redesigned Nissan Frontier will be with us in 2021.
Toyota's current generation of the Land Cruiser has dominated wild landscapes since it started production in 2007. The platform took five years to develop, and heavy prototype testing resulted in one of the most substantial and most adept off-roaders money can buy. The chassis and suspension have stood the test of time, along with the interior comfort. Unfortunately, the 5.7-liter V8 engine, while being robust and incredibly reliable, is an uneconomical beast with an EPA estimated 14 mpg combined.
The Lexus LX is the Land Cruisers more upmarket brother and on the same platform, despite debuting in the US two years after the Land Cruiser. Lexus has tried to keep it stylistically up to dates with a series of facelifts, but luxury buyers want the latest technology.
If you just glanced at the raw data, you could believe 2007 was a golden year for platform design for Toyota. Indeed, the Tundra is one solid truck, even if it doesn't have fancy aluminum panels like a Ford F-150. In fact, the Tundra's freshly updated safety features, unmatched reliability, and hardiness in any climate are why it's still selling and continues into the 2021 model year after 2020's refresh. It launched with 31 configurations to order from and has had a lot more added since. All together, it makes the Tundra one of the most useful yet under-sung work trucks on the market today.
The Toyota Sequoia is only in its second generation, but that generation is now 13 years old. The SUV lives in the Land Cruiser's shadow with its smaller price tag, but it's always there as a wonderfully capable V8 powered body-on-frame SUV. Toyota has done a decent job recently of keeping the Sequoia relevant technology-wise, but while it's a reliable, hardy, and capable three-row SUV in all conditions, the cabin shows its age and its road manners show it's ready for a new generation.
Read almost any review over the past few years of the Nissan GT-R, and you'll see its current age mentioned. The Japanese super-coupe is now 13 years old in production years, but it's still a thrilling lump of technology on wheels. It's always a benchmark for performance and a worthy adversary of many more modern sports cars. However, that list of sports cars it can upstage is getting smaller and it's no longer the bargain performer it once was. It's time for Nissan to shake the automotive world to its core again with a new Godzilla.
Once upon a time, America ran on minivans. The middle class loaded up its kids in the suburbs to take them to school, soccer practice, and clarinet class. The Dodge Grand Caravan was one of the few holdouts through the rise of the SUV and crossover and is inexpensive with its starting price of $27,530. We're using past tense as the writing is on the American minivan's wall, and it won't be coming back in 2021. As it is, for 2020 Dodge cut back its availability in a number of states across the country. Fortunately, FCA's replacement in the form of the Chrysler Pacifica is about as good as minivans get.
There are two ways of looking at the rebooted Dodge Challenger. Either Dodge has figured out the perfect formula for milking a new platform dry for all it's worth, or the platform is as close to perfect as possible. Either way, we love that the Challenger is still with us the one true muscle car of modern America. Its age suits it, and Dodge has done a great job of shoehorning more and more power under the hood while honing is retro styling. It's a straight-line monster, a green-light racer, a desert road warrior, and all it ever needs is a bigger engine. Currently, in Hellcat Redeye form, the Challenger lays down 797 hp, while in the recently unveiled Challenger SRT Super Stock, it generates 807 ponies.
While Godzilla is just showing its age, the 370Z is trying to hit on the receptionist at the nursing home. The thing is, it got digits: people are still buying the 370Z. It's outlived three Corvette generations and two MX-5s, and it's still going. The rear-wheel-drive coupe is a little heavy for a modern sports car, but the V6 engine is strong and reliable, has a great manual transmission, and it's great for hardcore enthusiasts to build skills with and tune later. However, that will come to an end in the next year or two as a successor is finally on the books called the 400Z.
Along with the ax falling on the Grand Caravan, Dodge is also retiring its Ultradrive four-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, which has now been used in production cars for a staggering 32-years. Like the Grand Caravan, the Journey is being cut from Dodge's lineup. With a price range of $23,675 - $28,595, the Journey has been a dogged budget family vehicle, but time has finally caught up with it. In its sunset year, it's only available with a 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque four-cylinder engine and drives like a car twice its age.