The Subaru Outback, Nissan Murano, Cadillac SRX and Honda CrossTour are all vehicles that combine the all weather utility of an SUV without the girth of a full sized truck. Nowadays automakers are calling these vehicles crossovers in the hopes that the buying public will think that they’re getting the latest and greatest. However, if you look back throughout the annals of automotive history, you’ll notice that there was one little car maker that brought the concept of the crossover out over 30 years ago. AMC (American Motors Corporation) recognized the need for a family sized utility vehicle that had the all-weather prowess of a full-sized truck, but without the size. In the early 1980’s AMC released the Eagle, a wagon that combined the best of both worlds in a package that Americans could wrap their arms around. Now granted, Subaru had their DL wagons out in the late 1970’s, but they were small and packed in about as much luxury as a burlap sack.
The Eagle was introduced as a 1983 model and packed into it seating for five, leather interior (on limited models), a 4.2 Inline 6-cylinder and enough storage space to take the family away for a week with no worries. It also got an EPA rating of 28 mpg hwy when mated to its 4-speed automatic transmission or a very respectable 31 mpg hwy with a 5-speed auto. Those are great numbers even by today’s standards.
Shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive was done with the slide of a switch and enabled drivers to feel comfortable in any driving conditions. When Chrysler took over AMC in 1987 one of the unfortunate side effects was the demise of the Eagle. Every now and then I’ll see one of these little wagons tooling around and I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if Chrysler had kept them in production. Unfortunately, in 1987 the minivan craze was in full swing, as where small SUV’s like the Jeep Cherokee. I just feel bad for the little AMC Eagle though, because truth be told, this was a car that was truly ahead of its time.