Although General Motors introduced the Suburban in 1935 and Willys introduced its first four-wheel-drive Jeep station wagons in 1949, American Motors Corp.'s 1984 Jeep Cherokee is considered by many auto historians to be the first modern sport-utility vehicle, a light truck designed for the family. The new Cherokee was shorter and lighter than Jeep's full-size Wagoneer and nearly as nimble as the Jeep CJs. It was built to handle like a car while carrying the kids and the groceries, whether in a mall parking lot or on a snow-covered highway. A four-cylinder engine was standard, but a six was optional. Four-wheel drive was standard. The Cherokee featured "uniframe" construction -- a full-length boxed steel frame welded to a unitized body. AMC spent five years developing the new Cherokee, and it was an immediate success. By 1989, sales of the model rose from 77,000 vehicles a year to more than 200,000. A couple of years later, the Ford Explorer set the stage for the SUV age.

Price $10,600

Engine In-line 2.4-liter four

Horsepower 105 at 5,000 rpm

Wheelbase 101.4 inches

Overall length 165.3 inches

Passenger capacity 6

Year 1984

President Ronald Reagan

Median family income $26,433

Dow Jones industrial average (year-end) 1211.56

Academy Award movie "Amadeus"

Milestone New York state imposes first mandatory seat-belt law