At some point and time most folks had a utility vehicle as the family kicker. Especially in certain neighborhoods it was "de rigueur" to have a fashionable utility vehicle.
At Strada we used to identify utility vehicles as lifestyle family kickers. We have always had a "thing" for Suburbans, although they are quite big. Our family kicker for several years was comparable to a CUV of today, in the old school of solid axles front and rear, and a low range.
Even if its the luxury version with leather, and a myriad of features, its the family kicker that will get dirty, dinged, and used for the kids.
Back in the day the "kicker" was a genuine 4x4 with a low range, and often when the kids became of driving age the kicker was passed down. Yes...the 4x4, the low range was often tested in off road conditions by the kids.
Utility vehicles are similar to sneakers, when a new version or wave of styling comes along it captures the imagination.
The kicker has through the years morphed into the family car, often replacing the sedan that was the family car. Its progressed from the kicker to the higher off the ground car with all wheel drive capabilities. As its morphed from the kicker status to car status sales have increased appreciably.
The original kickers were in essence a truck with car features. There was an endearing truck thing about them, and they often could take some abuse. Today's vehicles are in many instances based on a front wheel drive car platform. If a manufacturer can't sell the platform as a sedan, it will sell as a utility.
The customer is content with a sedan that looks like a truck.
A few years back we saw, and subsequently followed (going in the same direction) a coupe version of a utility vehicle. To this day we reamin bewildered as to who would buy/lease such a concoction.
Yes...they are useful and versatile, endearing in their own way, while multi tasking as the family car, kicker, hauler to name a few.