The 90s was a decade that was quite important in our culture, from the way we used to dress, Discmans, Beepers, Boy bands such as the Backstreet Boys and Girl groups like The Spice Girls, computers, and the birth of internet access. The 90s had an impact on the way we saw life and the things around us. And, yes, even the automotive industry was influenced by the new fashions during the 90s, and the big brands did not want to be left behind and sought to innovate the market by offering users something unique, different and according to the new times.
But let's be honest, not all the cars that came onto the market were really worth it. Some companies, in that eagerness to innovate, ended up offering the strangest and most impractical models that we can imagine, and if we compare them with the type of vehicles that we currently have available in the market, they did not work so well.
So, I'm sorry millennials! But not everything was wonderful in the 90s. And although there is still a large group of people looking for cars of the 90s, the truth is that, nowadays, we live in a time where companies offer new innovations in motor engineering that give the driver better experiences, with more power and better technology, so, this new generation has been dimming the old models that have only stayed for the memory and anecdotes among our friends. That's why here we'll talk about 10 SUVs from the 90s no one should still be driving and 10 that are not that bad.
20 Best: Ford Explorer
Yes, the Explorer has been considered one of the best SUVs in the automotive market, has 5 generations of successful vehicles and has managed to remain in the market as one of the favorite brands of users, but also had not some so positive details.
The first version of the Ford Explorer was introduced to the market in 1990 as the successor of the Ford Bronco II, this new model within the range of cars of Ford, came available in two types of bodyworks in its first generation, 3-door SUV and 5-door SUV , with a 4.0L OHV Cologne V6 engine, while the transmission was available in two options 5-speed M5OD-R1 manual or 4-speed A4LD automatic. They also had an interior design that was attractive to the driver and quite spacious for the passengers. However, during the second generation of Explorer, the brand was affected by a massive problem that was in the tires of the vehicles.
At the beginning of 1996, there was a series of accidents caused by the tire tread of the Firestone tires that get separate from the tire at high speeds, installed in the Ford Explorer models and other vehicles, the tires were P235 / 75R15 ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT. This problem took more than 271 lives and resulted in more than 800 people injured in the United States and other countries, for which Firestone and Ford Motor Company were forced to replace around 23 million tires, affecting the perception of people regarding the brand and reducing the number of sales by half. In addition, the factories in Decatur, Illinois (where the tires were made) were closed.
Luckily, Ford learned from their mistakes and found a way to overcome this decline in the market and to maintain themselves through the years as one of the pioneers in the automotive industry.
19 Bust: Acura SLX
In the 90s Acura wanted to get in the market of SUVs, so they decided to launch the Acura SLX model and tried to promote it with taglines such as “Designed for Drivers with a Well-Developed Sense of Adventure – And an Equally Well-Developed Sense of Taste” and “Tough Enough to Go from Paris to Dakar. Elegant Enough for Those Who’d Prefer Simply to Stay in Paris.”, but the truth is that the SLX was an unimpressive vehicle. Among its main features include its horsepower of 190 hp at 5600 rpm, an engine of 188 ft-lbs at 4,000 rpm, a 4-speed automatic transmission, 6 cylinders and a combined MPG of 14.
Its design was not exciting or striking for the consumer either. The Acura SLX was only available in 4 colors, but the colors offered were gray and opaque colors, definitely nothing exciting. However, inside the SUV users found a spacious and comfortable area to sit and enjoy the ride.
But at the end of the day, Acura's attempt to captivate the SUV market was disappointing. Their slogan "The Most Civilized Way to Leave Civilization" was not aligned with what the vehicle offered to users, resulting in a boring experience, which did not give that feeling of luxury and exclusivity that the brand tried to offer. Besides, in terms of motor engineering, it had not achieved good results either.
18 Best: Hummer H1
The Hummer H1 reached the market in 1992 and was available until 2006, this vehicle was based on the M998 and was manufactured by AM General. Initially, this vehicle had the militia as an objective target, it was an ideal vehicle for war missions and to transport soldiers in the roughest and most difficult grounds, achieving unparalleled performance in high-risk situations. The Hummer H1 at the time was an unstoppable monster. And such was the success of the vehicle in the military field that manufacturers decided to make available the SUV to civilians, and it was a total success, although we must admit that most people bought this vehicle to drive it around the city and impress others because the Hummer is known to have a large size and have that rude and impressive appearance.
The first generation Hummer H1 came with a 4-door open top body, although they also made as 2-door models. The engine was 6.2 L Detroit Diesel V8 and the transmission was GM TH400 / 3L80 3-speed automatic. And, yes, there are many great aspects regarding this type of vehicle, but the truth is that as a city car it was terrible, besides it was too big and uncomfortable to park on the street.
Today users have at their disposal vehicles with better performance, and technology that offer that feeling of luxury sought by people who want to impress others, all that and more in vehicles of a size more suitable for the city.
17 Bust: Land Rover Freelander
During the 90s, Land Rover had the brilliant idea of offering a cheaper version of its vehicles for users with a tighter pocket. And although the idea was not bad, the result and the capacity offered by the vehicle was far from reaching the performance of the best vehicles of the brand. However, Land Rover got what it wanted, consumers took the bait and the Freelander became one of the best selling SUVs of the 90s throughout Europe, due to its price and its innovative design.
The first generation came with 5 doors, 4 engine options according to the model year 1.8 L K-Series I4, 2.5 L Rover KV6 V6, 2.0 L BMW M47 TD I4, and 2.0 L L-Series TD I4. And the transmission of 5-speed automatic, although afterward, they offered a 5-speed manual option. The reality is that Freelander served a simple purpose, selling. Land Rover knew that it wanted to place a simple vehicle on the market that would attract the attention of the consumer due to its price and people bit down on it, but Freelander is far from being a high-class SUV, in fact, it can be used more like a city car without great aspirations of performance.
16 Best: Chevy Suburban GMT400
The Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size SUV vehicle that has the longest production in the U.S market. The first versions began to circulate in 1935 and improved versions are still coming out today. In fact, the first generation of 1935 was quite innovative back then, and it was one of the first trucks with fully metallic production bodywork.
Chevrolet has decades in the automotive market and is a brand that has been characterized by being innovative and for always offering better experiences to the driver, and giving greater reliability behind the wheel.
Between 1992 and 1999 Chevrolet released the new version of its Suburban model that had a body of 4 doors, a 6.5 L engine (395 cu in) L56 & L65 Turbo Diesel V8 and 4-speed automatic transmission. And although the Suburban of the 90s has nothing wrong, why stay stuck with a past model when we can enjoy the new versions of this SUV that Chevrolet offers us, with better performance, better designs with luxury interiors and driving experiences more complete for the driver. I said it before and I will repeat it again, the 90s were great but we can not always live in the past, life is too short to not enjoy modern vehicles that offer us greater experiences than their predecessors.
15 Bust: Isuzu Trooper
The Isuzu Trooper was a midsize SUV that was available on the market in two generations, from 1981 to 2002. The first generation was available with a body of 3 doors and 5, the first engine was 1.9 L G200Z I4 ( UBS13), although with the new models their characteristics were changing and the engine capacity was improved as the transmission that was initially manual 4-speed Isuzu MSG, but then the company offered the option of a 4-speed Aisin Warner automatic.
It had a simple but functional body that made this SUV an ideal option for those looking for a midsize that offered them the reliability and comfort behind the wheel they were looking for.
The negative part? The 3-door model is too uncomfortable for passengers who want to access the vehicle and subsequently want to leave at some time because they are forced to wait till the person in the front seat to leave first and move their seat to allow them to leave. In general, Isuzu Trooper was not a bad buying option at that time, although I insist that the ideal option was the 5-door model, but this SUV is one of those vehicles that has lasted over time and from time to time we can some of the 2000 models that were sold in the US in the 90s rolling through the streets. However, I think it is time to leave this vehicle in the past and enjoy the benefits of the new generations that the automotive market offers us.
14 Best: Land Rover Defender
Land Rover is a brand that has become known for offering the best quality in its vehicles which easily adapt to the needs of the specific public for which they are aimed, providing the latest in automotive technology to give the driver a greater confidence and better performance behind the wheel.
By the time the company introduced the new Land Rover Discovery model, they found it necessary to give their classic SUV a name to identify it, and that is how the name Defender came about.
The new version of the most beloved SUV by the users of the brand had a modern alloy cylinder head, improved turbocharging, intercooler, and direct injection, it had a 2.8L BMW M52B28 petrol I6 engine and 5-speed LT77 manual transmission, although they also included a 4-speed version ZF 4HP22 automatic. Moreover, this vehicle has many of the features of the Discovery version of Land Rover, and it is still considered by many a classic of the brand and many collectors still enjoy taking a ride in this beauty. But Defender is a vehicle that has been left in oblivion by others, and only true car enthusiasts still remember it with nostalgia.
13 Bust: Daihatsu Rocky
The Daihatsu Rocky was a mini SUV that was manufactured by the Japanese company Daihatsu between 1989 and 1998. The main idea was to offer a compact vehicle for young people or families who wanted a vehicle capable of moving around different places and grounds, not only in the city. Daihatsu Rocky came available with a 1.6 L HD-E / HD-C I4 engine and a manual 5-speed transmission, and like the Isuzu Trooper, the fact that it has only 3 doors generates greater discomfort for passengers that get in and get out of the vehicle. Besides, the vehicle inside is not spacious enough for the legs of the passengers so it gives the feeling of being trapped.
Among the negative characteristics, we must mention that the Rocky does not have a good suspension, the distance between the axes is very short, and its performance does not reach the expected results. And although its exterior design is not so bad, we could say that Daihatsu Rocky is a vehicle to use in the city, with we can make short rides and maintain low-performance aspirations because it is definitely not the type of vehicle with which we will want to have a getaway trip. So, why try to revive and keep this car of the 90s in our streets? The best thing is to keep it in our memories as a "classic of the 90s" that was quite common among our friends because of its low costs. But without a doubt, today we can find mini SUV at low costs that offer better performance than what Daihatsu Rocky offered us in the 90s.
12 Best: Mercedes Benz ML320
The first thing that crosses our minds when we hear Mercedes-Benz is luxury, and exclusive vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class was one of the first luxury SUVs for suburban customers that was offered by this brand. The ML320 was part of the first generation of the Mercedes Benz M Class W163, but the ML 320 reached the US market first and then was sold in the international market, and was known as the 320 as a way to allude the 3.2-liter V6 engine.
This model had a comfortable interior for the users as well as spacious, leather seats available, and the front seats have heating ideal for getting warm in the harsh winters. It also offers an excellent performance although it is definitely not the fastest vehicle if we compare it with other SUVs that compete in this category, but, we must emphasize that it is unstoppable in snowy seasons, it does not stay stagnant and is able to move without problems in the harshest winters.
However, the ML 320 is a classic of the Mercedes Benz brand that we can modify to improve its performance, but which is at a disadvantage compared to more updated SUV versions. And among its negative aspects, we can mention that rides can become somewhat rigid, besides the fact that when we are driving at fast speeds the noise of the wind becomes insupportable, the air conditioning does not cool as fast as in more updated models, and no matter how superficial it sounds, cupholders are terrible. At the end of the day, the ML320 has been an innovative model in the 90s but currently only offers memories of having been a classic of the decade.
11 Bust: Tata Estate
Believe it or not, the Tata Estate was a pretty revolutionary vehicle in the 90s. These station wagons produced by Tata Motors were introduced in the market in the year 1992 and became a model to follow in the market of heavy vehicles due to characteristics quite advanced for the time. Tata was a vehicle designed primarily for the comfort of passengers, so they offered spacious rear seats for the comfort of people.
Among other features, we can highlight that it had electric windows, power steering, Tachometer, 1.9 D (68 Hp) Diesel engine and manual 5-speed transmission, which were not common in the vehicles that were in the SUV market during the 90s.
This vehicle worked better than expected due to its attractive qualities and accessible costs, and consumers were more than happy to acquire a Tata.
As a family vehicle, it was a perfect option with a 5-door body that gave easy access to a spacious trunk and to the rear seats, for which Tata was considered a familiar vehicle quite common in the 90s. However, although it has been considered an innovation at that time and some people maintain a certain nostalgic appreciation for Tata, we must admit that it is a vehicle that has already become obsolete with the new versions that are on the market, so I do not consider it a good buying option nowadays.
10 Best: Jeep Cherokee
The Jeep Cherokee (XJ) is a compact vehicle that was manufactured and marketed by Jeep from 1983 to 2001. These vehicles were characterized because they had a different body due to it not including a traditional chassis body on frame, the XJ instead had a body and a light integrated frame that also was efficient in space, and although these models were initially marketed as sportwagons, later they would become what we call SUV-style vehicles.
The XJ Cherokee was introduced in 1984 and had a rigid and robust design, with approximately 3200 welds in a complete body, but which achieved a balance between both qualities because it managed to keep the vehicle light. In addition, Uniframe allowed outstanding performance even with AMC's new 2.5-liter / 150-cubic-inch four-cylinder engine. Cherokee has been one of those vehicles that become part of our culture and is able to take us to certain times. This particular model was quite successful and it was common to see these SUV on the streets, in addition, to the Hollywood movies. Moreover, we must note that although they stopped producing the vehicle in 2001 the Jeep Cherokee is one of those vehicles of the 90s that is still worth, and if we want to modernize it we just need to improve certain qualities of the Cherokee and we can get a better performance.
9 Bust: Pontiac Sunrunner
The Pontiac Sunrunner was the Canadian version of the Geo Tracker, which emerged as a result of GM Canada giving up on the Asuna brand in 1993. Curious fact, the vehicle that became known as Pontiac Sunrunner in Canada was initially sold as a Chevrolet Tracker and GMC Tracker in the north, but the reality is that this vehicle passed by different names in different countries and regions before establishing itself in the market as Pontiac the benchmark for vehicles that GM Canada could not (or did not want) to sell under the insignia of Chevrolet.
Moreover, the Pontiac Sunrunner was a mini SUV that was quite popular in the 90s, due to its colorful body and compact design.
Initially, this vehicle was manufactured for young people and was considered a light truck due to its off-road capabilities. Sunrunner had 4 cylinders of 1.6 liters, with GM's three-speed automatic, and in general, it was not a bad vehicle. So! what was wrong with it? Its performance was regular, in fact, it did not offer any emotion to the driver and ironically the manufacturers did not modify the vehicles for the Canadian weather, especially for states and locations that have more severe winters, for which users had to acquire as an extra the engine heater with their dealer. This mini SUV is definitely a classic of the 90s that we remember seeing on the streets circulating, but although the 90s were great in many aspects it's time for some people to let it go of their obsession for that decade because no matter how cute the Pontiac Sunrunner was, we need to admit it was not a good enough.
8 Best: Toyota 4Runner
The 4Runner is a midsize SUV manufactured by the Japanese company Toyota since 1984. Initially, it came on the market as a compact size SUV, designed with a fiberglass shell on the bed, but from 1984 until today these have experienced several changes. It is also one of the favorite vehicles for users looking for off-road SUVs.
After the success of the first generation, Toyota launched in 1990 the second generation of Hilux Surf and 4Runner, the most sold SUV vehicle of the brand, and this new generation was known as the N120 / N130 series. These new versions, instead of having the body style of a pickup, had a steel integrated body mounted on the existing frame and got a new rear suspension system of coil springs, but unfortunately, did not achieve the expected performance and remained as vulnerable as in the previous models. Additionally, the 4Runner remained slightly identical to the Hilux from the B-pillars forward.
Luckily for users, Toyota is one of the monsters that currently leads the industry, and has managed to adapt their most coveted models to the new times we live, integrating new advances in motor engineering in each of their vehicles. Generation N120 / N130 was available in the market from 1990 to 1995 when it was replaced by the third generation N180.
7 Bust: Isuzu Vehicross
The Vehicross was a compact SUV manufactured by Isuzu that was introduced in 1997 and was available on the market until 2001. Among its main characteristics are that it shares a large part of its components with Trooper, such as its 3.2 L engine and 3.5 L V6 that produces 215 bhp (160 kW; 218 HP) at 5400 rpm and 230 lb · ft (312 N · m) at 3,000 rpm of torque. Moreover, Vehicross also has a Torque on Demand (TOD) four-wheel drive system.
The idea was to create a small two-door sports SUV capable of adapting to different grounds. The designers tried to give it an aggressive and bold style, giving it a black hood with a black plastic coating on the middle half, its wheels were polished 16 " in the first versions but then they added an 18" chromed wheels for the rest of the production. So far, it doesn't sound so bad, but the truth is that in those eagerness to be original and stand out they ended up granting a vehicle that does not have the engine performance according to what the company wanted to offer to users. In the US, around 5,000 were sold, but nowadays it is rare to see them in the streets because they have remained as a vague memory of a vehicle that seemed to be "very cool" in the 90s, but today is left behind compared with the new technological advances and motor engineering that we see in SUV models.
6 Best: Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep is another of the companies that we have seen in the market for a while and has been able to adapt to the new decades by offering more powerful and advanced models on each of their vehicles, that are capable of meeting the needs of users. Grand Cherokee is the range of medium-sized trucks that the brand offers and that is characterized by using a unibody chassis.
The first generation of the Grand Cherokee was launched on the market in 1992 as a luxury vehicle in the SUV segment. These models of the Grand Cherokee were known as "ZJ" and came in three different trim levels. The base models included features such as full instrumentation, cloth interior, and a standard five-speed manual transmission. Windows and electric locks were not standard equipment at the edge of the base. But due to the narrow difference between the price of the base with higher models they had a low consumer demand, so this model was discontinued later. While, the standard models, were characterized by including a 5.2 V8 engine, power 220 hp (164 kW), and transmission 285 lb⋅ft (386 N⋅m), in addition to accessories such as airbags on the driver's side, and anti-lock braking system (ABS) on the four wheels.
And finally, the luxury models had electric windows, keyless entry system, leather seats with heating, and a Jensen brand stereo with multiband equalizer, among others.
Currently, the latest model of Grand Cherokee WK2 is available, ideal for crossing rivers and different terrains, and is available with a 295-hp 3.6-liter V-6 as a base model.
5 Bust: Fiat Multipla
The truth is that there were too many things that did not work with the Fiat Multipla, although they were mainly of an aesthetic nature. During the 90s Fiat wanted to go further and offer consumers a vehicle with a spatial aspect and a bit weird, capable of accommodating six people inside, and although it sounds difficult to believe this vehicle had 3 generations with considerable improvements in each one, especially in appearance, they were available in the market from 1998 till 2010.
The first generation was introduced to the market in 1998 until 2001, it had 6 real seats available in 3 + 3 and a trunk of 430 liters, in addition to having spacious seats with rear tray, all packaged in a 4,089 mm length, making the task of parking on the street something difficult. Its 1,871 mm width and its 1,695 mm height gave users that feeling of space and comfort. This 5-door vehicle has a 1.6L 16V petrol I4 and a 5-speed manual engine transmission, and in terms of performance was the ideal vehicle for a family group that wanted a city car.
The truth is that the only crime of this car was to be ugly because if the manufacturers had invested more time in giving it a more elegant finish the Multipla would not have won the title of the ugliest car according to Top Gear.
4 Best: Lincoln Navigator
The Lincoln Navigator is a full-size luxury SUV marketed and sold by Ford Motor Company since the 1998 model year. The Navigator was designed to be Lincoln's counterpart to the Ford Expedition, but with the difference that the Lincoln SUV has a higher load capacity.
The Lincoln Navigator was launched in 1998. Its design was inspired by the Ford Expedition, but it gets in the SUV segmentation as the first offered by the Lincoln-Mercury division. It had an engine 5.4 L Triton SOHC V8 or 5.4 L InTech DOHC V8, and also has a 4-speed 4R100 automatic transmission, in addition to independent front suspension and a rear suspension of a live rear axle, but to achieve a better performance during the ride, manufacturers added a pneumatic suspension of load leveling.
The Navigator is a high-end SUV that has a full body on frame, and because the Navigator was mechanically related to the Ford Expedition. Both vehicles were related to the 1997 Ford F-Series, which is why they had certain similarities regarding their automotive engineering.
The first generation was available until 2002 when it was replaced by the second one that spanned from 2003 to 2006. Currently, the brand already has 5 generations on the market and its SUV models are considered among the best high-end on the market.
3 Bust: Land Rover Discovery II
The Land Rover Discovery has been one of the best-selling SUVs in recent times, its elegant design and its motor reliability made it a favorite of many users because the vehicle achieve a balance between comfort, power, and design; for which the brand decided that they should launch another version of their gold model, and that's how the new Land Rover Discovery 2 came to the market, but to the disappointment of many users the vehicle did not meet their expectations, falling behind its predecessor in the field of performance.
In 1994, many changes were made to Discovery with its second version (the "Discovery 2"); The 200Tdi and 3.5L V8 engines were replaced by the 2.5L 300Tdi 4-cylinder and 3.9-liter Rover V8 engines. The 300Tdi introduced an electronic emission control Bosch for certain models and markets. In addition to having the R380 gearbox, the most resistant in the manual models for that moment in the market. And although the Discovery 2 has its group of fans who defend it, the truth is that it can not be compared to the first version, besides that the inclusion of new technological accessories made its use quite complicated to users because the system was not intuitive at all. In addition, this model has a small problem with rust, after the second year its structure begins to show signals that it is getting rust. But luckily Land Rover is still one of the monsters that are leading the automotive market and have learned to learn from their mistakes.
2 Best: Mercury Mountaineer
The Mercury Mountaineer is a medium-sized luxury SUV that was sold by Mercury from 1996 to 2010, which shared many features with the Ford Explorer, while the difference lay in the aesthetic details.
What happened was that Ford Explorer monopolized the sales market when their second generation was introduced in 1995, and Lincoln-Mercury dealerships were not part of the rise that led to the Ford Explorer becoming one of the best-sold SUVs of the moment, so manufacturers decided to launch Mercury Mountaineer in 1997.
Basically, what the manufacturers and designers did was to choose the most outstanding features and best performance of the high-end Explorer and use them in the Mountaineer, in addition to improving the aspects in which Explorer had failures. Among the main features of the Mountaineer we can highlight the 5.0-liter V8, 5-door body, 4-speed automatic or 5-speed automatic transmission and the implementation of a new grid.
Both models were so identical that only extremely detailed people noticed the differences in the rear bumper and sidelines, in addition to the grille. But the Mountaineer positioned itself in the market as a more exclusive model due to its characteristics in the interior design of the vehicle that offered greater comfort and exclusive feeling.
1 Bust: Mazda Navajo
As I said before, the 90s were a very peculiar decade and left us with memories like the Mazda Navajo, probably the rarest SUV coming from the Ford Explorer family. This vehicle reached the market in 1991 due to the need to offer a medium size 4x4 vehicle within the range of cars that Mazda offered to its users.
Navajo was a vehicle that sought to differentiate itself from its SUV competitors in the market of the 90s, for which it was awarded a 4.0 liter Cologne V6 engine 160 hp (119 kW) and a Ford C3-based A4LD 4-speed automatic transmission, while other versions had the Mazda 5-speed manual. Regarding its body, what attracted most attention was the anonymous black plastic grill that was placed in the vehicle, unfortunately, it did not bring a positive attention because it did not have the best appearance, actually, it doesn't look very resistant and looked cheap. Meanwhile, its interior design was inconspicuous and less than exciting for the driver, moreover, this 3-door mid-SUV presented the same problem as all the 3-door vehicles, passengers in the rear seats suffer every time they need to get in and get out of the car.
And due to low sales, the Navajo left the market in 1994, just a year before the Ford Explorer was redesigned and released. Currently, we can find some of the models of these vehicles in the market at a price of $4,000. But, in reality, they are difficult to find, and honestly, it is better to leave them in the oblivion.
Sources: drivetofive.com, autotrader.com, autoweek.com, wikipedia.com, classics.honestjohn.co.uk, diariomotor.com