There are plenty of high-quality used SUVs from the 1990s available; all it takes to find them is knowing where to look.
While these trucks may not boast the prestige of a Mustang GT or Corvette, they still provide plenty of utility at a lower cost, while their straightforward mechanicals make maintenance and repairs simple.
The Ford Explorer introduced Americans to SUVs and remains one of the most recognizable vehicles on the road today. As one of the first affordable four-door mid-sized SUVs available at an accessible price point, its standards set by this vehicle still hold true today as competitors like Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander, and Hyundai Palisade try their hand.
The initial generation of Explorers were introduced for 1990 and were built on the same Ford Ranger platform. They featured body-on-frame construction with live rear axle and front-wheel drive. Power came from either a 4.0L Cologne V6 engine producing 155hp or from either a Mazda M5OD 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed A4LD overdrive automatic transmission from Mazda; furthermore there were model specific door stampings and interior trim throughout with seating for six. Three and five door models were available.
Ford introduced major upgrades to their second generation Ford Explorer SUV starting with 1998 model year models. Notable changes included a refreshed look and longer wheelbase; as well as Terrain Management system which would adjust vehicle performance according to terrain (throttle response, center multi-disc differential lock, four-wheel electronic traction control and electronic stability control). Furthermore, the Explorer was the first American SUV with three-zone climate control system.
Ford didn’t produce an Explorer with high performance capabilities, so Saleen stepped in with their extreme XP8 model. This improved Explorer performance by featuring a 286 horsepower V-8 engine with supercharging capability as well as 18″ Saleen wheels and stickier tires – these extremely rare vehicles were only produced 125 times and therefore are rare on the market today.
Isuzu’s Trooper SUV was a compact yet boxy little vehicle that borrowed heavily from its light truck roots. With large windows, tapered roof design, and an external spare tire – features that many buyers of rugged sport/utility vehicles expect – it also benefitted from high quality engineering that epitomized Japanese quality standards.
The Trooper was produced from 1981-1991 and remained mostly unchanged during that period, giving rise to two two-door variants called the RS and one four-door model with more passenger room.
Early models utilized a single overhead cam V6 that produced 175 horsepower; its output was increased to 190 in the LS version with four-wheel antilock brakes as standard equipment. A diesel engine option became available overseas markets in 1994.
Trooper buyers enjoyed many options when purchasing one, such as switching between normal rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive with just the push of a button on the fascia. This feature allowed customers to drive off-road while still hauling heavy loads on road – ideal for towing heavy loads! In 1998 both US and Australasian-spec models received Isuzu/Holden Rodeo’s 3.5 liter DOHC V6 that produced 215 horsepower (160kW; 218HP), along with Borg Warner torque-on-demand 4WD system which were both features.
The Trooper may not be as refined as many luxury SUVs, but it remains an exceptional vehicle. It offers excellent on-road handling, great braking performance and ample cargo room – plus it’s relatively affordable to buy and maintain; an Isuzu water pump costs just $10 while its fuel filter runs roughly a quarter of this cost – prices remain competitive so as to encourage owners to choose OEM components over aftermarket parts replacement options.
When first released onto the market, Toyota Kijang was one of the most affordable SUVs available. Although its boxy vehicle resembles something you might find in video game NPCs’ anonymous SUVs, its performance certainly doesn’t reflect its cost – yet still offers great budget-minded family driving adventures off-road or snowbound terrain.
Introduced in 1977 and selling 26,806 units by 1981, this model was commonly known as the KF10 Kijang (and later more popularly as Crocodile Kijang due to the engine hood’s similarity to a crocodile’s mouth when opened). Equipped with either a four-cylinder gasoline or diesel KF10 engine with five-speed manual transmission.
In 1993, Kijang Rover added a four-door variant called KF53 Kijang Rover that offered more luxury than entry level models, featuring air conditioning, front power windows, CD player, 4-speaker audio system as well as more refined dashboard. There was even a deluxe variant with leather seats and 13-inch steel wheels available as an upgrade option.
1994 also brought with it the KF52 Kijang Explorer, an even more luxurious five-door long wheelbase model which included power steering system, air conditioning and CD player compared to its counterpart the Explorer. A five door long wheelbase variant with no tachometer or front power windows was also made available as part of this deluxe edition.
Toyota revised the Kijang Rover and gave it a new name in 2004: Tamaraw FX Revo was its new moniker in Indonesia and Malaysia; here it could also be found as both pickup truck and wagon versions with fuel-injected 7K gasoline or 2.0-liter 2C diesel engines and five-speed manual transmissions.
In the 1990s, SUVs were in high demand; for every Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer that made its way onto a cargo ship bound for Transnistria with its single-disc Kenwood player loaded with Backstreet Boys CDs was another that ended up rusted out and on its way to Transnistria as cargo. While some such as Suzuki S-90 still manage to stay alive; many more, like Honda Crossroads refuse to succumb.
The Honda Crossroad is an affordable minivan sold exclusively in Japan. Boasting both fashionable exterior styling and functionality of a small minivan, it offered seating for seven people and featured a powerful 140hp four-cylinder engine for affordable performance.
Some Honda Crossroad owners reported issues with their engine, such as rattling sounds that might indicate issues with its timing chain tensioner. If left unaddressed, this can lead to engine damage and reduced performance.
Other owners reported issues with their vehicle’s electrical system, including loss of power in the front seats and difficulty starting their vehicle in cold weather. Furthermore, some reported that their traction control and anti-lock brakes did not function correctly.
Honda Crossroad is generally reliable and durable SUV, though there may be some problems that should be considered before buying one used. One issue is engine overheating which can require costly repairs or replacements. Furthermore, it is vital that oil levels be regularly checked – insufficient oil could damage engine components as well as reduce fuel efficiency if there’s not enough. Furthermore, some owners have reported issues with power windows and door locks.
GMC offers a truck-based SUV that rivals both Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer in terms of driving performance. Its regular-suspension model rides like a car over smooth surfaces with minimal body flex and an engaging steering feel; load leveling suspension softens its ride to carry heavy loads without diminishing responsiveness; towing capabilities are respectable as well.
The Envoy stands out among 1990s SUVs with its signature headlamps, round fog lights and pouty front bumper featuring a wide, slim slit at its bottom – features that set its distinctive and sleek appearance apart. Instead of featuring showy fender flares like its TrailBlazer counterpart does, instead using its standard 17-inch wheels (shod with big Michelins) inside thicker fender flanges in an inverted trapezoidal design theme; beveled shapes continue down its sides and wheel wells further increasing its imposing presence.
The base Envoy offers excellent value, featuring air conditioning, power accessories, CD player and trip computer as standard features. Stepping up to an SLT upgrades you to dual-zone automatic climate control, power driver seat adjustment and satellite radio as well as OnStar telematics safety equipment – while top-of-the-line Denali models add unique honeycomb grille, power adjustable steering wheel with leather seating and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Envoy’s standard V6 engine provides plenty of power for everyday driving needs. Meanwhile, its deluxe Denali trim comes equipped with an all-aluminum Vortec 5.3L V8 that produces up to 300 horsepower and 321 lb-ft of torque allowing it to tow over 6,000 pounds with ease. Both engines boast excellent fuel economy ratings while both feature solid four-wheel disc brakes; however all-wheel drive might not perform as effectively on rough terrain than competitors do.