The Suzuki X-90 Was a Weird Car That Created a Segment and Failed Hard

What do you get when you mate a Honda Del Sol with a Jeep Wrangler? You get the Suzuki X-90 – a hodgepodge of a vehicle that was basically half car, half SUV, and all 90s weird. Suzuki called it a “sporty utility vehicle” and it built it with the “expressive American youth market” in mind. In other words, it’s safe to say that the X-90 was eccentric.

In fact, the Japanese automaker was attempting to blaze a new trail with the X-90 and had a goal to sell 2,000 of them per month. Unfortunately, it didn’t accomplish that goal and the X-90 failed after just two years.  

The Suzuki X-90 was based on the Sidekick

Suzuki X-90 in green
Suzuki X-90 in green | Wikimedia Commons

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The Suzuki X-90 was based on its Sidekick stablemate as it shared the same 86.6-inch wheelbase. At just over 12-feet-long, the X-90 was about two feet shorter than the Honda Civic of the same era. It even had six inches of ground clearance for when the pavement turned to dirt, however, it wasn’t exactly made for anything more than short jaunts over dirt trails.

Motorweek reported that the Suzuki X-90’s coil-spring suspension performed just as well on the dirt backroads as it did on the road. What likely helped was the car’s part-time all-wheel-drive system that includes automatic locking hubs. Just like a truck, the X-90’s drivetrain could be shifted from the cabin via a small stick shift lever.

The X-90 not only shared a chassis with Sidekick, it also shared its engine and transmission. Under the hood was a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that pumped out 95 hp and 98 lb-ft of torque and could be connected to a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.  Motorweek found the engine setup to be “very peppy and responsive” in everyday driving. However, it wasn’t exactly a track scorcher as it took 10.4 seconds to 60 mph from a standstill during the publication’s testing.

The X-90 was one-of-a-kind and fun to drive

Despite its quirky comic-book-like looks, X-90 was fun to drive. According to Car and Driver, the X-90 “runs out of zip quickly” but that’s what made it such a joy.  Despite the on-road excitement, the publication was able to take it on the backroads as well and reported that the car was bouncy and its steering was a bit sloppy.

Although its saving grace was that it could be pushed hard without fear of speeding given its low power rating. The car was so small and lightweight (2,425 pounds) that when driving at 50 mph, it felt it was going 90 instead. We’re sure that the car’s open Targa top only added to the fun.

What happened to the Suzuki X-90?

Interior of the Suzuki X90.
Interior of the Suzuki X90. | Lawrence K. Ho/The LA Times

The Suzuki X-90 was only around from 1996 to 1998 and considering Suzuki only imported a little over 7,000 of them during that two-year run, it’s easy to see why it died off. Sales were much slower than the Suzuki anticipated as it turned out that Americans didn’t exactly catch onto the car’s weird appeal and odd functionality.

Nonetheless, you can still find them nowadays. In fact, a current nationwide search on CarGurus reveals a couple selling for around $6,000. If you’re into fun quirky cars from the 90s, the X-90 could be a great addition to your collection. If not, then you can always buy a Jeep Wrangler and a Honda Del Sol as having those two cars would probably make more sense in the long run.

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