The 90s was a huge decade for the car industry, but especially for SUVs. Many of the most popular SUVs from the 90s were effortlessly dignified and rugged. The modern ones from today seem like they are trying too hard to match the same unique style that we were gifted in the 90s. We thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane to look at some of the most popular SUVs from this time period.
Land Rover Defender 90
Range Rover cemented its place in history by defining what a luxury SUV should be. The carmaker’s Land Rover Defender 90 model was a huge hit because of its rugged, yet elegant exterior. You can think of this model as Range Rover’s answer to the Jeep Wrangler. The Defender 90 got its power from a 3.9-liter aluminum V-8 engine linked to a five-speed manual transmission. Standard models came with a soft-top roof but the available hardtop option became way more popular in the 90s.
Jeep Wrangler TJ
The Jeep Wrangler TJ was introduced in 1996 as part of its second generation. This model stood out in the Jeep lineup because of its coil-sprung suspension which was a deviation from the leaf-spring one. The new suspension made for a more modern experience and also translated to smoother handling. This Wrangler was also special because it was the last one that was made with AMC materials.
Jeep Cherokee XJ
The Cherokee XJ perfectly embodies the grungy style of the 90s. This Jeep was first unveiled in 1984 and its boxy frame and in-your-face grille immediately got people’s attention. The XJ was popular on the streets as well as on movie screens. This Jeep was also celebrated for being the first American-made off-roader with a fully integrated body structure.
Many 90s’ RAV4 owners are still raving about how smart of a purchase they made, even after all of these years. The 1995 RAV4 signaled the popularity of the modern crossover. At the time of its original release, the RAV4 was also known as the XA10 series. This crossover SUV was based on the same platform as the Corolla.
Mitsubishi’s Montero SUV was part of the golden age of Japanese engineering. The Montero was built as a high-performing model that was tough and useful for everyday life. Pajero/Montero models are actually still being sold quite frequently today. You won’t get an upscale interior or many modern features on these models, but it would be really cool to own a vehicle that marked when Mitsubishi still sold good SUVs.
Today’s 4Runner doesn’t look much different from the 1996 one. This just goes to show how timeless the 4Runner’s design is. Or dated, depending on how you look at it. The 4Runner has always been appealing because of its performance capabilities. However, in the 90s, the 4Runner was seen as an unsafe vehicle. The 1996 model was part of the SUVs second generation and also marked when the 4Runner got airbags.