The Best of the 1990s: Some Highlights, Lots of Duds

1992 Dodge Viper: a bright spot in cars of the '90s

1992 Dodge Viper: a bright spot in cars of the '90s

Blah. Even researching cars of the 1990s is boring.

While the 1980s gave us everything we could ever want in cars, the ’90s took it all away and replaced it with the Chevy Impala, the generic brown bag of cars.

If the ’90s are known for one thing, though, it’s the beginning of excess. The Ford ExplorerExpedition, Excursion, and Lincoln Navigator were introduced, along with the Dodge Durango. There’s no denying the Explorer’s significance, as it is the SUV that popularized SUVs and led to many years of ever-growing road behemoths.

Want more examples of boring cars of the 1990s? Yeah, I really don’t, either, but I’m proving a point. I submit as evidence the Dodge Neon, Pontiac Trans Sport, Chevy Lumina, anything with an Oldsmobile logo (R.I.P.), as well as the Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler Concorde, and Dodge Intrepid. I could keep going, but I’ll spare you.

What I will do is mention the few bright spots of the 1990s:

1997 Plymouth Prowler

1997 Plymouth Prowler

In 1992, the Dodge Viper was introduced, giving Chrysler a V10-powered challenger to the Chevy Corvette. Chrysler also went out on a limb and introduced the Plymouth Prowler before permanently shutting down the Plymouth brand. While I didn’t like the Prowler, I did like that Chrysler stepped out of the norm to build it.

The ’90s also saw the birth of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The little roadster was priced right and became an immediate hit for people who loved to drive.

GM introduced a radical new brand called Saturn in 1990. Promising a no-pressure sales environment, Saturn quickly grew and enjoyed a cult following before the General let the division wither on the vine in 2009.

Finally, in another example of forward thinking from GM, it introduced the EV1 in 1996. This could have been the groundbreaker for electric vehicles, but instead GM pulled the plug and focused on producing big, high-profit SUVs. And we all know how that turned out.

Do you have any favorite cars of the 1990s?



  1. Audi did some nice redesign/reintros in the 90s, especially the A4 (from the 90); The TT and the BMW Z3 were fun intros as well, admittedly as a response to the Miata which you mention.

  2. The Jeep Cherokee, introduced in 1984, definitely had a far bigger impact on the modern SUV market than the Explorer.

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