We thought we would follow up our Today’s Most Popular Cars From the 1980s list with its logical sequel: ’90s cars. We looked at our data again and determined which ’90s cars garnered the most interest from CarGurus shoppers. We have to say, this list surprises us a bit less. The ’80s list featured a good number of discontinued cars, but only one car no longer in production made this one. Nineties cars are probably a bit more practical than some of the nearly ancient ’80s models (cars on this list are likely at least 11 years younger), and most of these cars haven’t quite reached collector status.
The ’99 model year is the most popular one for almost all these vehicles, the exceptions being the Corvette and Mustang (apparently 1998 was a better year for sports cars). This makes some sense, as consumers likely look for the newest version available. These are most likely the cars with the fewest potential problems and most advanced features, but older ones still generate plenty of user interest. With the entire decade taken into consideration, these are the most popular models for CarGurus shoppers.
10. Why is the Toyota 4Runner one of the most popular cars of the ’90s? There are many reasons, but the 4Runner’s rock-solid reliability and sheer off-road prowess win out as the most important. Ask any 4Runner owner what they like about their car and they may talk a little about how much room there is inside or how convenient the power-sliding rear window is, but dig a little deeper and they’re sure to tell you about how little money they’ve had to put into it over the years or the latest, craziest trail they’ve conquered. Unlike other SUVs, which have steadily ditched body-on-frame construction in favor of unibody chassis, the 4Runner has never strayed from the original body-on-frame formula that gives it so much of its character and ability. If you’re looking for a capable SUV with modern comforts, the 2015 4Runner is a great choice. That being said, because they’re so capable and reliable, 4Runners hold their value well, so it’s no surprise many consumers are turning a page back to the ’90s when looking for one.
9. Since hitting the market in 1993, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been a giant in the SUV world. The Grand Cherokee hit the market with one goal in mind: to be the most capable and comfortable SUV out there. It has done a great job over its lifetime, with all Grand Cherokees from 1993 to 2015 providing an excellent combination of off-road ability and genuine comfort. Our users particularly love the 1999 model, giving it an overall 4.2 out of 5 stars and especially praising how well the car handles snow—something we really appreciate in Boston this year.
8. The Toyota Camry may not be the most exciting car on the road, but it takes a lot to get it off the road. Many do not like the Camry’s conservative looks, but many more see straight past the car’s appearance and can’t take their eyes off the car’s reliability record. Since its introduction to the U.S. in 1983, Camry has become synonymous with reliability. Even today, it’s quite common to see Camrys from the 1990s on the road, and sightings of 1980s models are not rare. This is due to Toyota’s commitment to building reliable, long-lasting cars, and no Toyota exemplifies this commitment as well as the Camry. Sure, it’s bland and slightly boring to drive, but that’s just the point—you’ll be able to drive it. With routine maintenance, the Camry can last for a long, long, long time (as can be seen by the large amount of 1990s Camrys in our used listings).
7. The Ford Mustang is a legend. Launched in 1964 for the 1965 model year, the Mustang has wowed Americans for 50 years. Although the 2015 Mustang is getting all the press right now (with good reason), those looking for a fun ride at a reasonable price have found great deals in 1990s Mustangs. The ’90s span two generations of Mustang—the famed third-generation Fox body Mustang and the now-classic fourth generation (of which the very popular 1998 is a part)—giving buyers a choice of two fun, yet very different, Mustangs. If you’re looking for some serious horsepower per dollar and don’t want to spend too many dollars, you’d be hard pressed to find a better car than a used Mustang.
6. The Ford Ranger came into its own in the ’90s. Thanks to its small stature and great versatility, the Ranger became a favorite among weekend warriors who needed a truck bed to haul things, but didn’t need/want to pay for a full-size pickup. Unfortunately for the Ranger, its market waned in the 2000s (as the Toyota Tacoma came to dominate the midsize segment and other buyers moved up to full-size trucks), and it was ultimately discontinued in 2011. Lately, consumer interest in the market has picked up (as can be seen by GM’s reintroduction of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon), but Ford still has not announced any plans to revive the beloved Ranger. Until that happens (if it ever does), there are still plenty of Rangers to be found in the used listings.
5. The Honda Civic has two sides to its personality. On one side, the Civic has earned a reputation for being a reliable, safe, inexpensive, everyday family car that continues to be a great, inexpensive purchase nowadays. The car’s other side can be much more edgy, resulting in a world of available performance customizations and racing mods. The great fuel economy, smooth handling, and customizability of late-’90s Civics continue to attract sales from racing and modding enthusiasts. With these two distinct and relatively lucrative markets vying for the Civic, it’s no wonder these old family haulers still generate a lot of attention.
4. No one should be surprised to see that the Ford F-150 has continued to be popular throughout the years. Ford boasts that the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the last 32 years and, evidently, older models are still extremely popular. Nineteen ninety-nine was the first year Ford decided to split the F-150 away from commercial use with the introduction of the Super Duty F-250 and F-350. So in a lot of ways, the ’99 Ford F-150 is the beginning of the consumer-focused F-150 as we know it: a reliable pickup truck for everyday and family use.
3. The Honda Accord remains a safe and tremendously reliable vehicle even in its old age. Honda has continuously capitalized on that reputation, especially regarding late-’90s models, and of course they’re now more affordable than ever. Honda realized the pinnacle of the ’90s family sedan with the Accord: safe, reliable, dependable, and capable for use everyday, even 15+ years after production. Bottom line: Civics are well worth their price if you need a good car and have only a few grand to spend.
2. The Chevrolet Corvette again proves to be a timeless attraction for our users. Dropping out of the number 1 spot from the previous decade, the Corvette continues to generate a ton of interest from car shoppers. And who’s surprised? The Corvette is a legendary piece of American automotive lore, and decade after decade it maintains a popular place in the hearts of enthusiasts and ’90s collectors. We aren’t quite sure why, but the ’98 model seems to get more attention than the ’99 (just like the Mustang). The Corvette will likely be a popular selection for anyone wanting the classic sports-car feel, which Chevy has injected into every Corvette it’s ever produced.
1. The Jeep Wrangler is a great car. It’s always been a great car. We’ve said it before:
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It’s a CarGurus all-star of sorts.
What car would you listen to MC Hammer and eat Fruit Roll-Ups in?
-jharrington and zwaller
Shopping for a little nineties nostalgia this weekend?
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