Buy/Drive/Burn: American Luxury SUVs From 1992

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

We’ve been on a Nineties streak lately, and our last four editions of Buy/Drive/Burn have all taken place within the decade. Well, ready your baggy beige suit and adjust its extensive shoulder pad region, because today we talk 1992. Specifically, Gtem suggested three luxury SUVs which were very popular with middle-class families across the country.

Ford, Oldsmobile, and AMC Jeep — which makes it to your garage?

Before we continue, please refresh yourself on the rules of the segment if you’re unsure. And some of you are unsure.

Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer

Debuting in model year 1991, Ford’s new Explorer model was a direct challenge to the midsize SUVs seen below, offered by Jeep and General Motors. A replacement for the not-so-family-friendly Bronco II, this Ranger-based SUV was a two- or four-door model in Eddie Bauer trim (four doors for purposes today). 1992 would be the last year of Eddie Bauer trim dominance, as it was trumped by the Limited trim and its luxurious script for 1993. Power here is provided by the 4.0-liter Cologne V6 engine from the Ranger. Recall there is no upmarket Mercury version with its waterfall grille — it won’t be invented until 1996. Two-tone and gold Eddie Bauer font rule the day here. It looks great in various environments, from the parking lot of Stern’s to the parking lot of Lazarus.

Oldsmobile Bravada

The most luxurious version of Chevrolet’s S-10 Blazer, the Bravada’s target market was the well-heeled. It was the first truck offered by the Oldsmobile brand since the 1920s. Ford’s aforementioned Limited trim was added to the Explorer in part because of the expensive Bravada, where there was no base model. The Bravada also debuted for 1991, built on the hugely successful GMT330 truck platform. Often seen in black or maroon with gold badging, the Vortec 4300 V6 pushed power through all four wheels via SmartTrak all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is a trick GMC would use later on other SUVs to denote luxury, as opposed to rough-and-tumble selectable 4×4 systems. Upgrades for 1992 saw a revised instrument panel up front and an increase to 200 horsepower.

Jeep Cherokee Wagoneer Limited

1992 was the final year the XJ Cherokee would see duty as the mainstream family hauler over at Jeep. The introduction of the more luxurious and comfortable Grand Cherokee in 1993 changed the Jeep lineup fully (and permanently). Jeep offered a luxury Wagoneer trim of the XJ Cherokee starting in 1983. There, Wagoneer played the wood-clad role of smaller brother to the tony choice of the wealthy, the Grand Wagoneer. Speaking of which, 1992 was an oddball year at Jeep. The Grand Cherokee was not yet on sale, and the Grand Wagoneer was discontinued after the 1991 model year. Just for 1992, the Cherokee Wagoneer Limited carried the weight of three models. The only unibody vehicle of our trio, the Wagoneer gathers speed via the classic 4.0-liter inline-six of AMC persuasion. By this time, power is up to 190 raging Wisconsin-bred horses.

Which gets your hard-earned cash, and which are borrowed and burned?

[Images: Ford, GM, YouTube]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 116 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Mar 25, 2018

    Doesn't the Jeep cause Panty Dropping Incidents (PDIs) with women in their 40s who still wear sorority jewelry? If so, burn the other two.

  • SSJeep SSJeep on Mar 28, 2018

    Buy the Jeep, leave it in the garage, and with those smoooooth wood panels it will be worth some money in 20 years. Drive the Oldsmobile - its a mediocre platform from a mediocre brand, but they tended to drive well and didnt have too many gremlins for the first few years. Burn the Eddie Bauer. These were massive POS vehicles built to a budget. Leather seats cracked like an old biker jacket at around 40k miles, less in extreme climates. Bushings wore, electrical components failed, the rear wiper would dislodge and leave a brown rust streak down the rear hatch. Yuck!

  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.