By on March 23, 2018

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]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

116 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: American Luxury SUVs From 1992...”


  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    Buy: Bravada – it is glorious.

    The other two don’t matter. I guess I’ll drive the Jeep and the Explorer will probably set itself on fire after a rollover.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Glorious?

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Early GMT330s look great still.

        Remember this one: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/03/rare-rides-1988-gmc-s15-jimmy-worth-15000/

        But you didn’t like that one either. :(

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I think I’d agree with Adam’s choices. The Oldsmobile brand at that time still wasn’t all THAT bad and it honestly offered a good jacked-up station wagon air. The Fords have almost always looked good (I’ll probably address that in some other blog) but their reliability has never been the greatest for me. As for the Jeep… I wanted them then because of their reputed capabilities but was far too often influenced by “popular opinion” about their reliability when I still considered GM products more reliable. As a driver, I would probably have taken a lot more dirt roads and logging trails while pursuing my photography hobby (and railfanning) if I’d had one.

      Strangely, today I feel that despite CR and JDPower, the Jeep brand and FCA in general is more reliable than people let on. 90% of the arguments I hear against Jeeps and FCAs tend to come from people who never owned one. I’m on my fourth and wish I’d tried them much, much sooner.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The Olds Bravada at the time was similar in terms of content to the later Escalade (inc AWD). The options packages were ridiculous, I think the only thing it did not offer was Buick’s touch screen system (which wasn’t so great anyway). The only thing it did not offer was an engine upgrade, which it probably should have. SBC all the things.

      https://itstillruns.com/put-350-motor-chevy-s10-7943992.html

    • 0 avatar
      2000ChevyImpalaLS

      This is pretty much my answer. Although, IIRC, the Explorer’s Achilles heel had something to do with the Firestone tires they came with at the time. Or I may be confusing two separate issues.

      Buy the Olds. I’ve never seen a bad looking one. Major parts should be fairly easy to get, so keeping one healthy shouldn’t be too bothersome.

      Drive the Jeep. The one pictured seems to have a good deal of character, and I’ve developed something of a soft spot for AMC in the last few years.

      Burn the Explorer, mostly because one has to burn. There was someone around my area who did the Jurassic Park conversion, complete with the plexiglass observation roof. It was a sight to behold. Of all times for my (now ex) phone to be uncooperative in acting like a camera.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        The Firestone tire/rollover fiasco was on the 2nd gens (’95-’01). I’ve heard many debates over who was ultimately liable, but I put the onus on Ford for having the recommended tire pressure set to a incredibly low 26 psi (a more typical SUV/light truck tire pressure is closer to 35). Especially if hauling a load, in the summer, at high speed. Blow outs followed, and rollovers that are just inherent to a vehicle with a tall center of gravity. There was nothing inherently wrong with how the tires were constructed I think.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Buy the Jeep, drive the Olds, burn the Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Friend of mine drove a Bravada in 1993. Not joking it was a complete pos. Swear you see the dash and center console move when making a turn. Also got about 15 mpg.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        Bravada was one of the worst things GM made.

        Drive the explorer. In snow, with the right tires, it’s actually more capable than the Jeep.

        Burn the Bravada. It’s junk.

        Buy the Jeep, because Jeep. Also, the simplicity of design, makes it an extremely durable vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “Drive the explorer. In snow, with the right tires, it’s actually more capable than the Jeep.”

          How so?

          4wd system is no different (more basic in fact), it has less clearance. It’s heavier and has a longer wheelbase so it might be more stable at higher speeds, that’s about the only thing that comes to mind.

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            gtem, I’ve nothing but anecdotal experience, so take my statement with a grain of salt. :)

            I worked the night shift in a sizable snowstorm. 18 inches of snow and plenty of wind. I was lucky enough to get a Cherokee to drive. I took advantage of it’s capabilities. My shift ended at about 3am. I climbed into my Explorer and drove many of the same roads home. Sometimes not, as I was creating new tracks in the deep snow. The Explorer was noticeably better and more confident.

            I’ve other examples where I’ve been more than impressed with the snow capabilities of the Explorer. Granted, mine always wore Goodyear Wrangler tires, which I’m sure helped.

            For true off road, I don’t doubt the Jeep is better. For deep snow, the Explorer was unstoppable.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I could see where the Explorer’s greater mass could help it in that situation, it maybe was able to dig down to the pavement better. The condition and type of tire on both vehicle is obviously very important too.

            My old ’98 Mazda MPV actually felt a lot more stable and confident on slick winter highways than my ’96 4Runner does, no joke. A more settled suspension, longer wheelbase, more mass all added up to less loss of traction over expansion joints and such at speed.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I remember the days when this generation Ford Explorer was everywhere. Co-worker of mine wanted to buy the base XL (second gen?) version but couldn’t find that model anywhere. It was XLT or Eddie Bauer. He ended up with a Durango instead.

    I had a ’97 Mountaineer – gas hog with the 5.0 – but it was very dependable. Only had a small transmission leak and a hood release that didn’t work in my 4 years of motoring with it. And brakes / new tires / regular maintenance.

    Anyway – to the task at hand:

    Buy: Wagoneer – I have a weakness for this era of Jeep
    Drive: Bravada – old man had a Jimmy from this era
    Burn: Explorer – never liked the first gen

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I’ve known two people that owned 5-speed Explorer XLs. The first guy is a notorious tightwad (a finance guy working for a telephone/internet provider), who eventually traded his ’91 on a base Camry during Cash For Clunkers (which pissed off his long-suffering wife, who wanted her hooptie Caravan traded on a new minivan instead).

      The other guy still drives his ’96 model. It’s thrashed, and the speedometer probably hasn’t worked in five years. He’s a finance guy, too (accounting, actually). See a pattern here?

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “He’s a finance guy, too (accounting, actually). See a pattern here?”

        Yep, got two of them in my life. I agree with deferred gratification to a point, but these guys…

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Sounds like my kind of crowd lol. Both in terms of being cheapskates and for seeking out stick shift SUVs. I’ve always kept an eye out for 5spd Explorers. Curiously, they made a single year of the IRS ’02-’05 gen with a stick in XLS trim, yes with optional 4wd. 5spd SportTracs of that generation also exist but likewise rare as hens’ teeth.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I know the rules, I do. Maybe it’s because I hate SUVs. Or maybe it’s because Saint Patrick’s day just passed, but all I can think of is the leprechaun on Ralph Wiggum’s shoulder saying, “Burn ’em all!”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Buy the Jeep.
    Burn the Olds.
    Drive the Ford to Jurassic Park, where it will be converted into T-Rex fodder.

    http://www.scified.com/articles/jurassic-park-ford-explorer-spotted-way-jurassic-world-2-set-38.jpg

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Buy: Jeep. I love the torquey six, the mountain goat abilities and, yes, the fake wood. I’ll just have to deal with how cramped it is.

    Drive: Explorer. The best all-rounder and daily driver but not as biased towards off-road as the Jeep and that is the only reason I would want any of this trio.

    Burn: Oldsmobile. No question. I can’t shake the memory of a college friend’s 1989 Blazer that felt like complete sh*t in every facet. Maintenance probably had something to do with that, but doesn’t fully explain the impression of it disintegrating at the molecular level.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Buy: The Jeep
    Drive: The Jeep
    Burn: The Ford. Had one, got rid of it quickly. Could not put on/undo the seatbelt with a coat on. The driver’s side seating area was just too narrow.

    As to the Olds, how many were actually sold?

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      I work in an industrial area of my city, and I sometimes take the surface 4-lane rather than the highway (as my Jeep and I are olde and doth not like traffic).

      I can definitively say that the number of Olds Bravadas sold new does NOT match up with the number in this district piloted by people who are English Second Language. It does speak well to their longevity, however.

      I guess the real question, upon further reflection, is where were they in the meantime?

  • avatar
    gtem

    I’m really torn and I had an answer lined up but looking at these photos I’m second guessing myself more and more… I want to buy them all to be honest!

    For everyone’s reference some related vintage motorweek reviews:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaR_D49V6A0
    1991 Comparison (Explorer, S10 Blazer, Cherokee Sport, 4Runner, Pathfinder)
    All three domestics get high marks, Japanese fall short on overmatched 3.0L V6s.

    1991 Explorer review:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq5V503ym4s

    ’87 Cherokee 4.0L:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97du__jBtdg

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Good old Motorweek. The format’s hardly changed. The backdrop merely transitions from 1980s hell to somewhat contemporary with John Davis growing older and fatter but always so pleasant.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I would buy the Jeep as those values keep going up. Give me the one with the maroon exterior with gold wheels plus gold pinstriping.

    I am torn on the following:

    I’ll probably drive the Olds. The one pictured above is quite handsome in single tone maroon.

    Reluctantly burn the EB Explorer but if it had JP graphics + glass roof, then I’d drive that instead.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Where would we be without rules!? Anarchy!

    Buy the Jeep – Lots of offroadability, modability and long lasting
    Drive the Olds – Decentish on road performer – unique- reliable enough. Bonus of parts bin ability to Typoohn-ize it that could make it a buy.
    Burn – Exploder. Terrible wheezy engine, sh1tty twin I beam or “twin traction beam” front suspension. Most traded in and destroyed vehicle on the C4C program.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    Buy the Ford, it was the bestseller for a reason.
    Drive the Jeep, which offered a superior driving experience both off- and on-road.
    Burn the Olds, because ’90s GM.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    I have to admit, I originally thought this series was dumb, but it has turned out to be really good at 1) reminding me of some long forgotten vehicles, and 2) made me aware of how far we’ve progressed in many segments.

    Easily the Oldsmobile would be burned. As much as I love that wood siding (assuming that’s the one we’d get) and overall looks, and the pragmatist in me likes it’s resale, I think I’d only borrow the Cherokee. The Explorer is just much more comfortable and less cramped.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’ll argue how much we’ve REGRESSED! Purposeful tough midsize SUVs with very real capability. Granted, for the majority of buyers the market has evolved to better-cater to real needs (better mpg and handling, etc). But strictly from my selfish perspective I bemoan the loss of this category (aside from the 4Runner).

      • 0 avatar
        MoparRocker74

        Agreed 100%. Even the worst rwd based 4×4 suv is head and shoulders above a fwd cuv. Cuvs are arguably better/more useful than a comparable sedan. But as a replacement for some off-road and towing capable yet still able to do family duties…FAIL.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I had a ’90 XJ, and have a ’99 WJ. I’ve also taken a KL Cherokee trailhawk through some very gnarly trails.

          The KL is more capable, stock for stock.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            What sort of tires on all of these things? No doubt the KL’s traction control and locking rear diff help it out a lot in spots where the older solid axle jeeps (as good as they articulate) could get crossed up and immobilized by their open diffs. I have serious doubts overall however about the durability of the KL especially as it will be dragging its nose and belly more often. The “black box” nature of the traction control system and t-case actuation does not inspire confidence either, IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            A/T tires on them. The WJ is now lifted 4″ with M/T and lockers, so doesn’t really compare now.

            The KL actually has more ground clearance than a stock XJ. Has good skid plating too as I did smash a few boulders. The locking rear diff and low range PTU are great off road companions. The brake lock strategy works great on the front in slippery conditions.

            Having 9 gears in the transmission also allows it to drive a bit faster than most without having to swtich.

            Crawled over boulders, up river banks and forded icy rivers as deep as the grille and it was no worse for wear. Air box bone dry.

            I get it, old school die hards refuse to admit that anything but solid axle ox carts are any good off road, but there are some solid modern crawlers out there with all the tech now available.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “The KL actually has more ground clearance than a stock XJ.”

            On paper maybe since the XJ is being measured at the differential housing, but that doesn’t tell the full story.

            The KL shows the prowess of Jeep engineers in that they took such an immensely unfit platform, threw every trick in the book at it to get it to compensate for the fundamental flaws of poor articulation, poor approach, poor clearance. And unlike an XJ, anything more than an inch or so of lift is not just a cheapo spacer lift away as you stated below.

            “Has good skid plating too as I did smash a few boulders.” Again, it REALLY needs the skid plates since you’re going to be dragging all over the place.

            “The locking rear diff and low range PTU are great off road companions. The brake lock strategy works great on the front in slippery conditions.” The locking rear diff and true low range gearing is what make the KL truly in a class of its own within the realm of FWD/unibody car based crossovers, and what set it apart from something like a Renegade or Compass Trailhawk.

            Jalopnik did a comparison, the XJ was on bald-ass all seasons which hurt traction compared to the KL’s fresh all terrains.

            youtu.be/uJLH0gokWwE

            My argument is not that purely mechanical solutions are the only way to go and the brake-based traction control systems are for sissies. It’s that I’d much rather have an inherently more durable and capable platform to start with, and then ALSO have modern traction aids. The Wrangler gets the BLD system which is awesome, same with Toyota’s 4Runner and Tacoma getting ATRAC in addition to behind fundamentally well suited to offroad work (BOF, solid rear axle, good geometry), and having mechanical locking rear differentials as well.

            But I do believe you when you say the KL did better overall than a stock open-diff XJ. Simulated locking of diffs will win out over no-locking of diffs in many situations, articulation will ultimately only get you so far sometimes.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The old-school SUVS were basically trucks and/or off-road vehicles adapted for family hauling; it’s vice-versa for today’s CUVs.

          But then again, CUVs are far better on-road vehicles, and they’re better when it comes to things like space utilization, fuel economy, handling, and so on.

          I’m no fan of either vehicle type, but I do respect the truckish nature of the older SUVs.

  • avatar
    gtem

    From what I have googled, looks like the Explorer would have a push-button part time t-case (2wd, 4hi, 4lo), the Bravada had a full-time system without a low range (default split 65-rear 35 front). The Jeep had the Selec trac which is the best of both worlds: 2Hi, 4Hi unlocked, 4Hi locked, 4 low.

    Cherokee is the most capable and combination of a durable Aisin AW4 auto, smooth I6 and low weight makes it very tempting. But in a practical sense it’s got a fairly cramped interior, and just not as comfortable for long hauls.

    Explorer IMO has the best, most comfortable interior of the bunch. Twin Traction beam is the next best thing after a solid front axle offroad IMO, and these Explorers could be optioned with LSDs in the stout 8.8 inch rear end.

    So I think I’ll go with Explorer for the buy, Cherokee for drive (would absolutely take it offroad), Olds for burn.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Buy the Jeep. Drive the Olds. The Ford will burst into flames in your driveway with the ignition off and burn itself.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    Buy – Jeep. Friend of mine had a Cherokee Limited from around this era. What a vehicle!
    Drive – Bravada.
    Burn – Explorer. I’m a Ford guy, but the first gen Explorer does nothing for me.

  • avatar
    micko4472

    My wife of the time had a Bravada. I don’t know if I’d call it a luxury
    vehicle but it was hellaciously good in deep snow. Did have to have
    fuel pump and digital dashboard replaced twice each.

    I also had an Explorer, which was a true POS. Enough said.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Ok unlike the one earlier this week, I have never driven or been in any of these so here goes

    Buy the OLDS – I was raised mostly in a GM family and I have to buy one right ( bonus points for following the rules)
    Drive the Ford, it seems to be best at it’s job, it seems like to have the most space and I assume the most up to date and safest ( yes I know how weird that sounds) and I like the two tone look when these came out.

    Burn the Jeep, it does nothing for me, do not like the wood grain side, do not need 4 wheel drive, I did drive a cherokee for a few weeks but it was a 86? maybe a 90? and it rode like a tractor. I do not trust AMC, Chrysler , FCA

    Of course I burn the one that would be worth the most bucks today but that is my story and I am sticking to it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    All good choices. No clear loser there.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Buy: Jeep…but it’s gonna be a 2-door Cherokee Sport 4×4. Make it a Midnight Blue one with the off-road package, and 4.0/5spd. Luxo ANYTHING ain’t my style.

    Drive: Bravada. The 4.3 is an awesome little plant, one of the very few V6 engines with any potential for hotrodding.

    Burn: Ford. When you aren’t looking, Im gonna pilfer the 8.8” rearend, as it’s VASTLY superior to my theoretical XJ’s standard D35 or even the rare D44 upgrade. It’s a very common swap for good reason.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Oldsmobile is an easy buy for me. Vortec 4.3L and 4L60 is my jam.

    Drive the Jeep. Mixed feelings: I like the XJ but not the “Wagoneer” ones.

    Burn the Ford. I like the 2nd gen V8 ones, but never cared for the original version.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’m with you on the Wagoneer. A friend of mine had a two-door Cherokee from around that period – red with all the options, and a manual.

      I’m no SUV fan, but I liked that one.

  • avatar

    Buy the Ford. Had one. Loved it.

    Drive the Jeep. Cousin had one. Loved it.

    Burn the Olds. But, say a prayer for it. It was the best of the GM models…..

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I probably don’t even need to post this, I’m sure y’all can figure out my answers, lol.

    Buy: Ford Explorer, since the Aurora people are evasive to basic questions, I’ve moved on to a 1994 Explorer XLT 5 speed 4×4 (4 door). 183k, runs and drives great, A/C and heat work as does everything except the rear windows as they’re off track(but in the up position.

    Drive: the luxurious Oldsmobile

    Burn: Cherokee. Ugly and cumbersome to drive on road, though the superior off road ability is worth it for some.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “cumbersome to drive on road”

      Was it? Granted I’ve driven one with a totally worn out steering linkage and it was hard to just keep it on the road at 40mph, but generally speaking they have lower than average centers of mass and low weight in general and wide tracks relative to their width. The coil sprung front axle actually rides pretty well to boot.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        Contemporary reviews widely praised XJs for their on-road handling prowess.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Conversely, twin I beam Fords have a tendency to wander.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I can only draw on what I experienced driving a few XJs, it wasn’t something I enjoyed. Although the 4.0L I-6 is reliable and has torque in spades, it felt slow and wheezy to me. There was nothing about the interior I liked. In so far as handling, I grant that a unibody vehicle handles better than a BOF, but I don’t see the Explorer as having a distinct disadvantage here.

            I briefly owned a 1991 Explorer XL 5 speed 4×4 with the manual transfer case, but I’ve also driven many other first and second gens. They felt more refined overall, and entry/exit was better on me. I regret not keeping the 1991, especially since the 1996 Chrysler Concorde LXi that replaced it was an unreliable money pit.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Buy the Jeep: Enjoy inline 6 goodness before it disappears. AMC engineers are highly underrated.

    Drive the Oldsmobile: SmarTrak is the granddaddy of the fancy AWD systems we enjoy today. Capable of biasing torque around in all sorts of helpful ways.

    Burn the Ford: It was a best seller but ultimately screwed over by lazy suspension engineering and terrible stock tires.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Even though I wasn’t around in 1992 (I debuted in the 1993 calendar year), I can see that dark green with beige cladding was a popular choice in 1992, and throughout the 90s. I wish it was that way now. But that color combination doesn’t lend itself to the bionic styling of many of today’s cars.

    Mom did have a green-and-beige SUV, a 2003 Kia Sorento EX 4WD. It was a handsome trucklet.

    As per your question: Buy the Bravada, drive the Cherokee Wagoneer, burn the Explorer.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Buy the Jeep for the 4.0 six and the tried & true design (although aged)

    Drive the Exploder – average all around

    Burn the cheap-plastic-buttons-everywhere rebadge abomination that is the Crapada

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Burn the Olds because it’s a death trap, and who wants that in a family vehicle?

    Burn the Jeep because a perfectly good XJ shouldn’t be defiled by ugly fake wood trim and because (whispers) the durability of the 4.0 six is overrated.

    Burn the Ford because it will burn anyway and because every single douchebag at my high school had either an Eddie Bauer or an XLT in this color, bought new by Daddy.

    I just don’t have any desire whatsoever to either Buy or Drive any of them.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Oh, look what LX ownership has done to Mr. Fancypants. :)

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I’m having a hard time finding it but somewhere on the internet there is a hilarious matrix showing how each of Jeep people, Land Cruiser people, and Range Rover people think of themselves and the others.

        Edit: Found it: https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–Kp0c_t6J–/c_scale,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/b0jiqcvtuwdubu44oawh.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          That is quite funny.

          The only one I don’t get is how Land Rover owners see Land Cruiser owners.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            That’s a reference to the infamous “grounded to the ground” Camry ad.

            As the owner of a mall-ified Cruiser I can confirm that all three of the Cruiser owner boxes are exactly correct. Especially the middle one. Some of the builds on IH8MUD are so over-the-top they’re hilarious.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      That 4.0L in my ZJ (’97 Grand Cherokee) was terrible. Overall, that was one of the worst vehicles I’ve ever owned… and I’ve owned 35. The only less reliable vehicle I’ve owned was 2006 Chevy Equinox.

      When my Grand Cherokee wasn’t crapping out a transmission (went thru 3 in 30k miles), it was fouling out a spark plug due to a cracked water jacket on the #3 cylinder.

      I will hand it one thing though… when it went wrong (and it did on many occasions), it always made it to where I was going before completely dying.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “(whispers) the durability of the 4.0 six is overrated.”

      I’m with you there, or in a similar vein, Chevy’s 4.3L and Ford’s OHV 4.0L are every bit as durable. In the case of all three motors, it was ancillary stuff that let them down: so-so transmission on the Ford, Chevy had their fuel injection spider issues and fuel pump issues, Jeep 4.0L cooling systems leave a lot to be desired, and a few years towards the end of the run had head-cracking issues. Also crank position sensors, exhaust manifolds, rear main seals, and a few others I’m sure I missed. My friend has a ’00 Cherokee that he quite frankly neglected. Top coolant hose rubbed on something and broke, he kept driving it like that for a bit, didn’t take long to overheat and crack the head. This is with about 110k miles. Conversely I certainly know of some Jeeps (WJs) with 200k+ on the 4.0L.

      Can’t help but toot my own horn here a bit, but for comparison, as an overall package, as far as reliability and durability is concerned, I’d argue something like Toyota’s 3.4L 5VZ-FE+Aisin easily outdoes the Cherokee’s 4.0L+AW4 (transmissions are a draw).

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I’d take a rust-free ’92 4Runner over any of these three in a heartbeat.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The 3.4L is very stout but it also didn’t exist until the mid-90s. Before that Toyota only offered V6s with comparatively low output or forced you to pony up the big bucks for an I6 rig.

        I’m personally a big fan of the Chevy 90-degree V6 although all my experience is with the TBI or MPFI versions.

        Just as an aside, I don’t get why everyone on the internet always sh*ts on TBI. I get that it wasn’t the most elegant system and that it doesn’t really allow for power adding modifications but it did get rid of the carburetor drivability voodoo and I’ve been impressed with its long-term durability and overall simplicity.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          The real problem was not the TBI with injectors in the throttle body or when they finally went to a “true” MPFI with individual injectors attached to the intake manifold runners. It’s that in-between mid-90s range with the injection spider and long runners. Prone to clogging and sensitive to fuel pressure (problematic considering GM’s reputation with fuel pumps). If you’re ever driving along and you smell raw gas, look around and it is likely to be a 1990s Chevy with the 4.3L (Blazer, Astro, S10).

          • 0 avatar
            Middle-Aged Miata Man

            FWIW, my folks have owned a ’92 S-10 Blazer with the “central port injection” Vortec 4.3 since new. It’s had lots of minor issues and three transmissions over the past 26 years, but shockingly no problems with its (first year) CPI.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          And you make a fair point that the 3.4L was like 2 generations of engine design removed from Jeep’s 4.0L. I just like to take the 4.0L I6 worshipers down a peg. Yes they’re good motors, but they’re not entirely the bees knees like Jeep guys like to make them out to be. A lot of the 4.0L’s performance is rooted in how light the XJ was. Toss a Chevy 4.3L vortec in there and it’d be even sprightlier and just as long-lived. I do wonder how the weights of the two motors compare. The 4.0L is certainly smoother.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            ” I just like to take the 4.0L I6 worshipers down a peg.”

            This is what Toyota guys live for, secondly to “resale! resale!”

            I have a 200k mile WJ off roader with the 4.0L. Flawless.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Well, that and how weak Jeep axles are :p

            And how much work it takes to fit even 31″ tires…

            okay I think I’m done for now.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Flog anything hard enough and it’ll break ;)

            Coil spacers are soooo much work!

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            That’s what always got me about Jeeps (XJ) when comparing them to a 4Runner. Yeah the XJ is cheaper up front. But to reach stock 4Runner levels of equipment, you’re buying a lift, tires, maybe swapping in a different rear axle, installing a locker (if comparing to an e-locked 4Runner like mine), buying skid plates, fool-proofing the OE cooling system. Throw some AT 265/75R16 tires on a 3rd gen 4Runner and you’re golden.

            youtu.be/YYDkQuP3HAs

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        “Can’t help but toot my own horn here a bit, but for comparison, as an overall package, as far as reliability and durability is concerned, I’d argue something like Toyota’s 3.4L 5VZ-FE+Aisin easily outdoes the Cherokee’s 4.0L+AW4 (transmissions are a draw).”

        Yeah, absolutely.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I’m glad you mentioned the cooling issues on the Jeep. I’ve seen several with related issues, including blown head gaskets. And I think they leaked oil from the factory.

        As far as the rest, the electrical stuff was hit and miss, mostly miss.

  • avatar
    Davis Jones

    I would drive the Bravada..burn the Ford.. Use the Jeep as a backup

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Buy- Jeep, still know people that drive later versions of the suv. Straight six was a great engine.
    Drive- Ford, old Explorer still has the best ride out these three models.
    Burn- Oldsmobile Bravada, well more like run as fast as you can away from the vehicle. Drivetrain junk, chassis more flex than a model T. Can’t find one on the road any longer. Complete junk.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    Buy the Jeep – these were durable vehicles that provided good service when equipped with the 4.0L/AW4 powertrain, and oddly enough felt very carlike and nimble around town in spite of the solid axles. This is a genuine 250-300k vehicle even if treated indifferently.

    Drive the Ford – at least until the head gaskets or transmission fails. If you were lucky at the time (like my sister who had a ’92 Eddie Bauer), Ford would have covered most or all of the cost of the head gasket replacement since it was a known/common issue. The transmissions were fine if you weren’t towing, but budget for a failure if you did tow something with any regularity.

    Burn the Olds – in spite of being the upscale sibling of the Jimmy/Blazer, the interiors still felt appallingly cheap in these with all of those awful GM playschool buttons and such. Plus, everyone I knew who had one of these GMT330s had nothing but trouble with them…lots of stupid little stuff constantly breaking. At least the Ford (in spite of it’s drivetrain woes) and the Jeep were fundamentally sound and didn’t nickel and dime you to death.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I would buy the Jeep. Maybe delete the fake wood

    Drive the Ford ..A nice interior, and I like the over all look.

    Burn …The Olds…Yes !.. its me the long time TTAC GM fan bois… I had just a horrible experience with an 89 S15. One glance at that photo, I could feel my blood pressure rising.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Mikey, you are by no means a fanboi. Fanbois insist that their brand is the “bestest ever” no matter what. We do have a few dedicated fanbois on here; Buick and Ford seem to get mentioned a great deal. Just mentioning that you had a bad S15 removes you from the the ranks of fanbois. Or fanboi would have said whatever issues you had were “the side effects of GM’s advanced engineering.” What a great many of really and truly appreciate is you cutting down those whoe bash UAW/CAW/UNIFOR down to size. When you write a say ” I worked the line at GM for 30 and this is what really happened”; you’re a fresh breeze blowing away all those who have probably never by a plant smoke of ignorance. Your insight and stories are appreciated. Please keep writing.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    If it was new under a factory warranty, I would want the Bravada. But I could easily see it being a basket case for repairs. “Buy”

    The Jeep Cherokee is probably the most reliable of the bunch with a proven, simple drivetrain. The boxy look still looks good today compared to jellybean SUVs. “Drive”

    That era of Exploders really fell apart after a few years and had very little going for it. “Burn”

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      It was the best seller since its inception (1991) well into the 00s, and remains the best selling 3 row nameplate to this day. I think that qualifies as a lot longer than “a few years”. It absolutely dominated the entire SUV market in its first and second generations.

      Wishful thinking? Take a time travel trip to anywhere between 1991 and 2002. You couldn’t sneeze in the United States without getting your germs on an Explorer.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Buy: the Jeep. Gutsy 4.0, capable offroad, durable, and timeless styling. I just hope that the woodgrain is a delete option.

    Drive: Ford. These Explorers are fairly comfortable.

    Burn: Olds. Crappy build quality, cheesy badge engineering, and the 4.3 is rough.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    Burn the…Wait…
    No Burn the…Hang on…
    Burn the…
    Actually Burn them all. They’re hideous. (Ok, maybe the Jeep looks Ok.)

  • avatar
    ajla

    Bentley 8-Litre vs Cadillac Series 452 vs Bugatti Type 49.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I see a nice Jeep here, what are those other things?

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Buy the Jeep – the value can only go up.

    Drive the Ford – they’re still road cockroaches and parts and repairs are cheap.

    Burn the Olds – The worst of 80’s GM engineering dolled up with Olds lipstick.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Huh – my family did this one for real in 1992. The winner was the Jeep – a 5spd Cherokee Limited with the HO 4.0L. Mostly because they were doing a CRAZY cheap 2yr lease deal – I think this was the only car my Grandfather ever leased. I LOVED that thing though, and would cheerfully buy a nice stick XJ for myself if I could find one that wasn’t trashed. And I didn’t already have a really nice Disco.

    So buy the Jeep, I guess drive the Olds into the ground and burn the Ford before it rolls over and kills you.

    Sadly the Jeep was replaced with one of the very first ’95 Ford Windstars. Yeah, THAT didn’t end well. Though he liked it enough to buy another one, an ’02. Which got Cash for Clunkered. A suitable end for an epic turd, as the second one was just as bad as the first one.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Buy the Jeep. I like the classic styling. Reminds me of the Wagoneers I grew up with. My buddy’s Cherokee had over 300k miles the last time I saw him. I never drove it, but it seemed like a decent ride from the passenger seat.

    Drive the Bravada. Good enough for the salty days.

    Burn the Explorer. I never liked the wallowy suspension of those Explorers.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    I have soft spots for both the Cherokee and the Explorer, though these are a bit early for my taste.

    The Explorer to have is the 2nd gen with the 5.0 V8 to truly complete the Eddie Bauer effect. Close second is the SOHC 4.0 V6 with the 5-speed auto – but the V8 is more in character.

    If you’re keeping me in 1992, I’d take the Sport trim package of the Cherokee with a 5-speed manual and the High Output I6. I wouldn’t feel so bad about scraping up its flanks on the trail.

    I always found the Bravada be ugly as sin. I’ll pass.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    For me the US is not very good at producing good midsize SUVs.

    From the late 80s to the 2000s I would term “The Malaise Era for US SUVs”.

    Burn them all, The XJ I had was a poor enough example of US engineering at it’s worst. Ford Exploders here in Australia were trash. We never had the Olds, thank God for that.

    The Japanese ruled the midsize SUV market back then fortunately.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I was brought home as a newborn from the hospital in a 1991 Ford Explorer in the fall of 1992. My parents had that until 1998, when it was traded for a 1998 Grand Voyager Expresso.

    I’m not a Ford guy, but our Explorer was a decent vehicle. I dont think my parents had any problems with it.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Buy the Jeep, much respect for the 4.0.

    Drive the Olds, for the odd reason that I’ve never been in one. Seen very few.

    Burn the Ford. Not because I want to burn it before it burns my house down (that came later), not because it will flip and crush me (I inflate my tires based on load), but just because I flat out hate and hated then the Eddie Bauer branding, color scheme, faux panache, BS festival.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Buy the Ford, Drive the Jeep, Burn the Olds.

    Explorer made the most of its plebeian Ranger roots and had more usable space over the Jeep, plus more refinement. The Firestone fiasco and Cash for Clunkers probably killed at lot of these, as did Rust in the rust belt areas. They were plentiful and I wish the current Explorer was more like this than an overgrown Taurus wagon.

    But the Jeep was interesting in its own right. The 4.0 was strong and these apparently they are the off-roaders choice. There was more refinement to Explorer and real world comfort ( getting into the cramped rear seat of those Jeeps wasn’t fun), but I enjoyed my limited experience with these.

    Burn the Olds. Everything that was “old GM’s” problem right here. Take the same S- series in the GMC/ Chevy showrooms, slap different badges on it, some extra trim and charge more for it. IIRC, the only thing Bravada got over Blazer/Jimmy was the Smarttrak AWD, but that wouldn’t be enough to sway me from the other two.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    All three were pretty horrible vehicles, each in their own way. Terrible interior space for their size, crummy fuel economy, dangerous emergency handling, punishing rides and spotty interior materials. All were a triumph of fads and marketing over brains and reason.

    Crush ’em all and find a new use for the resulting steel.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “Terrible interior space for their size,”
      I’ll take you to task here. The XJ at 165″ is about 4 inches shorter than a Honda HRV and yes the interior was pretty tight (rear passengers especially) but it had a very useful 33cu ft of cargo space with seats up and 72 with the seats folded, notably more than said HRV which is just about the best in its class for utility.

      crummy fuel economy- Yes but considering the class and capability, modern options (Wrangler Unlimited, 4Runner aren’t THAT much better). But certainly for how people use a crossover something like a 30mpg CRV/Forester is a big improvement

      “Dangerous emergency handling” – Eh sort of true mostly in the case of the Explorer and Bravada, the XJ is quite stable and sure-footed.

      “Punishing rides”-Take a ride down a potholed road in a modern compact crossover and then in any one of those three SUVs (assuming factory fresh condition) and tell me which rides more comfortably.

      “spotty interior materials.” Mostly agree, although I’ll take spotty interior materials with simple ergonomics and good visibility over today’s overwrought and over-though interiors with push-button starts, etc. For what its worth my circa ’94 Ranger’s interior that shares a lot of pieces with the Explorer has held up fantastically, basically as good as new.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    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.

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    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!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: Unless someone has been carefully and systematically painting on a salt solution in little circular patterns...
  • Art Vandelay: also like 25 percent of the EV fee is for charging infrastructure which also is funded via, you guessed...
  • Corey Lewis: I have typically used Lexol. Is Leatherique better?
  • Art Vandelay: Both of my Senators back then were “Nays” on the original credit (Sessions, Shelby). My...
  • Corey Lewis: My tip is to avoid the first year GS 300. That was the only year for that engine before they switched to...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States