By on June 12, 2019

Over the past few weeks we’ve discussed 1990s car design on Wednesday’s Question of the Day entry. We spent three weeks talking about the good and three weeks talking about the bad. But those discussions were limited to body styles other than trucks — and by extension, SUVs. Great news! The Dacia Sandero restriction is now off the table.

The rules for today’s truck and utility game are thus:

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a domestic manufacturer, even if sourced from an import (eg. Dodge Ram 50).
  3. The only eligible body styles are trucks and SUVs.

Your author’s truck pick today was easier than most of the selections for Nineties designs.

It is of course the GMT 400 series of trucks from General Motors. The replacement of the C/K trucks was a long time coming, as GM sold the platform between 1973 and 1991. 1988 saw the debut of the new GMT 400 pickups.

GMC offerings were now called Sierra, and Chevrolet’s C/K had trims of Cheyenne, Scottsdale, and Silverado. SUV models retained the old C/K platform through 1991, switching to GMT 400 in 1992. It was then GMC invented the new Yukon SUV, though Chevrolet continued with the K5 Blazer line. Yukon and K5 were all two-door versions at the time, while Chevrolet and GMC used the Suburban name for long-wheelbase four-door models. It wasn’t until the 1995 model year that K5 vanished, and the Tahoe and Yukon models both offered four-door availability on a short wheelbase. GMT 400 continued through 1999 for most models, and into 2000 for a select run of the Tahoe Z71 and Tahoe Limited. Common today, they’ve aged gracefully in areas with no salt.

Perhaps still common enough to slip under the design radar — but they’re lookers.

Let’s hear those American truck and SUV selections.

[Images: Ford, General Motors]

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129 Comments on “QOTD: Trucking Great Nineties Design in America?...”


  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    For me, it’s the 1994 Dodge Ram. Dodge was able to take a long-time Mopar-hater like myself and convince me they knew what they were doing with this revolutionary truck. I plunked down nearly $30K for one of the first ’94 diesels. I shopped the GMT-400 and Ford, but gambled on the Dodge. I wasn’t sorry I did.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      +1 to that. I didn’t look twice at trucks 25 years ago, they were tools for farmers and contractors which I wasn’t. That 94 Ram was love at first sight anyway. Couldn’t afford one so it stayed at love, my budget at the time was 3rd hand crampy pieces of chit, but I wanted one so so bad.

    • 0 avatar
      kjs

      Yep. I remember seeing it at the LA Auto Show. That was the closest my dad ever came to not having a Chevy truck.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Basically can wrap this up before we even get going: GMT400 takes the cake easily. 2 door K5, 4 door Tahoe and Suburban bodies, short-bed, stepside, extended cab, you name it. Not a single awkward looking configuration in the bunch. Peak GM IMO before Lutz went nuts with outsourcing to China and Mexico.

    Great to look at, easy and cheap to wrench on, modern enough to be comfortable and useful today and for years to come.

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      Agree 100%. I have owned several and still kick myself for selling the 1994 GMC Sierra GT stepside. To me, this is the perfect size for a truck. It was a lot easier to reach into the bed of this model as compared to the jacked up trucks of today.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The weird part was no crew cab GMT400 until ’92, just regular or extended cabs. The C/K crew cab lived on until then. But even weirder, the ’88 was the first extended cab fullsize GM ever. Even the S10/S15 had extended cabs as early as ’86, but also very late to the party.

      Meanwhile Ford and Dodge sold millions of extended cab, fullsize pickups dating back to the early ’70s. But then again, Dodge stopped selling crew cabs for decades and restarted in ’08.

      Just some very questionable marketing.

    • 0 avatar
      teddyc73

      Good grief, enough with the word “peak”. It’s getting old.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      gtem – agree wholeheartedly. I bought a Cheyenne cab and a half short bed new in ’90 with a bunch of options from the Chevy cart. Drove it until ’05 or so; one of my daughters inherited it then at 275k. Some guy down in Dayton bought it from her 10 years ago and is still using it at 350k miles. 4.3L, 5Mt, 2wd. Great Oshawa built truck.

    • 0 avatar
      hondah35

      OK but GMT400 is a 1980s design

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Easy, classic Jeep Cherokee, the little boxy SUV that really got the SUV craze going, even after the Grand Cherokee was introduced the original lived on for many years as the “Sport”. IMO no one has yet to build an SUV that matches the Cherokee in size/space efficiency or classic boxy style. They still look good today

    • 0 avatar
      tylanner

      I’d probably agree that it is the most desirable 90s SUV/Truck but Jeeps are definitely outliers when the topic is 90s design as the XJ was really created prior to 1985. The mild update in 1997 is mentionable but not a redesign.

      You could substitute the TJ Wrangler in there if we really wanted to get technical. That would probably be my choice for this question..

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The original lived on as just the Cherokee. “Sport” was a trim level, albeit the volume one. My family had a 99 Cherokee Limited.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        They had dropped the Laredo in the Cherokee which went to the Grand Cherokee and came up with the Sport that replaced it. I don’t remember the Cherokee keeping a Limited which the Grand Cherokee had as well

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Always appreciate a James May, Dacia “good news’ reference.

          Through the company I drove a late 90’s Jeep Grand Cherokee which we had on a 3 year lease. I got if for the final year of the lease.

          Under warranty replaced the transmission, the driver’s seat (broken power controls and broken heater), and it ate through headlights.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Yes the XJ was sold as a leather trimmed lace-alloy Limited, as well as an italicized ‘Classic” and Sport, and a Base model with steel wheels. The Sports definitely seem to be the volume model though.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Back in the 90’s a friend of mine was pricing out an XJ for a family vehicle. For some reason they did not offer a factory moon/sunroof so he went upmarket to a Grand Cherokee. He’s been pleased ever since and is on his 3rd one.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          There was also a base version of the Grand Cherokee just below the Laredo in 92-93. It didn’t have the grey cladding on the sides, just black molding. Those first two model years also offered a 5-speed manual.

          • 0 avatar

            Friend of my father had a base with the 5spd. he used it for ski trips, pulling his boat, and plowing his driveway well into the 2000’s when a 4runner replaced it.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    It’s almost harder to find a bad one. ’97 F150 aside, pretty much everything sold in this decade was a solid looker that has aged well.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I agree, the 90s were the decade for purpose built, BOF SUVs and trucks. They were bad on gas, but really got the job done with little thought to being the mall-crawlers they became. The 90s were the decade I crossed over from sedans and coupes to trucks/ SUVs/crossovers and I’ve never looked back

      • 0 avatar
        FordTempoEnthusiast

        Bad on gas, but much better than their 80s predecessors. EFI and OBD systems helped a lot. I’ve had plenty of both 80s/90s trucks, and while my newer EFI ‘90 Ford only averages 12MPG with its 5.8, my older carb’d V8s were lucky to ever hit double digits. I had a 1971 F-250 with a 360 that regularly got 7MPG. The 90s were a great time for trucks. Bad on gas sure, but they were the last of the “classic” trucks and had *liveable* gas mileage.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          A later GMT400 with a 5.7L Vortec can knock on 20mpg on the highway if driven with a light foot, or 17-18mpg more typically per my understanding. Basically on par with modern trucks, albeit with a good deal less power (still plenty to do most truck things IMO).

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            @gtem,

            Maybe a reg cab/shortbox 1500 with the numerically lowest rear end ratio or a 2 door Tahoe.

            I loved my ’97 2500 extended cab with the 5.7 and 4.10s until I foolishly sold it for a diesel, but it was a constant struggle to get above 12 mpg.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            I guess I should mention that my 2019 gas F350 doesn’t do any better than 13-14 mpg so your point about on being on par with modern trucks remains valid for me.

          • 0 avatar

            One place I worked had a 4.3 Silverado long bed reg cab 1500, it got around 19MPG on average.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I would like a Plymouth Scamp, please! What year? They only sold it for one year, 1983.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Tie between two 4x4s, the Dodge Ram 50, and the Jeep Comanche. Both are simple, tough, and reliable.

    I would give a slight edge to the Comanche because of availability of parts, due to commonality with the Cherokee.

    I would be proud to have either in my parking spot.

    :-)

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve got to.go with the GMT400 as well. Those are basically *The Chevy Truck* in my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      If you squint hard enough you can see how the facelifted ’16-’18 K2XXs ape the GMT400 front end… then you see both in traffic and you want to vomit at the caricature that the new trucks are.

      I heard then saw a super clean GMT400 roll by as I was out running a few weeks ago: long bed, regular cab Z71 4WD in that rare dusky purple/blue, perfect paint and chrome, with just a tasteful aftermarket dual exhaust… to me that is vastly more interesting and impressive than a new exotic.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Beyond the styling elements, the proportions on a 90s truck just seem “right”. Even if the overall length of a regular cab version hasn’t changed much, modern trucks have a lot more (unappealing IMO) visual heft and component height.

        Someone wrote yesterday that a high trim ’19 F-150 crew cab was as much a Continental replacement as it is a ’92 F-Series replacement. I’m largely in agreement.

  • avatar
    FordTempoEnthusiast

    I own a 1990 F-150. A sleek, black XLT Lariat regular cab, short bed with a 351, 5-speed, and 4WD. It’s peek truck. GMT400 be damned; the 1987-1996 Ford trucks and Broncos were king. Even the pre-EFI “Bullnose” 1980-1986 trucks were excellent. I’d know; I’ve had 8 of them with every engine Ford offered: 300, 302, 351, 460, and both 6.9L and 7.3L International diesels. With every transmission from the C6 to E4OD, T-19 to M5OD. There wasn’t a bad truck in the bunch. My 1990 has 225k on the clock, and I’ve owned it for 10 years. I got it junior year when I was almost 17, and it got me through high school, college, and beyond in style. Great truck all the way around, and imo the best looking truck of the 90s. Clean cut looks, with no flashy over-the-top grills (like the Chevy’s), or ridiculously over exaggerated fender flares (like the Dodges). Just a simple, clean design nicknamed the Bricknose. It’s how trucks should be. All business.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I respect the heck out of the pre-’97 Ford trucks for their toughness, but they are brutal crude things to drive on-road compared to IFS GMT400s, and IMO have inferior, notably thirstier powertrains. To beat on all day as a woods truck? I give the nod to the Fords for durability especially the front ends. All around design (aesthetics especially)? GMT400 by a mile!

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        F-series IFS of the era is a great design, with “solid axle” articulation, best of both worlds, but most don’t realize the big rubber “donut” bushing where the radius arm meets the frame rail (mount) is a maintenance item.

        Once it’s shot, or missing, the truck wanders around the lane, lots of play, and when you turn, it’ll actually go in the opposite direction for a split second.

        They’re easy to change out, hopefully for urethane bushings, but just a bad idea not helped by the exhaust and or oil/grease.

        • 0 avatar

          Well tire wear is an issue in my experience.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Proper tire selection goes a long way with the TIB/TTB front ends, as does of course proper inflation and rotation.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          They ride like proverbial ox-carts, that’s my main complaint about TIB/TTB. GMT400 IFS is vastly smoother (and better handling) in my experience. Durability no contest: Ford front ends are the clear winner in extreme use scenarios. Bash a Chevy IFS hard and you’re snapping tie rod ends.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I can change out the bushing in 5 minutes per side, once I’ve got the I-beams chained to a tree or something. They’re coil suspensions so I’m not sure where you’re getting “oxcart”. Other shoebox F-series “wear items” are cab mounts. They also disappear (fast) and you’re slamming metal to metal.

            I just don’t understand driving around with blown TIB bushings. You can hear the loose washer ringing when driving next to one, and can almost make out the driver complaining.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “so I’m not sure where you’re getting “oxcart”

            From owning two trucks with it?

            A similar year S10 rides vastly better, as does my double-wishbone 4Runner. The S10 I suppose is simply softer-sprung, but my 4Runner’s coil/shock setup is fairly stiff and still manages to ride/handle vastly better than the ol’ TIB. There’s a very good reason Ford themselves went away from this 1960s era tech, although I’d reiterate I appreciate the durability and articulation.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yeah I disagree about the Ox Cart ride, while the GM does ride better empty as soon as you put a moderate load on it the Ford is the winner and when you load it up to or beyond the max rating the Ford is even farther ahead.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Why did Ford abandon TIB then? A grand conspiracy?

            I know you guys are Ford homers, but c’mon.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Packaging had alot to do with it @GTEM.

          • 0 avatar

            I can’t believe I’m going to defend Ford here but. I don’t think the ride was bad on the half tons. Worse then the Chevy sure but on par with the coil solid axle ram. Handling and component wear I think were what really killed it. I had lots of friends that owned 90’s Fords and I drove them for work at various jobs, the half ton’s were fine riding in fact they rode about as well as my 87 Toyota pickup, but the Toyota handled far better. When you get into the 3/4 and 1 ton Fords the ride variation between them and GM grew to grand canyon proportions.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I’m willing to relent and say that spring-rate probably has more to do with my anecdotal assessment of ride quality than anything else. And after reading a few more period automotive articles on Ford’s transition away from BIT/TTB, it seems that safe handling (less dramatic camber changes through the travel of the suspension), more direct steering feel, as well as more compact packaging and fewer alignment hassles seem to be the bigger drivers here.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I had a Twin I beam F150. The ride wasn’t bad but handling was. They had a tendency to wander. You also had to chose your tire wear, inside or outside. The successor SLA suspension was much better.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It’s not the fault of the TIB design. Owners don’t want to service their suspensions as you can tell. They’d rather complain and or buy something else and rather deal with constant bad ball-joints and or Death Wobble.

            Actually Ford now uses the same radius arm meets frame set-up, coil suspensions on current Super dutys (live axles), except instead of mounting the radius arms with big dumbo bushings, actual “motor mounts ” are used.

            That’s what TIB needs for a maintenance-free design (or upgrade retrofit) and no doubt a more comfy ride, considering all the shock the arms transfer to the frame, before and especially after the bushings wear out.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            The ultimate irony is that I see a lot more of the “SLA” (a-arm) Explorers and Rangers with critically worn components causing crazy amounts of negative camber than I do the TIB trucks (including my ’94 and ’97). Both were on entirely original components when I sold them (put a fresh set of Motorcraft shocks on the ’97 before I sold it), the ’97 had just a bit of a loose balljoint on one side, neither one seemed to have issues with excessive radius bushing wear as far as I could tell.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I would hope a S-10 would ride well, its front suspension was straight out of the E-body and it was softly sprung compared to a Ranger. But again it didn’t age that well when used as a truck.

            Not sure why you feel the need to attack us and call us Ford Homers, considering your well known GMT400 fetish.

            The reason Ford went to a SLA set up on the Jelly Bean was they saw the future with a 1/2 ton pickup in every driveway as a commuter car. So they went all in on making it look and drive more like a car than a truck. However they did make sure it was reasonably durable and could handle a reasonable load while holding its composure.

            A Jelly Bean is like driving a sports car compared to a GMT 400.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Are you denying being a pretty obvious Ford guy? Yeah I’m unabashed about my admiration for the GMT400 generation of GM trucks (have never actually owned one myself ironically enough), but acknowledge the shortcomings, and have owned a lot of different stuff (Honda, Toyota, most recently 2 Rangers, an Audi).

            The move away from TIB/TTB happened across the board (except for commercial-grade Superduties as DM noted). It’s a crude setup for better or for worse, I didn’t mind it in a beater truck that rode like crap but hopped curbs like a champ. It is unequivocally outdated for on-road use in a consumer-grade vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            DM the TIB/TTB has notoriously large swings in negative to positive camber as it works its way through its arc of travel. Maintains a worse contact patch with the road = worse road holding. This much of it is beyond debate.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The TIB is still alive on E-series cutoff vans. I still say it’s the best IFS yet, but poorly executed and mostly misunderstood. Some repair shops want a lot of money to fix them, want to drop the entire suspension, might as well do every bushing, ball-joint and shocks at that point, plus alignment.

            Btw shops love it when you remind them they’re not rebuilding The Damn Space Shuttle, please just fix what’s wrong.

            But Ford probably just got cheap at the last second.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Never said I don’t bleed Ford blue, just saying that you really didn’t need to call us Ford Homers because we think the TIB/TTB trucks don’t ride like Ox carts.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @gtem – The beams and arms just form huge “A-arms”, reaching way back and 3/4ths of the way across. So it’s impossible to have more camber (positive or negative) throughout their range of motion, or less contact patch, vs conventional IFS A-arms, since it would take 2 or 3X TIB/TTBs travel to have equally sharp angles.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Circa 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Nice, clean lines. Still looks decent, didn’t lol like an amorphous blob

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Mid 90s fullsize Bronco “Nite” pkg. The way that stripe faded from blue to purple was just so……90’s.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    The 9th generation F150 is the pinnacle of truck design for me. I’d take a 5.0L regular cab short box 4×4 XLT in two-tone blue, please.

    That being said, I wouldn’t sneeze at a 1999 F-150 SVT Lightning.

    I agree that the basic F-150 of the late ’90s hasn’t aged well, but SVT made it work. It just works for me, not to mention the supercharged engine.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I feel like it’s cheating because it was a 30-year-old truck by the turn of the ’90s, but the SJ Grand Wagoneer was still sold in 90 and 91, so I’m planting my flag. Come at me.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Come at you? Wish I had one now, can’t wait for their return

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Awesome machine.
      :-)

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Nothing says old money New England Cape Cod clam bake like a Grand Wagoneer, that’s why restored ones command top dollar. I live in an old money Chicago based resort town and see these things all summer long, but NEVER in the winter

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “but NEVER in the winter”

          They have quite a propensity to rot, so I don’t blame’em! That’s what the leased Range Rover is for :)

        • 0 avatar

          I knew a family in Maine that had one for the summer (they lived in Keywest in the Winter) and a XJ for when they visited off season.
          Other then seeing tons of them on the Vineyard and Nantucket, my main memory was my family has a camp in the Berkshires and one neighbor drove one for years. I rode in it to get ice cream a few times as a kid. He was a transplanted NY’er but otherwise fit the owner profile to a T. It was replaced with a RX 300 then finally a Routan when they decided they needed something easier to get into.

    • 0 avatar
      Jerome10

      Come at you? I will! To shake your hand. This is the first thing that popped in my mind.

      I will admit I still really like those 2 door GMT400 Blazers though.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I would like to single out the Yukon GT two-door.

    It may have been an cynical use of the term “GT” but the wheels and body color trim pieces were pretty sharp.

    It was like the SUV received an invitation that said “formal dress prefered” and then nailed the look.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Wow, that’s a rare bird. I have never seen one of these in the flesh. Ever.
      :-O

    • 0 avatar

      There used to be one rolling around regularly in my town a black one but it disappeared about 4-5 years ago.
      For a real odd duck I had a customer with a GMT 400 Blazer (fullsize 2 door tahoe before tahoe) with a 6.5 diesel. He also had a ext cab 1500 pickup with a stepside bed and the 6.5. I guess he had a type.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    For me, this is the most difficult era of truck to choose as the ‘best’.

    All 3 of the platforms were the fantastic in terms of reliability and longevity. Here in the mountain west, no rust, you see any number of the trucks from this era daily still doing their thing.

    If I had to pick, it would be a 92′ Ram 250 LE extended cab cummins 5 sp, pre-kenworth look. These trucks are absolute beasts and will literally run forever if you take care of them. You will have to replace interior bits regularly though.

    2nd choice would be a 91′ square body K5. Iconic look and for me, a shame that PLSUV is not offered anymore other than in Wrangler form.

    3rd choice would be a regular cab F150 302. Another great truck that road well had decent enough street manners and if you selected the correct color combination and option package (XLT or Lariat) was quite handsome in two-tone and factory chrome wheels.

    For whatever reason here in Denver we are littered with McLarens that pop up as ‘spots’ on the car porn FB page (car porn is the only reason to FB BTW) where as I would be delighted if more of this era trucks were photoed.

    • 0 avatar
      CannonShot

      I live in the mountain west too (small town rural Idaho). Lots of 90s trucks in my neighborhood–mostly Ford and GM. One of my neighbors has a really sharp looking 90s Chevy. It’s red with a regular cab and short box–maybe the most perfectly proportioned truck ever made. My daily driver is 1995 F150 XLT, regular cab, long bed (only 50,000 miles). What a great truck.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Man I’d love to live in a place where the good stuff didn’t just rot away.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        Wow, I am kinda jealous. How did you find a sub 50k 1995 F150?

        Vent windows, AC, sliding rear window & PL….what more do you need?

        Once my kids are out and I don’t need a Suburban I am hoping to find either a F150, K5, or Square body Silverado which I will stuff a 5.3 & 4l60 in and call my DD.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Not the absolute “best,” but a 1st gen Durango SXT with the oversized 265/75R16 tires is a very brawny and handsome rig, 90s “aero” done right.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    Nothing quite says 1990’s like a green Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer-edition 4-door on Firestone tires.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      With the gold lettering, 100 pounds of clutter in the cargo area, and the stick figures of their family pasted on the rear window next to more stickers of what activities their kids do.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Are you being funny? Shall we name it “Tippy Ka-Boom”?

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Nothing wrong with the tires iirc, but Ford’s idiotic 26psi inflation recommendation from the factory. a 4000lb SUV should be running 35psi at least, especially if loaded up and towing. But Ford wanted a smoother ride to mask some of the rougher edges of the borrowed Ranger’s leaf sprung rear end

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Ford also had Firestone cost out the tire to the point that they were paying Dominos pepperoni pizza money for them.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          It was the tires, fact is a lot of the Explorers came with Goodyear tires that didn’t have a problem. Even all of the Firestones didn’t cause a problem, the majority of them came from the same decrepit plant, while ones made at other Firestone plants did not fail at anywhere near the rate of the problematic plant.

          Tire pressure, when actually maintained was not the problem either, the tires size in question p235/75-15 is good for 1753lbs each when inflated to 26psi. You should never see an Explorer of that generation that is rolling down the road at 7000lbs.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Interesting on the factory-origin aspect. I stand by my claim that 26psi in a 4000lb truck is absurd and just asking for overheated rubber at highway speeds.

            https://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/23/business/ford-raises-recommended-tire-pressure.html

            Chevy and Toyota both recommended 35psi on all of their SUVs… Ford got greedy on their factors of safety in favor of chasing a softer ride.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I believe the Explorer was found to be tippy during testing and dropping tire pressure was an easy “fix”, similar to the very low tire pressure specified for Corvairs. But a blown tire at speed made them especially tippy.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            From the WSJ https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB965870212891028108

            “By last Friday, after the Ford team had been working from 6 a.m. until midnight for seven days, “the data were suggesting some trends we found alarming,” said one Ford insider. Ford got Firestone to send a team of experts, who arrived Saturday morning and worked through the weekend alongside the Ford investigators.

            By Monday, it became clear to the Ford and Firestone investigators that the problem tires appear to have come from the plant in Decatur, Ill., during specific periods of production. The bulk of the tire-separation incidents had occurred in hot states: Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. This correlated with information from overseas.”

            And

            “One of Ford’s moves was to contact Goodyear, which supplied the same size tire to Ford in the mid-1990s for use on the same vehicles. Goodyear, the world’s biggest tire maker, was never an exclusive supplier and stopped providing those tires to Ford in 1997. By studying Goodyear’s warranty information, Ford was able to confirm that Goodyear’s tires had not encountered the same type of problems.”

            So if 26psi was the root of the problem the Goodyears should have had problems as well. Not to mention the fact that the Firestone tires made at other plants were not failing at anywhere near the rate of the Decatur plant even if the failure rate was higher than the Goodyears.

            So yeah 26psi is just fine, but the underlying problem is the dumbing down of Americas and the fact that no one ever checks their tire pressure. So in reality that 26 psi ends up being 20-22 in a couple of months, if the guy at the Monkey Lube actually took the time to check and adjust the tire pressures.

            Way back in the day tire placards used to list tire pressures for normal load and maximum load and people knew not only to check their tire pressures but to adjust them before they pack up everything but the kitchen sink, hook up the trailer and head out.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Where else have you ever seen such low inflation pressures recommended on a modern radial-tired truck/SUV? It was abnormally low, and a product of accommodating other engineering constraints (ride quality). Handling was assessed as being best at 30PSI by Ford themselves:

            “A chart released by Ford on Wednesday showed that the tires provided the best stability and handling between 20 and 30 pounds, with the best at 30”

            Everyone else is running 32-35PSI in their midsize SUVs and trucks (including Ford in their own Rangers), oh but Ford knows best! I guarantee the tires ran a lot hotter at 26psi than at 32+. If a large part of that was a margin of safety issue, well then they decided to cut it too close and resulted in some (as it turns out) marginally manufactured tires to blow out.

  • avatar
    TR4

    All the TTAC nostalgia for the nineties is making me feel old!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I bought a ’95 F-150 (5.0 with 4R70W automatic) new, and then drove it for 17 years and 214,000 miles. Very reliable. The styling is okay, but keep in mind it’s the third facelift of the 1980 truck.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    ‘94-97 Dodge Ram. Iconic design that has aged VERY well in spite of being revolutionary. The 318/360 Magnums were great motors and solid axles all around on 4×4’s…YES PLEASE! I’m a hardcore fan of the single cab body on a truck, and these were clearly designed off of that, vs many newer trucks which treat the ‘shorties’ as an afterthought. Something just looks off.

    ‘97 Wrangler TJ deserves a mention. As the last of the ‘pure’ Wranglers, Jeep really nailed it with this one. The only gripe is the lack of a factory V8 which it BADLY needed but in terms of reclaiming the classic Jeep look and an all around great suspension…bullseye.

  • avatar

    This a question with more good answers then Bad. The 90’s are one of the best times for American trucks (cars less so).
    May favorites
    94 RAM (The rules have changed)
    F-series up to 97. Some of the best looking vehicles Ford has ever made.
    GM 400 Give me a 454 2500 Suburban but really they are all awesome.
    S-10 ZR-2 came way to close to financing one of these as a 19 year old.
    97 and Dakota and Durango (peak midsize truck)
    Last gen Ramcharger

    Really the only American truck from the era I really dislike is the Jelly Bean 150.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    AS far as I’m concerned the 90’s and early 2,000’s were not great for SUVs. I bought my wife a brand new Suburban ($32,000.00 back them). Within the first 12,000 miles it went through a transmission, rear-end, and two alternators. Since I thought this would be a pattern-it was traded in on a Ford Explorer within a couple of years. The transmission in that was terrible-the large V6 made all kind of noises, and then there was that fiberglass body strip underneath the rear window hatch that would crack after a period of time-it was a factory defect. So got rid of that for a 4Runner and it goes without saying the quality issues were resolved.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    1992 AM General Hummer, finally a departure from the staid 80s, based off of the Humvee first designed 15 years earlier it was finally given to the buying public to have something that screamed American. Nice V8 Diesel in a truck that took America back to true full-size dimensions.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Compact SUV-Jeep Cherokee

    Mid-sized SUV-Jeep Grand Cherokee the TSi trim or the 5.9 are rare beasts.

    Compact/mid sized pickup-Dodge Dakota the convertible and Shelby versions.

    Full-sized pickups and SUV’-GMT400

  • avatar
    86er

    I own a ’96 GMC Sierra – not only is it an attractive vehicle (esp. in stellar blue over olympic white…) but it has been very reliable over the 9 years I’ve had it.

    When a deer ran into me last summer, I couldn’t bear to part with it, so took the total loss payout and fixed it up. With just over 100,000 miles on it, it will go for a while yet.

  • avatar
    loner

    For me, the true classics are the 1990-91 full size Blazer (old, square body, with new grille and headlights) and the 1995-97 FZJ80 Land Cruiser.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Only SUV I had from that period was the ’97 Mercury Mountaineer with the 5.0L and all time AWD. My goodness that combo was thirsty and the gas tank seemed too small. But it sure was dependable. Only had two very minor repairs in the 5 years I owned it. Decided to sell the Merc out of boredom of driving it and the gas prices were going up ‘n’ up too. Always thought it was handsome, at least in dark blue like mine.

    I saw one the other day and I forgot how large the Mercury symbol was on the back.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Yea! One vote for the only Mercury “truck” ever built

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Unless of course you were in Canada in which case you had a large selection of Mercury trucks, from 1/2 ton pickups to MD cab and chassis to Vans.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I always forget that at times Canada got their own vehicle niche not sold anywhere else. Was it Mercury or Meteor? I guess Meteor was gone by the 90s

          I still remember my excitement during my first trip to Canada (Expo 67) as a kid and seeing all these cars not sold in the US. It was like going to a distant planet

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Oh yeah …Mercury trucks were quite a common site back in the 50’s and 60’s .

            The Meteor was an adapted U.S Mercury body. G.M. did the same thing with the “B” Pontiac.

            @ Lie2me… I had a similar experience, when I spotted a 63 U.S Pontiac (something Chief ? ) . 15 inch wheels, a V8 that wasn’t a Chevy small block, and I swear that Pontiac had to be 5 inches longer than ours ???

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    1991 GMC Syclone. I finally had a chance to go through the comments and I’m floored that no one has mentioned this beast yet.
    Pure evil, liquid black paint, subtle bright red “Syclone” stickers on the doors, and zero hauling capacity whatsoever. I think this spawn of Satan was quicker than any Corvette at the time, including the ZR-1.
    Yes, the bones were still an S-10, parts of the dash were from a Pontiac, but when it was in full boost mode, who cares? It’s time to hunt some Ferraris!

    • 0 avatar
      Wodehouse

      I think the Syclone is an awesome truck, but, design-wise it’s standard, square cornered compact pickup similar to the Hardbody, Ranger, Isuzu Pup, Toyota and the like.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    This is a tough one as I love the GMT 400 and the ’94 Ram designs, but, it’s the original Dodge Durango, with its Dodge Caravan copy back side, and the 2nd generation Dodge Dakota that are my favorites. Near perfect blend of tough and pretty. They make me wonder how in the world have we arrived to the silly, ham-fisted, “fragile ego” designs of today’s trucks and SUVs.

    Still, those GMT 400s….

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I always like the 90’s GM full size trucks and the 98 thru 2003 S-10 which I have a 99 S-10. All had clean uncluttered lines and all have aged well. Also they have a great drive train and just keep going. I hate the jacked up height and the huge grills and large lettering of most of today’s trucks. I nice clean uncluttered design with not too much chrome is just right.

  • avatar
    Sundance

    My favorite was and is the GMT400. In 2000 I imported a 1996 Chevy Suburban 6.5liter turbo diesel in black with grey leather to Germany (from Canada), added Alcoa wheels with moderate all terrain tyres and was happy. Wonderful car. But with the fuel price of today (in Germany) I’m glad that I sold it years ago.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    I’m of an age (40) where I’m supposed to be nostalgic for the 1990s.

    I’m really not nostalgic for this time in any way.

    I was an awkward teenager living in a part of rural America, where I didn’t belong. I had dialup Internet, and a job configuring modems and Trumpet Winsock for people as a consolation prize. People liked it when I fixed their computers, but otherwise treated me like a nerd stuck in a redn#ck world — which is exactly what I was.

    (I even pulled up the “1990s rock anthems” channel on Spotify, and disliked most of the music the same way I did in the 1990s, despite the better sound quality.)

    I left for college in 1997, and found my people. I haven’t been back since, except for holidays.

    I never liked the trucks and SUVs of the 1990s. They were thirsty, dangerous (both to their occupants and for bystanders), and they were generally driven by people I didn’t like who couldn’t keep them shiny side up.

    About the only car I like from the era was the Honda Accord — we had two Accords (1991 and 1997), and a 1995 Honda Civic sport. They made pretty much everything else I experienced automotively in that decade look obsolete.

    My dad was a GM & Volkswagen man from the time he got his driver’s license the 1960s until he bought his 1991 Honda Accord, and he never too GM seriously again.

    The only valid reason to drive a truck at that time was if you actually needed one. I lived in a rural area and used trucks for truck things from time to time, and it’s hard to imagine the level of personal and financial masochism required to daily drive one of those things when Honda made cars. I drove F-150s and F-250s on the farm, but couldn’t fathom driving one unless I had a specific task which required that vehicle that day.

    The automotive landscape of 2019 is much better. We have 30 years of technological improvement, and it shows in every aspect of every vehicle. Plus, I have friends, family, sex, and a modest amount of money. I can’t leave the 1990s far enough behind!


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