South African SUV Icons of the 1990's
"Some fascinating engine deals and the start of Korea’s African invasion" - Lance Branquinho
A brilliant Wheels24 article states the popular SUVs of the 1990s, specifically in South Africa. I'm just happy most of these vehicles are gone! It is, however, surprising to see how many of these popular SUV are still roaming the streets of South Africa.
Ah yes the Condor, an inexpensive family wagon with the capability of getting a great number of South African families where they wished to be, chasing adventure! Toyota's very successful Fortuner replaced the Condor, however the Condor is still sought after transportation solution for many South African families in rural areas. The Condor is also a madly reliable vehicle, Toyota made sure of that.
The Condor was powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.4-litre petrol engine. Or you could pick up the 3-litre diesel engine. Both these engines provided great 1990s performance and good mileage before requiring service.
In the 1990s Isuzu decided to refine the pickup-based SUV concept Nissan had established with Sani. The Frontier, the product of the aforementioned project, was a five-door wagon inspired by the successful KB pickup. Even though this vehicle was relatively successful, Isuzu eventually discontinued it.
But this was not Isuzu’s defining 1990s SUV, no, that honour goes to the Isuzu Trooper. Unlike the Frontier, the Trooper was built on a dedicated SUV platform. The Trooper was a rather small SUVs, smaller than that Toyota and Nissan offered.
The Trooper was powered by a 3.2-litre V6 engine, perfect low-range for the Kalahari or Namibian dunes.
Jeep Cherokee XJ diesel
This vehicle was celebrated for its boxy styling, as well as its immense off-road ability and the XJ-series The article also states that the Cherokee was rather reliable, well for a Jeep that is. Surprisingly, this vehicle remained in production from the early 1980s through to the 2000s! However, the best XJs were those built in the late 1990s. This is after the Chrysler merger with Mercedes-Benz.
This vehicle was powered by an Italian VN Motori 2.5 turbodiesel engine.
Back then, South Africans believed that driving a Korean car was interpreted as a life-project failure. So when the first Korean vehicles arrived on South African shores, the resistance to them was enormous.
Kia's designs were awful. However, they has affordable pricing and generous equipment levels. This was the Korean market strategy. According to the article, the Sportage was a rugged compact SUV which was vastly different from the stylish crossover we know today.
The Sportage was perfect for those South Africans willing to gamble on an alternative off-road brand.