In the 1990s, car design improved dramatically, with flashy futurism giving way to practicality. The once-beautiful boxy designs, horrible interior ergonomics and poor finishes of the 80s have gradually disappeared. From a technological standpoint, engineers have made many innovations and advancements that have made cars faster, more efficient and more fun to drive.
Along with design, quality and performance, automakers are also striving to improve vehicle reliability. Today, the used car market is full of inexpensive vehicles from the 1990s. However, it becomes prudent for anyone in the market of a daily driver to prioritize reliability over flashy designs. Here is a list of ten reliable cars from the 90s that you can use as a daily driver.
10/10 Audi RS2 Avant
Based on the Audi 80 Avant, the RS2 Avant established the high-performance wagon segment when it debuted in 1994. Audi offered the RS2 Avant with a 2.2-liter turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine developing 315 hp, a six-speed manual transmission and the Quattro Drive System.
Interestingly, the Audi RS2 Avant is light, nimble and holds the line well, making it a great option for everyday driving. In addition, the design of the wagon ensures all the practicality that one wishes. Finally, the collaboration with Porsche allowed the RS2 Avant to receive durable parts, which makes it a very reliable model today.
9/10 Buick Regal GS
The fourth generation model saw the Regal return to its roots, once again becoming the premium version of the Century. Buick marketed the Regal GS as a sports sedan, receiving the new GM W platform and an impressive 3.8-liter supercharged V6 with 240 hp under the hood.
As a four-door sedan, the Regal GS offers ample interior space and a variety of amenities suitable for a daily driver. Buick cars have proven reliable over the years, and the Regal’s blend of reliability and performance makes it a tempting option.
8/10 Chevrolet Impala SS
Big muscle sedans have always been dominant, and the seventh-generation Chevrolet Impala SS was bad to the bone. Based on the Caprice police package, the Impala SS features a smooth-sounding 5.7-liter LT1 V8 capable of developing 260 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque.
The beauty of the Impala SS isn’t in its unassuming exterior styling, but in its stealthy capabilities as a street sleeper with functionality for everyday use. Backed by upgraded police car parts, Chevrolet built the Impala SS to withstand the mechanical knocks of daily driving, making it nearly unbreakable in standard form.
7/10 Ford Bronco
Ford offered the fifth-generation Bronco in an eye-pleasing design, featuring more aerodynamic styling with numerous exterior and interior updates. Dubbed the original body style, the Bronco featured the underpinnings of the ninth-generation F-Series platform, allowing it to be more modern while maintaining an assertive and powerful demeanor.
From 1992 to 1996, the Ford Bronco came with two V-8 options: a 205 hp 4.9-liter EFI and a 210 hp 5.8-liter MFI. The fifth-generation Bronco has built a reputation for durability, capability and off-road prowess.
6/10 Lincoln Town Car
The Town Car full-size luxury sedan served as Lincoln’s flagship model to compete with the Cadillac DTS and Lexus LS 460. The second-generation model was one of the best-selling full-size luxury sedans thanks to numerous changes in styling, an interior upgrade, and an improved list of standard equipment.
Admittedly, the 150-hp 4.9-liter SOHC Modular V8 ensures that the Lincoln Town Car is slightly lacking in acceleration. However, the impressive luxury, generous dimensions and rock-solid durability compared to segment rivals make it the best full-size sedan for daily driving.
The compact Civic has been one of the best-selling passenger cars for the past five decades, attracting attention for its attractive, modern styling. Honda offered the fifth-generation Civic in two-door coupe, three-door hatchback, and four-door sedan body styles.
Besides the dynamic engine options, the Civic offers impeccable driving dynamics and great fuel economy. More importantly, the Civic maintains an excellent reputation for reliability and safety, crucial factors that make it a desirable everyday car.
4/10 BMW E36 M3
The E36 M3 had big steps to follow, but the reserved design ensured that the majority only noticed it for its modern design and increased comfort. Powered by a naturally aspirated straight-six engine, the E36 M3 combined the best of both worlds; a smooth, comfortable ride and uncompromising performance.
Although the E36 M3 is understated compared to the first and third generation models, it combines the fun driving dynamics of its predecessor with a civility essential for everyday driving. The E36 M3 can be a reliable car with proper maintenance schedules, but that depends on how well the car was maintained by the previous owner.
3/10 Lexus LS400
The LS400 revolutionized the luxury car segment when it debuted, offering the style and luxury of a premium car and unparalleled build quality. At the heart of the LS400 is Toyota’s 4.0-liter 1UZ-FE V8 engine, linked to a four-speed automatic transmission to deliver a rated 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.
Lexus offered the LS400 with an impressive list of features such as tilt and telescopic steering, independent double wishbone suspension, air suspension, electrically adjustable seat belts and airbags. In addition to its everyday practicality, the LS400 is one of the most durable and maintenance-free cars in the luxury sedan segment.
2/10 Toyota Camry
Every year, the Toyota Camry continues to outsell any other sedan given that you would be hard pressed to find a model that matches its value. The 90s saw a change in design and size, rising in the mid-size segment to offer two peppy engine options and a more practical and comfortable interior.
The Camry gained popularity as a family sedan in the 90s for its impressive list of standard equipment, great build quality and good fuel economy. However, its most important feature is Toyota’s track record of producing vehicles with excellent safety and rock-solid reliability.
1/10 Mercedes Benz 500E
Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have collaborated and tapped into the combined well of innovative engineering and production capabilities to produce arguably one of Germany’s greatest sedans. The 500E was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, fitted with a 5.0-liter V8 developing 326 hp that allowed it to go from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 250 km /h.
Despite its sporty orientation, the 500E offers an excellent compromise between dynamism and a relaxing and comfortable ride that makes it the ideal sleeping car for daily driving. The 500E also offers high levels of build quality from two automakers, high safety standards and long-lasting durability.