The era of true SUVs…

90s era SUVs, like this lifted D21 Nissan Pathfinder, are where it’s at. Nissan Pathfinders, Jeep Cherokees, Toyota 4Runners and Land Cruisers… these are the ones that created the SUV market AND endured the test of time. Looking now at how over-accessorized & neutered modern SUVs have gotten, there’s a rugged appeal & attraction to the tough square simplicity of early 4-wheel-drive SUVs. They carry a certain timelessness. Something just feels right about a 4×4 with a manual 5-speed… and rear-hatch windows that pop-up, roll down, or come off entirely. When the vehicle connects you to the sun, the stars, the breeze, and the elements… you in turn become connected to that vehicle. 

Lifted D21 Nissan Pathfinder

What’s really tough in a 4×4… 

Is a modern 4×4 ‘tough’ if it can smash over any obstacle in its path? Something like a Jeep or diesel truck on 40” tires? Well yeah… it is lol. But there’s also an alternative way to look at tough. These 90s SUVs… Pathfinders, 4Runners, Cherokees, Land Cruisers… they’ve had decades to  prove they’re tough. And not tough in the way that they’re overbuilt, over-lifted, and over-lightbar’d.

But their strength comes in the fact that they don’t break drivetrain pieces under the weight of their own giant wheels & tires. The chassis are lighter, and don’t sink in the sand/mud under the weight of their own bodies. This 4x4parts.com lifted D21 Pathfinder can slip through tight trails & ridges when things get narrow & overgrown. And it doesn’t have to go back to the dealer for idiot modern problems… like government-mandated speed sensors that fail & make traction control go postal. This old Pathfinder doesn’t have a cooling system that’s more complicated than the human nervous system. Basically – I’m saying 90s era SUVs & 4x4s are tough in what they don’t have… rather then what they do have. 

Lifted D21 Nissan Pathfinder

The appeal of lifted simplicity… 

As with most any hobby or recreational activity, when you first start out, you dream about the best. If it’s mountain biking… you long for the best bike with the best shocks and the best parts and all that jazz. But what you’re ultimately doing is taking the experience out of the experience. And limiting your growth/strength. It’s usually not until you’ve got years of riding under your belt… that you begin to see the appeal in shedding some of the bullsh*t. You realize that all the bells & whistles, were the cause of all your maintenance issues & frustrations. Well in the same vein, 90s 4x4s let you feel the trails. Sure, you may not be the most capable vehicle out there, but you’re more challenged more of the time, feeling everything… boppin’ around having a blast. 

Yokohama Geolandar

 

The Collectibility of 90s 4×4 SUVs…

If you pay attention to car values & depreciation curves, you’ll know that early full-size 4x4s have really taken off on the collector market. See a couple decades ago, no one cared about a 4×4 as a collector. But that’s changed big-time as generational 4x4s like the early Broncos, Blazers, Scouts, Rovers, etc have come full circle. Well similarly – 90s era 4x4s & SUVs are engrained in a generation… a generation where the car was still a staple in youth culture & a symbol of freedom. For people that are in their 40s now, these were the SUVs they wanted (or had) in high school. These were the SUVs sporting 2 12” subwoofers with 311, Sublime, and Alien Workshop stickers on the back window. There’s a nostalgia for these vehicles, and a sentimental desire that will grow. 

This lifted D21 Nissan Pathfinder is on a 3-inch suspension kit from 4x4parts.com. The wheels are Volk TE37x in 16×7 with Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003s in 285/75/16. For more details & specs on the lift, please see this article.