- this 1996 suzuki x-90 4x4 is up for sale on the bring a trailer auction site, with bidding currently at $5000 in an auction that ends on sunday, march 27.
- the x-90 has a measly 95 horsepower from its 1.6-liter inline-four, but four-wheel drive, a two-speed transfer case, and almost seven inches of ground clearance made it a capable mini off-roader.
- just over 7000 were sold in the united states over a three-year production run, far below suzuki's targets at the time.
on our may 1995 issue's cover, we boldly proclaimed that mini-utes like the suzuki x-90 would be "the next big thing." nearly 30 years later, it's safe to say we were wrong. the subcompact crossover class may now be one of the most crowded automotive segments, but the car-based blobs on offer today could hardly be considered utes, and none of the entrants quite capture the aura of the diminutive but capable x-90. if you agree, you'll be interested to learn that this 1996 suzuki x-90 4x4 is up for sale on the bring a trailer auction site—which, like car and driver, is part of hearst autos.
related to the suzuki sidekick (known abroad as the vitara), the x-90 was launched in 1995, with suzuki telling car and driver at the time that it needed to sell 12,000 units per year in the united states in order to turn a profit. but the quirky x-90 failed to catch on, shifting just 7000 units in the u.s. over a brief three-year production run. in hindsight, the x-90's failure isn’t surprising—starting at $15,389, the x-90 had two fewer seats than the similarly priced three-door toyota rav4 and less storage space thanks to the sedanlike three-box design.
when new, the 1.6-liter inline-four produced 95 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque. although offered with rear-wheel drive, this example features four-wheel drive, routing its power through a five-speed manual transmission and a two-speed transfer case. nearly seven inches of ground clearance and high approach and departure angles meant the x-90 was actually decent at scampering over rough terrain—our 1996 review described it as "nimble and surefooted." but the x-90 certainly wasn’t quick—in that test, the x-90 trudged to 60 mph in 10.8 seconds on its way to a drag-limited 94-mph top speed.
the two-seat x-90 comes with a t-top with removable glass roof panels, and it rides on 15-inch aluminum wheels. inside are gray cloth seats with unmistakably 1990s multicolor inserts, and the same dated pattern crops up on the door panels. this x-90 includes a factory cassette stereo, power-operated windows and locks, cruise control, and dual front airbags.
the x-90 may not be the greatest car, but it certainly is unusual. as we wrote in 1995, "it says 'different' just as surely and eloquently as wearing your pants on your head." the odd looks and limited interior space likely led to the x-90's demise as it challenged the first-generation toyota rav4 and lost. yet, while the puny x-90 was a sales flop, it still has a certain charm and is an interesting piece of automotive history. bidding on this example is currently at $5000 with four days remaining.