See how popular vehicles like the Camry, Wrangler and F-150 have changed over the last 25 years
Today's Honda Civic is about the same size as an Accord from 1995, though it's more powerful. Here's how other popular nameplates have changed since then.
Craig ColeFormer reviews editor
Craig brought 15 years of automotive journalism experience to the Cars team. A lifelong resident of Michigan, he's as happy with a wrench or welding gun in hand as he is in front of the camera or behind a keyboard. When not hosting videos or cranking out features and reviews, he's probably out in the garage working on one of his project cars. He's fully restored a 1936 Ford V8 sedan and then turned to resurrecting another flathead-powered relic, a '51 Ford Crestliner. Craig has been a proud member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
Don't believe it? Well, we've compared a series of 1995-model-year cars and trucks to their 2020 counterparts to see just how much some popular nameplates have changed. The '95
, for instance, is roughly the same size and weight as an Accord from that time period.
pickup truck has changed immensely, its maximum tow-rating nearly doubling. Keep scrolling and see if you're as shocked as we are.
Representing the pony-car class is
venerable Camaro. Just like today, the 1995 model was offered in two body styles. You could get your mullet-machine as either a coupe or convertible. Beyond that, the name, and rolling four wheels, however, there's not much a 25-year-old version of this Chevy has in common with today's model.
For instance, the 2020 Camaro's base, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine puts out 275 horsepower, or exactly the same amount as the 1995 Z28 model's alpha-dog 5.7-liter LT1 V8 did. But the comparison is even more shocking when you look at the current ZL1 model, which brandishes 650 ponies. It's more than twice as powerful as the '95 model!
But it's not just under-the-hood hardware that's starkly different. The 2020 Camaro's wheelbase is nearly 10 inches longer, though its body is about 5 inches shorter, providing dramatically more attractive proportions.
Sport utility vehicles such as the Isuzu Trooper, Oldsmobile Bravada and Mitsubishi Montero have all gone the way of the dinosaurs. The Chevrolet Blazer, Jeep Cherokee and Honda Passport were goners, too, but have since been raised from the dead to do battle in a new century. Through it all there's been one constant, however: The Ford Explorer. Over the last 25 years, this popular family-hauler has changed greatly, gaining a third-row seat, switching to a front-drive-based architecture for a generation and offering more technology and amenities than there's room to list here.
The 1995 model was the first year of this nameplate's second-gen model. It sported sleeker styling, a nicer interior and plenty of chassis updates. But what was industry-leading a quarter century ago is painfully quaint today.
In '95, just one engine was offered in the Explorer, a 4.0-liter pushrod V6 that delivered 160 hp. The most potent powertrain Ford offers today is a twin-turbocharged V6 that delivers 400 ponies in the Explorer ST, a whopping 2.5 times more. Naturally, this nameplate's wheelbase, curb weight and overall length have swelled considerably.
Unquestionably, one of the most dramatic vehicle transformations over the last quarter-century has happened to the Ford F-150. In 1995, you were far more likely to see one of these trucks in a farm field or on a construction site than parked in front of a shopping center. Over the years, customers have demanded more creature comforts in their rigs and Ford has happily obliged.
The 2020 F-150 offers amenities including a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and a weight-saving aluminum body, features that were probably unimaginable to drivers in 1995. Back then, power locks and windows weren't standard, and air conditioning cost extra, ditto for stuff like a tachometer and cruise control.
Performance and capability have increased dramatically as well. The entry-level engine is basically twice as powerful as in 1995. The 2020 alpha-dog powerplant is similarly more potent than its 25-year-old counterpart. The current F-150's high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine cranks out 450 horsepower, far more than this rig's 5.8-liter V8 could muster.
Honda's Civic has pretty much always been the gold standard in the small-car class. It is today, and it was 25 years ago.
But my how things have changed! Comparing EX sedan models, this venerable nameplate's overall length has swelled by nearly 10 inches and its weight by a commensurate amount. At just shy of a ton and a half, the 2020 Civic EX four-door is nearly 400 pounds heavier than a similar 1995 model.
Of course, more features, greater safety and larger overall dimensions contribute to this startling increases. Fortunately, engine output has grown at a similar rate, with the current car's 1.5-liter turbo-four delivering 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. That's not a monumental increase, but it's much more startling when you compare it to a DX hatchback model from '95. They only had 70 hp!
Honda was late getting in the modern minivan game, trailing Chrysler by more than a decade. Still, the 1995 Odyssey proved to be an excellent product.
Curiously, four was the magic number with this vehicle, which had Accord sedan underpinnings. It featured a double-wishbone suspension at all four corners, was powered by a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that delivered 140 hp and was matched to a four-speed automatic transmission. Not only that, it featured four conventionally hinged doors unlike rivals that had sliding rear access portals.
As you'd expect, today's Honda Odyssey is vastly more tech-laden, comfortable and, like practically everything else on this list, bigger than its 1995 counterpart. This minivan's length, wheelbase and curb weight have all grown significantly. And at 4,398 pounds, the lightest version of the 2020 Odyssey is nearly 1,000 pounds husker than an equivalent model from 1995, a staggering increase. Fortunately, horsepower has doubled, and the transmission has six additional gears.
1995 Honda Odyssey LX
2020 Honda Odyssey LX
Max. fuel economy
1995 Jeep Wrangler used the same basic formula
From its basic configuration to the way it looks, a 1995 YJ model Wrangler is strikingly similar to the JL variant you can pick up new from a dealership right now. But as that old saying goes, the devil is in the details.
Comparing a 1995 Wrangler to a two-door 2020 model, the vehicle has grown significantly. The new one is about 15 inches longer and nearly 8 inches wider. Consequently, similar models are nearly half a ton heavier. The size increase is certainly to blame for that weight gain, but extra equipment plays a role, too. In 1995, features like air conditioning, anti-lock brakes and a passenger-side exterior mirror were all optional.
Under the hood, two engines and a pair of transmissions were offered 25 years ago. Today, a broad range of powertrains is on the menu, including gasoline engines augmented by a mild-hybrid system. You can even get V6 diesel, though only in four-door Wrangler Unlimited models.
1995 Jeep Wrangler
2020 Jeep Wrangler (2-door)
2.0-liter turbo I4
Minimum ground clearance
The 1995 Mazda Miata isn't much different from the 2020 model
Like the Wrangler, Mazda's legendary Miata roadster has remained true to its original formula, even after three decades of production and four generations. This two-seat fun-machine was all about funneling as much driving pleasure to the left-front seat as possible, and that mission statement remains the same.
Dimensionally, the venerable Mazda Miata hasn't changed much. The 2020 model's wheelbase has only grown by 1.7 inches to 90.9, while the car's overall length has actually shrunk by 1.3 inches. But remarkably, despite gaining far more amenities, being safer, stronger and having a much nicer interior, the Miata's bulk has barely increased. A 1995 model weighs as little as 2,293 pounds, while a comparable 2020 is a mere 48 pounds heavier.
1995 Mazda MX-5 Miata
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Max. fuel economy
The 1995 Mercedes-Benz S500 proves luxury never goes out of style
The current-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a sleek and sophisticated flagship sedan, just as it was a quarter-century ago. The volume-selling model in the US today is the S560, which is broadly equivalent to the S500 from 1995.
That old-school Benz featured a 5.0-liter V8 engine that delivered a stout 320 hp, which was routed to the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. In comparison, the 2020 S560 is also powered by a V8 engine, one that displaces a smaller 4.0-liters, but it's boosted by a pair of turbochargers. This combination delivers 463 hp, or 143 more. Making the most of that output, the engine is matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Busting out a tape measure, this new S-Class isn't too much larger than its 25-year-old counterpart. It's only about 5.6 inches longer and, in rear-drive form, roughly 322 pounds huskier.
Another automotive legend is the Porsche 911. In 1995, the 993-generation Turbo model delivered pretty shocking performance. Its horizontally opposed, 3.6-liter engine cranked out 400 hp and an equal helping of torque, not bad for an air-cooled engine. With standard full-time all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission, it could rocket from a standstill to 60 mph in as little as 4.4 seconds, while its top speed was advertised at 180 mph.
In comparison, the latest and greatest 911 Turbo S is endowed with 640 hp and 590 lb-ft of twist. All-wheel drive is still standard, and absolutely necessary with that much under-hood firepower, though no manual transmission is offered. It's been replaced by an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic.
How has this German thoroughbred's performance changed? Well, chew on this. That new 911 Turbo S can hit 60 mph in a blistering 2.6 seconds and its terminal velocity is 205 mph.
Ah, the Toyota Camry, a car that's a ubiquitous as
or fast-food restaurants. Like McDonald's hamburgers, it's been a best-seller for decades, though this family machine has changed greatly over the last 25 years, unlike, say, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
Today's Camry is expressively styled, with a large grille, aggressive headlamps and plenty of surfacing. In comparison, the 1995 model is about a generic looking as a car can get, with a dead-simple three-box design and zero flourishes. Visually, it's about as exciting as waiting in line, though at least multiple body styles were available. At the time, you could get the Camry as a sedan, coupe or station wagon.
Mildly restyled for '95, this venerable nameplate offered a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine good for 125 hp. In comparison, today's base engine displaces 2.5-liters and churns out up to 206 ponies. Back in the day, drivers that wanted more oomph could get a 3.0-liter V6 that was rated at 188 hp, a far cry from the 2020 model's bent-six that delivers 301 equines.
1995 Toyota Camry
2020 Toyota Camry
The 1995 Toyota Tacoma looks just like today's model
The Toyota Tacoma has been immensely popular for decades. Aside from its manageable dimensions, ruggedness and long-term reliability are cornerstones of its success.
In 1995, three engines were offered, a base 2.4-liter unit, a larger 2.7-liter four-cylinder and a top-shelf 3.4-liter V6. A four-speed automatic or five-ratio manual were your two transmission choices.
Today's Taco is still available with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder, one that delivers 159 hp, though chances are you'd be a lot happier with the up-level V6 that's rated at 278 hp, 88 more than the one available in '95. As before, two transmissions -- a manual and an automatic -- are offered in this truck, though both have six forward speeds.