Cars.com, the leading online resource for buying and selling new and used cars, today released a list of the top 10 most iconic cars of the past 25 years. The site’s experts compiled the list based on cars that set trends, have unusually expressive styling, performance under the hood and other factors that make these some of the most memorable cars to date.
“Aside from Hollywood, there’s no industry that creates as many icons as the car business,” said Patrick Olsen, Cars.com’s Editor-in-Chief. “With so many to choose from, we decided to narrow our focus to cars from the past 25 years, and we looked at which cars truly made a statement.” These 10 cars span a wide array of car types and styles, but the one thing they all have in common is the symbolic place they hold in automotive history.
The Top 10 Most Iconic Cars and reasons for selection according to Cars.com experts are:
1. Toyota Prius (2004-2009): No other car is more responsible for
popularizing the green-driving movement than the second-generation Toyota
Prius hybrid. The Prius’ 46 combined mpg rating translates to lower fuel
costs. There are plenty of hybrid competitors today, but the Prius paved
the way for them all.
2. Mazda MX-5 Miata (1990-1997): Ask a car person to name a small, sporty
roadster that won’t bust your budget and chances are good they’ll say the
Mazda MX-5 Miata. Whether you’re looking for a fun convertible or an
entertaining driving experience, the Miata has been a go-to source for
3. Volkswagen New Beetle (1998-2010): The original VW Beetle has to be part
of the conversation when considering the most iconic cars of all time,
and its modern-day successor, the New Beetle, has managed to carve out
its own niche as an icon by making retro design cool.
4. Ford Mustang (2005-2009): Ford had a big swing and a miss with the
retro-themed 2002 Thunderbird, but the automaker was considerably more
successful with the fifth-generation Mustang, which brought a number of
classic Mustang design cues back to Ford’s long-running muscle car. It
also opened the door for Chevrolet and Dodge to field retro-inspired
5. Dodge Viper RT/10 (1992-1995): From its bold styling to its thumping V-10
engine, the first-generation Viper was both over-the-top and elemental,
and few cars since have possessed its single-minded performance focus.
Until the Viper, exotic performance cars had mainly hailed from the other
side of the Atlantic, but that all changed with the Viper’s debut.
6. Jeep Wrangler (1987-1995): Jeep is an iconic American brand, and its most
iconic model is the Wrangler, which to this day is still reminiscent of
the original World War II jeeps. As the Wrangler has grown up, it’s
become more refined (especially in recent years), but it remains one of
the purest expressions of off-road performance you can buy.
7. Mini Cooper (2002-2006): A modern interpretation of the classic Mini, the
Cooper was an entirely new, premium take on the small-car formula.
Fun-to-drive, quirky and with seemingly endless ways to personalize it,
the Mini Cooper showed that Americans weren’t dead to the idea of small
cars. It also countered another trend at the time that the next car on
the list exemplifies.
8. Hummer H2 (2003-2009): Before the Great Recession, bigger was definitely
better in the car business, and there weren’t many things bigger than the
Hummer H2. A military-styled SUV built on GM’s full-size truck platform,
the H2 was a rolling salute to conspicuous consumption. What it wasn’t,
was efficient, and when gas prices hit the $4 mark, the tough-truck fad
faded, and the H2 — along with the entire Hummer brand — met its
9. Ford Explorer (1991-1994): No other vehicle is as responsible for
bringing SUVs into the mainstream as the Ford Explorer. It gave families
that had been packed into practical but boring minivans, wagons and
sedans the rugged looks and go-anywhere capability of a truck, along with
room for lots of passengers and cargo.
10. Pontiac Aztek (2001-2005): Few cars have been ridiculed as mercilessly
as the Pontiac Aztek. It’s been the biggest punch line in the automotive
world since its debut at the dawn of the new millennium, but this has
also elevated it to iconic status. Its car-based, unibody construction
foreshadowed the now-popular crossover segment.
Cars.com is an award-winning online destination for car shoppers that offers information from consumers and experts to help buyers formulate opinions on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. Cars.com offers thousands of new and used vehicle listings, consumer reviews, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and many other tools to take the drama out of car shopping. Cars.com puts millions of car buyers in control of their shopping process with the information they need to make confident buying decisions. Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures LLC, which is owned by leading media companies, including A.H. Belo (NYSE: AHC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).