Seven models that show the MPV is alive and well
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During the 1980s and 90s, you couldn’t go far without seeing a Mitsubishi L300 Sport Pack, Nissan Homy or Mazda Bongo Brawny out on the roads.
These types of vehicles catered to the needs of large families to get everyone from A to B. But while they offered an abundance of space, they never really provided passengers with all the creature comforts of a car. They still had all the characteristics of a van, including the brakes, handling and, most importantly for some, appearance.
Mitsubishi, Honda and Toyota were just some of the manufacturers who quickly spotted a gap in the market for a vehicle that would suit larger families looking for both capacity and comfort. So the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) was born, which has been a popular choice for Kiwis over the years.
A couple of decades on, their popularity has waned and very few new examples are now sold in the New Zealand new-vehicle market. They equate to less than one per cent market share.
However, if five seats just isn’t enough and you’re battling to find SUV-versatility that is comparable to an MPV, there are still a couple of great options available.
Kia Carnival: from $59,990
The Carnival eight-seater has been a consistent MPV presence in NZ – and in fact Kia NZ has just launched a brand new model. The three specifications – EX, Deluxe and Premium – are powered by the same 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with 148kW/440Nm, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Carnival has always impressed for its safety equipment and the new model is no different. All versions have Forward Collision Avoidance (car/pedestrian/cyclist/intersection), Blind Spot Collision Avoidance, Lane Keep/Follow Assist and Advanced Smart Cruise Control.
The top $75k Premium model picks up an “E-Shift” gear-selection dial, dual-LED lights, 12-way power-adjustable seats with memory and heating/ventilation, and a Bose sound system.
Honda Odyssey: from $45,990
The Odyssey is offered in an eight-seat configuration. But if you opt for the more expensive LS Sensing model, the middle seats are switched for “captain’s chairs” and that seat number is reduced by one.
Even the entry model boasts some of the comfort and luxury you’d expect in more upmarket models. For instance, there’s a spacious cabin with multiple seating configurations, an electronic power sliding door, multi-angle reversing camera and a touchscreen infotainment system.
The LS Sensing variant adds even more luxury and technology, and includes Lane Keep Assist, Collision Mitigation Assist and Forward Collision Warning.
Both models have the same 2.4l engine that develops 129kW, and a CVT gearbox with paddle shifts for a seven-step mode. Start/stop technology helps to reduce emissions, and the fuel consumption is rated at just 7.2l/100km for the entry model. The Odyssey has a generous 1332l of cargo space.
Still popular on the used market (picks 3 through 7)
Collectively, the top five used MPV models sold an impressive 10,172 between them in 2019, compared with just 927 sales of new MPVs. With such an abundance of used options at affordable prices, it’s easy to see why manufacturers are focusing on SUVs rather than MPVs.
Units sold in 2019 (click on the model names to DRIVEN listings for each):
- 3. Toyota Wish – 3070
- 4. Mazda Premacy – 2692
- 5. Honda Stream – 1827
- 6. Nissan Serena – 1502
- 7. Honda Odyssey – 1081
While this section of the market is far smaller than it has been in the past, these niche vehicles may be perfect for your needs but have perhaps slipped off the radar due to the sheer number of SUVs on the market.