Car News:  Oversteer

The Mazda MPV Had No Idea What it Was

RELATED READING
See all Mazda MPV articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Will Kinton September 2017

The MPV was the van that Mazda used to compete with the rest of the minivans that popped up at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Unlike other minivans that followed "general conventions," however, Mazda wanted to go its own way.

And go its own way, it certainly did.

In 1988, the MPV was released as a 3-door van. Like the early Honda Odyssey, however, it had conventionally opening doors -- but, as mentioned, just three of them. However, unlike other vans on the market, Mazda offered the MPV with a V6 and rear-wheel drive, as well as optional 4-wheel drive. Not all-wheel drive, but actual, selectable, locking 4-wheel drive, like you'd find on an SUV. It even went so far as to feature a lift for the 4-wheel drive versions. You weren't even supposed to use it on the road when it was dry.

But by the early 1990s, competition was heating up with the introduction of other Japanese minivans like the Nissan Quest, Toyota Previa and eventually the Honda Odyssey. Mazda responded to this in 1996 by giving the MPV another rear door on the drivers side (so now it had four total), and by extending the nose for better crash safety. Lengthening the nose made the MPV look a bit less van-like than before.

Finally, in 1998, Mazda fully committed to making the MPV into an SUV. They gave it a 2-tone plastic body cladding to make it look tougher, they gave it a lift and they kept the 4-wheel drive. By this point, the Mazda MPV was a full-on SUV, with very little to give away the fact that it started life as a minivan ten years prior. After the 1998 model year, Mazda discontinued the first generation MPV.

Mazda introduced the second generation for the 2000 model year -- and despite the increasing popularity of the SUV, they decided to be a lot more conventional. The second-generation MPV had front-wheel drive and two sliding rear doors, making it a pretty classic minivan. It still remained fairly sporty compared to other minivans, but that wasn't enough to really set it apart. It was discontinued in 2006, to be replaced by the Mazda5. In just 15 years, it had cycled from "mostly van" to "sort of van" to "SUV" -- and then back to "definitely van."

With that unusual history, who knows? Maybe Mazda will read Doug's advice about an off-road minivan and they'll bring back their glorious MPV Sports Utility Van.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Will the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky Be Future Collectibles?
Here's Why the Ferrari 348 Is Better Than You Think
5 Cars That Don't Deserve Their Bad Reputation

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Mazda MPV Had No Idea What it Was - Autotrader