I see right-hand-drive Japanese market vans nearly every day here in New York City and it makes a lot of sense to me. For the slight inconvenience of driving on the right, you get a practical, often all-wheel-drive shape that’s maneuverable in town. But while that seems to work for these New Yorkers, MotorWeek wasn’t quite convinced back in 1987.
This head-to-head test is between the Nissan Van (yeah, just ‘Van’) and Mitsubishi’s Wagon, which is what the company called the Delica in the American market back then. The two vans here were up against a similar offering from Toyota that was available in the American market in those days, as well as GM’s Astro/Safari twins and Chrysler’s famous minivans. They’re not present in this test, but you should keep them in mind as you see how well these vans do when put through their paces.
Motorweek put the two vans to the test, comparing their driver ergonomics, loadspace flexibility, and driving characteristics. The main takeaways seem to be that Nissan’s van, though roomy, didn’t quite have the oomph necessary to move its bulk, and that the Mitsubishi was a little sprightier, but its styling didn’t quite appeal to the MotorWeek team.
The MotorWeek team thought that the two vans had enough good between them to build one van composed of features from both. That wasn’t possible then, but perhaps the subsequent generation of vans, the ones that are taking American shores by storm now that they are import-eligible, do a little bit better.
I really like to get a glimpse of what the MotorWeek crew was looking for in cars back in the ‘80s. For someone who wasn’t born yet back then, it gives a lot of context for the assortment of cars I grew up seeing as a kid, these vans included. If you like these videos too, check out some more of them right here.