Forget what you currently think, or have ever thought, about minivans not being cool. If you take a closer look at the current offerings, which include the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Chrysler Pacifica, they have so many tech-savvy and ingenious features that could actually change your mind. It wasn’t always that way, as there were some minivans in the past that were quite odd, to say the least. Here are five of them.
Isuzu Oasis (1996-1999)
The weirdest part about the Isuzu Oasis was its name. More specifically, it was weird that it looked oddly familiar yet it wore an Isuzu badge. The reason behind this is that the Oasis was actually a rebadged first-generation Honda Odyssey, which was created under an agreement between the two manufacturers. Honda took on the Isuzu Rodeo, which was rebadged as the Honda Passport, and also the Isuzu Trooper, which was rebadged as the Acura SLX, while Isuzu got to claim the Odyssey as its own.
We would say that Isuzu lucked out in the deal, although, the Oasis was only marginally successful. We blame it on the rear doors, which swung out like regular car doors as opposed to sliding like normal minivan doors.
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Nissan Quest (2004-2009)
The Nissan Quest was actually in production from 1993 up until 2017 and spanned different generations. While it was always a bit of an odd duck in the minivan segment, the weirdest phase that it went through was in its third generation, from 2004 to 2009. If anything, we’ll label that time period as the Quest’s “angsty teenage years,” because Nissan decided to go from the mundane to the crazy with its new design.
For starters, the 2004 Nissan Quest incorporated a double square grille up front along with extra-long sliding rear doors. On the inside, occupants could bask in the sunlight thanks to the “Sky View” quad glass sunroof panels while the front-seat passengers ogled at the oddly shaped dashboard with its center-mounted gauge and cylindrical-shaped shifter pod. Yes, it was weird, even by today’s standards.
Ford Windstar (1998)
There was a time when some minivans didn’t have a driver’s side sliding rear door, and the Ford Windstar was one of them. The Windstar debuted in 1995, and due to strict competition from the Dodge Caravan and the Nissan Quest, Ford decided to come with an ingenious, or not-so-ingenious, feature for the 1998 model, which was dubbed the “Family Entry System.”
Instead of having a rear sliding door on the driver’s side, the Windstar has a driver’s side front door that was six inches longer than previous models, as well as a sliding and folding driver’s seat to let passengers in and out of the van. It’s amazing that it didn’t catch on, nor did the Windstar.
Mazda MPV (1989-1999)
The Mazda MPV was actually more of an SUV, although they billed it as a minivan. The MPV featured four regular doors, as opposed to using sliding ones, as well as a four-wheel-drive system that could be activated via a button and switch inside the car. A four-cylinder, front-drive option was available as was as V6 that wasn’t very fuel-efficient (14 city/17 hwy). Maybe that’s why MPV stood for “Multi-Purpose Vehicle?”
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Toyota Previa (1991-1997)
Anything that is supercharged and all-wheel-drive is a win-win in our book, but when it comes to the Toyota Previa, we’ll have to take another minute to consider. That’s right, the Toyota Previa was available with a supercharged four-cylinder engine, and even better, the lower-trim models could be outfitted with a manual transmission. The oddities didn’t stop there, though, as the engine was mounted underneath the chassis of the car and the second-row captain’s chair could swivel around to face the third row. It was weird back then, but on second thought, we would say that the Previa was pretty cool. So it gets a pass from us.
Too weird to live on, yet too rare to die
You might not remember any of these odd minivans, or even knew they existed, but after taking a look back, it’s clear to see that they paved the way for the people-haulers currently in the market. And while features like the Honda Odyssey’s HondaVac might seem quirky, now you know that its usefulness and ingenuity makes way more sense than a lot of the stuff found on vans from the past.