This review is something of a relic as it paints a picture of an old work horse which has been in our family now for twelve years.
My husband and I were lucky enough to be blessed with a large family, and when we had our fourth child eighteen ago, we had to look for a family car which could seat us all in comfort. What we didn't really want, though, was a van, and we had initially a VW Passat which had a rear bench seat ideal for toddlers who faced backwards looking out at the traffic behind. This idea, though novel, was rather bizarre in a way, and I really wasn't keen on it as attending to the children in this row was difficult on long journeys.
Following on from this we then owned two Mitsubishi Space Wagons, and this review details my opinion of the latter, which we purchased from new in 1998. This particular model, the Ovation, was made only for a short period but it is essentially the same as all the Space Wagons made during the period 1991-1999.
If you are not familiar with these cars I will briefly describe them. They are 7 seater, 5 door cars and they have 3 rows of seats. Unlike large people carriers these cars resemble a large family estate, and it is only on closer inspection that you realise they have seating capacity for 7.
We paid just over £19,000 in 1998 from the Mitsubishi dealer, and it was our intention at the time just to keep the vehicle until our family no longer travelled with us regularly. At the time of purchase our children were 14, 12, 9 and 6 so we only ever anticipated owning the car for 6 years at the most. We still have it and the reason - it is absolutely brilliant, reliable, and sturdy and what's more it has a myriad of uses, which I will elaborate on later in this review.
The Car - Some Statistics.
I do not intend to detail all the cars specifications here as these can easily be obtained from many websites. My favourite for this is Parkers and at http://www.parkers.co.uk/cars/specs/Detail.aspx?deriv=15151 you will find at the details.
It is 4495 mm in length and 1695mm wide. Fuel consumption is estimated to be 28mpg and the car falls into insurance group 13. It's a fuel injection, petrol engine of 1997cc with 16 valves all of which is used to power the car adequately and, it is claimed, allows it to go from 0-60 in 10.8 seconds. Ours is a manual transmission, but automatic models were also made. Both models are still very much in evidence on the roads - testament to the high quality of workmanship these vehicles have, as might be expected for a car manufactured in Japan.
My Opinion Regarding These Statistics.
The car I would say exceeds the fuel estimations on long journeys with respect to motorway and A road driving. It will do around 35mpg with regularity, and it has good acceleration in line with the figures quoted.
I would say the best aspect of the car is its capacity. Only last weekend we made use of it. We drove down to Hereford to collect a bed from a store in the town, and then drove it to my daughter's new house for her. It held a double bed frame and mattress which was achieved by simply folding the seats flat. This is not the first time we have moved items. In fact, as well as reliability, this is the main reason she still sits on our drive. Three weeks ago we bought enough wood flooring to cover our lounge which is 24' by 13' and this fitted in with ease.
University removals are a doddle. While other parents make two trips we pile everything in, and it holds more than you would ever imagine!
In terms of reliability it has been superb. Apart from minor faults due to age and the 118,000 miles we have on the clock now, it has been incredible. The body work is in excellent condition, despite having been kept outside on the driveway for well over a decade,-so whatever Mitsubishi used to paint the car with it has durability.
The car has a driver's airbag (but not one on the passenger's side), electric windows and air conditioning. As it does not have a sun roof the latter is mandatory in my opinion during the summer.
Due to the long body of the car it is brilliant as it can take the large Thule Swedish roof box which affords the opportunity to fill this with clutter and holiday luggage with ease.
The boot space is still very good even with the third row of seats in place.
Driving the car is a pleasure; it holds the road well and is easy to corner. It doesn't feel like it has the clumsy handling you would expect from such a large vehicle.
If you are looking to find fault it would be in the comfort aspect for adult passengers who sit in the rear row of seats. These are not very comfortable for very long journeys, as there is something about the angle of the seat belt which seems to make you feel quite restrained. This has not really been an issue for us as our children are now mostly independent, but I do remember taking my Mum on holiday to Scotland several years ago and hearing some rather agitated complaints from the rear!
Parking is a challenge, for me anyway, as it isn't my forte - but my husband does this with ease. It is though worth being aware that you do have a long vehicle, though with power assisted steering you can manoeuvre with relative ease. The car affords good visibility through the rear window.
The tax on this vehicle is £205 annually which is hefty and reflective of that fact that newer cars have less carbon emissions, which is a reason why we may sell it in due course.
As with all cars there comes a time when the bulbs need changing. The rear ones are a doddle, but the front headlights are difficult to access (especially on the driver's side). To replace some of the ones at the front might need a mechanic's hand.
A Potential for an Overnight Sojourn.
Now when we initially visited the showroom and were treated to a demonstration of the car and its attributes, one possible bonus was that the seats could be collapsed to make a double bed! Now this made me chuckle at the time, but it did come in very handy one day on Rannoch Moor when we decided to sleep for a couple of hours on our way to The Outer Hebrides ferry. I can't say it was comfortable, and it was certainly a strange experience, but it does what it says, and provides a way of getting to sleep in emergencies. I think it was something I would do only in exceptional circumstances, but the capability is there and it was certainly a light hearted experience when we did it! I don't think it is camper van standard - there are no pretty lemon gingham curtains, or facilities to use to freshen up - but for a few hours sleep for a tired driver this is a bonus!
So if you are looking for a family car to transport a large family or a lot of clutter this could be for you. You can pick one up today for between £800 and £2,500. This large variation in price is reflective of not only condition, but also demand, as they have a market out there in the family category, and drivers are prepared to pay a premium for a full service history, and evidence that the car has been cared for.
We are certainly delighted with ours and may well seek a newer model of the same variety in due course. It has served us well even going "off road" in The Outer Hebrides at times. Parts are still available, and we now use a local garage who keep it well serviced and in good condition. There are few cars which have weathered the storms of life for more than a decade remaining in such good condition.
With the family all left home now, except for my son who leaves for university in September, in some ways having a car of this size doesn't seem justified. That is until the phone rings and a little voice says, "Dad could you just come and move X to Y?" and off she goes again rising to the challenge - her voluminous interior housing once again another large item as it moves to another abode. It's a very good car and it's an old workhorse - just like me!
I think within the next few years we will be looking to buy another Mitsubishi, and the more up to date version of this car is now The Outlander, which has seating capacity for 7, as well as the capability to become a 4 wheel drive, if you encounter terrain which warrants this. We certainly do and would value this as many of the tracks we traverse in The Outer Hebrides fall into the "off road category".
For now though the old faithful sits in the driveway waiting for the next call to transport an item, and in the meantime my little dog has a lot of space to herself to travel in style in the back of this jolly old jalopy!
This review is also published on Ciao with photos under my user name Violet1278.