During the 80s and 90s, you couldn’t go far without seeing a Mitsubishi L300 Sport Pack, Nissan Homy or Mazda Bongo Brawny out on our roads. 

These type of vehicles catered to the needs of motorists who needed a vehicle with the capacity of a small coach, as they were normally used by large families to get everyone from A to B. Although these cars offered an abundance of extra 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 who were 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 New Zealand. In 2019, just 927 MPVs were sold – equating to less than 1% market share.

However, if five seats just isn’t enough space for you and you’re battling to find the versatility that is comparable to an MPV, there are still a couple of good five-star ANCAP safety rated options available on the new car market.

Honda Odyssey S from $45,990 (+ORC)


The new Honda Odyssey is offered in an eight-seat configuration, however, if you opt for the more expensive L Sensing model, the middle seats are switched for ‘captain’s chairs’ and the 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 advanced safety technology referred to as Honda Sensing, this includes Lane Keep Assist, Collision Mitigation Assist and Forward Collision Warning.

Both models have the same 2.4L engine that develops 129kW at 6,200rpm, and use a seven-speed CVT transmission with paddle shifts. Start/Stop technology helps to reduce emissions, and the fuel consumption is rated at just 7.2L/100km for the entry model. As for storage, the Honda Odyssey will has a generous 1,332 litres of storage space.

Kia Carnival EX from $49,990 (+ORC)


The eight-seater Kia Carnival is offered in three flavours: the EX, Limited and Premium, with two engines choices - a 2.2L diesel or the range-topping premium 3.3L V6.

The Kia Carnival has an edge over its competition in many ways. It uses more than 52% advanced high strength steel which reinforces the front, rear and sides for enhanced safety. There’s also a host of standard safety aids like Lane Departure Warning, Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Aside from all the safety features, the Carnival comes with a very comfortable interior. While the EX model comes with basic cloth seats, the rest of the Carnival range all come furnished with two-tone leather upholstery.

All diesel models feature the same engine configuration across the range, and produce 147kW at 3,800rpm, with a consumption of just 7.6L/100km. The Kia Carnival also uses a conventional eight-speed automatic gearbox, and because of the torquey diesel engine it’s capable of towing up to 2000kg braked, which is another ace up the Kia’s sleeve. It can also carry a not-too-shabby 960L of storage.

Still popular on the used market

Collectively, the top five used MPV models for 2019 sold an impressive 10,172 used units between them, compared to just 927 sales of all new MPVs in New Zealand. With such an abundance of used MPV options, most of which are competitively priced, it’s easy to see why manufacturers are focusing on SUVs rather than MPVs.

Units sold in 2019:

  • Toyota Wish – 3,070
  • Mazda Premacy – 2,692
  • Honda Stream – 1,827
  • Nissan Serena – 1,502
  • Honda Odyssey – 1,081

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 amount of SUVs on our roads.

Find out more about how the AA can help when buying a new vehicle:

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