Sep
18
1994 Eagle Summit

1994 Eagle Summit

If I may be allowed to overgeneralize, allow me to suggest that American car buyers appreciate utility, but would rather a given vehicle not look too utilitarian.

It’s hard to argue, for example, that the humble minivan is not the most practical and space-efficient mainstream vehicle available to families. But, overwhelmingly, shoppers are choosing crossovers and SUVs to satisfy their people-moving needs.

The reasons for this are fairly obvious: Crossovers generally look “sporty,” offering truck-like style and the promise of off-road capability. Never mind the fact that half of all crossovers on the road aren’t equipped with AWD.

Australian-market Mitsubishi Space Wagon

Australian-market Mitsubishi Space Wagon

I am convinced that this same resistance to obvious utility is what doomed a group of exceptional small vans, or “high wagons,” sold here in the States back in the Nineties.

Following the well-reviewed but slow-selling 1984-1987 Honda Civic Wagon and 1982-1988 Tercel Wagon, Mitsubishi’s Chariot small wagon began arriving on our shores for the 1992 model year.

Sold in the U.S. as the Eagle Summit Wagon, Plymouth Colt Vista, and the Mitsubishi Expo and Expo LRV, these tidy and space-efficient wagons tickled the fancy of the automotive press, but sadly left the American buying public cold.

Dubbed Chariot for Japanese home-market sales, these small people movers went by several names in other markets, including Nimbus and Space Wagon. No matter the name, all U.S. market Chariot variants were produced in Mitsubishi’s Nagoya Plant in Okazaki, Japan.

We chose 1994 for this close-up look at the U.S. versions of the Chariot because the Plymouth variant would be dropped for 1995.

Note that a previous generation of these vehicles was also sold in the U.S. with some success. Available only as 4-door wagons, the 1984-1991 Dodge and Plymouth Colt Vistas were retailed alongside other Mitsubishi-supplied Colt products.

Hiding Behind a Familiar Grille: The Captive Imports of 1987

 

Eagle Summit Wagon

1994 Eagle Summit Wagon

1994 Eagle Summit Wagon

Body Style: 3-Door hatchback wagon with sliding side door on passenger side only

Overall Length: 169 inches

Cargo Volume: 69 cubic feet

Trim Levels: DL ($13,544), LX ($14,770), AWD ($15,448)

Base Engine: 113-horsepower 1.8-liter four (DL)

Base Engine: 136-horsepower 2.4-liter four (LX, AWD)

Automatic Transmission: $723

Anti-lock Brakes: $699

The Eagle Summit was offered in a single body style featuring a sliding side door located on the passenger side of the vehicle. Acceleration with the base 1.8-liter engine was anemic, but buyers of the DL trim on which the little mill was standard could upgrade to the larger 2.4-liter engine for just $181.

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Mitsubishi Expo LRV

1994 Mitsubish Expo LRV

1994 Mitsubishi Expo LRV

Body Style: 3-Door hatchback wagon with sliding side door on passenger side only

Overall Length: 169 inches

Cargo Volume: 69 cubic feet

Trim Levels: Base ($13,594) Base Automatic ($14,434), Sport ($17,394), Sport Automatic ($18,084)

Base Engine: 113-horsepower 1.8-liter four (Base)

Base Engine: 136-horsepower 2.4-liter four (Sport)

Anti-lock Brakes: Not available

Unlike its Eagle Summit and Plymouth Colt Vista kin, the Expo LRV was not offered with AWD. The LRV (Light Recreational Vehicle) suffix was used to distinguish this version of the Expo from the larger 4-door Mitsubishi Expo (only Mitsubishi offered the large 4-door Expo; neither Eagle nor Plymouth offered a version of this body style).

5 More Wagons You’ve Completely Forgotten

 

Mitsubishi Expo

1994 Mitsubishi Expo

1994 Mitsubishi Expo

Body Style: 4-Door hatchback wagon

Overall Length: 177 inches

Cargo Volume: 75 cubic feet

Trim Levels: Base ($16,284), Base Automatic ($16,974), Base AWD ($17,744), Base AWD Automatic ($18,434)

Base Engine: 136-horsepower 2.4-liter four

Anti-lock Brakes: $976

The Expo was the only Chariot variant offered with four conventional doors. A 2.4-liter 4-cylinder was the only engine available; acceleration was described by Consumer Guide as “adequate.” Several fairly expensive options were available for the Expo, making it possible to raise the bottom line to nearly $25,000–close to the price of a well-equipped Dodge Caravan.

More Expo pics and specs

 

Plymouth Colt Vista

1994 Plymouth Colt Vista

1994 Plymouth Colt Vista

Body Style: 3-Door hatchback wagon with sliding side door on passenger side only

Overall Length: 169 inches

Cargo Volume: 69 cubic feet

Trim Levels: Base ($13,409), SE ($14,624), AWD ($15,314)

Base Engine: 113-horsepower 1.8-liter four (Base)

Base Engine: 136-horsepower 2.4-liter four (SE, AWD)

Automatic Transmission: $723

Anti-lock Brakes: $699

Plymouth’s version of this underappreciated trio was the least complicated to order. Only three trim levels were offered, though buyers of the Base model could option up to the larger engine (just like they could on the Eagle Summit). Most other options came in packages, and included most of the stuff small-wagon shoppers might want.

More Colt Vista pics and specs

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