People movers are a much-maligned necessity in the world of cars. Oftentimes, MPVs/people movers are boring to look at and drive yet unbelievably practical. While some people don’t want to drive an MPV, they just make sense. Since people and their possessions have to be transported from place to place, automakers sell tons of them each year.
Looking to reclaim a slice of the MPV market, Mitsubishi decided to take a dramatic approach to the styling of their 7-seat Mitsubishi Grandis. As you might recall, their previous people mover, the Mitsubishi Starwagon, looked a bit like a leftover Soviet moon rover, and the Mitsubishi Nimbus wasn’t terribly exciting. So when Daimler-Benz took over Chrysler, thereby acquiring control of Mitsubishi, they sent a Frenchman named Olivier Boulay to be the new head of design at Mitsubishi.
His resume included design work on the Mercedes S-Class as well as the ultra-expensive Maybach range. He wanted to create a people mover that would get Mitsubishi some much-needed attention. The resulting 2004 Mitsubishi Grandis had lines that were aggressive yet sophisticated. The new ‘corporate face’ front end had a prominent three-diamond badge, flanked by massive angular headlights, and the side pillars were ‘blacked out,’ so they’d blend with the window tint. Compared to its chief rival, the Honda Odyssey, the Mitsubishi Grandis looked like something you might actually be excited to drive.
The inside of the Mitsubishi Grandis was just as unique as the outside. There’s a creative and modern dash layout as well as lots of storage cubbies, fold-out seatback trays, and storage compartments under the floor. All three rows can fold out of the way, allowing you to load bulky items, or they can fold together to make a giant bed. Granted, most adults won’t have enough legroom to fit comfortably in the third row, but for most young families, the Mitsubishi Grandis will work just fine.
Mitsubishi also went to great lengths to protect the occupants of its MPV. That’s why they fitted dual-stage front airbags, side impact airbags, and side curtain airbags as standard kit, as well as ABS, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist.
Although it was a hit when it first came to market, the competition quickly caught up, and the Mitsubishi Grandis lost some of the public's attention. It was finally discontinued in 2011.
Produced from 2004 to 2011, all Mitsubishi Grandis models share the same drivetrain: a 2.4L SOHC 16v 4-cylinder, which produced 121kW and 217Nm of torque. That power was fed to the front wheels through a 4-speed automatic with manual shift capability. Fuel economy was rated at 10.4L/100km.
The Mitsubishi Grandis came fairly well equipped in base form, and it had some notable options as well. Standard kit included remote central locking, cruise control, front and rear air-conditioning, electric windows, electric wing mirrors, and an electric tailgate. Options included a sunroof, sharp-looking alloy wheels, roof rails, clean-looking tinted windows that blend with the black door pillars, a 6-speaker CD audio system, and dual-colour interior trim with a wood grain steering wheel. All these options came in a ‘Luxury Pack,’ but you can find Grandis models with just the sunroof as a single option.
New options for 2005 included leather upholstery with heated front seats, a dual pane sunroof, reversing sensors, a new climate control system with pollen filtration, and a new 8-speaker audio system.
A sport-themed trim pack appeared in 2006, and made Mitsubishi’s Grandis look like a sporty people mover. Although no performance upgrades were made to the Mitsubishi Grandis VRX, it did get a set of sporty 17-inch alloys, a unique front grille, side skirts, wheel arch flares, chrome exhaust tips, a black leather interior, and aluminium pedals.
When the Mitsubishi Grandis was first introduced, people movers were mostly unimaginative transportation pods. MPVs like the Toyota Avensis and Mazda MPV were popular because of their brand and their proprietary blend of refinement and practicality. The same is true for the Honda Odyssey, except it leaned more toward the luxury side of the market.
The Mitsubishi Grandis, on the other hand, offered the same practicality and reliability, but it did so with flare. If you were a ‘cool parent’ in the early 2000s, this is what you drove.