CC Capsule: Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear 4×4 Van – It Checks All The Right Boxes Except One

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In my younger years, I used to indulge in a lot of MMing about the ultimate vehicle, the one that encompassed all the following qualities: a compact van body, for maximum space utilization and camping; four wheel drive, to get away from it all; and a turbo-diesel engine, for maximum efficiency and good grunt.  Obviously no one was hearing me, because no such vehicle really ever appeared. But other parts of the world were rolling in them; literally. And one has found its way to Eugene to taunt me. And it even has another quality I didn’t ask for: a vista roof, like those wonderful old sightseeing buses in the Alps.

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This Space Gear reminds me what we’ve been missing for decades. Why were we deprived of choices like this? This is a cross between a Jeep and a mini-van, and given that we owned both, one Space Gear would have done the trick very nicely.

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Let’s start with the basics: this is not a mini-van with AWD, like the Chrysler twins or such. The Delica is based on the underpinnings of the Pajero, and shares the 2835cc 4m40 diesel four, in this case turbocharged and intercooled, and making some 140 hp and a hefty 232 lb.ft. of torque at 2000 rpm.

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And it’s got a Vista Cruiser-like raised roof with observation windows. Called “Crystal Lite Roof” in Mitsu-speak. Why is it that Japan is crawling with off-raod vehicles and AWD, when folks undoubtedly have very little use for them? Even the Scion xB was available in Japan with AWD (Toyota bB). And I’m taking my xB on rough back roads without the benefit of what the Japanese had to cruise Tokyo at night with.

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There’s little surprise about the whereabouts of this cross-border visitor, as I hear BC is crawling with these. Lucky for them.

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It is a bit narrow-bodied, which gives it a decidedly “Japanese” feel. Well, that of course leads to its one little shortcoming:

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Right hand drive. I’m trying to imagine if I could get really comfortable with that. Maybe. Hey; if I can ride around in a drafty, noisy old pickup, why not a RHD van? Especially when it’s checked all the other boxes.

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