Reader Review: 1993 Mitsubishi Delica Super Exceed

by Ur-Turn

TTAC reader James Federico sends us his take on life with a Mitsubishi Delica

“It’s a Mitsubishi Delica”

“Japan originally, but I bought it from a dealer in London”

“About 10 grand”

These are the first three sentences I speak any time I exit my van within twenty feet of another human being. There are other questions, depending on the age and interests of the person asking them:

“Do you go off road?”

“Is it hard to drive over there?”

“Is it hard to get parts?”

Stepping out of a seven foot tall minivan with 31” AT tires and a snorkel says to the world “Hi! I’m dying for someone to chat with. I definitely don’t have three children under the age of seven in the back of this thing who need someone to disinter them from their restraints before they deposit some type of bodily fluid and/or sticky foodstuff over 75% of the interior.” As such, I have learned to gently steer the curious party over to the sliding door while answering their follow-up questions as best as possible (In order: Yes. No. No.).

With the sliding door open I can start unbuckling while demonstrating the power covers on the Crystal Light Roof. Once three boys have been released from their bonds and hugged/climbed on/hit some part of me the questioner usually realizes that I’m just some schlub with a family on a road trip to Gramma’s and lets me get on with my life/pee stop.

And that, more or less, is what it is like to own a Mitsubishi Delica. It’s a big 4×4 box that draws more attention than Scarlett Johansson hosting a mud wrestling competition to choose a winner of a Scarlett Johansson look alike contest. It also happens to be a damned good minivan. And I know a thing or two about minivans.

Starting with the minivan-ness (minivanity?): I own an extended wheelbase Delica with captain’s chairs in the middle row. It’s got a flat floor front to back, and the various rows do various tricks that leave me with more than a 4×8 sheet’s worth of clear space if I need it. This makes the van ridiculously flexible. It serves as the primary transport for a family of 5, with all the attendant stuff that implies, and it has never left me wanting for space. It has great seats, and is quiet enough to converse with the third row at highway speeds with minimal shouting.

Of course, being a Japanese import, the van is right hand drive. This hurts minivan functionality as the only sliding door exits into traffic. Not a deal breaker for me as I drive on parkways and park on driveways almost exclusively. Where I a street-parker I would want to think carefully about door position before purchasing.

From a purely driving standpoint, right hand drive in a left hand world is no big deal, especially because the van is tall enough to see over or through most traffic. In the rural part of Ontario where I live, it’s actually a bit of a plus, as I know exactly where the ditch starts when trying to squeeze past combines or fruit wagons. It’s worse for my wife. She gets to travel a lot of two lanes blacktop three feet from the yellow line without a steering wheel in her hand. She spends a lot of our trips “sleeping”.

One area that could use improvement is the engine. The Delica is powered… no, that’s too generous. The Delica is influenced by a 2.8 litre turbo diesel engine. It works, but you are trying to motivate a 5,000 lb garden shed with 125 horsepower. It can cruise at 80 mph, it can tow 5,000 lbs, it can climb a 10% grade. It just can’t do more than one of those things at a time. It’s not dangerously slow by any means, at least not until you hook it to your 12’ pop up trailer and load it up with 500 lbs of people and at least that much gear. Then you want to plan ahead and stick to the rightmost lane. Upside is that it has returned 17.2 mpg over the 70,000 kms I’ve logged. It’s not spectacular, but it’s 2 mpg better than the Pathfinder it replaced, which was smaller, lighter, and just as gutless.

On the 4×4 front, it’s a real one. High and low range, with a selectable locker in high range, all operated by a big lever next to the driver’s seat. I run 2wd most of the time, flip it into AWD when roads get messy, lock the centre diff when I’m really off road, and flip it to low range after I’m hopelessly stuck and pray that does something.

As for attention, at least here in Southern Ontario, nothing beats it. Highway trips are punctuated with cars doing slow flybys while passengers scramble to get pictures. I once brought it to a TTAC event where they were sharing track time with a rent-a-supercar program. Five high end luxury sports cars came off the track at once, and all of their drivers parked and headed straight for the Delica to ask What, Where, and How Much.

As a father of three, the Delica really is a luxury car. I can go where I want to go, when I want to go there, bring my family, and never have to worry about who packed what. I can fill it with stuff until I run out of stuff, drive it until the road ends, then drive it a little further. And sometimes, a little time together away from the infotainment that surrounds us is all the luxury a family needs


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  • Starwagonturbod Starwagonturbod on Jan 20, 2015

    I have the same sort of questions whenever I drive my 89 L300 Delica Starwagon in Massachusetts. I imported it last August and amazingly enough had the pleasure of meeting the author of this excellent read. I bought my van through the same importer and needed some assistance in getting some paperwork printed up before my border crossing. That is when James came to the rescue and let me use his office. I am forever grateful! Excellent writing James and thanks again. Keep it shiny side up. Chris

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Jan 25, 2015

    Is this an auto or stick?

  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
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