Mini-MPVs Just Won't Hurry Up And Die Already

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
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mini mpvs just won t hurry up and die already

99.9 percent of the minivans sold in the United States in 2016 were (oxymoronically-titled) full-size minivans.

The Kia Rondo finished its brief one-generation U.S. run in 2011, having generated 73,100 total sales over the course of nearly five years.

Having produced more than 160,000 sales for Mazda USA, the Mazda 5 is likewise no longer part of the automaker’s U.S. lineup. Mazda 5 volume was essentially chopped in half between 2008 and 2014.

The Chevrolet Orlando arrived in North America with a decidedly Floridian name but never actually made its way to Florida, or the U.S. market as a whole. Having generated 12,038 Canadian sales, the Orlando quickly departed Canada after volume plunged 81 percent between 2012 and 2014.

Yet the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are still available in Canada. They’re alive and (un)well. And while “full-size minivans” claim 96 percent of Canadian MPV sales, Kia and Mazda just won’t give up on their genuinely mini minivans.

Prompted to look into the matter after January sales of the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 fell to a combined, paltry, scarcely measurable 189 units last month (the Mazda averaged 1,000 monthly sales on its own in 2008; the Rondo more than 800 monthly sales during the same year), we made inquiries at the Canadian outposts of both Kia and Mazda.

At Kia, in particular, recent Rondo results have been disastrous. Sales in 2013 tied the Rondo’s worst performance ever even as Kia launched an all-new, long-awaited model. Then sales dropped 12 percent in 2014, took a 35-percent hit in 2015, and plunged 45 percent in 2016. January began with only 48 Rondo sales, the worst full month in the Rondo’s Canadian history.

Kia’s response: “We have no current plans to discontinue the Rondo or any other of our current vehicles,” Mark James, Kia Canada’s corporate communications manager told TTAC last week; a firm, if not a ringing endorsement. Kia’s other vehicles accounted for 99 percent of the brand’s sales in January.

At Mazda, meanwhile, sales of the Mazda 5 have perked up recently, but only in comparison with a period during which Mazda 5 sales fell to the lowest level ever. Mazda 5 sales have increased on a year-over-year basis in each of the last five months, growing 15 percent during that period. But with the 5’s relatively recent U.S. death and the traditional ties between virtually every automaker’s Canadian and U.S. lineups, is Mazda Canada really going to forge ahead with an aging design for a vehicle that sells roughly one-seventh as often as it used to? Of the nearly 70,000 Mazdas sold in Canada over the last year, only 2 percent were Mazda 5s.

Sandra Lemaitre, Mazda Canada’s director of public relations, told TTAC, “In Canada, the 2017 model year Mazda5 went on sale in August 2016. We haven’t yet announced any details for 2018 model year vehicles, including the Mazda5, so I’m not able to confirm anything at this time.”

So there’s a chance it’s dead? No, Mazda declined to comment on the 2018 model year potential for any vehicle.

But how much longer can Kia and Mazda continue to import wildly unpopular products that aren’t sold in the United States?

For the most part, Canadians just want Dodge Grand Caravans. The ancient Dodge earned 57 percent of all Canadian minivan sales in 2016. And yet the Grand Caravan hasn’t yet killed off the ankle-biting upstarts.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Feb 10, 2017

    For those interested in such things, the new generation is available in Canada as a manual. The previous generation was available only with an automatic transmission. In Europe the Rondo, known as the Carens is available as a manual and with a diesel. It is also available with a 7 passenger configuration, although the rear 2 seats are best used as 'jump' seats for small children or short trips only.

    • Allythom Allythom on Feb 10, 2017

      I rented a diesel Carens on my last family trip back to the motherland. Sadly not a manual though (pretty sure UK rental agencies look at the US license and assume you need an auto), and not brown either -otherwise it could have been a contender for "internet's perfect car". It served as an excellent family hauler, albeit a thoroughly unexciting one. Even managed to use the third row briefly on a short excursion with the grandparents. Was watching some old episodes of Minder at the weekend, stand on me.

  • Rolando Rolando on Feb 11, 2017

    The new Kia Rondo/Carens looks great, I might have chosen it over my Mazda3!

  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriors
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.
  • IBx1 Awww my first comment got deletedTake your “millennial anti theft device” trope and wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones keeping manuals around.