Rare Rides: The Colt Vista From 1989 - a Handy Captive Import MPV

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the colt vista from 1989 a handy captive import mpv

A couple weeks ago we took a look at a tidy, light blue Nissan Stanza Wagon, which we determined was a very early example of the crossover breed that would heat up decades later. I can happily report the Stanza was quickly snapped up by an automotive enthusiast who plans to take good care of it. Since that little light blue square is off the market, I found a different vehicle of the same general purpose (and color).

Let’s trot on over and take a look at the Colt Vista.

The Dodge or Plymouth Colt Vista was a captive import at a time when Chrysler had substantial tie-ups with Mitsubishi. The little van-wagon wore many different names in North America, but between 1983 and 2003 it was always at heart a Mitsubishi.

Only the first generation, which stayed on our shores through 1991, wore the Colt badge individually. For 1992, the branding fun expanded. Mitsubishi had their version, the Expo LRV. Dodge called it the Colt Wagon, Plymouth added a Vista to that name, and Eagle had its own version — the Summit. It’s almost difficult to see exactly why such duplicity couldn’t last forever.

Assembled in Japan, this Colt came with a wide variety of available options. Like the Stanza Wagon, front- or four-wheel drive was on offer.

Power is provided here by a 2.0-liter inline-four producing (when new) 96 Colt-like horsepower, delivered to the front wheels through a three-speed automatic.

This particular example is fitted with seven seats, making it a full-on minivan. We’ve researched 0-60 times with seven American passengers on board. Sources say: maybe.

The interior is clean and tidy, and the added luxury touch of plastic tree across the dash cannot be ignored. Power mirrors have been provided, though power windows are lacking. This Colt does not appear to have A/C, so your arms will get used to winding those windows — just as well, as you can’t really afford the power sap air conditioning causes.

For sale at a dealer in the Seattle area, this clean Colt is asking $3,499. While the price sounds high, the Colt has just over 80,000 miles, and it’s almost a case of “Don’t like the price? Go find another one.”

Yes, it’s great.

[Images via seller]

Join the conversation
2 of 62 comments
  • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Sep 19, 2017

    Ah yes, we had one of these for a few years when I was growing up, same color and everything. Probably the weirdest thing about it from a modern perspective are the ashtrays in the second-row door panels.

  • Hobson Hobson on Feb 05, 2021

    Oh! I loved this car. I bought it new in 1987 and drove it for 14 years. It's didn't have much power, and I had to replace the clutch and transmission, but the 4 wheel drive, limited slip differential was great. Sometimes you had to choose between air conditioning and going uphill, but the interior was very comfortable and I could easily put 6 passengers in it. The photo of the dash does show the A/C button, between the fan slider switch and the vent selector sliding switch.

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.