VIDEO: Nissan Stanza Wagon Retro Review


The job of an automobile review is often an arduous and thankless task. Sometimes you’re thrown a curve ball like the Nissan Stanza Wagon. While fitting perfectly into the category of minivan, a category which is credited to the 1984 Dodge Caravan, it would be known during it’s tenure as an awkward little people mover. 

The first sentence of this video perfectly sums up how Japanese cars were considered historically “Like the Yugo, imports like this tall Nissan Stanza Wagon just sort of roll up on our shores waiting for buyers who didn’t even know they wanted one.” Feel free to take six minutes out of your day to watch the guys from Motorweek try their hardest to describe something they’ve never seen before and show off some mean short shorts in the process.

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8 Responses to VIDEO: Nissan Stanza Wagon Retro Review

  1. Dave says:

    Kinda cool. I like the retro reviews they do too. What gets me is MotorWeek will do so called “retro reviews” on the most random cars but they leave out icons like the early 90s CRX and B13 SE-R. Don’t get it.

    • Ant says:

      I don’t think they’re leaving them out deliberately. Like the Best Motoring Youtube channel, they seem to be digging footage out of their archives and posting it pretty much at random. In MotorWeek’s case there are many more years of footage to go through, and if some of their earlier reviews are anything to go by, it looks like some may simply have degraded while in physical storage.

  2. Legacy-san says:

    The high speed tests don’t take into consideration that the car was primarily designed for Japanese driving conditions, which means the typical Japanese family driver in this car won’t exceed speeds above 60 K/ph on the highway, and 40 k/ph in city driving, which is approximately 40mph on the highway and 25mph in the city…the handling tests seem to be done while driving as fast as they can, or American driving conditions. While this car does meet Japanese Government dimension regulations concerning exterior dimensions, it is more of an upscale car in Japan in comparison to the smaller Sunny Wagon sold at the same time.

    • Yoda says:

      That context would be fair enough if this was a “these are cars people in the rest of the world drive” piece (MW went to Japan for exactly that sometime in the 80s iirc) but this is a USDM car being tested by an American show running it around the exurbs of Baltimore for an audience that, if they were in the market, would also be considering a Plymouth Voyager or Chevy Celebrity wagon.

  3. Scotty G says:

    A top-five vehicle for me (no lie!) but they just aren’t out there. To find an AWD version with a 5-speed is like looking for Sasquatch. Although, being raised in northern Minnesota, I’ve seen quite a few people that at least look like Sasquatch; a Nissan Stanza / Prairie, not so much.

  4. vitor says:

    Retro Reviw from MotorWeek is one of my favorite youtube subscriptions.
    I love to check how sometimes the first impact of a car is totally wrong

    • Ant says:

      By that do you mean how an original review was less positive about a car than the appreciation they have subsequently gained?

      If so, I think “wrong” is the wrong word to use. Certain cases aside, reviewers are typically pretty close to the mark. A vehicle, when driven by the press, is always reviewed in context of its contemporaries, and much as we like to look back fondly on certain cars, sometimes they simply weren’t that great back in the day.

      Opinions can change over time of course, and old vehicles have a habit of charming us so that we don’t necessarily notice (or simply don’t care) about things that were considered glaring faults back in the day.

      A good example of this is the handling behaviour of old swing-axle vehicles like the Beetle. Contemporary road testers weren’t “wrong” for criticising it harshly for handling poorly, because regular folks were expected to drive these cars every day. Decades later the tricky handling doesn’t matter so much. But that’s not because it’s not still a flaw; it’s because those flaws are understood and accounted for by typically enthusiast owners.

      There are some things that can’t really be tested of course, at least not initially. Reliability, longevity, cultural impact, aftermarket support (which has been a key factor in the fondness for many Japanese cars over the years) etc. But it’s unfair to criticise someone for not having decades’ worth of hindsight…

  5. Randy says:

    Wow – TWO Stanza Wagons in as many weeks!

    Okay, I’ll give them about the radio being too low (I’d say it should ALWAYS be at-or-above the HVAC controls – more use), BUT the criticism about the “squirreliness” on braking from 50? I’ve personally seen a ’90-something Lincoln Town Car get “squirrely” in a hard stop, and that was from WELL below 50… Thirty-five-ish, maybe? Glad I was BEHIND him…

    I seriously doubt ANYONE would try a slalom course with these things… It simply would not appeal to that market – like doing a slalom in a Jeep Wrangler. I find THAT part of the test kind of pointless. If something jumps out, you’d cut to a side, and slam on the brakes, and LOTS of cars would get a little sideways.

    As they say in the review, it’s a PEOPLE MOVER; a really good carpool vehicle, and once/if you pull the back seat out, I’d think great for the big shopping trip.

    — I don’t know enough about these; was the rear seat easily removable? —

    It could sort of be looked at as the inspiration for the Honda Element…

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