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Nissan Prairie History

Black Nissan Axxess, with the Nissan logo on top of the name

Nissan Prairie

The Nissan Prairie was introduced in Japan in 1981 and Europe in 1982 and was the first production multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), if the Fiat Multipla of the 1950s is not counted. It was also known as the Multi in Canada and the Stanza Wagon in the U.S.. It, and the 1983 Mitsubishi Chariot, predated "mini-MPVs" such as the Renault Scenic and Opel Zafira by some 15 years.

The Prairie was one of the first "crossover" cars, resembling a tall station wagon with sliding doors. It was commonly ordered with five seats, though seven were available. It was the size of one of today's small SUVs.

The concept was inspired by the Lancia Megagamma show car from Giorgetto Giugiaro and ItalDesign, shown in 1979. Italian design arguably also inspired the Nissan March, which is considered by some to be too close to the Fiat Uno in its "tall" concept and execution. Nissan, at the time, was very keen to have "European" styling for its cars.

It was originally launched with a 1.5 L I4 engine and a 1.8 L engine followed later in the car's life, as did a four wheel drive version.

The first generation Prairies, while innovative, had very poor handling, due to the removal of the B-pillar.

Nissan Axxess

The second generation of the Prairie was called the Nissan Axxess when sold in North America. While the vehicle sold for six years (1990-1995) in Canada, it was only sold for one (1990) in the United States.

The Axxess was not the export success that Nissan had expected. As such, Nissan would not market another Minivan until the Nissan Quest in 1993. Even then, the first generation of the Quest was manufactured by Ford Motor Company in the United States.

The band Songs: Ohia named an album Axxess and Ace, a reference to the car.

Nissan Prairie
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