The UK car market has plenty of MPVs available – why did I want this one?
Petrol engine and automatic gearbox
My Stepwagon RG uses the Honda K20A engine – a 2.0 litre petrol unit, connected to a conventional 4-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. Very reliable and used in millions of Civics, Accords and CR-Vs around the world.
The European MPV market is dominated by diesel engines, which are now being discouraged with pollution control measures in many cities, decades behind the Japanese cities. Petrol engines are making a comeback with new cars, but they are rare to find in the used market. Automatic transmissions are rare too, and tend to be complicated dual-clutch systems. Look for a petrol automatic and many of the options are other Japanese market MPVs that have been imported already!
Powered sliding doors
Sliding doors are fantastic on MPVs – kids can’t accidentally swing them open and damage them, they provide easy access in tight parking spaces, and don’t get in the way when you’re putting kids in car seats.
All the Stepwagon RGs I’ve seen have at least the passenger side door powered – many (including mine) have both sides powered. These can be operated from the handles on inside and outside, via switches near the driver’s right knee, or from the remote keyfob.
Between the two front seats there is a flat floor and clear space. The gearstick is up on the dashboard, the parking brake is in the driver’s footwell. The driver or passenger can easily get to the back (to deal with children) without needing to get out of the car.
Rear row seats that fold upwards
Many European MPVs fold the seats into the floor, limiting vertical space. The Stepwagon (like many Japanese-market MPVs) has them fold upwards and to the sides, where they latch with a strap. This gives loads of vertical space, making it perfect for carrying bulky items like bikes.
A huge tailgate
The flat tailgate hinges up giving plenty of space for even a 6ft tall person to stand underneath or give shelter while you sit on the boot lip – great when it’s raining and you’re changing shoes after a walk or ride!