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Nissan Prairie
Nissan Liberty Rider (Japan-spec)
Manufacturer Nissan
Also called Nissan Multi
Nissan Stanza Wagon
Nissan Liberty
Nissan Axxess
Production 1982-2004
Predecessor none
Successor Nissan Lafesta
Class compact MPV

The Nissan Prairie, introduced in Japan in 1981 and Europe in 1982, was a car from Japanese manufacturer Nissan. It was also known as the Multi in Canada and the Stanza Wagon in the United States. The second generation was renamed the Nissan Axxess in North America , but due to disappointing sales, was no longer offered and replaced by the larger Nissan/Ford joint venture called the Nissan Quest, and in Europe it was replaced by the Nissan Serena. When the third generation of this vehicle was introduced in Japan, it was renamed initially Prairie Liberty, with the "Prairie" name eventually dropped in November 1998. This vehicle was discontinued and replaced with the Nissan Lafesta December 2004 in Japan.


First generation (series M10 1982 - 1988)

Nissan Prairie
1982 Nissan Prairie (UK-spec)
Manufacturer Nissan
Also called Nissan Multi
Nissan Stanza Wagon
Production 1982–1988
Assembly Shonan, Japan
Class Compact MPV
Body style(s) 5-door minivan
Layout Front engine/front wheel drive, AWD
Engine(s) 2.0 L CA20E I4
2.0 L CA20S I4
1.8 L CA18S I4
1.6 L E16 I4
1.5 L E15S I4
Transmission(s) 3-speed Automatic
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase 2WD: 99.0 in (2515 mm)
4WD: 99.4 in (2525 mm)
Length 2WD: 170.3 in (4326 mm)
4WD: 166.5 in (4229 mm)
Width 65.6 in (1666 mm)
Height 2WD: 62.0 in (1575 mm)
4WD: 63.6 in (1615 mm)
Curb weight 1,020 kg (2,249 lb)
Related Nissan Stanza
Nissan Violet
Nissan Auster
Nissan Stanza wagon (USA-spec)

The Nissan Prairie, or as it was known in Canada as the Multi and the United States as the Stanza Wagon, was equipped with a choice of 5 in-line 4 cylinder engines, with either a manual or automatic transmission. Available with front wheel drive or optional four wheel drive, the vehicle had rear passenger sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle, and a folding rear seat, designed to increase the carrying capacity of the passenger compartment. The rear tailgate opened upwards as one complete unit, in a similar fashion to a hatchback or station wagon. The Prairie competed with the Toyota Sprinter Carib with a similar wagon approach, and the Honda Shuttle.

1987 Nissan Multi (Canada-spec)

The Prairie was one of the first "crossover" cars, resembling a tall station wagon / estate with the addition of sliding side doors. It was commonly ordered with five seats, though seven were available. The size of one of today's compact SUVs, it was amongst the forefront of the trend for multi-purpose vehicles which had rarely been seen since the Fiat 600 Multipla of the 1950s. The closest contemporary competitor was the Mitsubishi Chariot — other options for cars (as opposed to minibuses / minivans) with more than five seats were limited to large estates such as the Citroën CX family model, off-road vehicles such as the Land Rover Defender, and oddities such as the Talbot Matra Rancho which had extra rear-facing child seats.

The concept was inspired by the Lancia Megagamma show car from Giorgetto Giugiaro and ItalDesign, shown in 1979. 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 undesirable body characteristics when driven hard, due to the missing B-pillar. The front doors and the rear sliding doors interlocked together and at the top and bottom of the respective door openings.

Second generation (series M11 1988 - 1998)

Nissan Prairie
1988 Nissan Prairie (Japan-spec)
Manufacturer Nissan
Also called Nissan Axxess
Production 1988–1998
Assembly Shonan, Japan
Successor Nissan Quest (North America)
Nissan Serena (Europe)
Class Compact MPV
Body style(s) 5-door minivan
Layout Front engine/front wheel drive, AWD
Engine(s) 2.4 L KA24E I4
2.0 L CA20S I4
2.0 L SR20DE I4
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase 102.8 in (2611 mm)
Length 4.37 m (171.9 in)
Width 1.69 m (66.5 in)
Height 1.64 m (64.6 in)
Curb weight 1,320 kg (2,910 lb)
Related Nissan Stanza
Nissan Avenir
Nissan Bluebird series U14
Nissan Prairie Joy (Japan-spec)
1992 Nissan Prairie (European-spec)

The second generation of the Prairie was introduced September 1988, and it was renamed the Nissan Axxess when sold in North America. The vehicle sold for six years (1990–95) in Canada, and in 1990 only in the United States.

The Prairie came with optional AWD but because it came with a 2.0 litre engine, it wasn't designed or equipped for vigorous off road driving. In North America, that market segment was offered an all new vehicle, called the Nissan Pathfinder. Because of the Pathfinders similar cargo carying capacity added to a increased ground clearance and a larger 4- and V6 engine, the utility that the Prairie(Axxess) offered was seen as a lesser vehicle.

Nissan didn't retreat from the family oriented minivan market, and introduced the Nissan Quest in 1993, sharing production facilities with Ford North America, with Ford selling the Quest as the Mercury Villager. In Europe, the Prairie was replaced with the larger Nissan Serena, also originally sold in Japan in 1991.

Nissan refocused their efforts provided by the Prairie on the Japanese market, and offered additional room by stretching the back end to better accommodate third seat passengers and load carrying, calling the vehicle the Prairie Joy, which was offered August 1995. The Prairie continued to see competition from the Toyota Sprinter Caribbean and the Civic based Honda Shuttle.

Styling of the Prairie was never its strong suit, and the second generation didn't show an improvement, which hampered sales. It was popular with families who needed utility above other considerations.

May 1997, anti-lock brakes and driver and front passenger airbags were offered, along with ultraviolet restricting tinted glass.


Third generation (series M12 1998 - 2004)

Nissan Prairie
2001 Nissan Liberty
Manufacturer Nissan
Also called Nissan Prairie Liberty
Production 1998-2004
Assembly Shonan, Japan
Successor Nissan Lafesta
Class Compact MPV
Body style(s) 5-door minivan
Layout Front engine/front wheel drive, AWD
Engine(s) 2.0 L SR20DE I4
2.0 L SR20DET I4 turbo
2.0 L QR20DE I4
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
CVT
Wheelbase 2,690 mm (106 in)
Length 4,575 mm (180.1 in)
Width 1,695 mm (66.7 in)
Height 1,690 mm (67 in)
Curb weight 1,630 kg (3,600 lb)
Related Nissan Altima
Nissan Avenir

The Nissan Liberty is the new name for the Nissan Prairie minivan in 1999. It has rear sliding doors and is available with either front wheel drive or all wheel drive. It is equipped with either the SR20DE or the SR20DET engine, both of which are mated to either a 4-speed automatic or a CVT transmission.

Nissan Liberty (Japan-spec)

The third generation Prairie now shared a platform with the compact station wagon Nissan Avenir with the Prairie/Liberty focused more on flexible seating and cargo carrying duties.

Some of the issues buyers had with the Prairie was its appearance and performance, so the styling was given more attention, and Nissan's Autech division punched up its performance image, by offering the Liberty Rider that replaced the Axis trim package. The turbocharged engine was offered in the "Highway Star 4WD" package October 12, 1999, as well as the "Highway Star GT4", also enhanced by Autech. Front wheel drive vehicles were only available with the CVT transmission. Styling and luxury items offered on the larger Nissan Elgrand were also offered on the Liberty.

The Liberty saw competition from Toyota and Honda during this generation from the Toyota Ipsum and the Honda Stream, and a related siblings called the Nissan Bassara and the Nissan R'nessa.

June 19, 2001 Nissan offered a rear door that swung up electrically, with a platform that extended out for passengers that used a wheelchair, and by remote control. The sliding doors were offered with an electrically opening feature on both sides May 7 2001. Various appearance packages were offered to update the appearance until the vehicle was cancelled December 2004, and replaced by the all new Nissan Lafesta.

References

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