Thursday, September 19, 2013

Used Car Review - Nissan Serena (2002-2012)

So, do you prefer your van to be Japanese? Well, Myk Belmonte has a recently discontinued model dished for you.

2002-2012 Nissan Serena

The Japanese has a love affair with minivans and people carriers, since they have a number of them in their line-up. Ranging from the very small to the barangay hauling, the Japanese has one that suits your needs and most importantly, budget.

One of the popular minivans in Japan is the Nissan Serena which was first launched in 1991. The model that we will feature is the MkII C24, with its home market introduction in 1999 while other markets get it a little later (mostly ASEAN and Taiwan markets). Interestingly enough, while Japan released the MkIII C25 in 2005, other nations had this until 2012. It rivals the Honda Elyson and Mazda Biante in Japan.

April 2002 saw the release of the Nissan Serena in the Philippines, which indirectly replaced the Nissan Vanette (definitely a far cry) in the line-up. This vehicle was updated in late 2007 with a new engine and other cosmetic and interior changes. With no takers of this vehicle (no thanks to the influx of new competitors), Nissan Motor Philippines dropped this vehicle in the line-up in late 2012.

Value and Costs
Second hand prices of Nissan Serenas can cost one between P240,000-P350,000, definitely not too bad a deal if you desire something comfortable. Do not mistake this PHDM model (we get Taiwan's) to other Serenas from Japan since they are converted and can be a potential money pit.

Before driving one home, have the alternator and automatic transmission checked if you are buying an early model. Going for the updated model (which is rare to find) would necessitate the hunt for a November 2010 or later unit to get the remaining chunk of the warranty. Fuel economy is on par with competitors, but less than a diesel people mover.

Exterior and Interior
It looks tall, but that can be said with other Japanese minivans, narrow and tall. Some bits denote luxury like the grille (for the 2002-2007 models) while big lights are necessary for the front and rear due to the vehicle's stature. The 2008-2012 units have their head and tail lights resemble the JDM model. The side profiles look clean and does not look out of place.

Thanks to the tall nature, passengers get more space above. While the first two rows spell comfort for three, the third row is best for two people and the jump seats is best left for emergency purposes. With the column stalk for the automatic located behind the wheel (the manual has the stick placed forward against the seats), legroom is freed and access to the back is easy. The radio and climate controls (they are merged to one location in the late 2007 update, which gave way for a cubby hole) are angled upwards due to the fact the drivers seat is high. There is a screen for the rear occupants, but only plays VCD. Boo. Leather upholstery is available in the top end model during the late 2007 update.

Two sets of engines found home in the Serena's engine bay. The first one found in 2002-2007 (which is the most common) is a SR20DE 1,998cc which has 145hp at 6,000rpm and 183Nm at 3,800rpm. For 2008-2012 units, it is a QR25DE 2,488cc that possess 160hp at 5,600rpm and 245Nm at 4,500rpm. How do they perform? For the 2.0 model, it is better if you don't have that much passengers but at full capacity, power might be lacking (a power mode is standard among AT models). To get decent acceleration in the 2.5, one must reach 3,500rpm since low revs will give you something poor.

Driving Impressions
When driven at high speeds, steering is too light and feels disconnected for early models; heavy for later models. Despite the nature, it is easy to park and drive. Ride quality is excellent (as long as you don't sit in the jump seat) and rewards the occupants a comfortable ride. Automatic transmission units have a foot brake, just to remind you. Braking is on the spot, while reversing is easy due to the big windows and in later models, a rear camera is standard.

Among the limited minivan choices, the Serena is one good pick. But before arriving to a decision, study other options and competitors since you may be satisfied with them.

The Good: 
  • Torquey engine (pre-2008)
  • Dual sliding doors
  • Manual transmission can be had
The Bad:
  • Jump seats at the back are dangerously placed 
  • No DVD player available 
  • Heavy
The Pick: QRV-R 

Engines: 1,998cc SR20DE (2002-2007) and 2,488cc QR25DE (2008-2012) I4 gasoline
Power: 145hp @ 6,000rpm (2.0), 160hp @ 5,600rpm (2.5)
Torque: 183Nm @ 3,800rpm (2.0), 245Nm @ 4,500rpm (2.5)
Fuel Consumption: 5-8km/L (city), 7-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear rigid axle with torsion beam

Price (New): P950,000-P1,550,000
Price (Now): P240,000-P350,000
Rivals: Chevrolet Venture, Kia Carnival, Toyota Previa, Mitsubishi Spacegear, Chrysler Town and Country, Toyota Hiace, Nissan Urvan
On Sale: 2002-2012

Nissan Mantrade - (02) 812-6789
Nissan Gallery Quezon Avenue - (02) 731-5308
Nissan Gallery Ortigas - (02) 635-5888

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