Monday, December 7, 2015

Used Car Review - Nissan Urvan (1988-2015)

Myk Belmonte checks out one of the longest running vehicles sold in the market.

1988-2015 Nissan Urvan

If there is one vehicle that cannot be beaten in its class, it would be the L300. First launched in 1987, rivals from Japan and Korea followed throughout selling life in the early 90s but the Kia Besta was the segment leader in the middle of the decade, dislodging the Japanese stalwart. Ever since, it haven't took the top slot and only one upgrade was done: a new grille and an upgraded audio system with CD player. In the case of the Urvan, it sold well later on where a time it became the segment leader.

First introduced in 1965, the Nissan Caravan/Homy/Urvan line of vehicles are available in a multitude of seating configurations and body variations that suit market requirements. While the Homy (a luxurious passenger version model) was replaced by the Elgrand, the other two names are still in use. In 2012, the E26 Urvan/Caravan replaced the previous models sold in Japan and has versions from Mitsubishi and Isuzu.

The Urvan was launched to the Philippine market in 1988 as a rival to the L300. Universal Motor Corporation brought in the Shuttle guise in 12 seats first with other models followed suit. Although earlier models were the E24 platform, the E25 chassis (sold as the Estate) had its introduction in 2002 and was first killed in 2014. All other models gave way to the NV350 Urvan in June 2015, which scored more modern amenities and engines.

Value and Costs
Older models (and possibly super high mileage ex-public utility vehicles) can be obtained for as low as P300,000 while later units which saw private usage and have their warranties remaining cost a million bucks. While there are numerous models out there, get something which isn't that has abused totally while repossessed Urvans are a hit or miss since some have high mileage.

Getting a model with the TD27 engine would reward you - not with stellar acceleration - but with easy maintenance especially there is no electronic computer box or common rail direct injection technologies present, which can have any mechanic fix plus parts are cheap. The Estate will also give you low cost of ownership especially the engine is water cooled plus no CRDi gadgetry here. Other than that, do check for the usual wear and tear items that are common among vehicles used for ferrying people.

Exterior and Interior
Nothing to write here as it is a van, this one does not inherit the boxy slabs of older models that affects acceleration. Unlike the newer competition, the Urvan uses glass in its headlights. On the other hand, some models have a different emblem and not the Nissan logo present. Escapade models can be distinguished by their two tone color body and a sticker, while the Estate can be had in single or two tone color motif and slightly different styling (it is basically the next generation of the previous one).

Inside, it is just your generic van interior: simple and fuss free. E24 models can be had in various seating configurations ranging from 12 to 21, an analogue odometer, no tachometer, and devoid of power amenities other than steering. The Estate boasts a revised interior which adds a dash of luxury and an option between a regular model that can accommodate 12 people or a CEO version (launched in the early 2000s) which featured swiveling seats at the back. Escapade and Estate models have fabric upholstery, while Shuttle and VX get vinyl seating material. There was an option for a headrest mounted DVD player and a Wi-Fi router socket in 2012 but were dropped later on.

For E24 models (Escapade, Shuttle, VX), the standard powerplant is a TD27 2.7 diesel with 84hp at 4,300rpm and 178Nm at 2,200rpm while the Estate utilizes a ZD30 3.0 diesel carrying 105hp at 3,800rpm and 213Nm at 2,000rpm. The 2.7 is no match compared to modern CRDi vans especially that acceleration is slow and you will need some timing skills on overtaking. Choosing the 3.0 will give you decent acceleration but it drinks a lot of diesel when you push it harder.

Driving Impressions
Let us go to the passenger point of view, the Urvan has a ride which may be firm but controllable. It automatically beats the current Hiace since it is not bouncy, which is an advantage especially if you are riding with people who have motion sickness and the elderly ones. When it comes to handling, well, this is a typical van so nothing to write here.

Vans, unlike sedans and SUVs, have a long shelf life and serves a different purpose. The Urvan is no-nonsense vehicle which will shuttle you and 11 other people in ease without draining your wallet. Since a lot of these vans are in the used market, choose wisely.

The Good:
  • Cheap maintenance
  • Multitude of seating configurations
  • Plenty in the market
The Bad:
  • Not the fastest
  • Not that fancy for all
  • Not that feature packed (E24 models)
The Pick: Any well maintained unit

Engines: 2,664cc TD27 and 2,953cc ZD30 I4 diesel
Power: 84hp @ 4,300rpm (2.7), 105hp @ 3,800rpm (3.0)
Torque: 178Nm @ 2,200rpm (2.7), 213Nm @ 2,000rpm (3.0)
Fuel Consumption: 7-10km/L (city), 11-14km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Suspension: Front double wishbone, rear rigid axle leaf springs

Price (New): P900,000-P1,500,000 (covers models from 2000)
Price (Now): P300,000-P1,000,000
Rivals: Foton View, Golden Dragon Sapphire, Hyundai Grand Starex, Hyundai Grace, Kia Besta, Kia Pregio, Mazda E200, Mercedes Benz MB100, Mitsubishi L300, Toyota Hiace
On Sale: 1988-2015

Nissan Mantrade - (02) 843-3316

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