Text: Paul Conde / Photos: Paul Conde | posted August 10, 2002 00:00
A Van with Class
I know, I know... Some of us had the chance to drive the old family vans in the past and I'm sure you felt the heat under the driver's seat given off by the engine while driving after a couple of hours. They were like rolling sauna rooms because of their poor cooling systems and underpowered engines which usually lead to over heat. But today's vans are tuned for comfort, power and reliability and believe or not the Nissan Estate we test drove never gave us any problem unlike the old vans of yesterday. I guess the days of Prehistoric Van's are over.
A smooth ride, a powerful engine, and a reliable family Van tastefully executed. that's what the Urvan Estate's all about. This particular model was to go face to face against to the Toyota Hiace Grandia. The Urvan Estate better known as the big brother of the popular 2.7 liter Urvan Escapade, boast of Comfort and luxurious features not found in other vans. The estate comes in two variants, one is the standard family van which we test drove and the second one is the CEO which is basically for company executives who would like to bring the whole office wherever they go. The only difference is the CEO version has 360 degrees swiveling seats in the rear.
The Estate's powerplant is a Water cooled ZD30 diesel, 4 cyl. in line DOHC 3.0 engine which gives out 105 horses at 5th gear, overtaking on uphills or on flat roads was never a problem. the estate we test drove to Subic had a top speed of 130 kph at 3,500 rpm, at speeds like this the vehicle was very stable. Actually it had more to give but I don't want to push a new engine so much to its limits. Driving the estate along the busy streets of manila gives you the advantage in terms of size and power which will make you feel superior among the others though making a U turn on a small street could send you panic due to it's long body.
A rare find is the light gray faced gauges, it glows with a soft white light in the dark. the thick steering wheel with rack and pinion power assist gave stress free driving on the twist and turns all the way to SBMA. the control knobs of the air conditioning and CD player were large enough for you feel and operate while your eyes on the road. the estate has 7 Cup holders which was very useful on our trip. and If safety is the concern, I'm glad to know that the Estate is protected by door guard beams which increase resistance to side impact plus the frontal part of the vehicle has crumple zones to absorb impact in frontal collisions. Also, the estate is equipped with LSV (load-sensing Valve). This dramatically improves braking power since it automatically senses total load and weight distribution that optimizes the balance in brake pressure between the front disc and rear drum brakes, the end product is reliable braking whether the estate is empty or full.
I love the rear interior styling of this vehicle. It had the plushest seat and ample of leg room for both driver and passenger. From a passenger's point of view, expect to hear remarks like ("this is like a small airplane") Yes, the seats are so comfortable, it's like the seat's were taken out from an airplane and its all reclineable including the driver's seat. its 4990 mm body can accommodate as much as 12 passengers including the driver. When we were about to go home extra luggage space was not a problem because the last bench type seat folds up to give extra space needed. One of the selling point of the estate that impressed me was the unique rear cooling system extends to the last seat making sure that each and every passenger will be cool and comfy on long hot trips. Nissan's reputation for having the best auto air conditioner has never changed.
Some of the things that needs improvement on this Van is it's inferior horn which gives you an impression that it was taken off from a small car. We would appreciate a temperature control on cooling system to minimize the spine tingling sensations during long drives (believe me it can get really cold while unattended on long drives). also, maybe a little suspension tuning at the rear to minimize the bounce effect when the van is empty. But that's it. There's is nothing else to complain about this Van, its Big but it's so easy to drive; its powerful but does not eat up your pocket since its diesel fed. With proper maintenance this vehicle it will last a long long time. all in all I would rate this vehicle a 8 out of 10 for an all around Van. Should I consider buying a van someday it would be this Van.