Toyota Hiace vs Nissan Caravan: The following feature on these two ‘matatus’ popular in Kenya was first published by motoring expert JM Baraza in the Daily Nation.
The Toyota Hiace is slightly superior to the Nissan Caravan on several fronts. The Toyota Hiace performs better than the Nissan Caravan. Maintenance will not be too bad, given that you do not intend to subject your vehicle to heavy use, but the Nissan’s parts may be cheaper compared to the Toyota’s.
Fuel consumption will hover around the 8 km/l area for both, sinking to 5 km/l or slightly less in traffic. General wear? Well, a Toyota is a Toyota, if you get what I mean.
Whoever said a 3-litre engine is more efficient than a 2.7 is not exactly right. As Kenyans say: “How now?” Yes, on paper the 3.0 will develop more power and more torque and will, thus, pull as well as the 2.7 at lower engine speeds, but this disparity is best seen in sub 1.8 litre cars. In vans, SUVs, and large saloon cars, the cubic capacity does become a limiting factor in fuel economy in that the bigger the engine, the more fuel it consumes.
For a 2.7 against a 3.0, the gearbox ratios tend to be the same without any major sacrifices being made in pulling power, so on the highway, at 100 km/h, both the 2.7 and the 3.0 will be running along at, say, 2000 rpm in top gear.
The difference is, sticking to stoichiometric AFRs (air-fuel ratios), the 3,000cc engine has a bigger space to fill with the intake charge (air-fuel mixture), and will, thus, burn a little more fuel. If you are going for full bore standing starts, manic acceleration, or terminal velocity, the 2.7 will have its work cut out for it trying to keep up with the 3.0.
That is when the 2.7 will burn more fuel than the 3.0. Otherwise, no, the smaller engine is more economical.
Build Quality: The Toyota Hiace H100 is better than the Nissan E24. Now, you do not exactly mention what vintage of these vehicles you want, so I will cover the current models too.
The E25 is better built than its predecessor, but again Toyota comes out on top: the Hiace H200 is such a huge step forward from the Shark that the Nissan looks almost awful in comparison.
Off-road ability: Both cars are available in 4WD version, but you have to raise them (increase ground clearance) yourself. The E24 and the Shark do not suffer much disparity in their skills (they were both NOT meant for hardcore off-road activities), but their respective successors are a little different. The Hiace is longer and rides lower, so it would not be very ideal to wander too far from the paved path in it. Toyota Hiace vs Nissan Caravan.