Van buying, sensible van or daft JDM option?
Thinking about getting back in a van for family/riding duties.
Sensible head says something like a post 2010 Vito 120/122 or Transit Custom. Transporter pricing is mental for what they are so not interested.
Left field choice… does anyone have any experience of JDM imports like Nissan Elgrand/Toyota Alphard or similar? I don’t actually dislike the look of them (all vans are ugly so why not go bonkers ugly?) spec is huge in comparison to the usual options and a big petrol engine would actually suit me better as I only do about 3k miles a year so no DPF/EGR etc to worry about.Posted 2 months ago
You know it makes sense.Posted 2 months ago
Off to search for crew cab Unimogs…Posted 2 months ago
Yep. I was considering Alphard and Elgrand but ended up getting a Honda Stepwgn. 2l petrol instead, bit cheaper for a good one, and a bit better on fuel, bit more compact for city use but still a huge amount of room inside, particularly with the rearmost row of seats unbolted. Love it.
They’re all good options though compared to a diesel builders van with seats fitted.
I imported myself via a broker (a fairly easy process if you have time, and can get exactly what you want) but there are plenty of these things coming in or for sale at various dealers here.Posted 2 months ago
Just bought XLWB Merc Citan for those very duties, suitably impressed.Posted 2 months ago
Is the answer, surely.Posted 2 months ago
but still a huge amount of room inside, particularly
Compared to an as you put it “diesel builders van with seats” I’d say no they are tiny by comparison. Quite a bit narrower – seeing as largely Japanese vehicles are taxed on width and volumetric space
Looked at them the exterior width on an Alphard is similar to the interior width on a custom….and that’s the narrower option in builders vans.Posted 2 months ago
Will have a look at the Honda, looks a little bit on the sensible side of things.
Looked at them the exterior width on an Alphard is similar to the interior width on a custom….and that’s the narrower option in builders vans.
Thats a good thing, local lanes are pretty narrow – if I can get my bike in with the wheels on and without removing child seats I’m happy.Posted 2 months ago
I’d buy a T5Posted 2 months ago
I’d buy a T5
Over priced and unreliable – what’s not to like…Posted 2 months ago
I kind of desperately want an Elgrand E51, they are just wonderfully stupid. The grills! I know it’s not really a Skyline minibus but it’s close enough. (in the same way as the Stagea isn’t really a skyline wagon)Posted 2 months ago
Why not go all out….(Toyota Deliboy if I’ve cocked up the copy/paste)Posted 2 months ago
I’ve got a 56 plate Elgrand and I love it. However it’s not as big as a transit/transporter, the exterior dimensions are actually smaller than a BMW 5 series estate.
Very relaxing to drive and comfy for passengers although the suspension is a bit soft when you push it hard into corners. Mine is the 3.5 and best case is 25MPG on a long run being careful, round the doors it’s more like 19. Sounds lovely though and plenty of grunt.
The interior space is very adaptable, all the seats and the little table thing slide forwards and back. The middle set rotate 180 and the back set fold up in a few seconds to the side of the van. With myself, the wife and the 2 kids in the back seats you can get one full size bike in with wheels on and then others would need the wheels off. I also have a rack for the back when we are fully loaded. Bonus is you can carry up to 6 people in total comfort or 8 at a push.
For the money I think they are a better option than a tirwd T5 but can’t carry quite as much and as long as you don’t do big miles. Mine looks amazing inside and out for a 15 year old van and has only 54K miles. Cost me £8K from a specialist dealer.
Import it yourself and you can get them really cheap but it’s a bit more risky than buying from a UK dealer. No issue getting parts or support in the country as enough of them about to support some specialist parts dealers and a community for help.Posted 2 months ago
Nissan i800, big, comfy, easy to drive and untrendy with the urban surf crowd, so I’d guess much cheaper than a T4/5.Posted 2 months ago
Look for ex-Enterprise vans, there’s loads about, if you’d like to go for a minibus version, ex-Motability ones with seats and windows might be worth a look.
I’ve been wanting an Elgrand for about 6 years and it’s never the right time! I’ve got my current lease for 2 years now, so next time…..
I might even look into getting one imported, or even look into the Toyota/Honda alternatives. Love my Japanese cars too!Posted 2 months ago
Was comparing to most car MPVs. An smax owning mate is looking at trailers for their family camping stuff, we fit more in easily. Narrowness is a huge benefit on little lanes and city carparks, our Stepwgn is as wide as a Fiesta and as long as a Focus estate. The low floor and high roof makes swallowing bikes inside very easy.
Even little things like proper opening windows for rear passengers (you know, like a car) or ac vents, or just places to put things, seems to be missing on very expensive van-based things.Posted 2 months ago
We have just bought an RK5 stepwagon from auction at USS Tokyo – very excited for it to arrive! As usual with most things, the purchase was partly informed by information from this forum!Posted 2 months ago
Assume that should be a Hyundai i800. Had one for a few days, was nice, definitely roomier than a JDM Vanning model which compares to a large MPV at best. Another thing to watch for is undersealing , JDM stuff tends not to get it so you need to get on top of that early on if you don’t want it dissolving.Posted 2 months ago
Just looking at 5th gen Stepwgns, much want!Posted 2 months ago
Squirrelling is on the money. Jap spec cars tend to be lower spec than European spec.Posted 2 months ago
Hyundai i800….. Are you deaf countzero.
I’ve had the use of three through work from new the three of them had the most horribly whiny gearbox and or diff and been woefully under geared to compensate with the lack of power- which probably accounted for the noise ……note my comments are based on them having an adult in ever seat not moving them unloaded from a-b.Posted 2 months ago
Hyundai i800….. Are you deaf countzero.
I must be. But then with the stupid whirly vent along with the numerous rattles and squeaks of my bus anything is quieter than that heap. Never shifted more than us 3 in the i800.Posted 2 months ago
i am selling a toyota granvia right nowPosted 2 months ago
i can honestly say its the best van , i have had a t5 and a t4, a vito , and a transit , the granvia beats them all hands down , automatic diesel , Toyota engine that never lets you down
We had a Toyota Lucida on another job at work. It was good .
Took a real beating. 300k miles pounding through the desert…..wouldn’t have like to put it though an MOT but it coped better than the hiluxes with the same roads for some reason ….I guess it’s because folk slowed down for the holes in the road for fear of their spinesPosted 2 months ago
The jap people carrier wagons are ugly as sin but they’re very useful. I find the interior also looks really dated, but they’re really cleverly designed
I did look into them but couldn’t get past the looks. I had a 5 series and then an e class. More height would have helped. I now have a T6, i like the builders van look!Posted 2 months ago
Jesus – just done some googling.
You guys like your vans ugly for sure. I hope you have better taste in women 😳Posted 2 months ago
You guys like your vans ugly for sure
I think this is why I like the JDM ones, they sort of go through ugly and out the other side into absurd.Posted 2 months ago
Yup, Spadas have those funky barn door/tailgate hybrid backs as well. Plus Magic Seats. What’s not to like?Posted 2 months ago
Over priced and unreliable – what’s not to like…
Posted 2 months ago
I kind of desperately want an Elgrand E51, they are just wonderfully stupid. The grills! I know it’s not really a Skyline minibus but it’s close enough. (in the same way as the Stagea isn’t really a skyline wagon)
The Rider spec front end goes so far beyond ugly it somehow works – who doesn’t want to drive around in something that looks like a rapper’s face?! Is it the same 3.5 lump out of the 350z?
I’ve got a 56 plate Elgrand and I love it.
Thanks for the writeup from an owner, out of interest what spec/model do you have? I’d be interested to hear what you think are the extras you think are worth holding out for and what you can live without?Posted 2 months ago
Is it the same 3.5 lump out of the 350z?
Same basic vq35de but I don’t know if it’s identicalPosted 2 months ago
I’ve got a 2WD 3.5 Highway Star.
I got a 3.5 because fuel consumption wise there is hardly any difference to the 2.5 and it’s faster. Yes it’s a 350Z engine but running lower compression, different inlet manifold I think.
I got Highway Star as these ones have black half leather interior which is the hardest wearing and looks best. They also have 2nd highest level of equipment. Most other trim levels you see will have grey velour or awful cream leather.
There are some lower specs that that rarely get imported but you will normally see Rider/rider Autech which are the sporty looking ones with grey velour. Then HWS with higher spec. Then XL which have the highest spec level bit only 6 seats.
4WD would have been nice but they are a bit rarer and hard to come by.
Colour wise it black, silver or white although there is a very rare chromaflair kicking around.
Spec wise the things I really like are the power side door from remote, mine is only on one side but some have it on both. The twin sunroofs are a nice feature. Keyless entry also very handy. Very comfy for passengers with there own air vents, very ish seats and very quiet inside. Mines also got a mains supply inverter built in but I’ve never used it and a flip down TV which doesn’t work. There are also remote controls for the rear passengers that control Aircon, sunroof, TV, kids love fiddling with them! The power curtains are handy too not just for passengers but to hide bikes.
Radio wise if you get a series 1 or 2 2003-2007 ish, it’s a piece of cake to change out the factory system for a double DIN unit. Mine came with a minidisc changer! Series 3 2007 onwards have a more complex system using a hard drive and it’s trickier to upgrade.
Few other quirky things like mystery Japanese buttons. The clock is satellite synchronised but you can’t change it from Japanese time. The main screen when on map mode can only ever show Japanese maps but it’s quite interesting to see.
They do have some weaknesses though, like any car/van. As someone said above you have to get them undersealed and renew it every couple of years, only £100 ish though. The other issue can be more serious. They have 4 cats, a front and a rear for each bank of 3 cylinders. The fronts can break down and then block up the rears which then causes bits to get sucked back into the engine destroying it. A UK importers decide the rear cats so all the crap can get out but it may not completely protect you. Seems very low occurrence but serious consequences and no pattern. Some can do 200,000 KMs without issue while some get it earlier. It’s a big discussion point on the forums and Facebook groups.Posted 2 months ago
Honda Elysion can be had with a 2.4, 3.0 v6 that shuts a bank of cylinders off when cruising or a 3.5 v6. To me it looks the best of the JDM offerings. The drawback is the rear row of seats just fold up and forward instead of up and to the sides like the stepwagon, alphard etc.
There’s also the Honda Odyssey which is a longer accord estate with an extra row of seats and they all have the 2.4 engine. Mk2 Honda stream is a small MPV based on the civic but the Mk1 is fugly.
Most of the JDM vehicles are designed to carry people in luxury so are more comfortable and have adjustable seats but are smaller. UKDM vans are vans that have been leased to tradesmen, moved on when the lease runs out then someone puts seats in the back and bodges some side windows.
UKDM vans will likely be diesel with all the nice little issues such as faulty EGR vales, DPFs, DMFs and injectors. JDM are all petrol so more thirsty and come with CVT transmissions or traditional autos for the v6 engines or when they have AWD.
Need a change myself but can’t decide if I want a bigger vehicle or just an estate. Won’t be an ex builders diesel van though.Posted 2 months ago
. An smax owning mate is looking at trailers for their family camping stuff, we fit more in easily.
Either we know each other or your mate and I are living parallel lives!Posted 2 months ago
You guys like your vans ugly for sure. I hope you have better taste in women 😳
Post up a pic of your missus….
My uncle has a Honda Stepwagon… Brilliant little motor. Seats 7 or 2. Load space is good. Good engine with parts available. Only problem is replacement windscreen.
If they came in LHD I would consider one.
I have a T5 and wouldn’t buy another.Posted 2 months ago
The drawback is the rear row of seats just fold up and forward instead of up and to the sides like the stepwagon, alphard etc.
Mk.5 (2015>) Stepwgn folds into the boot well leaving a flat floor, seems much more sensible. It also comes with a 1.5 turbo or hybrid (2017>).
Mk2 Honda stream is a small MPV based on the civic but the Mk1 is fugly.
Oh god yes, used to be one round my way, looked like someone has taken my 5 door and inflated it. Hideous thing.Posted 2 months ago
The 2009/10 stepwagon has the seats that fold into the floor and due to the ten year rule are easier to import.
The mk2 stream looks OK from the front and has Hondas “magic seats”. Probably too small though.Posted 2 months ago
Ah, good to know, much to learn.Posted 2 months ago
I’m still waiting for some feedback from Andi on his!
Any photos of a nice long modern 29er in one of the Stepwagons or Nissan Serenas?Posted 2 months ago
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