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Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Review: 2023 Nissan Livina 1.5 VL

Basically, there are two reasons why automakers would design and build a car. Either they’re doing it for the sheer passion of it, or because they see it as a way to improve their bottom line. More often than not, a car exists somewhere between these two extremes. For Nissan, this could very well be almost their entire line-up from the Almera to the Patrol. In rare occasions, you get something born out of pure passion like the GT-R, the Z, and depending on who you ask, the LEAF. Now, for every so-called “passion project” there’s one whose sole mission is to improve their bottom line, and that’s where the all-new Nissan Livina comes in.

Harsh? Maybe. Honest? Always. Let’s take a look at it this way. The Livina in its present shape and form is three years old. It’s basically a cosmetically enhanced version of the Xpander before Mitsubishi decided it was time to go in for a nip-and-tuck.

Taken in isolation, there’s actually nothing wrong with it. As with any cross-brand partnership, most of the sheet metal is shared and that’s something very obvious even to the most casual observer. Having said that, kudos to Nissan for properly grafting on their corporate front-end. That V-motion grille business actually looks great here, and it’s even better how they were able to incorporate that same pattern into the otherwise identical Xpander taillight housing. The rear bumper and its split silver diffuser is a nice touch too, and I’d wager that some current Xpander owners would be going for a rear-end swap with this one.

Unfortunately for the Livina, it doesn’t exist by itself in the MPV world—and that proves to be its biggest issue. Even compared to its corporate sibling, it already feels its age. Whereas the Xpander has become, love it or hate it, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, this here is stuck being all chummy with Joss Whedon’s version. All other small MPVs have managed to incorporate new, fancy tech like LED lighting and large-ish wheels, but Nissan insists on partying like it’s 2019. Halogen headlights? A pole-type antenna? Come on. But you know what’s worse? The omission of a rear defogger. When was the last time you drove a car without a rear defogger?

The same issue continues largely inside where the Livina is the Xpander existing/living in the Nissan multiverse. Generally, there’s nothing to get upset about—the cabin’s clean, sturdy, and easy-to-use—but, just knowing what Mitsubishi has done with the refreshed Xpander, you can’t help but think: what could have been. As it stands, it’s the previous Xpander’s dashboard down to the droopy center trim. Here though, it’s covered in faux wood rather than carbon fiber. Why? Because luxury. Also, at least Nissan’s throwing you a bone by giving you leather seats—something Mitsubishi won’t even offer.

Now, the presence of leather seats means something had to give and in the Livina, that’s down to two things. First is the lack of cruise control, a feature even the Xpander had since it was launched. Second is, and without a doubt, its crime against humanity: its archaic infotainment system. Calling this 7-inch thing an “infotainment system” is an exaggeration given that it can only play stuff on the radio, USB, Aux, or Bluetooth. Want some Apple CarPlay or Android Auto? Sorry sir, the Livina can’t help you with that. It doesn’t help that the display’s low-res and quite dim too.

These travesties mar what’s otherwise a solid driving experience. With a tilt/telescopic steering wheel and a driver’s seat that moves in six directions, the Livina scores well in ergonomics. The front thrones are well-bolstered and are great even for long driving stints. The second-row seats are just as good. Not only does it offer various recline adjustments, but it’s got a center armrest too that doubles as a cargo pass through for long objects. Given its exterior footprint, the third-row seats, understandably, aren’t as generous. However, there’s some ingenuity baked in as well. Getting in or out is easy thanks to the extra-wide rear doors, but add to that a 60/40 split-sliding second row and you’ve got one of the best packaged MPVs around. Don’t need to ferry seven people all the time? The third and second row fold flat forming a long, continuous loading space. Try doing that in your Toyota Innova.

On the road, the Livina behaves pretty much like the Xpander and again, that’s not such a bad thing. It hits the right notes for everyday driving with its well-mannered ride and good levels of NVH isolation. Naturally, there’s a bit of a trade-off, and in this case, it’s not going to please the enthusiastic set. The steering easily meanders even a modest speeds, and body roll is fairly abundant when pushed. Still, driven sensibly, and the Livina behaves like a sensible car. It’s softly sprung and capable of soaking up the off-road obstacles of C5. Plus, the ventilated disc/drum brake combo bites well too. And for fans of tradition, it’s got a hand brake as opposed to any of that fancy EPB stuff.

The accompanying 1.5-liter 4-cylinder should be familiar to Xpander owners as it’s the same 4A91 engine. Tipping the scales almost equally, it does a well enough job of pulling around the Livina’s frame. From a stand-still, there’s a strong sense of urgency, though its power delivery is, admittedly, peaky meaning it loses its pull as the speeds go up. Still, the 4-speed automatic manages to be well-suited to the engine. It’s programmed to squeeze as much fuel efficiency as possible, but will oblige with quick downshifts to keep the engine singing when needed. Oh, and on the subject of fuel economy, it registers 9.25 km/L at an average speed of 18 km/h. And being the newest MPV on the market, going for a fuel such as the 95 RON octane Petron XCS improves its long-term combustion efficiency and reduces overall maintenance.

As for safety, the Livina’s pretty basic. Wishing for a bit of that Nissan Intelligent Mobility magic? Not here. Instead, it’s got dual SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control with hill start assist, rear parking sensors, and a rear camera. That’s it.

Don’t get the Nissan Livina wrong. It’s a perfectly sensible MPV, and in a world that’s gone bonkers, sensible is safe. Sensible sells and sensible is great for the every man. Sensible is also having a longer warranty and longer service intervals than its corporate sibling. On the other hand, sensible is also tantamount to being just okay when you could have been great. Of late, Nissan’s always set a high benchmark for themselves, by offering cutting-edge tech and head-turning looks in a value-oriented package. However, in this case, it was just a matter of ticking off a check list of what people need in an MPV, and going no further. Nissan could have kicked the goal post, if even by just a bit here. Instead, they figured there’s no need to move it, when they’re perfectly satisfied with what they’ve got.

2022 Nissan Livina 1.5 VL AT

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Ownership 2022 Nissan Livina 1.5 VL AT
Year Introduced 2022
Vehicle Classification Entry-Level MPV
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door MPV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 105 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 141 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 4 AT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.25 km/L @ 18 km/h
(fueled with Petron XCS)
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,510
Width (mm) 1,750
Height (mm) 1,700
Wheelbase (mm) 2,775
Curb Weight (kg) 1,250
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Parking Brake Manual
Tires Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 205/55 R 16 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3 (2nd row),
3-pt ELR x 2 (3rd row)
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat 60/40, Slide, Recline (2nd row),
50/50 (3rd row)
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Manual (Front & Rear)
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Phonelink
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Hoping that all MPVs, as family vehicles, will be equipped with at least 6 airbags (ex. Avanza, Veloz, Okavango, G50).
    Actually, all vehicles should be equipped with more than 2 airbags.

    1. 2 airbags with stability and traction control is enough

  2. Which do you prefer sir Uly? This Livina with the pre-facelift Xpander Interior? Or the Facelifted Xpander with the different interior?

    1. I think my review summed it up.

      If the Livina were cheaper than the Xpander--like P 100K cheaper or more, I'd probably say, it's good value. With the sort of spec it had, I was expecting it to go against the Ertiga and not the likes of the refreshed Xpander and Veloz.

      But, at its announced prices, I'd get the Xpander.

    2. Sir Uly, I already reported Kuchi 888 on Blogger for Hate speech against me. He is also spreading claims without references and false information.


    4. But I have already the comments of Kuchi 888, Sir Uly... And also his username on Blogger many times

  3. Upcoming cars 2023 Nissan Note, Nissan Z, Nissan X Trail, Nissan Serena, Nissan Elgrand & Nissan Qashqai.

  4. Even more expensive than the Xpander GLS and Avanza G and the same price as a Veloz G? The planners perhaps determined that there is a market segment that does not need cruise control (traffic's bad anyway) and a defogger (it's hot anyway), but are into leather seats (because Nissan's AC system is the best). Who knows?

  5. Avoid all these underpowered 1.5L 7-seater Turd World MPVs regardless of brand. Thank me later.


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