I bought a new 2014 D22 Nissan double cab (you can still buy them new where I come from) after doing about 360,000km in my Mitsubishi Colt (Rodeo) 2.8D.
The reason was very simple: I’d just got married and was thus cash strapped, and staying close to the sea and surrounded by mountainous dunes, you cannot be caught without a 4×4.
Firstly, I would like to mention that I am not brand loyal, nor am I delusional in thinking the D22 is anywhere close to the best vehicle there is. Somehow, though, all of the quirks of the vehicle have some benefits.
The very small rear door entry, for example, is invaluable in tight parking spaces. The door is so narrow that you can open it to its maximum tilt at about 90 degrees to get a child in their seat. Furthermore, the hum of the four-pot (read: low noise insulation) soothes toddlers to sleep. The hard plastics are easy to clean when toddlers are playing inside the car while dad is installing a dual-battery system – truly wipe and go.
The electronics are basic – just install spotlights, LEDs, solar panels and dual batteries. No fuss with the computer struggling with low loads or on the other hand globes that are 10W more than stock. No software nanny needing to be asked permission to install any accessory.
The limited-slip diff makes for plenty of fun on our salt-covered roads, although the lack of brute torque makes any tail whip very manageable. The lack of off-idle torque causes the vehicle to die when taking off in thick sand in 4H, but it’s much better to bog the engine than to bog the car. This is fixed with a little bit of reverse and a skilled right foot. The vehicle is light, so it tends to float on the soft sand once you are up and going. The lightness also helps this YD25 motor to give me almost 10L/100km around town.
The mechanical feel of everything is great. The steering rack lets you feel all the input from the gravel roads and sand tracks necessary to make good decisions. The gear lever throw is long, yet very very easy, and I do like that, well, mechanical clunk.
So yes, its payload is low, but I don’t tow horseboxes. The radio is a double-DIN CD-player unit, but after 70,000km it’s maybe been on for about an hour. The windows (electric) open and fresh air is way better anyway. The load bay is a bit small for my mountain bike, but it fits with a squeeze. The load bay sides are low enough, though, that my wife can actually reach into our camping fridge.
I am selling the Nissan for something a little bit safer for the growing family. But I am going to miss this vehicle, as nothing gives a person more respect for something than when you have been treated well. This was a humble and honest vehicle in modern times when there is so much indulgence and entitlement running around.