1997 Lada Niva Bushman 1.7 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


The best S.U.V. in the world at the price


Front upper and lower ball joints showed wear and needed replacing.

Outer rubber boots on front wheels split and replaced.

Taillight bulbs checked as some were not working.

Steering was a little bit loose and was easily corrected by adjusting the relevant nut as indicated in the manual.

Soundproofing the transmission tunnel, inside, eliminates noise.

General Comments:

The Niva is, without doubt, the most honest and reliable four wheel drive vehicle in the small to medium class.

It will literally go anywhere, where others will bog down and fail.

Reliability is an outstanding feature of this Russian car. The strength and ruggedness it displays, is truly remarkable. The thickness of the metal body panels is almost twice that of any other car. The suspension is robust and designed for longevity.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th July, 2005

15th Sep 2005, 10:43

The Niva is certainly a strong and reliable off-roader and is ideally suited to Australian conditions. In Australia, the most popular car is the Holden, which is produced by General Motors. In Russia, General Motors combined with the giant Avto-Vaz Company, in a joint venture, to produce the new 'Chevy Niva'- which I believe has been a great success. I wonder whether G.M. has considered importing the new Niva to Australia under the G.M. banner and marketing it through its vast network of dealers? The Chevy Niva, I believe, would be a winner for G.M. here in Australia, as it would provide them with an excellent product to take on established rivals such as Suzuki Vitara, Toyota RAV-4, Kia Sportage etc. The Chevy Niva has a very modern design, and with the G.M. inspired 2 Litre fuel injected motor, the true four-wheel drive system, and the proven reliability of the vehicle, it will certainly shake up the market here in Australia! I, and many others, would love to see the new Niva out here in the not to distant future!

1997 Lada Niva 21213 1.7 carburetor from North America


Good cheap 4x4 for bad roads


Several times I was not able to start the engine in a moderately cold weather when humidity was high - carburetor failure, probably ice or water got inside. This happened 4 or 5 times just without any visible reason. Unless I removed the upper cover and add some gas manually into the carburetor, it did not start in such a case. Replacing the gas pump and cleaning the carburetor did not help.

The 4x4 distribution box was replaced before me, but it was not done well enough, so it feels rough on the road - but it still drives satisfactory after that.

Rust is a general common problem for all Russian cars - paint is of cheap quality.

General Comments:

This is typical Soviet car - model of 1979, and still being manufactured with some minor improvements. But this is 4x4, and it is really 4x4, although at a very low price.

The idea of design was actually good, and in 1979 it was really something. I used to drive many different cars in Russia, U.S., and Canada.

However, quality of some parts is insufficient - like with all Soviet/Russian cars so far. You may need to replace some parts several times if you are not lucky.

Standard tires are terrible. But with better tires it handles well, and it is quite good for mud and snow.

No power steering. OK for 1979, bad in 2003. Controls are just like you return back in time. Standard door locks are terrible too. But I have custom power locks controlled remotely.

I probably need to tell that I did not go to mechanic with this car for 3 years except for oil change and carburetor cleaning.

I bought this car in Moscow in 2001 as a second car and paid $2500. I could probably sell it there now for $2000 (US), but I still drive it when I am in Moscow. This tells.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 10th January, 2004

2nd Sep 2005, 02:22

Performance rated at 4 out of 10 is a curious assessment. Surely you are not referring to the off road ability of the Niva where the performance deserves at least a score of 9 out of 10. As far as reliability goes, a lot has to do with the way a conscientious owner looks after his or her vehicle. Perhaps your Niva lacked sufficient T.L.C. Most Niva owners rate reliability as one of the most positive features of the car.

5th Sep 2009, 18:09

It is annoying when people try to correct other peoples review for them, to eliminate references too bad points of the Niva. I have one, and although I love it dearly, and do maintain it well, I think any Niva owner needs to concede that it is fairly unreliable. Nearly every weekend I find myself fixing something or other, although I have only been unable to get home once, when a transfer case bearing gave up, and let a shaft punch through the aluminium casting. Always half broken, never breaks down.