1994 Nissan Serena FX 2.0 turbo diesel from Australia and New Zealand


If you look after it, it will last for 300K+ km


Rust in the left front sill under the mudguard.

Rust either side of the tailgate hinges.

Bad valve cover oil leak - yet to fix this; possible causes are blow by valve or leaking gasket. Still, the leak is relatively minor, with about a teaspoon of oil dripping below the rear of the engine.

Leaking rear heater core (fixed by bypassing up front).

Paint fade on roof (but I can't blame Nissan for this as the car is 20 years old).

Overheated due to leaking coolant T fitting on the right hand side of the block (by the injection pump); all fixed with a new pipe.

Turbo manifold cracked.

Exhaust cracked after muffler.

Suspect intake/exhaust gasket blown or warped. The leak is only minor though (a puff of smoke above the engine bay when starting).

General Comments:

Reliable people mover. The design is not as futuristic as the Toyota Previa, but that said it is easier to maintain. Visibility is superb, and as the engine is near the COG, it is more stable than you think. It is also solidly built, despite the cheap price tag. The CD20T is a little noisy, but is a reliable workhorse that is much easier to fix than say the Toyota Estima (3CT) if something goes wrong.

Some issues I have fixed:

Overheating - These models have an overly complex cooling system, and leaks develop e.g. rear heater core leak and rusted piping. I have overheated it about 5 times now - but it is NOT due to head gasket or cracked head! I filled it up with coolant and it overheated (thermostat didn't open - top hose hot, bottom cold). These vehicles need to be properly bled with the bleeding screw on the right side of the radiator, and add coolant slowly - top up the expansion tank NOT the radiator initially.

Timing belt (replaced with Mitsuba 111RU25) and tensioner replacement. Parts NZD$100. A DIY job if you know what you're doing - if not, leave it to a mechanic LOL.

You could replace the injection pump belt, but it has much less load so I didn't... it won't cause catastrophic failure anyway.

Treated the undercarriage with rust shield and fish oil; however in NZ there is no salt on the roads, just cold damp winter.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th April, 2014

27th Aug 2014, 00:35

On flat ground, 38 MPG.

On flat with some hills, 37 MPG.

Around town, 27-29 MPG with steep hills.

1994 Nissan Serena 1.7 from Australia and New Zealand


Good workhorse


Poor design for carrying out a service as you have to undo the center consuole to be able to get to the engine bay.

General Comments:

We find it very comfortable for a van.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 25th June, 2005

1994 Nissan Serena slx 2.0 from UK and Ireland


Well built and fun to drive



General Comments:

Hard to believe that everything works after 100,000 miles. Even the electric mirrors! Great MPV for very little outlay.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd April, 2004

24th Mar 2005, 02:18

Clearly there are many people with many requirements. Sure the Serena is a bit of an unsightly monster. But then who needs the latest supercharged stallion? The Serena performs its task well, does not invoke speed violations easily and is not on the list of "Most nick-able" cars. For me I have grown to like it because it is very functional.

4th Jul 2007, 15:35

I have owned a 2.0 SLX for the last five years. It's now got 101,000 miles on the clock, and still runs sweet as a nut. It has cost £120.00 in repairs in five years; not a bad outlay for a car that's so called crap...

1994 Nissan Serena 2L petrol Fulltime 4WD from Australia and New Zealand


Fuel thirsty - people mover


The van keeps conking out, especially at low revs, i.e. when stopping at lights.

Very bad fuel economy. 6.5k / litre city driving.

Having allowed for the fact that it is full-time 4WD, I still feel that this is extremely thirsty.

8k / litre on a long haul drive.

Have had the van put onto a computer analyser, which indicated that the Crank Angle Sensor was faulty. Had to replace this - was quoted NZ$1250 plus installation for this part (by Nissan), ended up putting a second hand distributor in, as the crank angle sensor is enclosed in this unit. Second hand unit cost NZ$250 installed.

The van has not conked out since (has only been two weeks).

Was told that this would improve the fuel economy - which it hasn't.

The passenger window fails to open with the drivers controls. Apparently the connector unit has failed. Cost of repair will be approximately NZ$250.

General Comments:

The Dickie seat is very uncomfortable.

Wouldn't want to travel more than 10km sitting on it.

Really is a 7 seater.

Sliding door very hard to close on a slight hill.

Feels very spacious, comfortable driving, although not very powerful.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 19th March, 2003

21st Mar 2010, 04:13

The reason this vehicle is so thirsty is due to a poor power/weight ratio ie large weight and small motor. Combine this with a van drag coefficient (box shape) and it is underpowered. These type of vehicles were built with a small motor and narrow dimensions to avoid car owners in Japan paying a higher tax.

8th Jun 2015, 22:55

Just to correct a previous contributor.... the 'van' shape of the Serena is in fact extremely aerodynamic. You need to read up a bit on vehicle dynamics to understand why. The curved rear styling is in fact more likely to create turbulence and drag than any other design feature (a Kamm tail would be a better solution).

The engine choices were poor for the usage, and the combustion chamber design was very old-hat as well, resulting in their dreadful economy and general performance.

As a vehicle, though much ridiculed by motoring pundits at the time, it has much to commend it, including reasonable comfort, ease of use, utility and general dynamics. Allied to Japanese engineering excellence, reliability was never a feature of concern. Many owners have completed starship mileages with very little going wrong and only normal maintenance being required.

1994 Nissan Serena 2.0 from UK and Ireland


A reliable workhorse


Nothing very serious.

The radiator had to be replaced.

Persistent minor squeaks from the wheels have lasted for years without finding the source.

Original Nissan garage was a complete waste of space and have used our local tiny garage workshop who have maintained the Serena excellently.

General Comments:

Very reliable.

However the back seats are not comfortable, especially for anyone sitting on the join between the two halves of the bench seats. Folding away of seats is easy and very useful (rather than removal as for other makes).

Having only four doors is a handicap when having children. Children under 12 also struggle to shut the rear sliding door.

Overall it is very good no-frills car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st August, 2000

1994 Nissan Serena SLX 2.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


Remarkably, nothing has gone wrong with this car at all, apart from routine stuff like needing a new exhaust box.

General Comments:

It drives like a van! Not particularly comfortable. Very loud engine noise - can be hard to hear the radio at times in the middle seats. It is very high - 6 feet - a pain if you want to use the roof rack!! On the other hand it is cheap to buy (for an MPV) and has a lot of luggage space if the rear seats are folded away.

Fairly practical.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st March, 1999