By on August 27, 2014

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The recent round of trade embargos might have hurt Russia’s new vehicle market, but there’s no question that they’ve gotten the better deal when it comes to a small Chevrolet crossover.

Somehow, we ended up with the Chevrolet Trax, while Russians get this, the Chevrolet Niva. The current Chevrolet Niva is based on the venerable Lada Niva off-roader, arguably the zenith of Soviet-era automotive ingenuity. Even with the relatively new bodywork of the existing model, the Niva still uses the same taiga-tough underpinnings that are also incredibly simple to repair. If anyone reads Russian, you can let us know what kind of changes are being planned for the next-generation car.

CAFE, safety standards and a whole other host of issues will likely make a body-on-frame Lada-based small off-roader a total non-starter for America. Like the Thai-market Trailblazer, it’s probably better off admired from afar.

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58 Comments on “Even With Embargos, Russia Gets A Better Chevrolet Crossover...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    So is it a crossover or an SUV?
    BoF = SUV

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Lada Niva was one of the first offroad vehicles to have unibody construction.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      So the XJ wasn’t an SUV by your reasoning, and a Caprice is?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        That’s pretty strange reasoning.
        A truck has a seperate frame, yet its not an SUV, and a charger is unibody it’s not a crossover.

        A fully covered truck and a fully covered car are two pretty big differences. So yes distinguishing between the two is important, and the easiest way to do that is off of the main artery that actually makes the two different. While an XJ may have features usually reserved for trucks, its main claim to fame are solid axles, solid axle design is also found in cars such as crown Vic or the mustang. Similarly I don’t expect to see a caprice towing a camper to an offroad beach.

        I originally posted because Derek mentioned body on frame design, which to me harkened back to the original S-series blazers.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          If it shares major components other than its engine with a car, it’s a crossover. If it does not, it is an SUV. It doesn’t matter if its is a unibody or body on frame, as those qualities are unique to nothing. If it shares parts of its platform with an Accord, a Dart, a Focus, or a 5-series BMW, it is a CUV. There used to be an argument that a low range transfer case made the difference, but there are too many exceptions for that to be the deciding quality. Based on a car? It’s a crossover.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            See, that’s a pretty good set of criteria.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            That makes perfect sense to me. A Toyota Venza isn’t a SUV at all.

          • 0 avatar
            amca

            Actually, I’d say that a unibody is what distinguishes a CUV from an SUV.

            The unibody has key effects on the shape of the vehicle, because the frame tends to jack the whole thing up. SUVs have a distinctly different stance (and weigh a lot more). They’re sturdier (generally), and better for towing. The frame has myriad small effects, which all add up to the difference.

            The fact that CUVs share lots of components with cars is simply a result of the availability of unibody car platforms from which to build unibody CUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            IIRC, Ford builds the Taurus, Flex and Explorer off the same platform, which suggests they share a lot of corporate parts. The Taurus is sold as a car, the Explorer is classified as a truck (SUV), and the Flex is a crossover.

            How would this correspond to your proposed definition?

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      Hummer,
      The Crossover / BOF analogy is about as clear a connection as this article’s headline and the conclusion. The new Niva is made for an overall driving environment that most Americans would find intolerable. The end of this article gets that; too bad the headline doesn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Hey, as long as it does more than 300 hectares on a single tank of kerosene, I’d be happy.

        In all seriousness, if any American wants to complain about the state of our roads (which is, admittedly, intolerable in too many places), I’d invite them to come out to the boonies, where we lost all 5 bridges over a local river and it now takes 1-1/2 hours to complete a 35-mile school bus route.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Something weird and possibly useful again forbidden in the West. But don’t worry we got plenty of untough trucklets! America F*** Year!

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Glad to hear they kept the rwd based underpinnings. But boy is that thing ugly, give me the old “Lada 4×4 M” any day of the week!

    link:http://www.mad4wheels.com/models/2010_Lada_Niva_4x4_Export/detail_image.asp?id_pic=359505

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      I’m with you. The orginal has the classic “truck” lines. Basic shapes but subdued rounded parts and such. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it.

      I wish full size trucks could return to that styling. But, they just get worse every year.

      Still thinking of buying one and shipping it here.

    • 0 avatar

      The old Niva remained unchanged for so long, its design became atemporal and classic. Sort of like a Land Rover Defender, but better.

      This one looks too much like a Ford EcoSport from the front, while jeeps don’t really need creasing on the sides.

  • avatar
    Easton

    The North American Chevrolet line-up is about as exciting as vanilla ice cream. (Not that there’s anything wrong with vanilla ice cream).

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The North American GM line-up (save Corvette) is about as exciting as vanilla ice cream.

      Fixed it for you.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        I don’t think so, the Impala is a big comfy luxury car, the fleet Impala is a $hit your pants car for many NY drivers, the Suburban is a tactical SWAT vehicle or discreet celebrity hauler, the trucks are either tough workhorses or big blingy Texas luxury vehicles, the Camaro is GRRRR 1/4 MILE EVIL GRIN! The Volt gets environmental street cred even more than Prius drivers, the Express 3500 shows up to your front door when your grandmother keels over or when you’re moving into your college dorm, the Escalade is basically the only remaining example of a Cadillac. Almost every vehicle in the Chevrolet brand makes up an interesting part of the mosaic. The only exceptions are the Malibu (Camry level dull rental car), the crossovers (blobs on 4 wheels), and everything else GM makes, which is a bunch of rebadging or trying to be a BMW or an Acura or something that doesn’t suit the brand.

        • 0 avatar
          LectroByte

          Impala is pretty vanilla, as are the truck and SUV line, good lord, Captiva, what? Malibu, Cruise, less than vanilla, maybe watered down vanilla. Sonic, Spark? Likewise. Volt, never seen one in real life other than the dusty green one in the local showroom, so can’t speak to any street cred it may or may not have, but it looks like a Cruise. The Corvette and Camaro are not vanilla, though, probably the only GM products that even have a ghost blip on most people’s radar.

          • 0 avatar
            MLS

            …except that the products you dismiss as vanilla outsell the Corvette and Camaro by many multiples, so they must be on some buyers’ radar.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Even vanilla has options. French, Bean, Golden, and Plain.

  • avatar
    RHD

    It looks suspiciously like a Kia Soul on steroids, available in any color a comrade might want, as long as it’s Black Market Black…
    Or Chernobyl Grey… Red Army Red… R-16 Orange… Politburo Purple… Stainless Stalin… Ekranoplan Ecru… Bondarenko Blue… Kyshtym Kreme… Tbilisi Tsilver… Lenin Yellow… all available with optional Katyn Klear Koat.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Let me list the Niva virtues. Coil springs in each corner. Permanent mechanical AWD with locking center diff and a low range transfer box, all mechanical. The Motor is a modified Fiat 1.6l 4 with 5 main bearings instead of 4 and an over sized flywheel. The standard rims are 18 or 19 inches, big diameter, narrow wheels, great for all kinds of nasty terrain. The narrow wheels meant very few punctures. The car was made of heavy gauge virgin steel so the uni body was very tough and rust resistant (for it’s time anyway). Any rust issues are normally around the 1950’s style window seals and as a result of a hard life in tough conditions.
    Simple, crude and hugely effective.
    I would buy the updated Chevy Niva in a New York second.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      16 inchers on the current ones.

      From the website:
      Шины 175/80 R16 (88, P / Q); 185/75 R16 (92 / 95, Q / Т)

      Those are some dang skinny tires! The other problem is you’ll have an impossible time finding tires of this size outside of Russia.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        All the better to plow through snow with, tovarishch! Our F-350 farm truck came with 325 (yes, that’s millimeters)-wide tires and some gaudy-as-hell 20-inchers from the previous owner, 10,000 miles away from being bald. We promptly drove those 10,000 miles, then passed the slicks and their unfortunate rims onto a local brotrucker, hunted down a set of the original aluminums and some nice normal tires so we could actually get through 2-1/2 miles of 8-inch snowpack without having to downshift into Low, and even came out ahead financially.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          Those are some stupid wide tires.

          I got 235/85r16 on my 1990 f250 with steelies. Pair those with snow tires and even rwd. I’ve gone through some pretty crazy stuff ( freak snow storms, blizzards ). They just dig out the snow and get to the pavement and you start going.

          I don’t know what year F350 you have but most of the original aluminum rims are very subdued but classy.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            It’s an ’08, which (IMO) was the best model of Super Duty (08-10).

            And you don’t /really/ need 4WD just for going through snow. “Back in the old days,” when 90% of pickups were RWD, winterizing consisted of putting 4×4 tires on the back wheels (or snow chains) and filling the bed with sandbags or, in our case, a big concrete block.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    I think that would just clear my garage door.
    I want it. I would never again get the snow blower out just to justify buying it.

  • avatar
    AGD

    According to Russian media there are just rumors about the specs.
    1.8 liter, 136hp, 172Nm PSA developed engine, build in Russia. Manual gearbox build in Russia together with Indian company Avtec for the standard 4WD model. GM and АутоВАЗ are considering variant with FWD and automatic transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Gotta get the domestic parts content up to get tariff reduction on non domestic parts. Seems to be working. Russia should develop an interesting car industry if it can keep demand up.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, I had read elsewhere about the Peugeot engine. So, this begs the question, how does AutoVAZ get away with this? I thought the Renault-Nissan group owned them. This jeep looks like tough competition for the much less capable Renaul-Dacia/Nissan Duster/Terrano. I wonder if the contract with GM was not cancelled. Or does another party control part of AutoVAZ. So guess we can’t lump in Lada sales into Renault-Nissan sales worldwide!

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Even without the gingerbread, that thing looks like it would beat up the Trax and take its lunch money. Chevy stateside needs to chat with its designer.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Lada Nivas may make certain people salivate, but one in a dozen of them runs at any given time.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      The main issue with them, the original, was quality control from the factory and a fairly long list of design “features”. The 5th (added on) gear being the biggest, it was often not correctly torqued down in the factory.
      In Russia they are super common and due to simplicity, keeping them going was, i guess, not a problem.
      In other markets such as Canada, Australia, South Africa etc, the trick is to find a competent mechanic who is familiar with it’s eccentricities.
      Example, because it was designed in Russia, for the Russian winter, it would over heat in say, the South African climate, that could be fixed with a replacement thermostat that allowed more water flow. Not doing that would result in the usual head gasket fail and resulting increased engine wear.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    We had Lada Niva’s in Canada back in the early 80’s. I don’t recall anyone saying they were reliable and I don’t recall anyone shedding a tear when they were no longer available.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Anybody looking for this (BOF in an small Chevy SUV) can get an old Tracker.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I don’t even want to THINK about the crash tests of this thing.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I wonder what Frederik and Josephine would think about the Chevrolet Niva. I doubt if it’s as Congo-ready as it looks.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Boys like their toys, but girls buy the cars (women purchase 60 percent of all new cars and 53 percent of used cars). Fantasize about the new Niva all we want, the Americanized Chevy Trax is a soft-roader for her.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Not buyin russian stuff. Putin is crazy. End of discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      But, Russians are wonderful, amazing people! It’s a dilemma i deal with everyday.

      On a side note Putin strikes me as a very smart calculating fellow. Mind you he uses his skills in insane ways.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Agreed. Despite any shared attributes with fictional Bond villians, Putin has skillfully outmaneuvered the West thus far. My thought to naysayers on this one is: who destabilized Ukraine again? It certainly was not Moscow. Oh yeah and who shot down MH-17 again? Funny how that’s conveniently been dropped from MSM.

    • 0 avatar

      The U.S. Government and American companies disagree, apparently. The new batch of RD-180 engines was delivered to the U.S. just last week. They are going to find use carrying national security payloads (because the legacy American rockets using them are too expensive to compete in the commercial market). Who’s crazy now?

      http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1408/20rd180delivery/

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    “the zenith of Soviet-era automotive ingenuity”

    I do so very much enjoy the writing on this site.
    :-)

  • avatar
    Loki

    Way to completely rip off the Ford Ecosport, Chevy. Like, China-level rip-off here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_EcoSport#mediaviewer/File:Ford_Novo_EcoSport.jpg

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