I am looking for a 12- or 14-seater van. Kindly compare the Nissan Caravan and Toyota Hiace on build quality, off-road ability, fuel consumption, parts availability, and resale value in around five to seven years.
What particular engine would you recommend in these two? Are there any other vehicle options in this category that you recommend?
Let me guess, this is for a matatu business, right?
Build Quality: The Toyota Hiace H100 is better than the Nissan E24. Now, you do not exactly mention what vintage of these vehicles you want, so I will cover the current models too.
The E25 is better built than its predecessor, but again Toyota comes out on top: the Hiace H200 is such a huge step forward from the Shark that the Nissan looks almost awful in comparison.
Off-road ability: Both cars are available in 4WD version, but you have to raise them (increase ground clearance) yourself. The E24 and the Shark do not suffer much disparity in their skills (they were both NOT meant for hardcore off-road activities), but their respective successors are a little different. The Hiace is longer and rides lower, so it would not be very ideal to wander too far from the paved path in it.
Fuel consumption: Go for the 2.5-litre 2KD-engine Toyota H200. It is the most efficient. The 3.0 Nissan cannot match it.
Parts availability: DT Dobie and Toyota Kenya will sort you out. If you want to go cheap, there is no shortage of matatu spares, and these two vehicles are numerous on the roads.
Resale value: Greatly depends on how badly they are used, but in my opinion, this is a fight that Nissan will ultimately lose. The E25 has several inherent flaws, the biggest of which is size. It is not very popular with passengers owing to the cramped interior.