Nissan Elgrand E51 Review 46

Key benefits of Nissan Elgrand E51 ownership

Let’s start with a summary of the key benefits of owning a Nissan Elgrand E51 as I see them:

  • Luxury transport for large families, or smaller families with lots of stuff.
  • Definitely one of the better looking MPVs.
  • Plenty of power from the 3.5 litre V6 engine.
  • Available with rear wheel drive or switchable 4WD with centre differential lock.  Particularly useful if you go camping, tow things or get icy / snowy conditions in winter.
  • Good reputation as a capable towing vehicle.
    Picture of the front left of a silver 2003-2004 Nissan Elgrand E51.

    Front left view of a silver 2003-2004 Nissan Elgrand E51 by TTTNIS (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


The Nissan Elgrand E51 is the second generation of Nissan’s premium minivan / people carrier / MPV.  I’ve jumped straight to the 2nd generation because it is the most popular at the moment.  I’ll try to add a similar post for the older Elgrand E50 and the newer E52 Elgrand at a later date.

The E51 Elgrand received a minor facelift at the end of 2004: earlier cars have a horizontal body coloured trim strip in the front grille (the silver car shows this) and later cars don’t (the white car further on in this post).

Engine and drivetrain

The Elgrand is available with 3.5 (240 hp) or 2.5 litre (186 hp) V6 engines.  The 3.5 litre VQ35DE engine is also found in the excellent 350Z roadster (Fairlady Z in Japan) and V35 Skyline.

Both engines are available with rear or switchable 4 wheel drive via a 5 speed automatic gearbox.

Interior accommodation

The Elgrand seats 7 or 8 people depending on the trim level and seat type.  The outer 2 seats in the middle are captain style seats rather than a long bench.  Where present, the middle seat doubles as an arm rest/table/storage area.  Some of the higher trim levels don’t have this middle seat in the 2nd row.  The 2 middle row seats can rotate to face the rear of the car.  On some of the higher trim level vehicles these seats also come with built in retractable leg rests.

Picture of the interior middle row seats of a Nissan Elgrand E51 Rider

Interior of a Nissan Elgrand E51 Rider by Paul Townsend licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

The 3rd row seating is also configured as 2 ‘main’ seats at the sides with a lap belt for the 3rd person in the middle.  These seats can be folded to the side for extra luggage space.

I think it is best to think of it as having luxury / spacious accommodation for 6 people, or 4 if you’ve got the 3rd row seats folded to the side for extra boot space.


There is a lot of equipment on these cars!  In addition to the transmission and seating options already mentioned above, the following equipment is available, albeit not at all trim levels.

If you’d like an English language Nissan Elgrand owner’s handbook to help explain how all of this works, you can buy one here.

Exterior & Driving

  • Front fog lights.
  • HID / xenon headlights.
  • PAS/EW/EM/central locking.
  • Adjustable height steering column.
  • Keyless entry and start (smart key).
  • Radar cruise control – maintains a set distance from the vehicle in front.
  • 16 or 17 inch alloy wheels.


In car entertainment

  • Bose 9 speaker sound system (the 9th speaker is a subwoofer in the boot).
  • Roof mounted TV screen for rear passengers.  The TV part of the setup won’t work in the UK but the DVD part will.


  • Leather seats.
  • Sunroof (x2).
  • Power rear door (s) with remote control operation from the key and driver’s seat.
  • Dual zone climate control.
  • Power front seats.
  • Wood trim panels.
  • Power curtains.  How have you managed for so long without these?
  • Remote control operation of climate control and sunroof.

Trim level hierarchy

This is always a complicated thing to explain on Japanese vehicles like this.  I’m going to list the ‘core’ trim levels offered.  There are some additional special editions which I won’t cover because that would make this list really long.  The trim levels are as follows, based on list price when new:

  • V – lowest (least costly) trim level.  Cloth seats, often beige in colour.
  • VG
  • Highway Star – popular middle ground trim level with half leather seats.
  • Rider S
  • Rider – high level of bling with extra chrome on the grille, bigger alloy wheels and a bodykit.  Full leather seats available.
  • X
  • XL – most expensive trim level.  Generally higher specification but slightly less bling than the Rider.  Full leather seats.

Potential downsides to Nissan Elgrand ownership

We’ve covered a lot of the good points about the Elgrand.  What about things that might put you off?

  • Fuel consumption.  It weighs 1.9 to 2.2 tonnes and (in most examples) has a 3.5 litre V6 engine, so this isn’t going to be great.  I reckon you’ll get 20-25 mpg depending on how you drive.
  • Reliability, build quality and durability are good, but not quite up to the standard of Toyota’s Alphard (in my opinion).

Which one to buy?  My Nissan Elgrand recommendation

I recommend the (optional) 4WD transmission with the 3.5 litre engine.  Sometimes rear wheel drive cars can get stuck fairly easily in wet boggy fields, snow, sand etc and this is why I’m recommending the 4WD.  Ignore this part of the recommendation if you never encounter these woes!

I’d also recommend going for one of the darker interiors.  The light interiors show up dirt much more easily, and can look dated more quickly than the darker colours.   The half leather Highway Star trim level looks really smart, as does the Rider edition with Autech bodykit if your budget allows.

Picture of the rear of a Nissan Elgrand E51 Highway Star

Rear view of a Nissan Elgrand E51 Highway Star by TTTNIS (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Alternatives to the Nissan Elgrand E51

If you’re in the market for this type of vehicle but don’t want to buy an Elgrand, the next most obvious choice is the Toyota Alphard.   I’ve  written a post comparing on Nissan Elgrand vs Toyota Alphard here. You could also have a look at a Honda Elysion.

Want something a bit smaller and cheaper?  How about a Toyota Noah (or Voxy), Nissan Serena or Honda Stepwagon?

If there is anything else you’d like to know about the Elgrand, feel free to post a comment or question below.


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46 thoughts on “Nissan Elgrand E51 Review

  • Andrew Post author

    Emily O’Regan
    17/01/2016 at 04:43

    hello, i am wondering if the elgrand e51, middle utter row seats have lap sashes when the seats are rear facing? if not can they be put on? and would it be legal in Nsw australia?

    18/01/2016 at 21:49

    Hi Emily,

    Thanks for your questions. The middle row outer seats have lap belts only (no sash) when the seats are rear facing. The lap-sash belts used when the seats are forward facing are bolted to the sides of the van and wouldn’t work when the seats are rear facing. Looking at the configuration of the seats and the vehicle, I think it would be difficult to put them on.

    Unfortunately I don’t think I’m familiar enough with the Australian regulations to advise you on whether this would be legal in NSW. You could always try asking on the QLD/NSW Elgrand Facebook group:


  • Robert Lai

    hello i am wondering where i can find the VIS system disk on the elgrand e51 2005 V2.5 model. is it below the passenger seat and how can i clean the disk

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Robert

      Do you have something resembling a DVD player under your passenger seat? In my experience the DVD player for the navigation is in the bottom compartment of the centre console, behind a latched flap.


    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Armstrong

      Sorry to hear you need a new engine. Please send me a message to let me know where you’re based and I’ll see if I can help.


  • Neil

    I am really taken by the Elgrand. I am just wondering, how easy is it to get parts and maintain them in the uk? Will our local mechanics be able to look after it for us.

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Neil

      Thanks for your question. Most common parts are fairly easy to obtain. It is slightly more challenging than for a UK car because the registration number lookup facilities that a lot of car parts suppliers use will not work with a Japanese import. Having said that, there are plenty of specialist parts suppliers stocking all the commonly required parts. Body panels and windscreens may be slightly more challenging, but can still be obtained directly from Japan if required. Remember that many of the parts on an Elgrand are common to other Nissans sold in the UK (Navara, Pathfinder, 350z).

      Will your local mechanics be able to look after an Elgrand? Depends on the mechanic, and I think this is as much about mindset as skill set. I’ve seen some mechanics come out with things like “We can’t do that because it’s an import” or “I can’t tell you how much that will be because it’s an import.” Others will say “Well it’s still just a car” and are not at all fazed by the car being imported. Hopefully you have a local mechanic with this more positive attitude.

      In summary, most experienced and enthusiastic mechanics will be able to fix an Elgrand. This post gives some more information about parts.


  • Emily Parker

    Hello there, we’re emigrating to NZ and hoping to purchase an Elgrand but I am so stuck on which kind and there seem to be soo many!! If I tell you the features I would prefer, please can you let me know which type is best for us pretty please?? Our budget will probably only allow for 04/05 model I’m thinking so I think it would be an E51? Soo…I would like the half or whole leather trim seats, the 4wd option, a sunroof, two buttons for electric sliding doors (think some only have one?) and reversing camera? Do you think that combination would occur? I’ve been looking for months and getting more and more confused by the day!! Really hope you can help?!! Many thanks, Emily 🙂

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Emily

      Yes a 2004-2005 car will be an E51, although as you want a 4WD, the code you’re looking for will be NE51.

      The combination you’re after certainly does exist, but might take a bit of finding! I don’t think there is a single trim level that I could guarantee would have everything you’re looking for. However I think you’re most likely to find success in a VG, X or Highway Star model.

      Best wishes for your car search!

      • Emily Parker

        Thank you for your response!! We have been the proud owners of an ’05 E51 V for the last year and LOVE it!! Perfect for a family of 6! We bought a roof rack recently to out the paddle boards on and are no looking into a tow bar… We want to borrow our friends pop-up trailer tent but cannot find anywhere the maximum towing weight!! Unfortunately we don’t have 4WD which will reduce the max weight I’m guessing. Looking into getting a tow bar fitted and it sounds like the tow bar max breaked weight is 1500kgs…but I’d love to know what the max weight for the Elgrand is? Cannot find it anywhere!! Many thanks, again! Emily

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Daniel

      I hope I’ve understood correctly that you’re asking about how an Elgrand would cope with rough roads? Despite having (in some cases) 4WD, they don’t have great ground clearance. As a result, whilst they are fairly good on loose or slippery surfaces, they wouldn’t be the best choice of vehicle for uneven or heavily potholed roads.

  • Haidar

    This is the best blog I have read about Nissan Elgrand so far. I have been looking at this car for a year and finally I have made up my mind to buy.

    Is there a website can explain more about fuel consumption, Tax and insurance band etc.

    Thanks a lot

    • Andrew Post author

      The insurance cost very much depends on your personal situation so difficult to give an accurate indication. Most prices I see mentioned are in the £300-800 range. I’d advise getting some quotes from a few insurers specialising in imported vehicles before buying.

      The tax will be £235 for the year based on current rates.

      Regarding fuel consumption, if you’re looking at a 3.5 Elgrand then I would base any calculations on 20 mpg.

      For more info on all of your queries you could try the Elgrand Owners Club.

  • Dan

    Hi,I have a e52 on an 03 fresh import was wondering can i make the sat nav,TV,dvd player work for use over here in the uk? Thanks.

  • Farakh khan

    Hi i have recently purchased a E51 elgrand slightly unsure about belt location on middle seat middle row has 2 point but no belt

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Farakh

      The belts should be tucked into the 2 main seats on either side of the centre seat. There is a gap between the main cushion and the edge supports on the seat base, the belts should be tucked in there.

      Hope you find them!

  • Andrew Holding

    I bought an elgrand E51 last July, very happy, great smooth MPV, but recently in heavy rain, the power failed and the VDC and BA light come on and the car wouldn’t restart. I turned the power off and waited 5 mins, it restarted but the. BA light is permanently on!!! The brakes are fine, I have just had 4 new tyres and they checked all around the wheels, any ideas? (also the cruise control won’t work, while the BA light is on) cheers Andy

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Andy

      Glad you like your Elgrand! Sorry to hear of the problem with the BA light. I would start by trying to find a garage with a code reader that works on imported vehicles. You may need to go to Nissan for this but hopefully not – I’ve been to several independent garages where their diagnostic equipment can read fault codes on imported vehicles.

      Good luck, if you get it sorted I’d love to know what caused the problem.


  • Kevin

    Looking at a elgrand import 40k miles 4wd , can smell a smoker had this car drives amazing in white 2002 6 k is that about the right price ?

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Kevin

      I’m sorry it is very difficult to comment on the price without seeing the car, the paperwork and knowing more about the specification.


    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Dean

      I haven’t needed to buy any myself so don’t have any tested sources, but you could have a look at:

      • Rakuten
      • eBay (there are usually some on here, either new or used)
      • For more generic options, a caravan shop might be worth a look

      Hope you find something suitable.

  • Mike

    Hi Andrew
    Great site thank you.

    My partner and I are thinking about buying ether an Alphard or a Elgrand and I have lots of questions ! But for now, what do you think about LPG ?
    Oh and perhaps I’ll pop another one in . I may buy from a dealer or I’ve come across great prices from a U.K. Bases japernese import agent. Any thoughts ?

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Mike

      Thanks very much for your positive feedback.

      I’m a fan of LPG as long as the system is installed properly. If you decide to go for it, please do your research on both the system to be fitted and the person fitting it. If you go for an Elgrand and have LPG installed, you might want to consider some ‘modification’ to the catalytic converters.

      I’ve written a post on the risks and benefits of buying from a UK dealer vs. importing direct from Japan here.


  • Katie buckley

    Hi please can you help me sell my Nissan elgrand, they seem to be a very rare car that no one really wants to buy I’m struggling to find a buyer many thanks

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Katie

      I may be able to help. I’ve sent you an email asking for more information about your Elgrand.

      Best wishes

      • Kev

        Hi Andrew,
        I have just purchased a 2006 Nissan Elgrand highway star
        and are trying to get a ELGRAND E51 DOUBLE DIN FASCIA SURROUND red Wood
        very nice vehicle and I would like to change stereo system.

        • Andrew Post author

          Hi Kev

          It might be worth having a look on eBay, there are usually a few of these for sale on there.


  • Gary Smith

    I have driven the noah and alphard but I now am the proud owner of the elgrand xl, and have never had a better drive9

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Gary

      Glad you’re enjoying your Elgrand. I agree the Elgrand is a more engaging drive than the Alphard. Here are some more of my thoughts on the comparison between the two vehicles


  • Amanda

    Hi I no this isn’t probably of the subject
    Was just wondering are these vehicles classed as a car or a van ?

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Amanda

      If you’re referring to the DVLA taxation classes, they are taxed/registered as PLG rather than LGV.


  • Andrew Holding

    Hi Andrew, I own a E51, I’m thinking of getting a tow bar but I am getting mixed signals if it is legal or not because they don’t have a train weight on the vin plate. Watling’s sell tow bars for Elgrans and Watling’s have a good reputation. Can you advise. Thanks Andy. (I have asked advise before and you were very helpful, thank you)

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Andy

      This is a really difficult one. I actually wrote to the DVLA to ask their viewpoint on the matter and received the following response:

      “You will need to contact the vehicles manufacturer and ask them if it is legal for you to tow with the vehicles you mention.”

      Unfortunately this response didn’t really bring any clarity to the situation, especially since the vehicle manufacturer doesn’t determine the law! I have been meaning to contact them again and push a bit harder for a meaningful answer, but haven’t done so yet. When I do I’ll probably write an article about it. In the meantime I have written to the police to see whether they can clarify things. I’ll update this comment if I get anything back from them.


    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Adam, not something I’ve ever tried to do. However if I were to try doing this I’d remove the trim buttons near the base of the seat and then try to remove the lower trim panel. I’d have thought doing this would reveal some bolts holding the seat into the slider, which could then be removed.

      Hope you managed to get it removed. Let us know how you got on!


  • Wernham Boggs

    Hi from NZ, what a great website. Torn a bit between the Elgrand (speaks to my inner pimp) and the reliable Alphard (bit squashy cornering sounds like) for a daily urban driver to convert to camper. Will need the V6 for our hills and towing and preferably 4WD although not much clearance, just wet paddock escaping as you said.
    Can the rear seats in Elgrand all fold flat ? I’m looking at fresh import with about 120,000km, reliability of Elgrand is a slight concern

    • Andrew Post author

      Hello and thanks for your feedback on the website!

      Yes the seats in the Elgrand do also fold flat to form a bed. It might not be quite as comfy in the middle as in the Alphard, due to the rear centre console. Actually for both cars, people tend to put an inflatable mattress or piece of foam over the top of the seats to increase comfort for sleeping use.


  • john bettles

    Hi I am looking at buying an elgrand E51 but having a problem finding a suitable tow bar for my caravan its plated at 1600kg- 1700kg loaded the ones on the internet only go to 1500kg and not Ec approved hope you can help
    Look forward to your reply

  • lucky

    I’m looking for elgrand highway star I’m based in South Africa. Any idea where I can get one at reasonable price.

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Lucky

      Unfortunately I cannot assist you with sourcing an Elgrand in South Africa, but wish you well with your search.