What is the difference between Nissan Urvan and Isuzu Como?


Hi Baraza,

Recently I noticed a similarity between a Nissan Urvan and an Isuzu I couldn’t clearly find much information about.

To make the matter even more confusing, there is one van plying the town route in Kisumu which has both Isuzu and Nissan logos at the front and back respectively. I have tried the internet for clarrification in vain.Could this be a franchise, a prank or something new?

Also, is such similarity a negligible? Please enlighten me.


That Isuzu is called the Isuzu Como and is the exact same vehicle as the Nissan van, save for the badge. It is a collaboration that dates back to the late E24 era (when the slim-eyed QD32 model was on sale) whereby the Isuzu version was called the Isuzu Fargo. There used to be a standalone Isuzu Fargo model way back in the early ‘90s, but the DE24 Nissan van got an alter-ego with the same label.

It is not a prank or a franchise, sometimes manufacturers either collaborate on a project and split the sales between the two badges (Mazda and Ford are fond of this, especially with their pickups) or one manufacturer builds the vehicle under license from the other with the tacit agreement to use their own badge on a certain percentage of assembled vehicles. I think this might be the case with the Urvan/Como.


Dear Baraza,

I would really appreciate your help. I have a Toyota Alphard 2.5 l. The problem is that i have to always recheck my coolant and add more every two days.

Kindly help me out because my mechanic does not seem to know how to solve the problem.


One word: leakage. Your mechanic is either being lazy or evasive. He needs to stick his head back under the bonnet and check for a leak in the cooling system; hoses, tanks, caps, pumps and possibly the head gasket, though this last entry is an unlikely suspect and the checkup process for it is too involved.


Hi Baraza

I’m a big fan of yours and I find your articles very educative. i need your advice

I recently bought a Toyota Allex 2002 model, it is a 1500cc automatic 4-wheel drive. it runs well but I feel like it has a bit of lag when picking. I had it serviced and changed the gear box oil and noticed a bit of improvement. However, i noticed the rear bit of the propeller shaft is missing and this make the car more of a two wheel drive.

I have heard people mention that the propeller consumes more fuel and wears tyres off faster, but I beg to differ. My question is, does the removal of the propeller shaft make the car under-perform? And will replacing the missing propeller shaft play any significant role apart from not getting stuck in mud?

I believe its a four-wheel drive for a reason. Should i replace the missing propeller?


The propeller shaft does not “consume more fuel” per se, what it does is connect the rear axle to the gearbox and thus the engine, thereby increasing driveline resistance due to:

1. The extra weight afforded by powering an extra axle and,

2. The extra rolling resistance caused by the need to power an extra set of wheels. This difference in fuel consumption between 2WD and 4WD versions of the same car is negligible and is something that can be easily palliated by a slightly lighter right foot.

It may wear out the rear tyres faster though, now that they are also tasked with putting torque on the ground as compared to them simply holding the back end of the car up and off the ground.

Removal of the propeller shaft will not adversely affect the car in normal ay-to-day driving. The use of 4WD in small cars such as the Allex is not mud-plugging as you mistakenly assume: it is for better traction when the road surface gets slippery. You may or may not choose to replace the missing propeller shaft; it really won’t make that big a difference. However, if you choose not to, take extra care when driving on wet roads this rainy season.


Good Afternoon Sir,

I have a desire to buy an SUV with the following:-General Specs Luxury Four Wheel or All wheel drive Traction Control Can carry at least five people comfortably and has a casual but formal look. Can be used as a family car Can fit 18-20 Inch and WIDE SPORTS wheels 3600 CC – 4000CC Front driver and Passenger Airbags Curtain Airbags Panoramic moon SunroofIn this regard kindly help me to choose between diesel and petrol CI have heard that there is a problem with the diesel fuel herein Kenya. That most cars from Europe and developing engine issues when you use local diesel fuel.

This has made me partial for the petrol engine option. Please tell me the best car to work with among the following.Range Rover Sport: I hear it has issues with the Air suspension and that it is costly to replace. Is there a permanent solution to theair suspension issues?Audi Q7, Toyota V8, and Porsche Cayenne. I will appreciate to hear from you.

Samuel Kinuthia

Hello Samuel,

Let’s dive right in.

Range Rover Sport: ticks all the boxes except the one labeled “Engine Capacity”. Oddly enough, the Sport’s various engine sizes straddle the class you specify without actually sitting in it. There is a 2.7 litre V6 diesel for the old L320 model (you don’t want this, trust me), then from there one conveniently skips to the 4.2 liter supercharged, 4.4 and 5.0 litre; all of them V8s. There was a 3.6 diesel but again you really don’t want a diesel Sport. The new one comes with two engine sizes: 3.0 V6 and 5.0 V8. The cross-linked air suspension oddly enough is not as troublesome as it was in the L322 Range Rover Vogue and the Discovery 3, so you could gamble with it and hope you hadn’t bet on black when it comes up red

Audi Q7: this one too ticks all the boxes, but “casual and formal look” may or may not be one of them, depending on your taste. It certainly doesn’t qualify in my book. The car looks odd from all angles. It is heavy, underpowered with the economical engine and thirsty with the capable engine, interior space is wanting – which may compromise on the “luxury” and passenger capacity aspects – and no. Just no.

Toyota V8: this has to be the Landcruiser. Handsome brute, extremely talented, it is mostly bought by those who drive from their shaded-and-gated million-square-foot homes to the nearest parliament building or den of iniquity. You won’t see too many of these in the environments they were designed for: the clag; instead you will find them with gaudy body kits, lowered suspension (in some cases) and tasteless aftermarket rims bullying Passo drivers in traffic and filling up the car parks of trendy night spots. The smallest engine you can hope for here is the 4.5 turbo V8 diesel: the petrol engine was a 4.7, now 4.6. If you get the 4.0, it will be a V6, not a V8; and will be slung into the bonnet of a less luxurious GX, not a daddy VX. Get one if you don’t mind the association to a politician.

Porsche Cayenne: a compact Panzer tank built to carve corners like a Golf while travelling at one third the speed of sound. This is a wild baby in V8 guise, which is the ideal engine option, turbo or not. Smaller V6es may struggle a bit with the weight. Buying one may not be immediately expensive (relatively) but start maintaining it then you will weep. But then again, your entire list is made up of very heavy money pits; so that shouldn’t be a problem.

One thing: all these cars tick almost all the boxes, except for one or two which may lie out of range as far as engine capacity goes. I say almost all the boxes because none of them has a panoramic sun/moon-roof, except for the new Range Rover Sport, which starts at about Sh15 million. My own choice, given the wherewithal, would be a Cayenne GTS. It is not as insane as the Cayenne Turbo, nor will it be as expensive; but with a 4.8 litre V8 engine, it can still dance with the stars.


Dear Baraza,

I’m profusely jubilant about the heights you scale in informing people about motoring.

I’m a die-hard vehicle enthusiast and a petrol head too!

Your column has been one of my favourites especially that it has all the right ingredients of literature, humour and the mastery of the English language coming together to create a pleasant aroma

There’s a particular species of the Isuzu model that has for long traumatised its owners, the mechanics and even reputable car company dealers.

This is the Isuzu Bighorn and its twin the Isuzu Wizard. Both have a 4JX1 engine, both come in diesel 3.0 four inline with DOHC turbocharged powerplants beneath their bonnets.

They both get a thumbs up on reliability, offer good fuel consumption, nice offroading capabilities and comfort too. But after oil change and oil filter replacement they tend to hence develop a knocking sound. A sound i promptly established emanates from the fuel nozzles. Eventualy, one, two or all nozzles go kaput!

The car then develops a misfiring sequence,loses power and finally the check-engine light illuminates on the dash followed by the transcheck(transmission check as i thought) blinking light. Lots of efforts have been incurred to curb the problem including an engine overhaul but the same recurs.

Replacement of the nozzles cost a fortune (about Sh80,000) plus garage costs. This introduces economic strife to one’s otherwise prudent and carefully drafted logistical plan. Maybe you could have a probable concept on how to solve this and hence please share and advise accordingly.


That model of Isuzu, moonlighting as a Vauxhall Monterey in UK, came with a diesel mill that caused sleepless nights for owners. The build quality of the engine was sub-par, and one particular case brought about one of the most interesting cases I have ever read about: a phenomenon that was hitherto nameless until engineers snappily called it “hydraulicking”.

Hydraulicking was a not-entirely-strange situation whereby a diesel engine would feed on itself. The sequence of events went thus: the throttle would jam itself open, causing the engine to rev right up to the limiter.

A few seconds of this and the valve seals would fail completely, causing engine oil to get drawn into the combustion chamber, and this is the point at which disaster would strike.

Diesel engines can actually run on engine oil — an urban legend has a hapless truck driver running out of fuel in the Sahara; a driver who then drained some of the engine oil from the sump and ran the engine on that oil to salvation — so when the valve seals shatter and oil finds its way into the cylinders, you cannot shut the engine off.

Removing the key may deactivate the fuel pump but the engine is now feeding off its own blood, it doesn’t need pukka diesel anymore. Worse yet, you cannot stall the vehicle (if it has a manual transmission) by engaging gear and declutching: diesel engines have massive torque and when revving at the limit, getting into gear will simply transform your over-revving SUV into a two-ton, out-of-control battering ram. The only option? Stand back and wait for the engine to seize violently, which it will in short order.

One of the pre-emptive measures is to get another engine before the current one explodes. The petrol Bighorn is not a bad option either, have you considered it? While it is not a guarantee that your diesel engine will “hydraulic”, anecdotal evidence as presented by you suggests that this diesel engine is not the last word in premium engineering and is prone to one failure or another.