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Japanese Car Imports: Nissan Elgrand E51 vs Elgrand E52

- with Jad Letcher

So, you’re thinking about purchasing a Japanese import Nissan Elgrand but aren’t sure which model to get? Older = cheaper Nissan Elgrand E51 Vs New = expensive Nissan Elgrand E52? Newer models have all the bells and whistles, but older models are tried-and-tested reliable?

It’s fair to say that the somewhat aged E50’s have flown the coop for the average buyer, being mum and dad of middle to large sized families, though they are still available and a great value-for-money car when compared to almost any MPV of similar year. However, given there are plenty of options for high quality/low kms Japanese imports of Nissan Elgrand E51’s and E52’s into the Australian market (right up to 2012 under the new SEVS {Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme}), this article is intended to help make things simpler for you when choosing your new Elgrand!

E51 Highway Star Series 3

Nissan Elgrand E51

The E51 Elgrand is a very accessible vehicle now. The Highway Star, one of the premium E51 models along with XL and Rider, has tons of technology, lots of modern features and it comes at a great price-tag for what you get. Eminently practical but still beautiful.


  • 8 seats with a great + easy walk-through access to the 3rd row
  • 3.5L V6 Powerful enough to tow if you need
  • Reliable 5sp automatic transmission that picks gears well
  • Versatile interior
  • Huge boot space
  • Lower price tag
  • Practical and still pretty
  • Electric curtains as a factory option


  • The 3.5L V6 can guzzle fuel if you let it.
  • Not as luxurious
  • 2 front airbags only
  • Outdated exterior
  • Lacks some modern tech such as memory driver’s seat and auto tailgate (available only on premium E52 models)
  • If it comes with radar cruise control, radar sensor is most likely out of order
  • Not suitable for older low car parks under 1.90m

E52 Highway Star Series 1

Nissan Elgrand E52

Disclosure: as stated above only select E52’s are currently available for import to the Australian Market. This is because SEVS (Specialist & Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme) has stated that only August 2010-May 2012 E52 models that have the ‘Around View Monitor’ camera system are allowed to be imported, so keep that in mind when thinking of comparisons between E51 & E52’s.


  • More luxurious cabin and exterior
  • Not as tall – access to any underground parking
  • Newer technology and mod cons
  • 2 ISOFIX anchor points in the middle row
  • Pull out sunshades in the second and third row
  • Powered wind down windows in the middle row
  • Better fuel consumption, especially on 2.5L
  • Premium models come with 8 airbags – VIP, RIDER, Highway Star Premium
  • Proper seat belt in the middle row


  • Less internal space than E51 and less boot space
  • Rear seats fold flat not to the sides as in E51. Seats don't swivel like in E51.
  • CVT is not always an attraction for the buyer and is considered less responsive (yet good for fuel economy)
  • More luxury might not suit your family's needs, young kids etc
  • Higher Price tag
  • Premium models: VIP, RIDER & Highway Star are all 7 seats only so if 8 seats are needed, expect to lose out on many extra options (no full leather interior and no leg rests on 8 seaters)
  • The E52 cabin is definitely less versatile than the E51one


At the end of the day the main differences between the E51 & E52 are:


  • E51’s can be significantly cheaper than their E52 counterparts, so while missing out on some luxuries and conveniences it's at least much better on the wallet. “Some luxuries” does need defining though because E51 Highway Stars still come packed with ‘goodies’ and aren't going to leave a bad taste in your mouth.


  • E52’s have updated interior design and construction, built-in pull-up shade cloths, automatic tailgate, memory seats, three seats with leg rests, better speakers, entertainment, more phone audio connectivity solutions etc. E52’s look great as well. These factors and being newer, means more $ though.


  • E51's have a reliable and simple 5sp automatic transmission and tried and tested powertrain. Less mod cons does mean less to go wrong as well. But even here 8-seater options are available through the premium models as well, so no need to sacrifice the modern conventions on offer in the E51 range.


  • E51’s do have more space overall, though the difference is minimal it still is a factor when it comes to boot space and filling it with camping gear, sports equipment, shopping, school bags etc.
  • The E52 is a big update on the E51. Improved internal design and comfort and just a nicer experience overall. If a large family was going on a weekend road trip or a trip between cities an E52 would get them there in style, comfort, and do it economically.
  • But, if a large family had to navigate a camping trip or just daily trips to school including weekly football games, packing in all the gear, school bags and food, all without breaking the bank, an E51 would do the job superbly and would still likely be the envy of many, if that matters to you!

Both the E51 series 3 and the E52 series 1 are fantastic cars. Both are going to be a dream to drive and own and you'll love your Elgrand no matter which one you get.

Hope this is helpful. Let me know your thoughts or questions and check out all our Nissan Elgrands in stock + coming soon -

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