Chevrolet Niva

Chevrolet Niva
  • Car model: Chevrolet
  • Producing country: Russia
  • Year of issue: 2004
  • Body Type: SUV

Chevrolet Niva is a low-cost off-road vehicle in a compact unit with a load-bearing body and a permanent four-wheel drive system. This car is the result of “joint creation” of specialists from AutoVAZa and American automobile builders from General Motors.

Domestic workers were able to develop the vehicle, and the Americans “finished” and installed it on the conveyor assembly. Chevrolet Niva is quite “ascetic” (it has only the necessary minimum of options) and attracts mainly a small price tag, as well as good off-road characteristics. The whole model range is Chevrolet.

Car history

The predecessor version of the VAZ-2123 was presented to the public back in 1998. But after a group of engineers from GM “intervened” in 2002, the novelty received the nameplates Chevrolet, entering the conveyor assembly in the “updated hypostasis”. Production of cars was set up in Togliatti at GM-AutoVAZ JV facilities. Since then, the car has “won the hearts” of many domestic car enthusiasts, still remaining in demand. Every year about 30,000 drivers buy Chevrolet Niva.

Chevrolet Niva 2002

The conceptual version of the off-road vehicle VAZ 2123 Niva was presented during the Moscow International Motor Show in 1998. The design bureau expected that the vehicle would replace the VAZ-2121, which at that time had been produced almost unchanged for more than 20 years. But there was no money to move the car into mass production.

Therefore, the license for the production of a new car, and hence the rights to the brand “Niva”, was sold to the concern GM. It is clear that the serial version of the car did not get such appearance as it had at the first show. American designers made more than 1,700 changes to the domestic machine. That’s why many people consider Niva to be quite an independent compact SUV.

Side view of Chevrolet Niva

As a result, in 2002 the first serial production of Niva Chevrolet began. From the very beginning, some people thought that after the start of the assembly of the new product, the production of VAZ 2121 would stop. But this did not happen, because the new car cost twice as much as its predecessor. After 2009, the vehicle underwent modernization.


The Chevrolet Niva brand is unique to the U.S. car brand and shows only the logo on the grille, the body and the steering wheel of the steering wheel. In general, judging by the body shape, one can easily guess the standard style of SUV. Only the rear axle girder is a testament to the inherent nature of off-road vehicles.

Chevrolet Niva’s appearance is capable not to cause negative emotions, looks quite actual, despite the fact that it was developed in the mid-1990s. But hardly anyone will call the appearance of the budget crossover unfashionable. In fact, the car is intended not only for comfortable driving on country roads, but also for taking off-roads.

Chevrolet Niva

It’s nice that the car is seriously prepared for off-road use. There is a powerful enough protection of the engine, a successful weight distribution on the axles, as well as minimal side overhangs. Plastic body protection is a pleasure. Impressive ground clearance is ideal for our roads. And presence of short plastic bumpers and flat, as if pinched headlights, testifies to aspiration of the off-road vehicle to uneasy march throw on bad road.

The ergonomics of the model is well appreciated. Despite the rather modest size, all doorways are spacious. “Zapaska moved from the bonneted space to the luggage compartment door. The fact that the car has a spare wheel on the back door along with the continuous beam of the rear axle, clearly indicates that we are not in front of the parquet flooring compact size, and a real “combat” SUV.

Back view of Chevrolet Niva

The bevelled front posts and the well-engineered side windows significantly improve aerodynamics and visibility. The installed roof rails only add practicality to our crossover. The stern optics look nice and are an adequate complement to the entire rear of the machine.

The plastic backing of the rear bumper is quite successful both in terms of design and ergonomics. Owners of Chevrolet Niva I can no longer worry about damage to the bumper’s paintbrush when loading large-size or heavy loads.


Inside, Chevrolet Niva I generation is spacious and comfortable. Excellent overview of all the sites is provided, so you can express your gratitude to the specialists of the company. Taking into account the inexpensive price list, the interior of the car looks quite good. It is clear that they decided to use the same coarse-type plastic for finishing.

The front seats have archaic adjustments, and the “dashboard” together with the front console got an old-fashioned appearance, even if we draw an analogy with the machines of the late 1990s. It’s nice that the car is equally good for the city and the countryside. Russian SUV has air conditioning, hydraulic power steering and good noise and vibration isolation, which is clearly better than the “mother” model.

Chevrolet Niva salon

All controls are located near the driver, so you don’t have to reach them, distracting yourself from the crossover control. Sitting in the front seats is as comfortable as it is for a compact off-road vehicle. The seats have comfortable headrests and side support.

The upholstery is good, so to get it dirty or fill with water, you have to try harder. The rear sofa can accommodate comfortably 2 adults of large build. It is possible to sit together, but it will be a little inconvenient because of the seat profile, as well as the floor transmission tunnel.

Restyling 2009

In 2009, the car moved to restyling, which entailed a new appearance from Bertine. The result has turned out on the face – the SUV has become much better looking. Changes can be seen, if you pay attention to the radiator grille, which received an enlarged Chevrolet emblem, as well as the front bumper.

The headlights look rather unusual: the “fog lights” have a round shape, and the front wings have improved direction indicators. The side of the body is decorated with plastic onlays, and the exterior mirror bodies are now painted in body colour.

Chevrolet Niva car photo

More “top” versions of the Niva Chevrolet 1st generation are equipped with sixteen-inch light alloy rollers. The front doors have an author’s nameplate Bertone Edition.
The rear part of the all-wheel drive vehicle has a stylish shape of new lanterns, and the rear bumper has a special loading platform, unpainted type.

A group of designers was able to insert into the rear bumper two stylish and original grilles that perform not only a decorative task. They improve air circulation inside the renovated Chevrolet Niva, so the glasses now sweat less. If to speak in general, the updated appearance causes certain attention and respect even at very picky motorists.

Photo of Chevrolet Niva

Those who often face impassability will appreciate the novelty. Particular attention should be paid to the ground clearance – 200 millimeters under the rear axle with a fully loaded car. With a curb weight and 15-inch wheels, the ground clearance is 240 millimeters, which is a very good result. The curb weight is 1,410 kilograms.

In 2009, Niva has undergone an update, and the Italian studio Bertone.

Inside the cars, which were produced after 2009, specialists took into account all complaints and suggestions of customers. There are more auxiliary departments and comfortable cup holders. New versions now received a mirror, which was attached to the windshield. Thanks to such a moment it was possible to lower the degree of unpleasant sounds.

Niva Chevrolet Salon

The restyled Chevrolet Niva has a new 3-spoke steering wheel made in Portugal. The “tidying up” has changed considerably, which the workers have made more qualitative and modern. After 2011, the cars began to have airbags and pretensioned seat belts, and the seats themselves have “grown” in terms of comfort. Now you can fix the luggage compartment lid in three positions. The vehicle can be operated remotely using a modern flip-down key, which is equipped with a remote control. The ceiling has a pair of light bulbs. The interior of the Chevrolet Niva railing light looks spacious, comfortable and ergonomic.

Versions produced after February 2014 have more modern seats with improved side support and new headrests. Despite the use of cheap plastic, there are few extraneous noises and other problems inside the car. This has been achieved through high-quality assembly. The luggage space is 320 litres, but if necessary, this figure can be increased by adding up the second row of seats. Then for the owner of the domestic SUV there will be already 650 liters of useful space. The luggage compartment has no threshold, the doorway is quite wide, which greatly simplifies loading/unloading of luggage.


At the moment the first generation Chevrolet Niva has only one variant of the powertrain. The company has decided to supply a domestic SUV with a reliable atmospheric gasoline engine, which received a common configuration with four cylinders and a total working volume of 1.7 liters.

The engine also has a distributed fuel injection and 16-valve gas distribution mechanism. The engine fully complies with Euro-4 environmental standards and develops 80 horsepower and 127.4 Nm of torque. The company’s specialists decided to synchronize this power plant with a five-speed manual gearbox with no alternative.

Chevrolet Niva engine

All versions of Chevrolet Niva have a permanent all-wheel drive system based on an inter-axis lockable differential platform, as well as a two-speed “dispenser”. Together with high ground clearance and small size all-wheel drive system of the car has a good geometric cross-country ability on the road.

It is also stable during cornering on slippery road surface and can tow trailers weighing up to 1,200 kg. The engineering group believes that the main modernization of the Niva Chevrolet is the use of cardan shafts with the introduction of hinges of equal angular velocities. In addition, this can include changes in the “dispenser”, which received a 2-row bearing output shafts. Thanks to the improvement of the gear lever, the noise inside the SUV has been reduced.

It should be added that from 2006 to 2008 this machine was available in FAM-1 (or GLX) version. It had a 1.8-liter Opel Z18XE engine, which developed 122 horsepower. In addition to this engine, this variant had a 5-speed manual transmission Aisin with built-in transfer gearbox, which is known to many people by Suzuki Grand Vitara. The car has not received special demand, so for a couple of years it was sold only about a thousand copies. As a basis for the Chevrolet Niva, they put a supporting body, where there is a front independent spring suspension on the basis of double transversal levers and a rear dependent five-bar spring suspension.

The front disc brakes are used as the braking system, and there are simple drum mechanisms at the rear. The brake unit is equipped with a vacuum booster, and the older equipment is equipped with an electronic ABS system. The rack and pinion steering unit functions together with the hydraulic power steering system. Prior to serial production, the novelty was tested in tests of various severe conditions: from the hot Asian deserts to cold Siberia. In all situations, the model proved to be the best. She is not afraid of low and high temperatures or other extreme conditions. Suspension of the Russian car assembly without shaking and unnecessary inconvenience can overcome various obstacles.

Crash test

The Chevrolet Niva has all the best off-road performance from the previous version of 2121. The domestic SUV has not only received a fresh look. The development department paid special attention not only to the exterior. Some additional design solutions have been added to bring the vehicle a little closer to foreign cars in terms of quality and comfort.

Today the car has all the necessary modules to become a really comfortable and comfortable car. During the full-fledged crash-tests it became clear that because of the limited engine compartment, if you compare the model with the previous car, there is an acute need for airbags. During the tests, the main damage is to the bottom of the body.

After the Chevrolet Niva crash-test, it is noticeable that the bottom of the machine is heavily wrinkled and the disks are deformed. After the impact, the rudder hit the dummy so hard that it became oval. The most important reason for this is the lack of body strength. But it is the body that should have the basic protection of passengers during a frontal collision. This can cause serious injuries to the driver.

The strapped upper torso is not as bad as the lower torso, which can be pinched during floor deformation. The clutch mechanism and the pedal assembly itself are also feared to be off-centre. This can result in serious lacerations. The first models of SUVs suffered from the displacement of the lower body retainers in the event of a collision. But later, the most robust bodywork was used.

Crash test Chevrolet Niva

After reading the Chevrolet Niva crash test, it becomes clear that the bodywork is the most unprotected place in the vehicle. During damage, the steering column is ruptured and the clutch fails, so the chance of injury to the driver and front passenger is increased. Therefore, the car now has a bodybuilder with a breakaway safety device.

The doors have metal bars that protect them from side impact and from excessive lateral deformation. However, this is not enough – judging by the international Chevrolet Nivo specification system, it can only be classified as a medium safety segment among passenger cars.

Price and equipment

As of 2017, the domestic market offers Chevrolet Niva in 6 configurations: “L”, “LC”, “GL”, “LE” and “GLC”. The standard version of the off-road vehicle costs 588,000 ppm and has:

  • Hydraulic power steering ZF;
  • Immobilizer;
  • Electric windows on the front doors;
  • Cloth salon;
  • 15-inch steel rollers
  • Central lock;
  • Audio preparation with 2 speakers;
  • Isothermal glass;
  • Rear passenger foot heating and heated exterior mirrors with electrical adjustment.

Chevrolet Niva SUV

Maximum equipment is estimated from 719 500 rubles. It has:

  • Two front airbags;
  • Combined interior trim;
  • AbS;
  • Electronic system
  • Conditioner;
  • Fog lights;
  • Warming the front seats;
  • Standard audio preparation for 4 columns;
  • 16-inch light alloy “rollers”;
  • Railings on the roof;
  • Factory alarm system.

Chevrolet Niva tuning

Niva Chevrolet is a new modification of the VAZ 2121 off-road vehicle, produced in the USSR. The latest model has a streamlined bodywork and modern technical options. But despite all this, the model remained Spartan in terms of equipment.

Its appearance, as well as the level and quality of the interior leave much to be desired. That’s why Niva Chevrolet provides a wide range of actions in terms of tuning. Every driver strives to make his car individual, so that they differ from everyone else.

Niva Chevrolet Tuning with your own hands

Very often car owners “pump” their vehicles for off-road driving. This technological process cannot be called complicated. It is possible to install a power dodger, the list of which includes the presence of a powerful front bumper made of bent steel pipes with a platform for a winch. It is not difficult to make this thing, it is important to have the right tools and equipment for working with metal.

Off-road improvements include the installation of new discs and tyres. Some owners of domestic SUVs are installing an exhaust pipe – a snorkel – on the roof. This may be necessary in cases where the vehicle will be used in extreme off-road conditions.

Niva Chevrolet tuning

Separate mention should be made of the installation of the winch. Some people make mistakes, believing that this element is necessary only for competitors in various off-road competitions. Such an assistant will be a great help when resting in nature, in the country house and fishing.

You can buy an electric winch that will allow you to independently get out of pits, ditches, as well as help others to get out of difficult areas. Some people hide the body of the equipment under a homemade metal casing. It is also possible to install protective, military coloring, matte or glossy type.

Powertrain Tuning

There are many varieties of power plant upgrades for the Niva Chevrolet, which makes it possible to significantly increase its technical data. Some owners do:

  • Replacement of crankshaft and piston rings to increase volume by 0.1 litres;
  • Injector replacement;
  • Replacement of the control unit;
  • Correcting the geometry of the power unit by increasing the diameter of the valves and pusher wells for the inlet and outlet channels. New pushers are needed with a diameter of at least 1 millimetre;
  • Hermetic sealing of the valves, which increases power by 10 percent;
  • Replacement of the catalyst with a flame arrester. This applies to tuning the Chevrolet Niva exhaust system, but really helps to improve the engine’s technical data.

These manipulations require direct intervention in the technical part of the vehicle. The best choice is the chip tuning of the Chevrolet Niva engine – working with the engine’s “brains” – the injector.

This requires software knowledge. In this case it is possible to change technical settings of the car. This method can be called the most accessible.

Suspension tuning

Since this vehicle was designed for driving on a bad road, the suspension of the car must cope with serious loads, but not all of them and not all of them constantly. This can be done by improving off-road mobility by strengthening the suspension. The easiest solution is to lift or increase the ground clearance. It is also possible to improve the transfer box by eliminating childhood illnesses. For example, you can:

  • Replace basic bearings with double row bearings;
  • Replace covers;
  • Don’t forget to replace the glands;
  • Equipment of transfer box with shaft support.

It is very important to do the correct alignment of the transfer box, which will reduce the degree of vibration and increase the technical life of the node.

Salon Tuning

As a standard, many people are doing a tug of war in the salon. Who has money, buy genuine leather. Also it is possible to establish instead of regular simple armchairs of sitting of sports type, with strongly pronounced lateral support.

Lovers of bright interiors resort to xenon or bi-xenon interior lighting, bottoms. It will not damage the improvement of noise insulation. The basic stereo system can be replaced by an “onboard computer”, which can also be called a functional solution.

Light Tuning

Such procedures are carried out not only to improve the aesthetic appearance, but also for improved light and range. Owners of Chevrolet Niva install additional LED lenses on dimensions, rotating modules, complemented by LEDs. Some change the color, tone, texture and substrates of the headlamp, install chips, reflectors and replace the factory lamps with LED ones.

Pluses and minuses

Pluses cars

  • Stylish, modern and aggressive exterior design;
  • Availability of high ground clearance;
  • Protection of headlights;
  • Winch;
  • Two full-size spare wheels;
  • Luggage compartment on the roof;
  • All possible protection for the bumpers and the underside of the machine;
  • Nice, modern interior;
  • Comfortable steering wheel that has been adjusted;
  • Improved dashboard and central console;
  • Improved cabin noise insulation;
  • So much free space;
  • Extended luggage compartment;
  • Airbag;
  • The top-of-the-range equipment has a touchscreen display;
  • Reinforced power unit;
  • Honest, non-electronic all-wheel drive system;
  • Good passability.

Cons of a car

  • In urban conditions, the car looks very unusual;
  • No power record engine;
  • Rear suspension is dependent (somebody may think it’s a plus);
  • Little fuel consumption.

Comparison with competitors

Nowadays, Niv Chevrolet has competitors and there are not so few of them. Every vehicle has its advantages and disadvantages. Among the most frequent competitors of this car on the market is Ssang Yong Actyon, Kyron and Rexton as well as Suzuki Grand Vitara, TagAZ Tingo, Renault Duster, Chery Tiggo, Great wall H3. It is also possible to mention domestic rivals in the person of UAZ Patriot, Lada Niva and UAZ Hunter.

There are other models of this subdivision as well, but they already have a different pricing policy. Many people consider Renault Duster to be the most direct rival of Chevrolet Niva. This is the most familiar or advertised machine among the above mentioned ones. Initially it is possible to pay attention to the data of the power unit.

Renault Duster has 3 versions of powertrain. This is a gasoline 1.6-liter, 115-horsepower (156 Nm), as well as gasoline 2.0-liter, 144-horsepower (195 Nm) version. A 1.5 liter diesel engine is also provided, which develops 109 horsepower and 240 Nm of torque.

If you compare the “Frenchman” with the domestic version, the basic version of the power plant at Renault Duster is more powerful. This seriously increases its attractiveness among connoisseurs of SUV, who move more in the city and on the road. Someone thinks that off-road qualities of Renault Duster are enough for country trips, but for dirt and serious off-roads it is necessary to have a stronger clutch, and also increased height of road clearance.

Although the level of comfort at Renault Duster meets many criteria of modern drivers. Although the power of the French crossover is higher than that of Chevrolet Niva, it also costs much more. As for the transmission, the Niva has a mechanically activated higher gear and differential lock, while Duster has an electronic clutch to change between 3 modes of travel.

The level of equipment is also better and richer in a French car. Therefore, the final variant should be accepted by the buyer himself, guided by his priorities.

Owner feedback

Judging by the reviews of Chevrolet Niva, the car performs well on a bad road and has no analogues in its price category. Owners of the car note the pleasant appearance, high ground clearance, quality of materials and assembly, as well as good work of the transmission, spaciousness of the interior and controllability. The model is well suited for off-road driving, has inexpensive maintenance.

No weaknesses were noticed on the body. Chevrolet Niva is easy to use and can be easily found with spare parts. The owners of Chevrolet Niva are dissatisfied with the weak dynamics, low luggage capacity, high fuel consumption, maintenance costs and a price tag.

The luxury version costs about 705 500 rubles, which is very expensive for such a car. The quality of noise insulation is also at a mediocre level. After a while the car often needs repair. Sometimes there can be noise from the checkpoint. For overtaking there is not always enough power, so you have to play with the speed of the power unit.

We advise you to read the article: History of Chevrolet

Chevrolet Niva photo

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