Noah2009TOYOTA VS Serena2009NISSAN



To many buyers, the multi-passenger vehicle(MPV), sometimes called a multipurpose vehicle, is a fairly recent addition to the automotive market. Historians would disagree, pointing to innovations such as the 1936 Stout Scarab as a possible origin for the entire vehicle class. Even if you do not share that belief, there are other possible origins such as theVolkswagen Type 2 and the Fiat 600. Despite these early forays into the MPV realm, the class fell into disarray, with manufacturers choosing to exit the group until the mid-1980s, mainly due to a lack of sales.

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By the 1980s, automakers had returned to the notion that buyers wanted an economical way to transport growing families as well as a vehicle that could be customized to carry cargo or clients in a crowded urban setting. The answer was a flexible MPV. Toyota and Nissan recognized the need for these vehicles early on with models such as the Toyota LiteAce and the Nissan Vanette. Both companies have continued to respond to market demand for reliable multipurpose vehicles by building the Toyota Noah and the Nissan Serena.

The Toyota Noah was introduced in 2001 to replace the Toyota LiteAce Noah; thus giving Toyota a passenger dedicated MPV in the Japanese market. The Nissan Serena was introduced in 1991 to replace the Nissan Vanette. Two of the more notable versions of these vehicles are the 2009 Toyota Noah and the 2009 Nissan Serena. The 2009 Toyota Noah is part of the second generation and features many of the comforts and engine upgrades that buyers desire in an MPV. The 2009 Nissan Serena is part of the MkIII C25 third generation, featuring a complete facelift. The MkIII C25 Serena is sold in a limited number of markets with its main focus being in Japan.

Both vehicles offer plenty of room for seven passengers, but can accommodate an eighth if circumstances dictate. Each MPV features sufficient cargo space for a family outing, an extended trip, or to accommodate luggage within the transportation industry. Both the Noah and the Serena offer fuel efficiency that is well in line with other vehicles in the MPV class. Each offers durable engine and transmission options. In addition to durability, both MPVs are at the top of their class in crash testing, owner satisfaction, and have affordable price points. With both vehicles having so many positive features, it can be hard to decide which to buy. The only rational solution is for us to offer you a side-by-side comparison of the two. Providing a run down of every model year would be very time consuming and you would soon lose interest, so we are going to focus on the 2009 Toyota Noah and the 2009 Nissan Serena.


The 2009 Toyota Noah and the 2009 Nissan Serena are well regarded amongst owners and automotive professionals. Either vehicle can easily seat up to eight passengers and a large amount of luggage. Both are comparable in size, offering nearly identical dimensions for wheelbase, width, height, and length. The Noah and the Serena offer front-engine/front-wheel drive or full-time four-wheel drive options along with a standard CVT. The Noah begins to distinguish itself by offering multiple engine options; whereas, the Serena offers a single powerplant but two variations in horsepower and trim level. The Toyota Noah and the Nissan Serena offer class-leading fuel economy, but the Toyota Noah does manage slightly better numbers under highway conditions.

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The exteriors of the two MPVs are dramatically different. The Noah features a sharp, box-like front end not often associated with Toyota models. On the other hand, the Nissan Serena features a smooth, more aerodynamic appearance. While neither offers the type of deep luxury you would expect to find in an offering from Mercedes-Benz or BMW, the interior of each is comfortable and well appointed for the price range of the vehicles. Given the number of trim levels available, the interior of each is quite customizable, fitting the needs of a wide variety of potential owners.

The Nissan Serena has two variations but same engine with different trim level Model DBA-C25 has a standard feature and 137 bhp, whereas Model DBA-CC25 Rider High-Performance Specs has 147 bhp and considered as the sportier model. The standard engine is a 1997cc MR20DE that uses petrol. This is an undersquare (meaning that is has a smaller bore than the length of its stroke) engine with a bore of 84mm and stroke of 90.1mm. This arrangement allows the engine to develop peak torque at a lower speed.

The Toyota Noah; however, offers two engine options:, a 1986cc 3ZR-FE, Dual VVT-i (Dual Valve Timing-intelligent System), undersquare, and a 1986cc 3ZR-FAE Dual VVT-i and Valvematic, undersquare. The Noah was the first vehicle to feature Toyota's Valvematic technology. Valvematic technology continuously adjustments lift volume and timing; thereby improving fuel efficiency with precise control over the fuel/air mixture sans a throttle plate. This is a much simpler approach when compared to Valvetronic and VVEL(Variable Valve Event Lift). The technology allows the 2009 Toyota Noah to achieve up to 13.4 km/l, an outstanding number for its vehicle class!

Interior Comparison

NOAH's Interior

The interior of the 2009 Toyota Noah is well designed, giving a driver-centric feel that one often associates with luxury vehicles. All controls are within easy reach of the driver, removing the need to take your eyes from the road in order to operate any control. The Noah features power seats and windows. Seating is well arranged for easy access to the third row of seating, a definite bonus when transporting children or clients. Units with the Japan model code DBA-ZRR70W feature second-row seating that can swivel to the side for an easy exit. The Noah features single-touch dual sliding side doors, making interior access even more convenient.

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The gear shifter is located just to the left of the steering wheel, with the handbrake in easy reach just underneath. Audio controls are located on the steering wheel. The 2009 Noah is equipped with the G-Book telematic system that displays all information that a driver could possible need during a trip. Cargo capacity is further increased by a hidden sub-compartment underneath the rear cargo area.

SERENA's Interior

The interior of the 2009 Nissan Serena is also well designed, with a focus on a more active lifestyle. All controls are in easy reach of the driver, as with the Noah. The Serena can be equipped with the CARWINGS navigation system. The steering wheel features audio controls and a switch to operate the dual sliding rear doors. The gear shifter is a simple unit sitting just to the left of the steering wheel for easy operation. The Serena features a panoramic roof, giving all passengers a fascinating view of the sky at all times. There are two variations but same engine different trim level Model C25 has a standard feature and 137 bhp, whereas Model C25 Rider High-Performance Specs has 147 bhp.

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Many of the features mentioned above are similar to those in the interior of the Toyota Noah. Where the Serena begins to distinguish itself is in the versatility of the seats themselves. Each passenger seat can be individually folded to the front or rear, giving owners the flexibility to carry a wide variety of cargo. You can load anything from groceries to a surfboard if you so choose!

Exterior Comparison

NOAH's Exterior

The exterior of the Toyota Noah is functional, yet interesting. In an age when aerodynamic form dominates, the Noah stands out by featuring a sharp, box-like bonnet, similar to that found in many of the offerings from Toyota's Scion badge. Despite the box-like nose, the Noah is very aerodynamic and features a number of items to reduce air resistance. These effects are most noticeable in the units with Japan model code DBA-ZRR70W. Units with this designation are powered by the 1986cc 3ZR-FE Dual VVTI and are capable of achieving a consistent 13.4 km/l in all trim levels.

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In past generations, the Noah body was one color, while the trim was another. The 2009 Toyota Noah is monochromatic, with the body and trim matching. Larger in every way when compared to the Toyota LiteAce Noah that it replaced, the Toyota Noah has the more family oriented appearance many young parents desire.

SERENA's Exterior

The exterior of the 2009 Nissan Serena harkens back to earlier generations of MPVs. It has a styling that is faintly reminiscent of many models in the MPV class, choosing to distinguish itself through its interior, rather than exterior. Not a bad choice given that owners spend much more time inside the vehicle than admiring it from the outside. Of particular note is the Nissan Serena with the Highway Star V trim package. These units have the Japan model code DBA-CC25 and feature bi-xenon projector headlamps, fog lamps, and a front spoiler that is color-matched to the body.

Driving Experience

NOAH's Driving Experience

Early MPVs suffered from steering and handling issues. Often they felt top heavy and drivers reported feeling as if they MPV might tip in a tight corner or during a high speed turn. The Toyota Noah counters all of those outdated notions by offering a well balanced ride that handles exceptionally under all driving conditions.

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The Noah debunks another myth about MPVs by being more than adequately powered. The 1986cc engine featured in the units with model code DBA-ZRR70W produces 143 bhp and 196 N-m of torque. Being an undersquare engine, full torque is available at 4400 rpms. Units with the DBA-ZRR70W designation are front-wheel drive vehicles, allowing them provide a fuel rating of 13.4 km/l. Units with full-time four-wheel drive are still able to achieve 12.6 km/l, in part due to the undersquare engine setup.

SERENA's Driving Experience

The 2009 Nissan Serena is part of the MkIII C25 third generation. Having gone through multiple generational upgrades, the MkIII C25 third generation was the best handling version of the Serena available until the fourth generation hit the market in late 2010. Engine and transmission options are a 1997cc MR20DE and an Xtronic CVT.

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The 1997cc engine is more than up to the task of transporting eight passengers by providing 135 bhp and 200 N-m of torque. Full torque is available at just 4400 rpm. The engine/transmission combination allows the 2009 Nissan Serena to achieve up to 13.2 km/l in front-wheel drive units. These units have the Japanese model code DBA-CC25. Units equipped with full-time four-wheel drive are able to consistently provide 12.2 km/l for their owners. In addition to having a very dependable drivetrain, the third generation has a more stable stance. The wheelbase has been increased as have the length and overall width of the Serena. The effect is an MPV that feels more stable and confident in turns and while cornering. The increased measurements also offers additional room within the passenger cabin.


When looking at a 2009 Toyota Noah and a 2009 Nissan Serena side-by-side, the MPVs look quite different, yet offer many of the same amenities to buyers. Both vehicles appeal to a wide demographic within the general public and offer the ability for the transportation and hospitality industries to make use of them as well.

Both models are able to provide superior fuel economy when looking at units with front-wheel drive. Each is built by an automaker that is well known for its dependability and longevity. The Toyota Noah may have a slight edge in this area, given that the dependability of all Toyota models is legendary across the globe; however, this is a highly subjective difference and depends on your personal point of view.

Making a decision as to which to buy is more a matter of personal preference and brand confidence. Another factor is what the main use of the MPV may be. Is it destined to carry groceries and children? Then the additional under-floor storage space in the Toyota Noah may sway you. If your children are young, not yet in many activities, then the extra cargo space is a non-point. While we find the 2009 Toyota Noah and the 2009 Nissan Serena to be near equals and can not recommend one over the other, we do hope that you now have the information that you need to make the most informed purchase possible. Good luck with your new MPV!

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