Good morning, and welcome back! We were off yesterday celebrating America’s presidents, but today we’re back, and taking off to the Great White North to look at a pair of cars we never got here. But before we leave, let’s finish up with Friday’s LS swaps:
Well well well… Despite the howls of protest and cries of blasphemy, the RX7 emerges victorious. Sorry, purists, but a car on the road is worth two in the garage. I do love that Chevy van, though. Actually, come to think of it, this would make a decent two-car garage with a little work. And you’d only have to remember one oil filter number.
Today’s contestants come to us courtesy of Opposite Lock member “dogisbadob,” who found these two for sale up in Canada. I don’t know much about either of these vehicles, so bear with me. But who doesn’t like finding out stuff about cars from other places? (If you raised your hand, you might be on the wrong website.) Both are silver, both are manuals, and both, sadly, are still several years too new to bring into the US. But still, it’s fun to look. Let’s see which one you prefer.
2006 Nissan X-Trail – $2,000 Canadian
Engine/drivetrain: 2.0 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, 5 speed manual, FWD/part-time 4WD
Location: Montcon, New Brunswick
Odometer reading: 180,000 kilometers
Runs/drives? Currently won’t start
Say the words “Nissan crossover” to Americans and they’ll picture some horrible Rogueish, Jukey blob with a CVT gearbox designed to last just until the warranty runs out. But Nissan makes some great trucks and SUVs, and in other parts of the world, they sold this little charmer: a car-based crossover with honest, boxy styling, selectable four-wheel-drive, and, crucially, a manual transmission. The first-generation X-Trail was only sold in Canada for two years, and nowadays it’s the same thing as a Rogue, so this happy little box is no more.
We don’t get a lot of photos in this ad, but what we can see looks good: a straight body, a clean interior, and the sort of honest, no-bullshit design that Nissan is not known for in the slightest in most recent US models. This thing reminds me favorably of an old Pathfinder I once had. I’m not sold on the centrally-mounted gauges, but I can understand why they do it: to make the dashboard more easily adapted to right- or left-hand drive. That sort of universality of design rubs salt in the wound of the US never getting this vehicle; it was meant for everybody but us, apparently.
This X-Trail is currently inoperative; the seller says the fuel pump was recently replaced, but it still won’t start. It apparently ran just fine before the pump went out, which means the new pump wasn’t installed correctly, or it wasn’t actually the problem. Time to put on your troubleshooting hat. And from the looks of it, for about $1500 US, it’s worth saving. Too bad it’s not welcome on this side of the border for another eight years.
2007 Mercedes-Benz B200 – $2,000 Canadian
Engine/drivetrain: 2.0 liter overhead cam inline 4, 5 speed manual, FWD
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Odometer reading: 190,000 kilometers
Runs/drives? Yes, but check engine light is on
This isn’t what Americans picture when you say the name Mercedes-Benz, either. Sturdy, comfortable sedans, yes. Two-seat luxury convertibles, sure. SUVs, yep. Even work vans these days. But compact hatchbacks? Again, everywhere but here. The B Class is a front-wheel-drive hatchback designed for Europe, but sold in Canada as well.
This B Class is powered by a four-cylinder engine paired with a five-speed manual, also almost unheard-of in US-market Benzes. There’s not much luxury to be had here either, but from what I know of European-market compacts, this should be a very comfortable and well-mannered little car. It’s not in great shape; the seller says it has some rust, and the check engine light is on.
It does look pretty rough. Dents and scrapes abound, the interior is a mess, and the rear wiper is apparently set to license-plate-cleaning mode. But it’s cheap enough, and if it does run all right, it could make a nice little winter beater for someone for a year or two. Unfortunately, that someone can’t be anyone here in the good old US of A.
Being a car nerd in the US has its share of frustrations, and chief among them is the “forbidden fruit” of other markets. Between the silly 25 year import rule and automakers only importing stuff they know will sell well, us enthusiasts are left longing for a chance to even see these cars in person. It’s especially frustrating when they’re right there in Canada, just on the other side of an arbitrary line on the map. But if you were able to bring either of these across, which one would it be?
(Image credits: Facebook Marketplace sellers)
Almost bought a second hand X-Trail once with a bulletproof diesel engine and clutch. But was a bit taken aback by the although still reasonable, it had a much higher fuel consumption compared to my Passat TDI. That little beast was my neighbour’s daily and he pulled a lot of trailers with it, often on slick surfaces or on snow, it never once got him stuck or quit on him. He traded it in for a X3 to have more cruising comfort but still missed his trusty workhorse, especially as the X3’s clutch went out after three years.
I still regret not buying it as a fun car, a no nonsense Nissan and a cheap 4wd …
B class Mercedes, meh. They drive fine but would prefer other Euro compacts like a Peugeot 206. Here the B class was oftentimes a car for more elderly people because A) Mercedes and B) higher seat position and easier entrance without having to buy a SUV.