The Lada Niva is a truck that has been around since the 1970s. It offers 4×4 SUV capability along with old-school ruggedness. And after the Land Rover Defender was discontinued in 2016, the Niva took the crown as the longest production off-road vehicle that was still made in its original form. In 2020, the Niva got a major update when Lada took ownership of the Chevy Niva. The new Lada got the name Lada Niva Travel and the older model has the designation Lada Niva Legend.
What’s new for the 2022 Lada Niva?
In 2020, the Lada Niva received some much-needed modernization. Before, it was essentially the same truck that went on sale in 1977. Still, the Niva is an old-school SUV with the ruggedness to match. And, it’s not available in the United States.
Better yet, the 2022 Lada Niva has a starting price of under $25,000. This means, according to Motor1, that it can compete with other small SUVs, like the Suzuki Jimny. That price tag does come with some drawbacks though. The base Niva uses cheap interior materials, showing its age.
Some models can come with things such as heated seats, power windows, and air conditioning. For a no-frills, 4×4 SUV, that is fairly impressive. Additionally, the large windows and tough bumpers make this vehicle ready to handle the road less traveled.
Could the Lada Niva come to America?
In the past, the Niva has been imported to North America, specifically Canada. If a Lada Niva is older than 25 years, it can be imported to the United States under current law. But, getting a new Niva to U.S. shores is a difficult task. Undoubtedly, this 4×4 SUV does not meet regulations, and there is not currently a company that is working to refit the Niva for American roads.
That said, small, capable SUVs would likely sell well here. The Wrangler has long found success in the American market, but it is not as affordable as the Niva or the Jimny. It also feels more modern than these small SUVs. If the vintage SUV market is any indication, American off-road enthusiasts love old-school vehicles. And one for sale in America that also offers modern reliability would be a hit.
What is the history of the Lada Niva?
The Lada Niva has some interesting history behind it. It is the world’s first widely-produced off-road SUV that uses unibody construction. The Niva has seen success in a variety of different markets and even inspired vehicles like the Land Rover Discovery.
Development of the Niva started in 1971, designers at VAZ and AZLK were given the assignment of producing a vehicle that could handle rural and harsh conditions in the former Soviet Union.
Finally, in 1976, the finished prototype of the Niva was delivered. And a Russian legend was born. By 1978, according to Motor1, the Niva had at least a 40% share of 4×4 vehicles in the European market. With design heavily influenced by Fiat, the Niva didn’t just look the part of a capable vehicle, it had off-road chops to boot.