Ask Nathan: Return of the Chevy Luv, $4,000 Off-Roader, and Nissan Leaf Update?

This Chevrolet Mini Square concept could point the way forward for something like a Chevy Luv revival. With an EV platform, you have a lot of flexibility. You can read about this concept (here).

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Does this mean the return of the Chevy Luv?
  • What’s a good $4,000 off-roader I can drive daily?
  • Updated on your old Nissan Leaf?

The first question comes from a Chevrolet fan who thinks that “now” is the time for the return of the Chevy Luv.

Q: Title – it’s time for the return of the Chevy Luv.

Nathan! I have a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trail Boss and it’s the best truck I have ever owned. Thank you guys for your honest appraisal of the truck, and I couldn’t be happier. I know that you, Nathan love small trucks and you have said many times that smaller trucks are coming back. You were right!

I see that Hyundai and Ford are joining Honda and there are rumors of more to come. Maybe it’s time for the return of the Chevy Luv? My dad had one that he used for his business for ten years. It was all beat up, but it was the most reliable thing the family ever owned. We only got rid of it because we needed a bigger truck.

That was over 30 years ago! I was thinking that a Chevy Luv may be just the name Chevrolet needs to use when it comes out with a truck smaller than the Colorado.

Nathan, do you think this will happen?

I watch all your channels and I appreciate the hard work you fellas put in to everything. You make all of your viewers feel included, and appreciated. Thank you!

— M. Washington

A: Thanks for the email, and thank you for your support!

Interesting question, and one that may focus on GM’s next step in the near future.

I’m not sure they will bring back the Chevy Luv name. For those of you who don’t know, the Chevy Luv was one of the earlier American small pickup trucks on the market, that was based on a Japanese truck. In this case, it was an Isuzu and the production went on from the early 70’s – early 80’s. After that, it was replaced with the Chevrolet S-10.

It was a good, rather simple pickup truck that fought against the Ford Courier, Dodge Ram 50/D-50 along with the trucks from Datsun/Nissan and Toyota. It was considered a bargain that was efficient and fun to modify. In my time, people loved cramming a V8 into a tiny Chevy Luv.

Chevy Luv (Image from post)

Back to your question: will they build a tiny truck to compete with the batch of new utility pickups, like the Hyundai Santa Cruz? I think the answer could be – “kind of.” In the U.S. market, they will continue to build Colorado pickup trucks – but we may see an electric small pickup of some sort. Sources indicated that GM is well aware that the pricing of their GMC Hummer EV is astronomical, and they are looking at the other end of the market.

GM and LG Chem are already building EVs – with more to come.

Right now, GM and LG Chem are building a second battery plant in Tennessee. These batteries will be less expensive to produce, which could mean less expensive electric vehicles. Sources speculate that, rather than build a gas-powered small pickup that will have a limited shelf life, GM has other plans. The idea may be to go straight to small EV pickup production, skipping the gas option altogether.

All of this is based on speculation from “insiders.” Still, it makes some sense. GM did announce plans to go all electric soon. They also announced an all-electric Silverado, but no mention of the Colorado. If they use a new EV platform for a tiny pickup, like the

There’s something else; Mark Reuss, president of General Motors, discussed the new BEV3 platform, and all of it’s potential with Green Car Reports. In reference to new pickups and battery flexibility, like the Hummer, he dropped an interesting hint. “It won’t be just one pickup and will be scalable across multiple brands, Reuss said. “We will introduce multiple products a year as we want to be and the market dictates.”

We shall see!

– N

The next question comes from a reader who is thinking about buying an inexpensive ($4,000) off-roader.

1987 Suzuki Samurai
Nathan’s Suzuki Samurai

Q: (Via Twitter @NathanAdlen) I think I want to buy a $4,000 off roader like your Samurai and use it as a commuter. Any other suggestions?

— AspMedi

A: Great question.

First, a warning: the Suzuki Samurai isn’t a great choice for commuting. Seriously, it is not happy at highway speeds, and it’s not what I would call comfortable. My whole purpose for buying and building up a Samurai, was to prove its off-road prowess compared to much more expensive side-by-sides. That was my initial goal.

The Samurai IS brilliant off-road. It’s weight, proportions and toughness are hard to beat in the rough. Properly beefed-up Samurais represent some of the best off-roaders out there. Unfortunately, $4,000 won’t get you one that’s very upgraded, or properly restored.

I would recommend a larger, easier to live with alternative.

Vehicles like the older Nissan Pathfinders, Mitsubishi Monteros, Isuzu Troopers and old pickup trucks are still affordable, ride MUCH better, and still have off-road potential. Right now, earlier generations of the Nissan Pathfinder are especially good deals, if you can find one without rust and major defects.

I would mention the Toyota 4Runner, but inexpensive ones with low-ish miles are hard to find.

As long as the running gear is in good shape, and the rust is at a minimum, there’s a lot of choice out there. The ’95 Nissan Pathfinder which TFL Studios just bought, is SO good, I was contemplating buying it off the company (like I did with the Samurai). Alas, it’s an automatic, which is the only reason I am holding off.

Still, trucks like this are out there, and they have oodles of potential. Also, there are some excellent old pickup trucks out there, like this 1998 Chevrolet 1500 4×4, which was as cheap as chips. Something like this can easily be turned into an excellent 4×4, and be a great daily driver.

What I’m trying to say is: anything but a Suzuki Samurai for commuting!

— N

The last question comes from a Nissan fan who wants an update on the 2016 Nissan Leaf I bought.

Q: (Via: Twitter@NathanAdlen) Hi Nathan, how about an update on that (Nissan) Leaf you bought?

Are you still happy with it? I know you were hesitant about it. I also know you’ll be honest about how it has held up.

— TitanLog

A: You know what? That little thing is pretty damn good – if you think of it as an appliance for basic transport.

My daughter has assumed ownership of the Nissan Leaf, but I still take it to the office about three times a month. We’ve put on about 8,000-miles in seven months. That’s a lot for an electric vehicle with relatively low range.

It has the 30 kWh battery, but the maximum range (on a warm day) is down to 90 miles. I expected battery degradation, and in Colorado’s winter, the little guy struggled to make 60 miles. Still, as a first car, one that requires no petrol fill-ups, and almost no maintenance, it’s ideal. My teen scoots all over town and we spend less than $40 per month keeping it topped off with electricity.

It’s also proven to be fairly rugged. The kiddo managed to bang every wheel against a curb, tree, apartment building – whatever; and it still drives true. I ditched the painfully ugly hubcaps, as they were destroyed anyway. It’s okay in light snow, but only for short commutes.

She-who-must-be-obeyed borrows it for large shopping runs. It has a very useable cargo area, and we all like not buying gasoline all the time. She likes its simplicity, efficiency and utility.

Bottom line: I’m very happy with it.

— N

Speaking of electric vehicles (well, PHEVs)…