The Truth About Cars » Nissan NV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 12 Apr 2014 00:28:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Nissan NV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com First Drive: 2013 Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo Van (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/first-drive-2013-nissan-nv200-compact-cargo-van-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/first-drive-2013-nissan-nv200-compact-cargo-van-video/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 16:58:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494343 2013 Nissan NV200

When Nissan invited me to sample the Versa Note hatchback, tucked away in a corner was the new-to-America Nissan NV200 compact cargo van. No, this isn’t a relative of the NV2500 that started out our commercial week in 2012, instead it’s a purpose-built cargo hauler [very] loosely based on the underpinnings of the Nissan Cube. You may have also seen the NV200 shown as NYC’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” choice, but this NV is all about hauling. (Strangely enough that’s why it makes a good taxi.)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The NV200′s boxy profile is all about hauling, that’s something the NV200 and the Transit Connect have in common while the RAM C/V minivan is obviously a passenger car with steel inserted where the windows used to go. I think we can all agree that the C/V is more attractive in a “minivan mommy” sort of way, not surprising since it has to sell on curb appeal as well as kiddie schlepping. The  NV200 doesn’t have to steal hearts to accomplish its mission enabling Nissan to pen vertical slab sides and a very vertical tail. Anyone hauling cargo will tell you the C/V’s top-hinged hatch precludes loading with a regular forklift, something that isn’t a problem with the NV200′s 60/40 “barn” door back-end.

Practicality has a downside, like the current Transit Connect, the NV200 isn’t the most attractive thing on the road. The big cargo box makes the 15-inch wheels look smaller than they are and there’s just something wrong with the NV’s nose. (It is more attractive than the schnoz on the Transit Connect however.)  The standard black plastic bumper covers don’t help matters, so be sure to check that $190 option box and get them body-paint matched. Ford promises the 2014 Transit Connect will be a different animal sporting the Fusion’s award-winning nose.

2013 Nissan NV200, Picture Courtesy of Nissan

Interior

The NV200 wears a unique dashboard with parts pulled from a variety of Nissan products. The urethane steering wheel comes from the Versa sedan, the shifter and A/C controls from a last generation Sentra and the radios are shared with most of Nissan’s small car lineup. This parts sharing helps keep the NV200′s purchase price at a low $19,990 which is nearly six-grand cheaper than the Chevrolet Express and $2,435.

Nissan is touting a driver-focused cabin with business-oriented features, something that also sets Nissan’s full-size NV1500 apart from the Americans. In the NV200 these features include a comfortable driver’s seat with a right-side armrest, a hanging file holder in the center console, large glovebox, deep pockets in the doors and a fold-flat passenger seat. If you were hoping for a 5-seat NV200, don’t hold your breath, Nissan tells us they have no plans to offer a competitor to the Transit Connect Wagon in America.

Cruise control and Bluetooth hands free are not standard, but can be added to the base NV200 S for $200 and $250 respectively. If you want navigation and a backup camp, you have to jump up to the $20,980 NV200 SV and add the $950 technology package which bundles Nissan’s latest “Nissan Connected” head unit. In addition to greatly improved voice commands, Nissan’s cheapest nav unit adds smartphone integration for Google data services and Pandora internet radio streaming. It’s an interesting option in a segment that lacks good infotainment options with GM and Ford offering essentially no navigation in any van for 2013 and Chrysler’s C/V gets stuck with their ancient pre-uConnect system. If you want to know more, check out the video review of the Versa Note which uses the same system.2013 Nissan NV200, Picture Courtesy of Nissan

Cargo Hauling

Commercial vehicles put function over form, that’s why the Americans use short hoods and engines stuffed under doghouses in the cabin. Up till recently, all commercial vans except Chrysler’s slow selling C/V have been rear wheel drive. That means there is a trade-off between interior space and somewhere to put that driveshaft. The NV200 is based on Nissan’s small car platform, but doesn’t share much with the Cube. That’s a good thing when it comes to hauling because if you look at a RAM C/V, the touted “under floor storage” compartments are caused by the passenger car floor stamping. Rather than change the stamping, they turned the fold/tumble seat “wells” into storage. That means the load floor in the NV200 is close to the ground making loading easy.

On the down side, Nissan missed a few opportunities for the American market. At just over 122 cubic feet of storage, the NV200 fits just below the RAM C/V and between the 2014 redesigned Transit Connect short and long wheelbase models in terms of widget schlepping. The folding front passenger seat allows you to toss 10-foot long items in NV from the dash to the rear doors and the wheel-wells are just over four-feet wide. However, the distance from the driver’s seat to the rear doors is 18-inches shy of 4X8 hauling nirvana. Nissan tells us they just couldn’t stretch in the NV any further for Yankee duty which is a pity when American construction is dominated by 4×8 sheets of everything. Note that the C/V can handle 4×8 sheets of something (barely) but the Transit Connect has the same limitation as the NV200.

Payload is the limiting feature of any current small cargo vehicle. Nissan rates the NV for 1,500lbs in the S model and 1,477lbs in the SV. That’s 100lbs lower than Ford’s baby-hauler, 300lbs less than Chrysler and 800-1,000lbs less than the average 1500-series cargo van. When looking at those numbers, keep in mind the driver and passenger’s weight is included in the payload. Toss in two 200lb Americans and you have 1,100lbs of payload left. Nissan softens the blow by tossing in large sliding doors on both sides of the NV.

2013 Nissan NV200 Engine, Picture Courtesy of Nissan

Drivetrain

The NV200 may be cheaper than a Chevy cargo van, but its important to remember that GM fleet shoppers get incredible discounts on even small orders of the big vans dropping base models below $20,000 in real dollars. While Nissan has a similar volume discount program, we’re told by fleet buyers that the cuts aren’t as deep. Why pay only slightly less for a van that only holds half as much? The logic is as much about “right sizing” as fuel economy.

Motivating the NV200 is the same 2.0L four-cylinder engine that powered the last generation Sentra. The tried-and-true mill is good for 131 ponies and 139 lb-ft of twist. Sending power to the front wheels is, you guessed it, a Nissan CVT. Before you complain about CVTs, keep in mind we are talking about a cargo van where driving dynamics are secondary to the mission. The reason for the belt-pulley slushbox is obvious when you take a look at the MPGs: 24/25/24 (City/Highway/Combined) which are the best in the very small segment for 2013. Ford is promising 30MPG out of the new Transit Connect in 2014, but I suspect that the city mileage will be lower than the NV’s 24 and the combined number is unlikely to be much higher. You can thank the CVT for that combined number because it’s easier for the engine to stay at an efficient RPM in a wider variety of situations. However you feel about CVTs, anything is better than the current Transit Connect’s 4-speed auto.

2013 Nissan NV200, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Nissan

Drive

Logically this is the least important of this review, but the most common question people have after “who makes it” and “how much does it cost” is: a CVT in a cargo van? What’s that like? Surprisingly good. A fully loaded NV200 weighs 4,725lbs. It’s easy to see that 131HP and 139lb-ft need all the help they can get, and that help comes in the form of infinitely variable ratios. Unlike the Transit Connect which feels winded when fully loaded, and never seems to have the right gear for hill climbing, the CVT seems to have the right ratio for every situation. The tangible benefit is: you can load up your NV200 and climb a mountain pass at a constant highway speed while the Transit Connect is doing the speed-up-upshift-slow-down-downfshift-speed-up dance. Meanwhile the RAM C/V’s 283HP V6 is the performance champ (and the only one I’d want to tow anything with) but you pay a 3MPG combined penalty for the added zoom.

Maneuvering the NV200 around downtown San Diego proved easy thanks to a tight 18.3-foot turning radius (1 foot smaller than Ford and Chrysler) and heavily boosted electric power steering. When equipped with the backup camera the NV200 is a breeze to park. Without the $950 option the NV is more of a challenge but still easier to deal with than a full-size cargo hauler. Tight parking is where a compact hauler like the NV really shines. 2013 Nissan NV200, Picture Courtesy of Nissan

Before the 2010 model year the commercial cargo market was a stagnating mess. If you needed something more utilitarian than a Caravan or Odyssey, you had to step up to an enormous van with thirsty engines and old 4-speed automatics. Fast forward a few years and we have Nissan’s full-size alternative, the new Ford T-Series on the horizon, GM is stuffing 6-speed autos in their vans, Fiat’s ginormous front-wheel-drive Ducato is landing as the Ram ProMaster and now this NV200, Nissan’s first foray into the growing small commercial market. How well the NV200 sells will depend greatly on Ford’s new Transit Connect for 2014. If Ford can deliver the impressive mileage they are claiming, larger cargo capacity with a similar footprint and a sprinkling of style, the NV is unlikely to fly off the lots. Until then, the NV200 is the king of the compact cargo hill.

 

 

Nissan flew me to San Diego for the Versa Note launch and they made a few NV200s available to those interested.

2013 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van 2013 Nissan NV200, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Nissan 2013 Nissan NV200, Picture Courtesy of Nissan 2013 Nissan NV200 2013 Nissan NV200 2013 Nissan NV200, Picture Courtesy of Nissan 2013 Nissan NV200, Picture Courtesy of Nissan 2013 Nissan NV200 ]]>
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Chicago Auto Show: 2014 Nissan NV200 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/chicago-auto-show-2014-nissan-nv200/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/chicago-auto-show-2014-nissan-nv200/#comments Fri, 08 Feb 2013 16:21:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=476920  

 If the Transit Connect isn’t your bag but you’re looking for a small cargo carrier (or a New York Taxi), Nissan is finally bringing their NV200 to the USA. The small cargo hauler has been on sale in Japan and Europe since 2009 but due to the success of the Transit Connect Nissan has decided to bring it our way. What do you need to know? Click past the jump to find out.


The NV200 is based on the same platform as the Cube and Versa but stretched for American cargo duty. This means the vehicle has car-like ride aspirations, a 2.0L gasoline engine and, you guessed it, a continuously variable transmission. Nissan kept the MacPherson struts up front but swapped the torsion beam setup in the rear for commercial-style leaf springs to bring the payload capacity up to 1,500lbs. Note that an official cargo carrying capacity has yet to be announced.

Nissan tells us that a standard 40×48 inch pallet can be accommodated in the rear, and thanks to doors that fold flat with the sides of the van you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting a forklift in there to do the lifting. Just make sure it’s not a heavy pallet. Cargo carrying is helped by a load floor that is flat all the way to the front, a notable change from the Transit Connect that has a load floor higher than the passenger floor. This means it will be more practical to remove the front passenger seat in the NV for more hauling room.

Interior bits come from a variety of Nissan products with a unique dashboard and Nissan’s low cost nav system can be added as an option. The last, and perhaps most important thing to keep in mind is the engine. The 2.0L four is borrowed from the Sentra but Nissan hasn’t released power numbers yet. Some are suggesting that we should expect it to be detuned for cargo duty to around 135HP, but I hope they are wrong. Also not clear is whether the NV200 will be getting the newer CVT with 2-speed gearset which broadens the ratio spread of the CVT.

2014 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van 2014 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van-1 2014 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van-3 2014 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van-4 2014 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van-5 2014 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van-6 2014 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van-7

 

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Review: 2013 Nissan NV3500 HD SL 12 Passenger Van (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-nissan-nv3500-hd-sl-12-passenger-van-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-nissan-nv3500-hd-sl-12-passenger-van-video/#comments Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469726  

Every now and then a journalist sticks his foot in his mouth, and so it was with me and a Nissan PR person. PR person: we go the extra mile to make sure the press has access to everything we make, we don’t hide anything. Me: (after a long pause) oh yea? What about the NV Passenger van? How about that!? Eh? Why haven’t I seen one before? Hiding something? My Nissan minder whipped out his phone, made a call and a ginormous shiny black box appeared a week later. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I did not, I repeat, did not grovel and beg to Nissan’s top brass to get my hands on a full-size van.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Public opinion on the NV’s styling ranged from “I love the bold grille” to “dear God, put my eyes out.” Let us know what you think in the comment section. The dominant feature on the NV is certainly the front end which features an honest-to-goodness hood. This might sound totally banal at first glance, but anyone who has worked on a GM van knows the engine isn’t under the hood; it’s mostly under the dash with a bit inside the cabin. (This is why minor repairs on a GM van tend to start with “first, drop the engine”). The NV looks more like someone grafted a bread van box to a Nissan Titan, which in many ways is exactly what Nissan did.

Personally I like the shape of the NV. It looks different from the current crop of domestic people movers, I like chrome bling and I have a soft spot for a long hood. Am I crazy? Perhaps, I like the way the Ford Flex looks too. Looks aside, there’s a practical benefit to having a hood: the engine isn’t in the foot-well. In the GM and Ford vans the engine position means your legs are cocked to one side and your right foot is cooked after a 2 hour road trip. The hood allowed Nissan to lower the floor up front improving head room and making the vehicle feel more like a typical SUV than a big-rig.

The NV’s dashboard is formed from hard plastic, just like GM and Ford’s passenger vans. Hard plastics in general put up to hard abuse better than trendy minivan squishy bits. The NV’s interior showed no early wear despite our tester’s gig as a Nissan shuttle for drunk journalists for most of its 6,500 mile life. Although Nissan felt the need to dress parts of the dash in matte black ala GM/Ford, the color choices seem more modern than the competition.

Shoppers have three trim levels to choose from: S, SV and SL. The $31,990 S model is the starting point for the NV vans. Creature comforts like power locks, power windows and cruise control can be added for $650 or come standard along with map lights, a center storage console, 120V inverter, two extra cup holders, backup parking sensors, power driver’s seat, two more speakers (6 total), and a CD player on the $34,190 SV model. The top-of-the-line $37,690 SL model adds dual-zone electronic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, leather surfaces on all 12 seats, heated front seats and Nissan’s “low-cost navigation” system with backup cam. All models come standard with a rear HVAC unit with vents in the ceiling and the floor for rear passengers. Nissan priced the NV carefully, slotting it between the GM 2500 and 3500 series vans (and considerably less than a “comparable”  2WD Suburban if you’re wondering.)


Our SL had Nissan’s standard 5-inch touch-screen nav unit (available on the SV for $950). The nav system also includes XM radio, XM traffic, USB/iDevice integration, Bluetooth speaker phone functionality and a much-needed backup cam. If you’re familiar with aftermarket nav systems, you’ll feel right at home with the Nissan system’s snappy and straightforward interface. The music player interface is fully featured, but the only voice commands built into the system are for the phone interface. While the system will let you browse your iPod or dial a phone number while you drive off the road, you must be completely stopped to enter a navigation destination.

The front seats and most of the switchgear are borrowed from the Titan, complete with adjustable head rests and driver’s lumbar support. Instead of a full-vinyl seat on the S and SV (like Ford and GM) Nissan uses a tough, car-like fabric for the seat and vinyl side bolsters for improved durability. Front seat comfort proved exceptional during my week with the NV, something that is even more impressive when you consider the Savanna and E-Series front seats were not designed with the human back in mind. The rear seats are far more comfortable than the competition but not overly comfortable in general thanks to moderately firm padding and an upright seating position.

Instead of 3-4 person bench seats, the NV takes a page from the minivan playbook and splits the rear thrones into 4 two-seat and 2 singe-seat modules. While the seat modules can’t be described as light, they are easier to remove and replace than those in the competition. Nissan claims the 6 seat modules allow for 324 different seating configurations. All you need to know is: you can carry 12 people and limited cargo, 10 people and 10 suitcases or 8 people with camping gear. Try that in an SUV.

Innovation has been absent from the van market for so long things like headrests in the rear seem like a novelty. The reality is they’re an essential safety feature providing greatly improved neck protection in rear-end accidents. This shouldn’t just matter to customers with large families but to businesses worried about liability lawsuits as well. In addition to the headrests, Nissan tosses in curtain airbags for all four rows (the competition covers the front row only) and seat belts  integrated into the seat modules. Integrated seat belts improve safety system geometry in a crash, they also keep you from having to climb through a seat belt jungle to get to the back row and when the seat is removed so are the belts.

As nice as these improvements are there are still a few things that would bug me if I needed a large family vehicle. The rear seats don’t fold which would make cargo hauling without removing the benches easier (they don’t recline either.) There is also a distinct cupholder shortage in the NV with 10 cup receptacles for 12 passengers (and 4 are up front leaving the 10 people in the back to fight over the remainder.) If you’re a baby-on-board type, the NV has three LATCH equipped seats and two more seats with extra top-tether-anchors.

Under the NV’s long hood you’ll find two engines. The S and SV models come standard with a 4.0L V6 lifted from Nissan’s Frontier pickup truck. The VVT equipped V6 is good for 261HP at 5,600RPM and 281lb-ft of twist at 4,000RPM. Nissan’s 5.6L V8 engine (a close relative to the Infiniti M56′s engine) bumps power to 317HP at 5,200RPM but more importantly cranks out 104lb0ft more twist than the V6 (385 total.) Nissan makes the V8 standard on the leather-clad SL, and a reasonable $900 option on the SV and $990 on the S. Both engines are mated to Nissan’s heavy-duty 5-speed automatic which sends power to the rear wheels only. If you need AWD, visit your Chevy or GMC dealer. The 5-speed auto is a welcome improvement over E-350′s 4-speed, but one cog shy of GM’s new 6-speed in most Express/Savanna models. (GM’s 1500 series vans still get ye olde 4-speed in both RWD and AWD configurations.)

Before you buy the V6 in hopes of better fuel economy, let’s go over some numbers. Our V8 SL tipped the scales at an eye-popping 6,862lbs, the V6 is only 200lbs lighter. Next, consider the payload. An “obese of Americans,” that’s my new collective noun, can reach or exceed the NV’s payload range of 2,408 (V8) to 2,700lbs (V6). Put in perspective the V8 is at its limit after 200lbs of cargo and twelve 180lb occupants. If your clientèle (or family) is on the waiting list for America’s Biggest Loser, look at GM’s 3500 series van. It can haul 3,515lbs of American beef. Trailer owners will be pleased to know the NV still boasts a stout 8,700lb V8 tow rating.

If you’ve been paying attention you will have added these numbers up and discovered a fully-loaded NV weighs a cheeseburger shy of 9,300lbs. Even with the V8′s 33% improvement in torque and a downshift-happy 5-speed, freeway entrance ramps require a heavy right foot, careful preparation and fervent prayer. Add an 8,700lb trailer and 12 campers and you have 18,000lbs to get up to speed. With numbers like these the slight power differences between the Nissan 5.6L and GM6.0L V8 and the extra cog in GM’s transmission just don’t make much difference in acceleration. Should you need more consistent shove, consider GM’s 6.6L diesel, just be prepared to shell out some serious cash since the 525ft-lb Duramax is a $14,000 option.

With a gross vehicle weight (GVWR) starting at 9,430lbs the NV isn’t required to wear an EPA fuel economy sticker, but considering the lighter Titan scores 13/18MPG with the same engine, keep your expectations low. Over a 550-mile week we averaged 13.8MPG in mixed driving and observed a high of 15 on the highway and a low of 10 around town. Most of that time the NV was nearly empty. That may sound bad, but you should keep in mind it’s no worse than the GM and Ford competition. It’s also likely more fuel efficient to carry 12 in one vehicle than driving two 6-passenger SUVs.

By putting the engine under a hood rather than under the dashboard (like GM and Ford), the NV had to be longer than the competition to carry the same number of people. This means the 12-passenger NV is about the same length as the 15-passegner Savana (18-inches longer then a Suburban) making it difficult to find parking spaces. Thankfully Nissan managed to give the behemoth a 45-foot turning radius which is several feet smaller than the GM and Ford vans and just two feet larger than a Suburban. Thankfully our SL model had standard front and rear parking sensors and a backup cam which proved essential in parking lot maneuvers.

With 245/70R17 rubber on all four corners, an SUV-like 8.1 inches of ground clearance, recirculating ball steering and a rear suspension that uses leaf springs and a solid rear axle, the NV behaves like a full-size pickup truck or 1990s full-size SUV out on the road. Nissan’s choice of steering mechanisms may sound odd, but it results in the NV having a more predictable on-center feel on the highway and requires less effort in the parking lot. Honestly, it still has more road feel than a BMW with EPAS.

As you would expect from a vehicle with a high payload capacity, the NV tends to get “bouncy” on broken pavement if the rear seats are unoccupied but overall the ride is closer to a Suburban than a cargo van thanks to the extra weight in the rear. Visibility is the major complain in the NV with the sea of whiplash-reducing headrests making rearward visibility nearly impossible even without passengers in the van. In addition the NV sports an incredibly large B-pillar on the driver’s side which creates a large blind spot on your left. The optional backup cam solves part of the rearward visibility question, and Nissan does include blind spot mirrors on both sides of the NV but I still found the thick pillar bothersome because I’m used to looking over my shoulder when required.

When I tested Nissan’s cargo NV last year I found it to be the most civilized and comfortable van on the market, well priced and ideal for the owner/operator man-in-the-van. The passenger version of the NV sets a new benchmark in a phone-booth sized (and often overlooked) market segment. If you’re looking for a comfortable and upscale vehicle for your airport shuttle business or the most comfortable way to transport your family of twelve, you don’t have many options. Ford’s new T-Series van shows plenty of promise but won’t be on sale for nearly a year. Until the T-Series is out and we can get our hands on one, the Nissan NV should be the first and only van on your list.

 

 Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.510 Seconds

0-60: 9.52 Seconds

¼ mile: 16.55 Seconds @ 85.9MPH

Average fuel economy: 13.8MPG over 550 miles

2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, badging, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front 1/4 View, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Rear with cargo doors open, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seat Cupholders, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Engine, 5.6L V8, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Engine, 5.6L V8, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Front Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Driver's side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, ceiling, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, ceiling HVAC vents, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, front seat controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Navigation Radio, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Navigation Radio, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Navigation Radio, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Navigation Radio, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Gauge Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Gauge Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Commercial Week Day One Review: 2012 Nissan NV Cargo Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/commercial-week-day-one-review-2012-nissan-nv-cargo-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/commercial-week-day-one-review-2012-nissan-nv-cargo-van/#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2012 12:15:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=426977

The man-in-the-van makes the world go round but our brothers in white rarely get any love. That’s what this week is all about, it’s TTAC’s first ever commercial vehicle roundup. Plumbers, carpet cleaners, satellite TV installers, couriers, builders, we have heard your cries! Inspired by the lack of decent cargo hauler reviews (one review contained the line: “It has 8 cylinders which makes it a V8” ouch), we have assembled the cream of the commercial crop for your reading pleasure.

Today we have the new comer in the group, the all-new, all-Nissan NV2500 followed tomorrow by GM’s cargo hauler, Ford’s E-Series and Transit Connect and a special left-field review on day 5. Stay tuned! You’re probably thinking I forgot Mercedes’ Sprinter, but I didn’t. Commercial buyers I interviewed thought the Sprinter’s 6-cylinder diesel and high MSRP put it in a niche that didn’t directly compete with the white-vans of America. Can Nissan beat Detroit at its own game?

The NV has an honest-to-goodness hood. This might sound totally banal at first glance, but anyone who has worked on a GM van knows the engine isn’t under the hood; it’s mostly under the dash with a bit inside the cabin. (This is why minor repairs on a GM van tend to start with “first, drop the engine”). The NV looks more like someone grafted a bread van onto a Nissan Titan, which in many ways is exactly what Nissan did. Nissan’s research indicated many owner/driver “man-in-a-van” customers had defected to pickups as the American cargo van has been short on innovation for decades. Available in 1500, 2500 and 3500 variants, the NV uses a heavily modified Titan platform with a beefier frame, recirculating ball steering and heavy-duty suspension. Despite the hefty changes, the NV3500 is only 500lbs heavier than a crew-cab Titan allowing the high-roof NV3500 V8 to sprint to 60 in a rather surprising 7.9 seconds.

Looks aside, there’s a practical benefit to having a hood: the engine isn’t in the footwell. After three weeks driving Ford, GM and Nissan vans back-to-back, the difference in the Nissan was extreme: my size-12s actually fit in the footwell and weren’t cooked to perfection after a 1 hour drive. The NV’s seats benefit from the Titan connection being considerably more comfortable than the competition. Instead of a full-vinyl seat, Nissan opts for a vinyl side bolster and tough fabric, allowing better breathing and increased durability on the edge that gets the most wear. Base S models have standard air conditioning and a CD player while the SV model we drove includes cruise control, power accessories, two extra speakers and parking sensors (a life saver when navigating the high-top NV3500 around the streets of LA).

Plastics are hard, but that’s exactly what you would expect from a work truck, and they didn’t show early signs of wear like the plastics in last year’s Ram 3500. Borrowed from the Versa is Nissan’s “low-cost” navigation system with a 5-inch touch-screen, XM radio, XM traffic, bluetooth and iPod integration for $950. While an aftermarket GPS is about $500 cheaper, the integrated unit works extremely well and is probably one of my favorite factory nav systems. Shoppers should keep in mind that the side-impact curtain airbags are not standard, so if you’re buying off the lot, check the window sticker.

NVs get a choice of engines; the Titan’s 317HP/385lb-ft 5.6L V8 or the Frontier’s 261HP/281lb-ft 4.0L V6. Both are mated to a 5-speed automatic with power sent only to the rear, as Nissan doesn’t have plans for an AWD version right now. The extra cog is a welcome improvement over Ford’s 4-speed auto in the E-Series, but one shy of GM’s new 6-speed in most Express/Savanna models. Absent from the NV is a diesel option, something only GM provides at the moment. Nissan claims the NV will meet or beat GM and Ford’s MPG numbers, but that’s not really saying much when the competition runs around 10MPG.

The NV’s V8 is a thirsty companion, averaging around 13MPG in mixed driving and 14-15 on the highway, which merely matches GM’s 6.0L V8.  This is an issue for large fleet operators as gas prices climb. If you can give up a little power, GM’s 4.8L V8 equipped van delivers 14/19MPG which beats the V8 NV handily.

Instead of offering the NV in different lengths, Nissan decided the sky was the limit and offers two different heights. In order to compare the NV with the ubiquitous GM boxes, I dropped by Coit Services and snagged a 3500 series extended van. The difference was enlightening. Outside, the NV is about as long as the extended GM van, but interior space is similar to the GM regular wheelbase version. The optional high-roof makes no difference when it comes to jamming long ladders into the vehicle, but the 6-foot 3-inch ceiling height makes working inside the van a far less back-breaking. Depending on your business model and the length/height of your cargo, this $2,550 option may be worth it, especially considering GM/Ford high-top conversions usually don’t increase the height of the doors. Just be careful with those short parking garages.


The 120-inch by 70-inch cargo area can be equipped with a 120V outlet, and a variety of load-floor material choices, including a laminated wood option for easier pallet loading. Channeling your inner dominatrix, six D-ring hold downs are included and good for 1,100lbs each. Aiding ingress and egress, the rear doors open to a full 243-degrees and have magnetic latches to keep the doors practically parallel to the side of the van. Once you have your pallet loaded the wider track (54.3 inches between the wheel wells) of the NV makes walking around the load to secure it much easier than in the E-Series or Express/Savana twins. Mind you, 4×8 sheets of whatever will fit easily in any of the Detroit options. The only cargo-area features Nissan left out are dual-side sliding doors or a double hinged side door.

As I had to fly to Los Angeles to pick up the NV, I had a 5-hour journey back to San Francisco to become acquainted with the NV. On the highway, the NV impressed with light steering effort but very straight tracking making highway miles easy to deal with. I’d like to say we tested the handling limits of the NV, but Nissan said they would rather we didn’t flip the only van they had in California. Absolute limits aside, the NV drives more like a large SUV than I expected. You can thank the 385 lb-ft of torque for making freeway on-ramps and merging an easy task. Nissan rates the payload capacity at a healthy 3,925lbs for the standard roof NV3500 and 3,637lbs for the high roof model we tested. If towing is your thing, the NV will haul 9,500lbs when V8 equipped and 7,000lbs with the V6. In comparison, GM’s 3500 series delivers 4,394lbs of cargo capacity and a 10,000lb tow rating.

Pricing is a difficult discussion when it comes to a commercial vehicle. While we all know that there’s usually some good money on the hood with the American products for a single purchase, fleet buyers get manufacturer rebates for purchasing certain numbers of vehicles. While I was unable to get specific numbers from Nissan, I am told that fleet buyers should expect around $700 back with a minimum purchase of three NV vans and around $2,000 for 25 vans plus the usual bevy of enticing freebies.Apparently, domestic brands typically offer a larger rebate. If you’re a man-in-a-van, fleet discounts don’t matter, but the $24,950 base price of the standard roof NV 1500 which is a hair cheaper than the $25,090 base price of the Chevy Express.

For large volume fleet buyers, GM’s longer and larger cargo area, steeper discounts, a wider variety of engine choices and low repair costs probably trump things like driver comfort, well thought out features, and an engine that’s easy to work on. However if you own and operate your own van (or you care about the comfort of your employees), the Nissan NV delivers driver-oriented features that simply can’t be beat by the competition. With the NV , Nissan has created a solid work van that would be my choice for a daily driver, and with the recently announced passenger version of the NV, a van that has definitely put the Americans on notice.

 

This is part one of a five-part series on commercial vehicles. Click the links below for the others in this series

2012 Chevrolet Express / GMC Savana

2012 Ford E-350

2012 Ford Transit Connect


Nissan provided the vehicle, one tank of gas and insurance for this review. Nissan did not however pay the cost of the round-trip Southwest Airlines flight to Los Angeles to pick up/deliver the NV.

Statistics as tested:

0-30: 3.010 Seconds

0-60: 7.96 Seconds

¼ mile: 15.98 Seconds @ 91.9MPH

Average fuel economy: 14.2MPG over 950 miles (est: 12/17MPG low roof, 14/19 V6)


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