By on March 10, 2010

Here’s Nissan’s solution to keep the underutilized Titan lines moving, and it’s a bit different. A van body has been grafted to the Titan front end, which brings certain obvious benefits and disadvantages. Nissan claims that US van owners are unhappy with their ancient Econolines and Chevy vans. According to Nissan: “Looking at the CV market in recent years, there’s been a migration of van users to light-duty pickups due to the lack of comfort, image and dependability of the current outdated van platforms. Yet many of these truck owners admit they need a van for weather protection, security and the convenience of a tall roof van to carry large items or equipment.”

The upside is a roomy pickup cab with no engine dog house. The downside? A lot of wasted real estate, especially compared to the European-designed Sprinter.

The Nissan NV is available in a low roof as well as a high roof version. Three load ratings are available, 1500, 2500, and 3500 (one ton). Engines are a choice of the familiar 4.0 V6 and the 5.6 V8. No diesels.

What’s curious is the upper side panel indentation, where glass might typically be. There’ no way that would be there unless Nissan was planning some sort of passenger version too. And looks like no easy walk-through to the back, unless that console can be deleted. That’s one of the strengths of the vans.

This may well put more pressure on Ford’s and GM’s old van platforms. But it certainly isn’t up to the Sprinter’s versatility, space utilization, and efficiency. Of course, its pricey too. No word on Nissan NV pricing yet. Full press release and pics for all you plumbers and electricians here.

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42 Comments on “New Titan-Based Nissan Vans Debut...”

  • avatar

    That actually might have legs. The Econoline is ancient but decent but the GM van is a danger to all. The Sprinter is heading for the orphanage. MB through Freightliner is going to push them but how many FL dealerships do you see around? And can you imagine servicing an MB diesel outside of a dealership? Errrrr, not likely.

    Given how few BoF vans are out there it just might do. Fuel efficiency or the lack thereof will be the key I think.

  • avatar

    As I see it, it’s a PU with a factory installed permanent cap which is accessible from inside.

    I think it’s a fine idea. Contractors who use PUs instead of vans have to put side boxes and ladder racks on, so they can’t see w/o their mirrors anyway.

    Should be more comfortable than the traditional van, and I doubt many potential customers will object to the hood sticking out in front.

    My guess is that when someone besides Nissan does this, it’s really going to take off.

  • avatar

    How many van owners are interested in image?

  • avatar
    crash sled

    Wow, somebody finally put a powertrain in one of these toys. Sprinter and the Turkish Edsel are for florists. Fine, for what they are, I suppose. I believe both are knockdown chicken tax beaters (I believe the Transit is imported with fake seats bolted in place to make it a “car”, which get removed and shredded.), while the Nissan is manufactured in Mississippi.

    I think E-Series will come under significant pressure now, although the commercial market is still their kingdom, plus they’re wired into all the stripped chassis work for the aftermarket builders. But E-Series doesn’t have those nice swing all the way out of the way doors like this Nissan. Nice.

    Nice work by Nissan though, filling the powertrain void in one of these stand-up-inside jobs. It’s a dogfight, and Ford better watch out, because Nissan is coming after everything, including Heavy Duty and Commercial Truck, looks like.

    • 0 avatar

      I recall reading in the WSJ some time ago that the seats are actually removed, loaded into a 40ft container and used again in the next batch of Transits being imported.

    • 0 avatar

      As someone who actually has used one of these vehicles, I can speak to the efficiency of the Sprinter. My former company had one that replaced our old C20 Chevy Van.

      We were a small printing company, but we had enough capacity that we needed a dock-height capable machine that could take more than two 40×48 pallets at a time. The additional bonus was that we could load full size pallets through the side door.

      The turbodiesel 5 cyl got 20 MPG in town and better on the freeway. I only drove it when I needed to move stuff, like my kid to college and new sectional sofa for the rumpus room. The fact you could stand upright in it was fantastic when you were moving furniture, especially with my marginal back.

      IMO, I think that Nissan and the others have a long way to go to catch up to the domestic truck makers. Particularly Ford, with the Turkish Edsel as you call it. Bigger than a bread box and smaller than a boxcar and good fuel mileage. The Nissan airport bus will probably get about 15 MPG. The TC? 23 MPG. With gas in my area hovering at $2.85/gallon, it will make a big difference.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Geo, that’s the whole point though, the Sprinter and Transit can’t work in the airport shuttle bus application (or ambulance, or whatever), which calls for a 3500 series or even more, heavy payload capacity, and perhaps even a diesel. You can’t do that work with a little peashooter 5 or 6, turbo’d or not. This Nissan is the first credible threat to Ford, imo. Those other rigs are just toys… for florists. If you want a truck, you gotta buy a truck.

      I went to Nissan’s commercial truck link, and all they show is this van, and not much other info. I’d guess they’re just getting into that here, but I bet 5 years from now, they’ll be a player in that market.

      Strap it up, Mullaly. Commercial Truck is a nice little profitable program and segment, and you need to tidy up some of Billy’s past sins and neglect there, as well. Junk those engines and transmissions, for one.

    • 0 avatar

      the seats aren’t fake, nor are they shipped back to Turkey

      crash, why can’t the Sprinter do airport shuttle service? I’ve been in one for that very purpose and it was the best van ride i have ever had, I asked the driver about it and he loved it. True the wagon version is only available as a 2500, but thats plenty for people shuttling.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Emro, the seats themselves may not be “fake”, but they are installed in Transit imports to fake the system, so they can avoid the chicken tax. It’s a common enough historical practice… the Japanese and others did it, and the Detroit 3 at points, I believe. And no I didn’t say the seats were sent back to Turkey, although they might as well be to save money and truly expose this farce. Your article does confirm that they’re “recycled” once removed, whatever that means:

      “Assembled in Kocaeli, Turkey, the Transit Connect’s first U.S. stop is a warehouse in Baltimore, where the majority of them undergo minor procedures to be converted into cargo vans. Windows are replaced with metal panels, and the rear seats are removed and shipped to Ohio for—according to Ford—recycling.”

      Looks like they come in with windows as well, which are also removed.

      That article also says the vehicle is good for a 1,300 pound payload, which is as I recall it, and that makes it NFG for the airport shuttle/ambulance/aftermarket builder/whatever market in question here. Not heavy enough, and not enough powertrain. Your airport guy probably liked the handiness of it, and so would I, but hauling a dozen travelers and their baggage requires something more than Transit.

      And remember, E-Series chassis goes out to a 450, 550 and beyond. It owns this market, and not even the Nissan is ready to take them on (yet).

    • 0 avatar

      @crash: My point was this: There are better established trucks out there already. The Sprinter can easily handle the workload of a airport shuttle bus, although they’re not often seen. The exchange rate is a killer for anything coming from the Euro zone.

      Ford has most of that market covered already as you note in your replies. I bring up the Transit Connect as an alternative to existing vans, and as a mini Sprinter for the companies that need a vehicle that can do more than a PT Cruiser’s workload. Ford (and GM) builds highly competitive trucks for this type of work, and Ford even has the smaller end covered as well.

      I see Nissan desperately trying to find a niche for their truck to work within, but I don’t see the commitment. Wasn’t Nissan negotiating not that long ago to buy Dodge’s Ram to replace their own truck? What does that say about their belief in their own vehicle?

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Geo, Ghosn is a gadfly, so I wouldn’t take anything he says publicly for gospel. He’s not like a Mullaly, transparently rational, Ghosn flits around hither and yon, purposely confusing folks I suspect. Remember when he disparaged hybrids, then suddenly he’s got one in the pipeline?

      However, he’s just like me and you, if he coulda somehow stolen Ram for a song, I’m sure he woulda done it. It’s an established platform, and fairly well received. And if you strip out the UAW legacy obligations, it’ll make pots of money, just as F-150 and Silverado would do.

      Nissan is coming though. Yes, Titan is not near best in class, but it is likely equal to Ram right now, with both below Silvy and F-150. And soon, they’ll have a Heavy Duty Titan, with diesel. And the Frontier is better than all but Tacoma in the small trucks, so they’re solid there.

      It’s not fast movement, but I see both Nissan and Toyota as steadily encroaching on the last bastion of Big 3 dominance, the trucks.

  • avatar

    Appears to be more useful for contractors than a Transit.

    The price tag will be clincher – 40+K for a Sprinter v. ~25K for a Savana/E250.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of the Sprinter since it came over as a Freightliner. But I do understand some of the hesitation on price vis-a-vis a domestic van.

  • avatar

    It’s a throwback, actually. The first “vans” were actually called “panel delivery” trucks, and were based on pickup truck architecture. The last (I think) was based upon the ’67-72-style Chevy/GMC. It was pretty much a Suburban with no rear side doors and metal in place of the glass.

    By sharing the assembly line with pickups (then and now) a manufacturer theoretically needs to sell half as many of each.

    One big advantage of this style over other cargo vans is serviceability. If you’ve ever worked on a GM, Ford, or Dodge cargo van, you know how difficult it can be.

    I suspect it will do well enough to keep that assembly line running. I see it as a win-win vehicle, without much risk on Nissan’s part.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Here are pictures of the 1966 Chevy panel truck
      My dad has a similar Surburban. Built on a short wheel base pickup frame.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Wasted space? Not if you throw some bunk beds in there. And at the rate I’m going, this would be high-class living. I just won’t park it by the river.

  • avatar

    Looks like a super-sized Chevrolet Uplander.

  • avatar

    why would I buy some dumb truck like this instead of a true walk van with an aluminum body???

    I can get a much better product and much larger.

  • avatar

    What, no Urvan or Homy?

  • avatar

    “What’s curious is the upper side panel indentation, where glass might typically be. There’ no way that would be there unless Nissan was planning some sort of passenger version too.”

    The obvious application for a version with windows would be a shuttle bus for hotels and airport parking lots and the like.

  • avatar

    The interesting part (for me) is that it’s open behind the “cab” (well, cockpit) to the back — but with the massive pickup-style centre console, it’s not possible to walk from the driver’s seat to the back of the van. That’s a significant downside for a lot of people, I think, but not everyone. So this may still help keep the Titan assembly line running a little bit longer.

  • avatar

    One issue I see at first glance is that the long hood makes it too long for easy parking. Vans are used nearly exclusively by tradespeople in metro NYC, and the manage to get them parked even in Manhattan.

    This thing looks to have a couple of feet of unnecessary length.

  • avatar

    Looks like a start. I’m in favor of anything that puts pressure on Ford’s Transit or Honda’s woefully under-developed Element. I hope my next vehicle is a passenger van-type tall enough and long enough to hold my bikes in the back standing up with both wheels still on, have AWD, and generally accomodate my outdoor lifestyle. But someone has to build it for me to buy it. The Transit is too raw, and the very promising Element concept has been allowed to stagnate with serious flaws left uncorrected.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I bet that entire console arrangement is held in with 4 8mm nuts on studs welded to floor. Or, 4 8mm bolts into 4 nutserts. And who knows maybe a dangle with connector for some 12v wired function.

    It sure is ugly an ugly vehicle.

    Is there a long body Transit in the pipeline for the motorcycle crowd?

  • avatar


    no, morgan olson, utilimaster and union city body have been making them on just about every chassis out there. what’s so special about Nissan?

  • avatar

    Interesting idea, but with Nissan’s complete failure to be a real force in the full-size pickup market, what makes them think they can make headway in the commercial van market?

    The E-series van currently owns the segment, ancient though it may be. How modern of a platform do you need for a cargo van? It has to hold a lot of stuff, not tip over too easily, and be reliable for many miles of rough duty. The current E-series fits that bill perfectly.

    The Transit Connect may be too small for some people’s needs (though it is quite a bit larger inside that most people realize) but it does work for most, and Ford has the full size Transit coming over in a couple years to offer a full size van alternative with good fuel economy.

    The biggest issue I see though is how easily customized these will be. I can spec out an E-series van for a customer in a number of different wheelbases and lengths, with a variety of powertrains, including a diesel, with a cargo or passenger compartment, or even a cutaway that is ready for a tall-van, utility-van, or some other conversion. After that, I can send any E-series or Transit Connect customer half a mile down the road to the upfitter who can install a huge different assortment of racks and bins, shelves, catering warming trays, hooks, refrigeration units, bulkheads, or whatever else a customer might need, and be able to do most of it the same day, or at worst, within a week.

    Ford is the 800 lbs Gorilla in the commercial truck and van segment not only because the products are best in class, but because Ford has taken the time to work with and develop relationships and agreements with all of the aftermarket upfitters to make each of those commercial products customizable to each individual purchaser’s needs.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Ford is the 800 lbs Gorilla in the commercial truck and van segment not only because the products are best in class, but because Ford has taken the time to work with and develop relationships and agreements with all of the aftermarket upfitters to make each of those commercial products customizable to each individual purchaser’s needs.

      Excellent synopsis, Nullo. Ford Commercial Truck is an outstanding organization, and imo, has been the only world class product development group FoMoCo has had on staff. That is, the only one that has not been fully institutionalized to their past disfunctional corporate culture, and is capable of competing in the marketplace, all on their own. They work at it, and wirh limited resources, too. Well done, Commercial Truck. You should be the model for that company. You work intimately with the customer, and provide what the customer wants, and you do it efficiently and profitably.

  • avatar

    Yea they may sell a 1000 a month. That isn’t going to change much for that plant.

  • avatar

    Paul, in the article you say “And looks like no easy walk-through to the back, unless that console can be deleted.” If you read the press release it states “The available center console (removable) provides a range of integrated storage features, while the fold-down passenger seat – which is unique to the segment – adds worktable functionality and enhances the cab’s feeling of openness.” So it is an extra cost option and is removable.

  • avatar

    full size vans need more power??? you ever look in your rearview going 85 and see a full size chevy or ford climbing your bumper? i swear those things outrun anything else.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Maybe this will put some pressure on Ford to start bringing the full sized Transit line to the US market. Sure the “E” is good for what it is, but what it is is ancient.

  • avatar

    The low-top version looks like Snoopy’s head. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing…

  • avatar

    I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but it looks almost exactly like a Ford from the front. So much so that at first glance I thought it was a Ford…I had to do a double take!

    • 0 avatar

      This was also my observation when I read the piece yesterday … I was coming back here to note that when I saw you comment … I agree completely and would be surprised if Ford does not go after Nissan for design infingement.

      BTW, in the mid-1990’s, Ford had a program VPN127 (IIRC), where the goal was to develop a p/u and van on a common platform (the common platform idea was eventually dropped.)

  • avatar

    BTW, I think a number of people here, not all, are confusing the recently offered in N.A. “Transit Connect” compact delivery van (from Ford-Ottosan in Turkey) with the larger “Transit” Econoline-sized commercial van.

    Here in Europe, the Transit is the “Plumber’s Special” as the Econoline is in the States. Far as I can tell, few are pining-away here for a V-8 or V-10 option … Transits, like the Sprinter, get the performance they need to drive on the autobahn, or up and down curvey mountain roads, loaded with tradesman’t tools, and they manoeuver and park well, and in operation, they are more of an econo-line than the Econoline is.

  • avatar

    The Cummins V8 is the deisel option for this vehicle.

  • avatar

    It does seem like Ford is poised to bring other versions (including larger sizes) of the Transit line over from Europe and to offer clean diesels and hybrids eventually.

    Some have commented that an Econoline offers more size for the price vs a Transit. But for a lot of small businesses, the better mpg and maneuverability of the Transit is a better fit for them.

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