Like its cargo-focused NV sibling, the Nissan NV Passenger is a breath of fresh air in a segment where the major players evolve with the rapidity of a slothful snail. The Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express/GMC Savanna twins combine for 95 percent of the full-size van market, but each rides on a platform that is more than 15 years old. In contrast, the NV rides on a unique new platform comprised of a fully boxed ladder frame that gives it a touch of sophistication (for a full-size van) that the antediluvian domestic offerings can't match.
The NV Passenger's mission is to transport large amounts of passengers in comfort, and to that end Nissan carefully designed the interior for maximum convenience and versatility. Getting into the cabin is easy thanks to an extra-low step-in height, and once inside moving around is facilitated by seat-mounted safety belts - most other vans use cheap, mobility-impeding ceiling-mounted belts. There's space for 12 occupants across four rows - to balance passenger and cargo capacity, the rear three rows are made up of one- and two-person seats that can be individually removed without tools. Even with all seats in place, the van has a healthy 28.9 cubic feet of stowage space.
Each seat comes with its own headrest, while available reading lights above each row add an extra level of practicality. To keep laptops, cell phones and video games running, available power outlets include two 120V units up front and four 12V units split between the front and the rear. Finally, to make sure everyone is comfortable, there's a unique climate control system with floor-mounted heating vents (to take advantage of the fact that heat rises) and ceiling mounted A/C vents.
Up front, there's plenty of room for the driver and passenger because it it eschews the setback engine placement (which intrudes into interior space) used in Ford and Chevy vans for a conventional out-front engine design. The driver's seat is designed for maximum support and comfort - perfect for extended journeys to the airport and back - and there's plenty of space to store smaller items in a capacious center console that also features a top that slides forward to act as a table.
The NV Passenger's interior is built from extra-durable materials to ensure longevity, and the seats feature heavy-duty vinyl protective wear patches and water-resistant materials.
Unlike most competitors, the NV can be had with a wide range of usefully technology items, including a touchscreen navigation, a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and, to make parking easier, a rear camera along with front and rear sonar systems.
The NV's two engine choices are sourced from Nissan's Frontier and Titan pickups. The base engine, offered on S and SV trim levels, is a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. Optional on the S and SV but standard on the high-end SL is a 5.6-liter V8 packing 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a five-speed automatic that sends power to the rear wheels. With an available towing package, the van is capable of hauling a herculean 9500 pounds.
Trim Level Breakdown
The NV Passenger is offered in S, SV and SL trim levels.
The entry-level S comes standard with A/C, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with an AUX input jack, one 12V power outlet cloth upholstery and 17-inch painted silver wheels.
The SV adds power windows and locks, remote entry, cruise control, two extra speakers for the sound system, a power driver's seat, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, two 120V power outlets and three additional 12V units, six rear passenger reading lights and 17-inch chrome-clad wheels.
The SL brings leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic front climate control, Bluetooth connectivity,
All NV models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Rivals to the NV passenger include the Methuselah-like Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express/GMC Savanna twins in addition to the pricey but refined Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.