The Nissan NV 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 is available in 1500, 2500 and 3500 models that are identical in length but differentiated by options and payload capacity.
The 1500 can be had only with a standard roof and has a max payload of 2590 lbs. The 2500 can be had with a standard roof or an optional high roof that raises total height by 31.1 inches (enough room to allow for walking in the cargo area of the van) and interior volume from 234.1 cubic feet to 323.1, while payload capacity ranges as high as 3141 lbs. Finally, the 3500 is available with a standard- or high-roof and is capable of a maximum 3925 lb. payload.
The NV's two engine choices are sourced from Nissan's Frontier and Titan pickups. The base engine, offered on 1500 and 2500 models, is a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. Optional on the 1500 and 2500 but standard on the 3500 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, and max towing is 7500 lbs. with an available trailer towing package.
Inside, the van offers a comfortable and spacious passenger compartment because 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 NV is loaded with storage pockets and compartments, including an under seat drawer designed to fit small tools. High roof models can be had with an overhead console designed to hold work gloves, legal size binders, safety glasses and system books, while an optional lockable and removable center console can fit a laptop and includes a computer or mobile phone charging point.
Trim Level Breakdown
Being a work truck, the NV is not exactly filled to the brim with features. The base "S" trim level features a two-speaker stereo system, four-way adjustable manual cloth seats, power window and locks, and not much else. Stepping up to the "SV" nets a four-speaker stereo, an 8-way adjustable power seat for the driver (but not the passenger), a remote keyless entry system and a rear sonar system.
A technology package available on the "SV" trim level includes a navigation system with a five-inch display screen, Bluetooth integration, XM satellite radio, a USB port for MP3 players and a RearView camera system.
Safety features include dual front airbags, stability and traction control systems, ABS and a tire pressure monitoring system. Dual side and side curtain airbags are optional.
The new-to-the-segment Nissan NV is taking on sales leaders such as the Ford E-Series and the Chevrolet Express / GMC Savanna Cargo work vans in the fleet side of the van market.