2013 Nissan NV
Nissan isn’t afraid to push creativity and take chances, for example the Cube, Juke, and Murano Convertible. Quirky with an eye on function. A convertible SUV is a wonderful thing to have in the vehicle world.
So is a cargo van you can walk around in. It’s not exactly a new idea, bread trucks. Mercedes introduced the Sprinter in Europe in 1995; in 2000 it came to the U.S. badged Freightliner and Dodge, and now it’s Mercedes again. It runs a few thousand dollars more than the Nissan NV, depending on the model. The Sprinter offers a four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, while the Nissan NV sticks to a V6 and V8.
The Nissan NV uses the Titan powertrain, but not the chassis. A new ladder frame was built for the NV, signaling how serious Nissan is about bringing a challenger for not only the Sprinter, but Ford and Chevy, which dominate the straight cargo van market.
The basic Nissan NV S is a steel box with water-repellent seats, hardboard trim, a fat useful center console, good audio system, wide-opening (243 degree) rear cargo doors, 57 integrated reinforced cargo mounting points, six floor-mounted D-rings, and 10 exterior roof rack mounting brackets.
The high roof grows straight up by nearly two feet, increasing the height from 84 to 106 inches, and expanding cargo space by 38 percent, from 234 cubic feet to 324. If you need to stand up inside, this is it.
For a few days we used our NV as a tow truck/race shop/parts bin/changing room. We didn’t sleep in it, but it would be easy to do so. We can’t think of anything it won’t do, storage or comfort-wise. Other racers commented on the versatility and utility of the design.
As a tow vehicle, it’s impeccable. We towed 8500 pounds, and it couldn’t have been smoother. We towed the trailer empty and hit 80 mph, still rock steady. The NV3500 is rated to tow 9500 pounds.
Our NV3500 high roof had the optional navigation system, using a tidy 5-inch touch-screen we used frequently with satisfaction. Love the rearview monitor showing the tow-hitch ball, aiming perfectly for its spot under the cap on the trailer tongue, nailed it every time, piece of cake.
Other options were $390 for side and roof-mounted airbags, and $460 for the tow package.
The passenger vans are in another league. They can get plush. They carry 12 people in four rows of two, three, three, and four.
The 5.6-liter V8 makes 317 horsepower and 385 foot-pounds of torque at 3400 rpm. The 5-speed automatic transmission shifts sharply and in all the right places. Its 3.54 final drive ratio balances good torque on freeway hills with good fuel mileage (the V6 has a 3.36 ratio). We got 11.9 mpg running hard on the freeway, towing our load. Without the trailer it was about 16 mpg. We set the cruise control at 62 mph on the level, and got 20 mpg. Impressive, for a big V8 with the aerodynamic exposure of the tall roof.
The 4.0-liter V6 makes 261 horsepower and 317 foot-pounds of torque. We didn’t drive one, but that sounds good for the half-ton 1500 and three-quarter-ton 2500 models. But the V6 torque peaks up at 5200 rpm, so we wonder about towing.
The NV handles well. The steering is slow, unsurprisingly, but it’s light for parking-lot turning. The good response on the road likely comes from the new boxed-in frame, and the rigidity it brings to the 146.1 inch wheelbase, which is 2 inches more than the Sprinter (which offers an extended model with a 170-inch wheelbase).
The brakes are excellent, with four-wheel discs having rotors just over 14 inches. Our van wasn’t equipped with a trailer brake unit, so a lot was asked of the discs, with four tons back there wanting to push the NV over a cliff. We paid attention to our driving, always thinking ahead. There was never a moment where the brakes didn’t do their overtime job.
The Nissan NV1500 ($25,350) is your basic cargo van, with a 261-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes water-repellent seats with wear patches, multi-reflector halogen headlamps, 14-inch brake rotors front and rear, 17-inch steel wheels with LT245/70R17 tires, AM/FM/CD audio system, wide opening rear cargo doors, six floor-mounted D-rings in the cargo area, 57 reinforced cargo mounting points, 10 exterior roof rack mounting brackets, variable intermittent speed-sensitive windshield wipers, black bumpers and grille. The NV1500 SV ($26,990) adds styled wheels, chrome bumpers and grille, dual power mirrors, hardboard interior cargo panels, eight-way power drivers seat, rear sonar system, and power door locks.
The NV2500 HD ($26,350) with standard roof or high roof ($28,900) offers a three-quarter-ton payload, comes with the SV wheels and adds a lockable center console with 12-volt outlet, storage tray under driver’s seat, two more cupholders, dual power mirrors, rear door storage pocket, and two more cargo area lights. A 317-hp 5.6-liter V8 engine is optional ($900). The NV2500 HD SV ($27,990) has all the 1500 SV and 2500 HD equipment, plus two 120-volt AC outlets.
The NV3500 HD ($28,950) with standard roof or high roof ($31,500) comes with the V8. Its one-ton payload takes slightly wider tires, and the final gear ratio is 3:54:1. The NV3500 HD SV ($30,590) includes the SV equipment above and adds two power outlets.
Safety equipment includes Vehicle Dynamic Control, ABS with electronic brake distribution, energy-absorbing steering column, side door beams, and tire pressure monitor.
There are also three NV 3500 passenger vans, seating 12 in four rows. The S uses the V6 ($31,990); the SV adds the V8 and a few small things ($34,190); and the SL adds primarily leather heated seats ($37,690).
Safety equipment on the passenger models includes eight airbags, Vehicle Dynamic Control, ABS with electronic brake distribution, traction control, tire pressure monitor, rearview camera, and LATCH system for children.
The Nissan NV borrows the Titan pickup truck's nose, at least the grille parts, with sleek headlamps at the corners. The overall lines are nice, for a steel box. The hood swoops sideways down over the front fenders, and small flares high over the rear wheels, shape the block. Looks like a dumb box trying to fly.
The high roof is another story, haha. It looks like a giant compressor has pumped the van full of air and stretched its scalp. It looks like it hurts. It attracts attention, people look it over. Sometimes they ask what it is. We got almost as many questions about our high-roof van as we do about hot cars.
The high roof has to hinder acceleration and speed, but we didn't notice it. And it doesn't make the van feel top-heavy, despite the weight up there in the roof with its 10 bowed supports like rollbars, except they're not tubes so they're probably not going to hold up if your NV rolls down a mountainside. We were careful not to pitch it around.
The grille comes off the Titan parts shelf. We prefer the looks of the minimalist S model, for its plain black grille and bumpers. The other models have chrome grilles that look fat. We understand about convenient parts. But a cargo van? Ask your dealer to paint the chrome grille black.
A cargo van is more than a big empty space with a rubber mat.
The basic Nissan NV S comes with water-repellent seats with wear patches, a sturdy material that looks good in charcoal like ours. There's an AM/FM/CD audio system, intermittent speed-sensitive wipers, wide opening (243 degree) rear cargo doors, no less than 57 integrated reinforced cargo mounting points, six floor-mounted D-rings, and 10 exterior roof rack mounting brackets. The front passenger seat folds flat, with a tray in the seatback. The walls of the cargo van are trimmed with hardboard.
The high roof lifts the ceiling by 22 inches and expands the cargo space by 38 percent, from 234 cubic feet to 324. There's 10 feet of cargo length behind the front seats. But it's more about whether or not you need to stand up inside, for what you plan to do with it. A six-footer can stand up in the back of the high roof NV, with 1.3 inches to spare, room for shoes. Being able to stand up is a great feature to have in the paddock.
We took our NV3500 SV high roof to the track, to an endurance race in the rain, towing our Dan Gurney for President ChumpCar Mustang. It was cold as well as wet, and our space was so comfy that half the pits tried to cram and snuggle inside the tall Nissan. A campfire on the floor would have been nice. Holding a seven-lap lead, the Mustang blew its motor with one hour to go, and the truck was a good place to lick wounds. Great four-speaker sound system, blasting to forget.
We took it to the track a second time, and it gave us more reasons to smile, serving as tow truck/race shop/parts bin/changing room. We didn't sleep in it, but it could be done easy. We can't think of anything it won't do, storage or comfort-wise. We used the giant center console like a small closet, and the giant grab handles at the rear doors every time.
Our NV3500 was a winner at the Portland Rose Cup, towing the legendary Bandit, the historic '82 NASCAR Oldsmobile made famous in the book, “Fast Guys, Rich Guys and Idiots” by Sam Moses. In the Wemme Trophy vintage race, biggest in the Northwest, the NV's car finished second in a field of 47, outrun only by an expertly driven Formula Atlantic car.
Based on the admiration and compliments of other racers as to the versatility and utility of the design, we give the Most Admired Tow Rig award to our dark blue NV3500 with the chrome grille that blinds you in the sun, a dozen times a day at least, at a race.
Our NV had $1235 in options, for rear door windows with privacy glass, floor mats, and mostly the $950 nav/audio system. We used the navigation frequently with satisfaction, a tidy 5-inch touch-screen. There's also satellite radio, am/fm/cd/mp3, USB port, Bluetooth and last but for sure not least, the rearview monitor that shows the tow-hitch ball, aiming perfectly for its spot under the cap on the trailer tongue, nail it every time. It's a godsend when you're used to doing it yourself, getting in and out of the truck three or four times.
Add another $390 for side and roof-mounted airbags, and $460 for the tow package, including extendable outside chrome heated towing mirrors, two front tow hooks, tow mode transmission, Class IV hitch, 7-pin connector, brake controller, and heavy-duty battery.
When you move up from the 1500 S to the NV 2500 S, you get standard lockable center console with 12-volt outlet, storage tray under driver's seat, two more cupholders, power mirrors, rear door storage pocket, and two more cargo lights. When you upgrade to the SV, you get hardboard interior cargo panels, 8-way power driver's seat, power door locks, and sonar system. Our rig had all these features and we appreciated them.
The passenger vans are in another league. They can get plush. They carry 12 people in four rows of two, three, three, and four.
As a tow vehicle, the Nissan NV3500 is impeccable. We towed a racecar and equipment weighing 4000 pounds inside a 22-foot enclosed trailer weighing 3500 pounds, and it couldn't have been smoother or steadier. We towed the trailer empty and hit 80 mph, still rock steady. The NV3500 is rated to tow 9500 pounds, more than the Mercedes Sprinter 3500.
The 5.6-liter V8 makes 317 horsepower and 385 foot-pounds of torque at 3400 rpm, and that was ample for our load. The five-speed automatic transmission is programmed wisely, shifting in all the right places. With that 3.54 final drive ratio, balancing good torque on freeway hills and good fuel mileage (the V6 has 3.36), we got 11.9 mpg with our load, running hard on the freeway. Without the trailer it was more like 16. We set the cruise control at 62 mph on the level, and got 20. Quite impressive, given the aerodynamic exposure of the tall roof. There's a 28-gallon fuel tank, so you don't have to suffer the shock of $100 fillups too often.
The 4.0-liter V6 makes 261 horsepower and 317 foot-pounds of torque. We didn't drive one, but that sounds good for the half-ton 1500 and three-quarter-ton 2500 models. But the V6 torque peaks up at 5200 rpm, so we wonder about towing.
The NV uses the powertrain of the Titan pickup truck, but it has its own frame. A new super beefy ladder frame was built for the NV, signaling how serious Nissan is about bringing a challenger for not only the Sprinter, but Ford and Chevy vans too.
We were surprised that a van of this size could handle so well. The steering is slow, unsurprisingly, but it's light for parking-lot turning. Although if you're parallel parking, lock-to-lock, you're turning the wheel 4.6 times, time for a naked-lady spinner knob (truck drivers from the '50s will remember). And don't try making a U-turn in any space less than 45.2 feet wide.
The good response on the road likely comes from the new boxed-in frame, and the rigidity its nine cross members brings to the 146.1 inch wheelbase, which is 2 inches more than the Sprinter (which offers an extended model with a 170-inch wheelbase). And there are 12 body-on-frame mounts. The front suspension is independent double wishbone with twin tube shocks, the rear is a solid axle with leaf springs, twin tubes, and stabilizer bar.
The brakes are excellent, with four-wheel discs having rotors just over 14 inches. Our van wasn't equipped with a trailer brake unit, so a lot was asked of the discs, with four tons back there wanting to push the NV over a cliff. We paid attention to our driving, always thinking ahead. There was never a moment where the brakes didn't do their overtime job.
The Nissan NV comes in many iterations, from stripped-down half-ton cargo van, to one-ton 12-seat passenger van. The V6 or V8 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, responsive handling, and 14-inch disc brakes are all good. It's worth comparing to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. We were very pleased with the convenience and capability of the Nissan NV3500.
Sam Moses filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drives of the Nissan NV3500 in the Pacific Northwest.
|Model Line Overview|
|Model lineup:||Nissan NV1500 S ($25,350), NV1500 SV ($26,990); NV2500 HD ($26,350), high roof ($28,900), NV2500 HD SV ($27,990); NV3500 HD ($28,950), high roof ($31,500), NV3500 HD SV ($30,590); passenger vans seat 12 and are all 3500 series: S ($31,990), SV ($34,190), SL ($37,690)|
|Engines:||4.0-liter, 261-hp DOHC V6; 5.6-liter, 317hp DOHC V8|
|Safety equipment (standard):||ABS with electronic brake distribution, Vehicle Dynamic Control, tire pressure monitor|
|Safety equipment (optional):||curtain airbags, side airbags in passenger vans, rearview camera, LATCH system for children|
|Basic warranty:||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Assembled in:||Canton, Mississippi|
|Specifications As Tested|
|Model tested (MSPR):||Nissan NV3500 SV high roof ($32,700)|
|Standard equipment:||5.6-liter V8, water-repellent seats with wear patches, 14-inch brake rotors, 17-inch styled steel wheels, AM/FM/CD audio system, floor-mounted D-rings in cargo bay, reinforced cargo mounting points, roof rack mounting brackets, variable intermittent speed-sensitive windshield wipers, dual power mirrors, hardboard interior cargo panels, 8-way power drivers seat, rear sonar system, power door locks, lockable center console with 12-volt outlet, storage tray under driver's seat, rear door storage pocket, extra cupholders and cargo lights|
|Options as tested (MSPR):||privacy glass, including rearview mirror and rear window defroster ($190), floor mats ($95), side and curtain airbags ($390), tow package ($460), technology package with navigation and 5-inch touch-screen, AM/FM/CD1/MP3 sound system, satellite radio, USB port, and Bluetooth ($950)|
|Gas guzzler tax:||N/A|
|Price as tested (MSPR):||$35765|
|Engine:||5.6-liter 16-valve V8|
|Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):||317 @ 5200|
|Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):||385 @ 3400|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:||N/A|
|Track, f/r:||68.7/68.9 in.|
|Turning circle:||45.2 ft.|
|Head/hip/leg room, f:||64.8/60.6/42.0 in.|
|Head/hip/leg room, m:||N/A|
|Head/hip/leg room, r:||N/A|
|Cargo volume:||324 cu. ft.|
|Towing capacity:||9500 Lbs.|
|Suspension, f:||independent, double wishbone, twin tube coil over shocks|
|Suspension, r:||leaf spring, solid axle, twin tube shocks|
|Ground clearance:||8.1 in.|
|Curb weigth:||6836 lbs.|
|Brakes, f/r:||disc with ABS, EBD|
|Fuel capacity:||28.0 gal.|
|Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of February 18, 2013.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-NISSAN-1 - www.nissancommercialvehicles.com|