Thumbs Up: Like cross between a van and a full-size pickup.
Thumbs Down: No diesel engine option.
Buy This Truck If: You’re looking for a solid value in a cargo hauler.
Sometimes, you fell the need for speed, while other times, you feel the need to haul a ton and a half of cargo from point A to point B. If you’ve got the former need, a Nissan GT-R would be near the top of our list; if you’ve got the latter need, you may want to consider the Nissan NV 2500 commercial van.
Just like the Nissan Titan represented the automaker’s foray into the world of full-sized pickup trucks, the Nissan NV 2500 represents its entry into the world of commercial vans. Rather than offering up just a single model, Nissan has taken the plunge by offering a full range of regular and high-roof van models, powered by V-6 or V-8 engines, all built in Canton, Mississippi.
If you need to haul cargo on a regular basis, chances are good that there’s a Nissan NV to suit your needs (and for hauling people, Nissan has a whole separate line of NV passenger vans). If you’re looking for a truck that you can drive to work during the week and haul a pair of dirt bikes on the weekend, the NV will likely be overkill. On the other hand, if you make a living by hauling goods cross-state or cross-country, the NV may be just what you’re looking for.
That’s not to say you can’t drive it on a daily basis, but let’s be honest here: its sheer size (over 20 feet long) makes it a hassle to park, and unloaded, the ride borders on harsh. While it feel like a big sedan (or a very, very big sedan) behind the wheel, no one would really want a commercial cargo van as a commuter car.
In other words, for a buyer with the right needs and expectations, the NV is a solid choice in the segment. It’s exterior styling is a bit unconventional, but that’s by design: to maximize interior space, the NV uses a pickup (long nose) front end instead of the more traditional cab-over-engine van layout. As a result, the NV has a conventional dash and console layout, with no space-robbing engine hump to be seen.
If the standard-roof version’s 55.8 inches of cargo height isn’t enough for your needs, the high-roof mode stretches this to 76.9 inches, enough for most owners to stand upright in the back. Both configurations offer up to 121.9 inches of cargo length behind the center console, both offer a maximum width of 70.2 inches and both provide 54.3 inches of room between the wheel wells. Access is granted through a curbside side door or through a pair of rear doors that swing wide for easy cargo loading. To ensure that cargo stays where you put it, the NV2500 offers up six tie-down points on the van’s floor.
Inside, accommodations are “commercial comfortable.” You won’t find leather upholstery or massaging, heated seats, but you will find a driver and passenger seat wrapped in stout, stain resistant cloth. Captain’s chair armrests ensure long-distance comfort for driver and passenger, but only the driver gets a manually adjustable lumbar support. The seats won’t rival a luxury sedan for long-distance comfort, but as any of us who’ve rented vans or trucks know, the accommodations could always be worse.
Nissan knows that commercial truck buyers want plenty of console space for things like laptops, clipboards and paperwork, and the NV doesn’t disappoint in this regard as long as you opt for a higher-trim model. The console is lockable, too, which will give buyers a little more piece of mind. An alarm and engine immobilizer can be had for most NV models, although owners hauling valuable cargo or parking in questionable areas may still choose to add additional security layers.
The NV’s dash is Spartan but functional, and the van can be configured with an oddly-small infotainment system. While the HVAC controls can be operated with gloves on, the tiny buttons and knobs of the optional audio and navigation system must be operated bare-handed. It’s a minor detail, but one we hope Nissan corrects on future versions. The good news is that steering wheel audio controls make the infotainment system’s buttons redundant.
Instruments are simple and functional, consisting of a coolant temperature gauge, a tachometer, a speedometer and a fuel gauge, with the tach and speedo split by a brightly-lit driver information display.
Our Nissan-supplied NV2500 SV came with the 4.0-liter V-6 engine, rated at 261 horsepower and 281 pound feet of torque and mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. While we sadly lacked 3,000 pounds of cargo to haul, with the van empty the engine delivered what we’d call reasonable performance. Nissan doesn’t provide fuel economy estimates for the NV (which, as a commercial vehicle, isn’t rated by the EPA), but we saw an indicated 15.3 mpg in around-town driving.
On the road, the NV feels planted as long as the weather is calm. In high winds, we’d expect the NV to be a handful, but the same can be said of any vehicle with such a large profile. During our time behind the wheel, the NV 2500 accelerated, stopped and turned better than we expected it to, and we appreciated the rear parking sensors and back-up camera included as part of the Technology Package.
The Nissan NV2500 won’t make many consumers shopping lists, as its focus is too limited. Still, if you’re in need of a full-size commercial van, the NV serves up some innovative features at a price that warrants a test drive. It may not be for everyone, but if hauling stuff is how you earn a paycheck, it may be for you.
The base price on our Nissan-supplied NV 2500 V6 SV van was $27,950, including a $760 destination charge. Options included the $190 Rear Glass Package (rear windows with privacy glass, interior rearview mirror, rear window defroster), the $95 All Season Floor Mats, the $390 Side And Curtain Airbag Package and the $950 Technology Package (navigation system with 5-inch touchscreen display, AM/FM/XM/CD audio system with MP3 playback, aux-in and USB jacks, rearview monitor, Bluetooth phone integration with steering wheel controls) for a total sticker price of $29,575.
For comparison, a similarly equipped Chevy Express Cargo Van 1500, less navigation system and with a four-speed automatic transmission, would sticker at $28,515. A comparable Ford E-150, with a larger 4.6-liter V-8 engine, would list at $32,250.