By Steve & Tami Laser
Business owners and fleet operators seeking delivery vans have two options. They can choose full-size vans that are big and bulky, difficult to park and expensive to operate. Or they can go with small cargo vans where the choices become limited. Nissan has entered this rediscovered market with its new NV200 for 2013.
Compact cargo vans like Chevrolet’s Astro and Ford’s Aerostar were once popular with businesses. Yet they were designed in the 1980s. Rather than re-engineer them to meet today’s stricter safety and emissions standards they were simply discontinued.
Ford returned to this market in 2010 with its Turkish-built Transit Connect. To avoid the 25 percent tariff (also called the “chicken tax”) on imported commercial vehicles, the Transit is brought in as a passenger van and then the rear seats are removed.
Nissan’s NV200 was introduced in 2009 as a global player in the compact van segment. Our version of this Japanese van is built in free-trade Mexico, thus avoiding the tariff.
The U.S. market NV200 is stretched about eight inches to offer more interior space. It’s remarkably roomy inside. The cargo bay measures 82.8-inches long, 54.8-inches wide or 48.0 inches between the wheel-wells and 53.0-inches high. Nissan says that a standard 40×48-inch wood pallet will fit. Payload capacity is 1,500 pounds for the NV200 S or 1,477 lbs. for the SV.
Integrated mounting points are included in the cargo area, allowing installation of racks and shelves without drilling into the sidewalls. The SV has six floor-mounted hooks for added versatility to secure cargo.
Loading is easy thanks to dual sliding doors and rear doors that are split 40/60. The shorter door on the left doesn’t intrude into the street when it’s swung open to the full 180-degree position. With both rear doors open, a forklift can drive up to the rear bumper and load, something that wouldn’t be possible with a swing-up tailgate.
NV200’s cabin serves as a “mobile office” with a center console featuring laptop computer or hanging file folder storage, pen/pencil tray and dual cupholders. The front passenger seatback folds down as a work station or to extend cargo space for hauling extra-long items like pipes or lumber.
The front-wheel-drive NV200 has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 131 horsepower coupled to Nissan’s Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission. To handle heavy loads, the suspension employs MacPherson struts in front with a beam axle in the rear supported by multi-leaf springs.
We drove the NV200 for a week on crowded city streets, busy freeways, country roads and highways. Its small size makes it easy to drive. Economy of operation is the theme so there are no other engine choices for the U.S market.
The NV200 is rated at 24 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. We drove more than 200 miles and averaged 21 mpg. That tops full-size vans yet the expensive diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz Sprinter comes pretty close. Nissan offers a diesel in other markets yet there’s no indication it will come here anytime soon in the NV200.
The NV200 is very competitively priced. It starts out at $19,990 for the S while our SV tester had a base price of $20,980. Even with options including rear door glass, floor mats, exterior appearance and technology packages, the bottom line was $23,250.
For $950, the technology package adds a rearview monitor, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Nissan Connect with Navigation and color touch-screen display, Google Send-to-Car, Pandora Radio (with a customer-supplied iPhone) and hands-free text messaging assistant.
So if you’re looking for a small affordable van for your business or pleasure, be sure to check out the new Nissan NV200. For more information, visit NissanUSA.com.
NV200 press fleet vehicle provided by Nissan North America (Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All information from the manufacturer including prices, specifications and warranties is subject to change without notice.)
Story and photos ©2013 CarNichiWa.com (lead photo by Nissan)