It was exactly one year ago at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show that US motorists first laid eyes on the Nissan NV200. Now, one year and one Chicago Auto Show later, the time has finally come for the Nissan NV200 cargo van to go on sale in the US.
Given its history, chances are the Nissan NV200 looks at least marginally familiar to you. The car has been on sale in Japan and Europe since 2009, and originally debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show all the way back in 2007. Originally, Nissan didn’t see much point in bringing their cargo-friendly vehicle to the US, however the success of the Ford Transit Connect changed their perspective.
What the Nissan NV200 lacks in appearances it makes up for in functionality. Let’s be frank – this is not an attractive car. However, it was able to beat out both the Karsan V-1 and the Ford Transit Connect to win New York City’s Taxi of Tomorrow in 2011. As of later this year, the NV200 will replace the Crown Vic as New York City’s official taxi. They’ve established a 10-year contract for Nissan to provide the Big Apple with over 13,000 taxi-modified NV200’s, which is estimated to save the city over 5 acres of road space.
But, what about non-taxi drivers?
Here’s what you need to know about the Nissan NV200:
At its roots the NV200 is a commercial vehicle. Despite the taxi-modified version, this is not a passenger’s car. It is intended as a lightweight, semi fuel-efficient vehicle capable of handling heavy-duty cargo. It is designed to be small enough for packed city streets, but smooth enough for long highway drives.
The NV200 is built on the same architecture as the Nissan Cube and Nissan Versa, but elongated to accommodate more cargo space. The extra space allows the van to take on a full-size 40 by 48 inch pallet, while the side-folding doors make it easy to maneuver the aforementioned pallets into the vehicle with a forklift. The load floor also features tie-down rings in each corner to transport motorcycles, lawn mowers, four-wheelers, etc. while the sides can be fitted with shelves for transporting smaller items. The passenger seat is removable and the load floor is flush with the passenger section, so you get maximum space for your buck.
As for specs, the 2013 NV200 runs on the Nissan Sentra’s 2.0L 4-cylinder gasoline engine with a CVT. The cargo capacity is 1,500 lbs thanks to a combination of MacPherson struts and truck-like torsion beams in the front and back respectively. The Japanese-made van can also be equipped with a rear monitor system to make backing up as easy and safe as possible. According to Nissan’s website, the NV200 starts at just a hair under $20,000, which is a full $3,000 cheaper than Ford’s Transit Connect.
All in all, the Nissan NV200 is certainly not the most exciting car we saw at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, but it is definitely a relevant one. It’s about time that Ford had some competition in the van segment, and Nissan is certainly poised to give them just that. It may not be the sexiest vehicle on the roads, but this practical van may well be a breakthrough vehicle for Nissan in the US.
Source: The Truth About Cars