2013 Nissan NV200: First Drive

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By Matt Stone
Photos by the author and courtesy Nissan

If you've ever visited foreign countries, you've likely noticed unfamiliar nifty compact pickups and vans and wondered, "Why don't they sell that in the U.S?"

That's a good question, one which carmakers have begun asking themselves, especially when it comes to vans. It used to be that the U.S. van market tendered a wide variety of sizes and powertrain/economy offerings. Vans sold here were available with six-cylinder engines (cheaper to buy and, in most cases, cheaper to run) and of course there was always the four-cylinder VW, short on power but easy on gas.

Over time, the more economically minded offerings all grew larger or went away, giving us the seriously capable half-ton, three-quarter ton and one-ton full-sized models we have today. These vans can hold, haul and do nearly anything, but in some cases they're more than what's needed for a given job or too expensive. A passenger-car-based minivan with blacked-out windows just doesn't do the same work that a proper commercial van can.

Ford kicked the compact commercial van door open a few years back with the Transit Connect, its four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive van built and sold in other parts of the world. That affordable "little van that can" has proven to be a strong seller, and now Nissan has jumped into the fray with the philosophically similar NV200. Contrary to a common misheld belief, the NV200 is not a reconstituted Renault Kangoo. According to Peter Bedrosian, Nissan's senior manager of product planning, it was conceived and born as a Nissan all the way, and although smaller versions of it are sold in the global market, it's not a rebadged Renault. With the advent of its sturdy full-sized NV 1500/2500/3500 cargo vans, Nissan has demonstrated its commitment to the van business in North America, and the compact NV200 is merely the next step.

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The NV covers about the same physical footprint as the Transit Connect and Ram C/V, boasting a worthwhile 1,500-pound maximum payload capacity and 122.7 cubic feet of cargo volume; fuel mileage is a claimed to be best in class at 24 mpg combined. Like the Ford and Ram, the NV is front-wheel drive, offering one powertrain, the familiar 2.0-liter Nissan DOHC four-cylinder that does yeoman duty in the compact Nissan Sentra. The engine's power curve has been retuned slightly, and it offers a credible 131 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, shifting through a continuously variable transmission specifically designed for smoother operation and maximum fuel economy. There is no manual transmission, nor is all-wheel drive offered. Torque is 139 pounds-feet at 4,800 revolutions.

What really wins points is the NV's array of clever features. Nissan rightly assessed that the small business owners who will buy and drive a compact cargo van like the NV200 practically live in their vehicles for several hours at a time, so Nissan made it comfortable and mobile-office friendly. There are several power points for charging devices, and the center console will hold full-sized file folders. The seats, although certainly not plush, are comfy and sturdy, and feature vinyl wear patches on the lower outside bolsters to protect against fabric chafing. The low load floor is flat, there is a sliding door on each side and wide-opening barn doors at the rear, so access is nearly unrestricted. The metal framing inside the cargo area is filled with "weld nuts" to which a wide variety of brackets, shelving or pre-made paneling can be affixed. Additionally, the front passenger seat folds flat to create a work surface, perfect for setting up your laptop when your van is serving as your mobile office or conference room.

You couldn't ask for a nicer driving van. The small wheel and tire combination and car chassis make for a smooth and quiet ride. The engine is willing but not thrilling, as it offers just enough power to do the job. We should add that the NV200 does not have a tow rating because of the light-duty nature of the chassis, which is designed to carry loads rather than pull them. We're seldom fans of CVTs, especially in work-duty vehicles, but this one works pretty well. It does take some getting used to (the engine will seem a little buzzier than usual for first-timers), but we like that it lets the engine wind up into its powerband, then feeds the power to the ground in a relatively punchy and efficient manner. The NV handles nicely; it never feels top heavy, offers a smooth, relatively quiet cargo-friendly ride and seems to have plenty strong braking (discs in front, drum in back). Finally, on our drive, the structure seemed impressively sturdy with no creaks, squeaks or rattles from the side doors as we cruised around town on open highways.

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It's our guess the NV200 sales will ramp up slowly, most likely coinciding with the growing economy, but it won't help that these little vans will be sold only at Nissan commercial outlets instead of regular dealerships. We're guessing that could change. Also, we'd like to see more versions of the little van become available, like one with a taller roof, maybe a heavy-duty spring package and still another with just a single sliding door (now all NV200 vans must have sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle). Regardless, this looks to be a good start.

There are two trim levels available, S and SV, with several options including a fully integrated navigation system, cruise control and hands-free Bluetooth. The well-equipped SV level van we spent the most time in is base priced at $21,825 (including destination), and bottom lined at $23,060, which included nav, Bluetooth and satellite radio. The NV200 is currently on sale.

Look for more test data and driving impressions when we get this new Nissan NV200 in-house for a comparison test with its two rivals.

For the most up-to-date press release on this compact cargo van, click here.

For the most up-to-date specifications on the NV200, click here.

For a Nissan-generated comparison video, see below. 



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Sorry I had to do that to the Nissan post, but crazy Rob was going off on one of his "Euro only" rants again.

The New Global Transit is the same as the new Ford Transit. Difference is a Ecoboost and the use of the discontinued 3.2 Diesel used in the Ranger and Mazda. The 3.2 does not meet Euro 6 regulations.

Read this cut and paste, then apologise to Robert Ryan.

When cutting and pasting, please capture all relevant information pertaining to what you are trying to convey.


The current version of the Transit was officially launched in January 2013 at the North American International Auto Show[21] in Detroit. This, the fourth all new generation Transit is intended to replace the long-running Econoline/E-Series, this is the first Transit to be sold in the United States and Canada. As with the previous generation, part of the development was done by Ford in the United States. In order to help tailor the van for American tastes, in 2011 Ford loaned examples of the previous V347/8 generation to high-mileage drivers in the US for evaluation purposes. Instead of drawing influence from the E-Series or F-Series/Super Duty trucks,

@Dead Man no problem

What continent is the Focus from as well?


BAFO + Rob Ryan = Trolls

@Lou, Jeff S, Vulpine and Robert Ryan,
We have a company in Australia that rents minivans to backpackers.

The company has been involved in a few controversial issues.

They use the feminine allure to generate business at times. The most unique promotion they had was the best nude photo with a Wicked Van.

The paint jobs and some of the comments also make the headlines in the news every now and then.

If you want to see more Wicked Campervan images just google 'Wicked Campervans'.

Here's the link to a news paper article.

Maybe this business concept will work in BC or the States.

You can go out and buy a bunch of these NV200s. Wicked Vans must have a 1 000 vans here or more.


Sorry, I didn't realise you already had them in the US, with the comments not as brazen.


@Big Al: I am aware that the Nissan is assembled in Mexico, at least for now, while the Opel/Vauxhall/Renault is assembled, I believe, in Germany. This means that GM avoids the import costs by reselling the Nissan at least until they can get a Mexican or Canadian plant assembling their in-house-designed models. This also eliminates what would likely be a 1- to 2-year delay ramping up NAFTA production. It won't be the first time that a manufacturer has done something similar until they could get a local model online.

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@Big Al from Oz - I like those "wicked van" slogans. Far from politically correct.

@Jason -
Why so sensitive?

Feeling out of sorts because the USA isn't as dominant as it once was?

New World Order........ LOL

@RobertRyan - Interesting how Dead Man went to his grave once people stopped paying any attention to his BS.

@Hemi V8,

Dodge Caravn: first modern minivan

The Chrysler minivans launched a few months ahead of the Renault Espace (the first MPV/minivan in Europe, initially presented to executives as a Talbot in 1979,[4] but not launched until 1984), making them the first of their kind – effectively creating the modern minivan segment in the US. The original Matra design for the Renault Espace was created when Matra was owned by Chrysler Corporation, so Chrysler may also be credited with originating the minivan concept in Europe as well.

It looks like there will eventually be an EV version of the NV200.

The EV prototype has a 73 mile range at the moment. That could be a reason why GM is interested in this vehicle.

The other Renault/Opel van is the Renault Trafic (correct spelling). There is going to be a hybrid version of this as well.

The Trafic is larger than the NV200. The NV200 appears to be the size of the Fiat Diablo that is used by GM in Europe.

Fiat/Chrysler might leave a bad in the mouth of GM customers. Don't know the answer to that one. Or is GM trying to distance itself from Pueguot? Or is GM Detroit relying on quantity to reduce cost with Nissan? There could be several reasons why GM is going the way of the Nissan in the US and not use the Fiat product.

Also the US version is reported to achieve 25mpg, whilst the UK diesel version is returning 44mpg (US gallon). That's a huge difference in economy. I'm wondering if DEF is required in such a small vehicle in the US as cars don't use it (yet).

Even if there is a few grand difference between the gas and diesel variants, the difference in FE would pay the diesel off rather quickly. Especially in a taxi or business environment.

Dodge Caravan

Chrysler minivans #1

Since their introduction in the fall of 1983, the Chrysler minivans have outsold other minivans in the United States,[5] with over 13 million Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth minivans[5] in over 80 countries[5] sold as of October 2008. Only recently has Chrysler ceded the top-selling minivan spot to the Honda Odyssey,[5] if Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country sales are considered separately.

Ram Cargo Van (Ram C/V)[edit]

2012 Ram Cargo Van
The Ram Cargo Van or Ram C/V debuts for the 2012 model year, replacing the Dodge Grand Caravan C/V. It is based on the Dodge Grand Caravan, but with solid metal instead of rear windows and a flat load space with 144.4 cubic feet (4,090 L) of interior storage, and a 1,800 lb (820 kg). cargo payload plus a towing capability of up to 3,600 lb (1,600 kg). The Ram C/V is offered with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. [27]

Dodge Caravan
Ram 1500-3500
#1 van and pickup trucks in the world!

Posted by: Big Al from Oz | Jul 12, 2013 11:39:02 PM


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So there is a market for small vans-but not for small pickups(?)
They can build a small van and make money but not a small pickup?

Can someone explain this to me?

I think that's kinda the point, Mike G. The SUV and the small cargo van has replaced the pickup as a delivery vehicle due to its smaller size and better (not great, however) gas mileage. We all KNOW there is a market for smaller trucks, but the Big Three in particular don't want to acknowledge that while even Toyota proves that their smaller trucks sell better than their full-sized ones here in the US.

Not a fan of these import vans GM,Ford and Chrysler are now getting..

I hope they keep the RAM C/V,even with the new Chrysler minivans coming in a year or so..So-called minivans,those vans are big these days,and thats a good thing..

Calling a minivan "new" and "in demand" doesn't change the fact that it's a piece of garbage with an admittedly anemic transverse gas motor with a sloppy automatic, better suited for hauling screaming kids and not any serious work. Tradesmen in Europe only buy these because they have no other choice (at least they get diesel/manuals!) and it sounds like Americans won't have much choice either soon enough, except to keep ancient trucks running like the Cubans.

@Mike G - no encroachment into the full sized sacred cow/golden goose market...... read full sized pickups.

Funny how Chrysler claims to be the inventor of the minivan.

Anyone ever hear of the VW Microbus?

@ BD
Your summary of these little vans performance isn't quite accurate. Anemic, engine? Sloppy automatic transmission?

Can you provide a link showing that these are a problem with this van. It would be good to inform other's on this site the potential problems, especially if they want to invest in one. At the moment you only provide hearsay.

FE that is poor? The reason the FE is poor is that regulations/barriers make it harder to get the little diesels in the US in the first place or you would have the diesel version that is getting 44mpg, not the 25mpg gas version.

At BD its the other way around. The US has a limited choice of vehicles. You furnish quality commentary.

@BD - New York Taxi begs to differ.

@Mike G - These vans will be profitable due to the sharing of the unibody platform and drivetrain with many Nissan, Renault and Dacia FWDs. Of course, that's assuming they'll sell good, but it doesn't hurt that traditional US 1/2 ton vans are going away or gone. The same thing is true of past cargo minivans

It's a completely different story for small trucks. Besides them being very expensive to build and yield low returns, diminishing sales just compounds it. Then they still have to battle with against smaller SUVs and most other compact to mid-size cars, if not cross-overs and wagons.

And why would OEMs like VW, Mitsu and Ford bring their global trucks to the US knowing they'll cannibalize their highly profitable cars. Then the US market caps the price of small trucks below full-size. And small trucks in high luxury trims would never sell in the US. We don't look at small trucks that way.

And all other markets, outside of NA, force a small pickups if you must have a pickup. We don't. We're the land of the FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If very few consumers are interested in the small trucks we do have, why would an OEM think their truck is so special? They don't. If they did, they know US consumers will disappoint in the showroom, every time. They suddenly develop short arms when it's time to pull out the old wallet.

@BD - Comments like "garbage, anemic and sloppy" will cost you credibility, as if you care.

@Lou - The VW Microbus was there all along, but never really jumped into or was accepted the minivan circus. Consumer likely wanted something more reliable and it was still rear engine and cab forward. Never mind the barely there crash protection. The Toyota van and a couple others were CF also, but still.

@BAF0 - The E-150/250/350 will live on, possibly past 2020 as 'cutaway' cab/chassis and possibly E-550s.

And FE is very poor for a tiny gas engine in this little truck. Imagine how low the gearing must be.

Even VW TDIs can't get 44 MPG and they're not geared to pull a load. So let's not get carried away...... And there are NO "regulations" or "barriers" against diesels. zero. GOT LINKS??? If we want diesels, we get them. And we obviously have them. But imagine paying $5,000 for a diesel in an $18,000 van. Not happening.

Our choices in vehicles in the US are limited only by OEM's decision making. If you think you know better, let them know. I'm sure they'll appreciate your expertise and whatnot.

I forgot we do have a Renault Kangoo in Australia which is very similar in size to this NV200.

It has a flat bed area for loading that is over 6' long and 4' wide. It payload is 820kg, which is a tad over 1 800lbs, this is in the half ton pickup territory.

It is using 5 litres per 100km on the highway which is about 46mpg and 6.2 litres per 100km in an urban environment. I figure it would be a little over 40mpg average.

I think for the business man these are a better proposition than a pickup. They offer protection to the cargo, cheaper to run and handle more like a car.

In the link what surprised me was the size of the disc brakes, not bad for a little 'truck'.

It's a pity the EPA and other barriers make this type of vehicle hard to obtain in the US.


Wow! I'm at a loss from the long post from the stupid fiat truck lovers. So sad because its a waste of time and they are wasting good AIR that someone else who is dying could breath. I hate to see good AIR wasted on ignorant garbage.

@Big Al from Oz - thanks for the link. We will see more of these little vans. The auto companies do not see any risk to their full sized pickups from these little haulers. No cross competition for the North American golden goose, the full sized pickup. The larger vans will replace the old vans, again no cross competition to hurt the bottom line

Unfortunately, technical barriers to trade will delay us getting any decent diesels for these trucks. If the Ram 1500 with the VM Motori is an indication, there should be a 2,500 - 3,000 price premium for a diesel. Not bad considering these things start at 21,800.

I had an odd thought while looking at that black NV200 - it would make for an economical hearse. It could haul a lot of dead men.

@Lou, BAF0 - The VM diesel is a $5,000 option on the Ram 1500. You're talking over and above the Hemi option.

And what "trade barriers"? Do you mean the "The Locals Don't Want Your JUNK" trade barriers?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I have done some research and the platform for the Kangoo and Nissan appear to have derived from the Renault Megane.

Also, Mitsubishi will be selling a re-badged version. Nissan and Mitsubishi have been joining force with model sharing as of late. Especially in commercial vehicles and small cars.

This is mainly happening in the Middle East and Asian countries.

The Navara/Triton joint effort has fallen into a heap. I think this was due to the GFC. But Navara'a and Triton's are made on the same line in Thailand. Mitsubishi (Fuso) and Nissan are sharing a LDT platform as well.

I can see Renault/Nissan buying out Mitsubishi one day and Peuguot.

Here's a link to a Malaysian car site on the Mitsubishi variant of the NV200.

When all is said and done the French, because of their market have many FWD small vehicles that are larger than the Kei cars in Japan. We should expect more of this in the future around the world.


@DeverMike/Paul/Tom Lemon/Greg Baird/TRX4Tom/Dave/Hemi V8/Tom Terrific/sandman 4x4/lautenslager/zveria/Bob/US Truck Driver/Glenn/Jason or whoeover you want to call yourself.

Quit the crap, really.

It's getting long in the tooth.

You want to debate, but it has to be on your terms.

Learn to debate with good information, then we might be able to have a decent debate.

Opinions are good, but if they are only your view to support the UAW, then how good are they. Look at what you guys have done to Detroit.

Terror tactics (union tactics) don't work on me.

If PUTC wants the UAW or whatever to control this site I suppose it's their decision.

It's not kids like I've been told by PUTC.

They don't seem to care. So this will go on.

@BAF0 - I try to have a civil discussion based on the truck market, legalities concerning trucks and trucks themselves. You consistently sidestepping these to go way off topic with personal attacks and wild accusations is very telling.

@DM--This is an article about the Nissan NV 200 van and not about non full size pickups. No one including me up to this point has mentioned any pickups. You have now thrown pickups into the discussion. It is hard for any of us to take you at your word that you do not have an agenda when you keep bringing the topic up of the viability of a smaller than full size pickup. Either you represent the UAW or the Detroit based auto manufacturers or you just are stuck on the topic of non full size pickups. I personally question your motives.

DM the VW microbus was very popular in the late 50s to the time of Chicken Tax. This was long before you were even a thought in your parents mind. You need to goggle the Chicken Tax and read the Wikipedia article on the history of the Chicken Tax which was directed against Europe in retaliation for protective tariffs against US poultry exported to Germany, France, and the Netherlands. This tax destroyed the market for the VW microbus and micro truck. During this period the Germans and Japanese did not have manufacturing plants in the US and any plants in South America and Mexico would have been subject to tariffs. The Japanese were establishing themselves in the US market and it would not be until the Arab Oil Embargo that the Japanese auto industry started to become a real factor in the US market.

Your persistent comments against non full size pickups has become old. If anything you hurt Detroit's cause. Since 1994 I have owed 2 Fords, 1 Chevy, and a UAW made Isuzu, but I have developed a biased against the UAW and Detroit mainly because of the fan boys and your never ending campaign against alternatives to full size pickups. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and most of us understand why Ford or Chrysler are not producing a smaller truck, but you continued comments can be construed as propaganda and not objective.

Yay, Jeff!

This place blows

How many posters left, about a dozen?

@Jeff S - You're kidding, right?

1st "BAF0" gave an example of a Euro van with 1/2 ton pickup payload and showed a 1/2 ton crushed by a load.

Then "Mike G" asked for an explanation why there is a market for small vans and not for small trucks.

"Vulpine" mentioned how Tacomas handily outsell Tundras and that 'that' somehow proves there's a hidden demand for small trucks.

"Lou" mentioned the US' "golden goose" repeatedly.

YOU yourself said "Large pickups are not going away, but they are not as popular..." Short memory???

"Full-size trucks" are going to come up eventually, in any PUTC article, but why do I always get blamed???

I don't have any "motives". If myself or anyone asks a viable question, answer it or quit. All this talk of motives or "agendas" proves you don't have and answer and just stalling or doing a sidestep avoidance dance.

The Chicken tax becoming aimed at import trucks was political statement squarely aimed the German government. But it's not like VW transporters were any more than a potential niche product, even in Germany. The Chicken tax has more (loop) holes than Swiss cheese, but it's unclear if VW knew they were there to exploit or even cared.

Beside the Transporters, what global or world pickups existed back then? And why didn't we have very many of them in the '50s or before '63???

The Japanese figured out the loopholes and exploited them to the full extent. They still can, if they want. And it's their own choice to build in the US and Mexico. Ford could easily build the Transit Connect in the US or Mexico, but a Turkey build plus a simple loophole yields better results.

But why are we still sore about missing out on some VW Transporters? Such drama...

@Jeff S, Lou and Vulpine,
Here's a link to our VW site. You mentioned VW, they actaully have a reasonable range of vans. There is even a link to the Amarok.

I hadn't realise the number of brands and models of this style of vehicle that we have in Australia, we will probably get the Mitsubishi version as well.

Robert Ryan is the man who knows this market better than most. Maybe he could add some more. But its been interesting reading and learning about this van globally.

I think they will become, the future 'pickup', even our midsizers don't get the FE these things are getting, soon they will be getting over 50mpg on the highway.

The small VW Caddy van would be slightly smaller than the NV200. It also can have a payload about the size of a 1/2 ton pickup.

I didn't realise these vans here in Australia, they must be becoming steadily more popular as well.

What's good about them is you can get above 40mpg average out of all of them. I suppose compeitition allows that.

We had the VW Micro bus into the mid 70s, but we didn't have an import tariff designed to kill them. They actually were quite popular. After the Combi's we had transporters and even they were relatively popular.


@DenverMike -I've chosen to address you directly, I'm not sure why since you are not an honourable man. People are fed up with your manipulation of the truth and manipulation of this debate and many others.
Where is your proof that the Chicken taxis riddled with loopholes?
The chassis cab loophole was closed and I posted a legal article that clearly outlines the effects of that closure.
There are only two remaining loopholes.
Knocked down vehicles shipped to USA and reassembled and disguise as a passenger vehicle.
That legal article that you keep misquoting explains that one cannot disguise a truck as a car because structural and design factors are part of the assessment.
That legal article mentions the chicken tax in relation to pickups as an introduction to the purpose of the article: allegations of dumping by the Japanese in relation to minivans and Detroit's attempt to have them reclassified as trucks.
The same legal article also talks about the reclassification of SUV's and the similar attempts to have them reclassified as light trucks. It also discusses costs of the "VRA" Voluntary Restraint Agreements" with Japan and its effects on the car market.

Why would Detroit want to have SUVs reclassified as light trucks?
Why would Detroit want minivans reclassified as light trucks?


The Chicken tax applies to light trucks and is an effective trade deterrent.

Unless you are able to post 3rd party expert non-partisan evidence, I stand by my assertions.

Any further commentary from you that does not contain such proof will be taken as further proof that you are an unscrupulous troll.

One more link: The article I also posted in its entirety on this site:

@Jeff S
After googling information regarding these small vans, they appear to be cheaper than our midsizers with superior FE.

It will be interesting to see what will occur in Australia and how these little vans impact other vehicle sales numbers.

I remember when people movers in Australia became popular. They were cheaper than station wagons. But the people movers were more economical to run.

They are offering these vans as 'people movers' as well. Maybe these will be the CUV/SUV replacement vehicles.

First we had station wagons, then people mover vans, then SUVs, now CUVs are gaining.

Just a thought. As these appear to very versatile and cheap. It also takes 5-10 years for a vehicle type to gain a significant foothold.

Imagine if they knock these things up into little pickups, they would be similar in size to the old Kombi pickup of the 1960s.

There are enough CUVs with AWD that could be adapted as well.

50mpg pickups.

The only problem I can foresee is it appears the only manufacturers that don't have this style of vehicle is the Big 2 (Ford and GM). Fiat/Chrysler have them with the Fiat Diablo.

The Europeans and Asians have this style of vehicle in several sizes.

I'll find the link to the first ever article I read on PUTC, that got me interested in this site. It about what I just wrote.

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