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Nissan: NV200 Worth A Look For Commercial Van Shoppers

  • October 24, 2013
  • Nissan
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The Ford Transit Connect has been a sales success for Ford. Based on a Focus platform from many years ago, the Transit Connect was added to the U.S. lineup and was quickly showing signs of age. It had a four-speed automatic that made it wheeze and moan. The infotainment system was clunky, slow, and unusable. Nevertheless, Ford held a unique position by being the only automaker to offer a car-based commercial vehicle that was solely offered as a commercial vehicle.

That was 2010. This is 2013 and Nissan has studied the success of the Transit Connect, the American commercial van consumer, and ended up with the 2014 NV200.

2013 Nissan NV200

It’s hard to get excited about commercial vehicles. They are never usually attractive looking.  They aren’t sporty or exotic.  The fact of the matter is, we all depend on them for everything from flower delivery to FedEx to food.  With the inability for anyone to predict the price of fuel, commercial van customers are always looking for ways to keep their costs down to remain competitive and increase profitability.

In the past, a flower delivery guy might have a Ford E-Series van that was probably equipped with a V8 and a four-speed automatic. The problem with this is that the flower delivery guy doesn’t need the power of a V8 for a few bouquets of flowers.  The thirsty V8 would eat into those precious profit margins.  Looking for something smaller and more fuel efficient forced these guys to move to vehicles like the old Chevy HHR commercial van or the Ram Van (aka Dodge Caravan without seats) to get the job done.  But sacrificing purpose built durability and efficiency for a smaller, less thirsty footprint wasn’t cutting it.

2013 Nissan NV200

Nissan is looking to be the second automakers in this small commercial van market with the NV200. Already on sale, the NV200 gives van shoppers a very attractive alternative to the Transit Connect. The NV200 starts just a bit under $20,000, making the point of entry even less than the Ford.  Already, this is a win for the NV200.

The interior is nicely finished for a van that costs this much with an unexpecteed flat folding passenger seat, a file folder holder, and even an optional navigation system.

The NV200 has dual sliding doors and a 60/40 split rear door. You won’t find any rear wipers, rear fog lights, or even a rear defroster for both pieces of rear glass.  The NV200 gives you what you need and takes out what you don’t. In return, it gives you a much lower price point than the competition.

The NV200 has similar power to the Transit Connect with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine. The difference is that the NV200 has one of Nissan’s continuously variable transmissions under the hood. Ford still uses a four-speed automatic. The result is acceleration that is smooth enough to not tip over a flower vase and fuel economy that will pad the wallet of any fleet owner.

Driving the NV200 in stop-and-go traffic in San Diego and through city streets proved to be a simple affair. No drama. No tears. It was smooth and quiet. No rattles from the metal body. It felt tight and nimble, which is what you might expect from a Mazda5, not the NV200. The turning radius is similar to what you’d find in a compact car. Navigating through small alleyways near the beach town of Del Mar was much easier than you’d expect.


If Nissan only had more dealerships that supported selling the NV200, they might sell a lot more of these. It’s really quite good. It’ll soon be on the roads of New York City, and after driving the cargo van version of it, I can understand why Mayor Bloomberg is so excited about this now.

If you still think I’m crazy for being so impressed with this van, just ask the guys at Chevrolet what they think. Chevrolet has decided to buy the NV200 from Nissan and slap a Chevrolet bow tie badge to the front of it. It’ll be called the Chevrolet City Express. If that isn’t a formal endorsement, I don’t know what it.

The NV200 is on-sale now at a Nissan commercial vehicle certified dealership.

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