What's New for 2013
After debuting just last year, the Nissan NV gets only minor tweaks for 2013.
When it comes to vans, the same two manufacturers have dominated the segment for decades, which helps explain why the passenger van category hasn't exactly been a hotbed of innovation. But the 2013 Nissan NV is a somewhat radical reimagining of the lowly passenger van, and it stands ready to beat those traditional best-sellers at their own game.
While this is admittedly no small feat, the folks at Nissan gave themselves a leg up by talking to and incorporating feedback from a large number of owners of the Chevrolet Express and Ford E-Series. The result of that input is a classic case of form following function.
As far as that form is concerned, the NV's profile is admittedly a bit odd, especially the high-roof version, but that shape serves a very definite purpose. By pushing the engine forward under an elongated pickup-style hood, designers created much roomier front seats free from the intrusion of the engine cowling found in old-school vans. This design also makes regular maintenance much easier, an important advantage when you're talking about vehicles that, at least in commercial use, rack up several times the annual mileage of the average passenger car.
The people-carrying version of the NV, the NV Passenger comes with four rows of seating for a maximum capacity of 12 passengers. Those seats are pretty easy to remove and are either 50/50- or 65/35-split, meaning owners have a lot of flexibility as to how they want their van set up for seating. There are some nice details here, too, including integrated seatbelts, extra power ports and standard full-length side curtain airbags.
Aside from the Ford and GM entries, the NV's only other competitor is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Mercedes holds a trump card by offering a high-roof option for its passenger van, but the Sprinter is comparatively less powerful and considerably more expensive. Another knock on the NV might be that there isn't an extended-wheelbase NV model for up to 15 passengers. But overall we think the 2013 Nissan NV Passenger is a great choice for commercial passenger van users looking for an innovative alternative to the status quo.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Nissan NV Passenger full-size van comes in just a single model: the 3500. There are three trims. The base S comes with a sliding passenger-side door, cloth upholstery, air-conditioning and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. Optional is the Power Basic package that includes power windows and locks, cruise control and keyless entry.
Those features are standard on the SV along with chrome exterior accents, an eight-way power driver seat, manual lumbar, six speakers and rear park assist. The SL trim level (V8 only) adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control and front park assist. Optional for the SV and SL is the Technology package, which includes a navigation system, a USB port and a rearview camera.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Nissan NV is available with either a 4.0-liter V6 engine (261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque) or a 5.6-liter V8 (317 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque). Both engines are paired to a five-speed automatic transmission and all NVs are rear-wheel drive. Properly equipped, an NV Passenger has a maximum tow rating of 9,500 pounds.
Standard safety features on the 2013 Nissan NV include antilock brakes, stability control and traction control. Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Nissan NV sports a functional interior notable for its supportive front seats and the additional legroom offered by pushing the engine out under the elongated hood. The available center console is another nice touch, offering a generous amount of storage. There are plenty of places to stash small items as well, including a handy pull-out drawer under the driver seat.
Gauges and controls are designed and laid out in a straightforward way that makes them easy to use. As you'd expect, there's a lot of hard plastic here, but the only place that becomes a negative is on the armrests and center console lid, both of which could use a little padding.
The NV Passenger comes with four rows of seating for a maximum capacity of 12 passengers. The second and third rows are 65/35-split, while the fourth row is 50/50-split. Each section can be individually removed, allowing owners considerable flexibility for accommodating both passengers and luggage. With the fourth row removed, the second and third rows can be repositioned farther back for additional legroom.
Should you want to use the Passenger as a cargo van, removing the second, third and fourth rows will provide up to 234 cubic feet of space. Getting into the business end of the van is aided by rear doors that swing open 243 degrees (and stay open thanks to magnets on the van's sides), well-placed grab handles and a relatively low step-in height.
Even though the 2013 Nissan NV Passenger is a full-size van, it doesn't necessarily feel like it. Visibility is good out the front and is enhanced by large side mirrors. The ride quality is decent whether it's unloaded or full, and the noise levels are surprisingly low at freeway speeds, at least by large-metal-box-on-wheels standards.
The V6 engine produces satisfying performance even with a full load, and the V8 is even better. No matter which engine you choose you'll find the automatic transmission delivers seamless and well-timed shifts.