Full 2013 Nissan NV Review
What's New for 2013
After debuting just last year, the Nissan NV gets only minor tweaks for 2013.
When it comes to commercial vans, the same two manufacturers have dominated the segment for decades, which helps explain why the cargo van category hasn't exactly been a hotbed of innovation. But the 2013 Nissan NV is a somewhat radical reimagining of the lowly work 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 Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express. 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 commercial vehicles that rack up several times the annual mileage of the average passenger car.
On the function front, the availability of a high-roof version with more than 6 feet of headroom and a low step-in height represent significant improvements over the Ford and GM designs. Then there are the countless clever details like the laptop-size center console designed to accommodate hanging file folders and a flat-folding front passenger seat that makes a dandy desktop. Finally there are inspired practical touches like the wear patches on the rip-prone outside edges of the front seats designed to hold up to the rough treatment that comes with commercial use.
Aside from the Ford and GM entries, the NV's only other competitor is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which offers more cargo room but significantly less towing capacity than the V8-powered NV's impressive 9,500-pound rating. While it's true the Sprinter offers a somewhat more fuel-efficient diesel engine, that advantage is offset by a much higher sticker price.
All said, the 2013 Nissan NV is a solid choice for van shoppers looking for an innovative alternative to the status quo.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Nissan NV is a full-size cargo van available in three models: 1500, 2500 and 3500. The 1500 comes only with a standard roof, while the 2500 and 3500 offer a choice between a standard or high roof. They all have the same wheelbase and length, but as you move up in the model range, payload and towing capacities increase.
There are two trim levels. The base S comes with the bare necessities including 17-inch steel wheels, variable-intermittent wipers, water-repellent cloth upholstery (with vinyl reinforcements in high-wear areas), air-conditioning and a two-speaker stereo with a CD player and auxiliary audio input jack. The SV trim adds 17-inch styled steel wheels, chrome exterior accents, rear park assist, keyless entry, a power driver seat, a lockable center console (2500/3500 models only), cruise control, full power accessories and an upgraded audio system with four speakers. Available options (depending on trim level) include rear door windows, a glass breakage sensor, a rearview camera and a Technology package that includes satellite radio, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and the rearview camera.
Powertrains and Performance
Depending on model choice, the 2013 Nissan NV is available with either a 261-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine or a 317-hp 5.6-liter V8. The 1500 model is only offered with the V6, the 3500 can only be had with the V8 and the 2500 offers buyers a choice of either engine. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission offered, and all NVs are rear-wheel drive. Properly equipped, an NV 3500 has a payload capacity of 3,925 pounds and a maximum tow rating of 9,500 pounds. V6-powered models can tow trailers up to 7,000 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 optional. Also optional is a rearview camera with a small display integrated into the rearview mirror.
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 of 2500/3500 models.
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 business end of the interior is enhanced by nearly vertical walls and built-in attachment points that make it easier to fit equipment racks, workbenches and the like. Large doors, including rear ones that open quite wide and stay that way thanks to magnetic catches, plus 6 foot, 3 inches of headroom and a low step-in height make getting people and cargo in and out a snap. Speaking of cargo, the low-roof version offers a healthy 234 cubic feet of space, while the high-roof model boasts 323 cubic feet. A half-dozen floor-mounted D-rings make it easier to secure the load.
Even though the 2013 Nissan NV 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 the van is 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.