Used 2016 Nissan NV Cargo Van Review

The 2016 Nissan NV Cargo is a solid choice in the commercial van market, thanks to its tall-roof option, capable engines, solid driving dynamics and attractive pricing.




what's new

For 2016, all NV Cargo vans get front-seat side airbags and roof-mounted side curtain airbags as standard equipment. Beyond that, the NV Cargo van is carried over from 2015.

vehicle overview

If your work requires you to keep a lot of tools or supplies at the ready, full-size cargo vans are the way to go. Not only do these vans allow you to keep all your work-related items safely locked up, but there's plenty of room inside to create your own mobile work space. While in the past this segment has been dominated by American brands, these days companies like Nissan are getting in the mix. Thanks to its box-on-wheels design, the 2016 Nissan NV Cargo offers huge amounts of interior space, along with multiple tie-down points to keep loose cargo safe. The high-roof model allows adults up to 6 feet, 3 inches tall to walk upright inside the van, a true back saver.

In addition to the two different roof heights, you also get to choose between V6 and V8 engines, three different trim levels and numerous options packages. Standard and optional highlights include a center console big enough for a laptop computer, Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera. In the back, there are reinforced mounting points for shelving and racks, and the NV is pre-wired to give upfitters easy access to the electrical system when modifying the van for business use.

At first glance, the 2016 Nissan NV Cargo might look a bit strange. Instead of the snub-nosed design favored by American and Euro-based vans, the NV has a forward engine layout that helps when it comes to front legroom and easier access to the engine compartment for regular service and repairs. Considering the high mileage these work vans achieve, that's a welcome convenience. Another oddity is the almost tacked-on ceiling on the high-roof model, in contrast to the more cohesive tall-roof versions of competitors. It's pure form over function, which is hardly a drawback in this segment.

These days cargo van buyers have plenty of options, and you'll definitely want to give them a look. If you're more of a traditionalist and you don't have a need for a high-roof version, the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van and GMC Savana Cargo Van twins are capable but a bit dated. The Ford Transit Van and Ram ProMaster Cargo are considerably more modern, drive more like cars and offer high-roof versions and modern features. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is the class standard, thanks to a refined interior and good driving dynamics, but it's also more expensive.

trim levels & features

The 2016 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 capacities increase, as does the towing capacity for models equipped with the V8. There are three trim levels (S, SV and SL), although the 1500 model is not available in the top-level SL trim.

The base S comes with the bare necessities, including 17-inch steel wheels, variable-intermittent wipers, a tilt steering wheel, a four-way manual driver seat, water-repellent cloth upholstery (with vinyl reinforcements in high-wear areas), air-conditioning, a trip computer, a two-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack, 36 cargo-mounting points for shelving, 10 integrated cargo-mounting points in the ceiling for interior ladder rack installation and six floor-mounted D-rings in the cargo area. The Power Basic package adds power windows (with driver side one-touch auto up/down) and power doors and locks, as well as keyless entry and cruise control.

The SV trim includes the Power Basic package's equipment and adds 17-inch styled steel wheels, dual power side mirrors, rear parking sensors, hardboard interior cargo panels, three cargo area work lights (versus only one in S), a lockable center console (2500/3500 models only), four audio system speakers and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.

The SL features chrome exterior accents (wheels, bumpers, grille, door handles and mirror caps), front parking sensors, heated mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat and a security system.

Optional on the SV and SL is the Technology package, which includes a 5.8-inch touchscreen display, navigation, various NissanConnect smartphone apps (such as Pandora, iHeartRadio and Facebook), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, hands-free text messaging, a rearview camera, satellite radio and a USB input. Additional options include multiple window configurations for the side and rear doors as well as a vinyl seat package.

performance & mpg

The Nissan NV Cargo 1500 model is only offered with a 4.0-liter V6 engine rated at 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, while the NV 3500 can only be had with a 5.6-liter V8 making 317 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. The NV 2500 can be equipped with either engine.

A five-speed automatic is the only transmission offered, and all NVs are rear-wheel drive. Properly equipped, V6-powered NVs can tow up to 7,000 pounds. A properly equipped NV 3500 with the standard V8 engine has a maximum tow rating of 9,500 pounds and a max payload capacity of 3,937 pounds.

safety

Standard safety features on the 2016 Nissan NV include antilock brakes, stability control and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are options.

driving

The 2016 Nissan NV might not drive as much like a car as the Ford Transit or Ram ProMaster, but this is a still nice-driving machine, especially compared to the older GM vans. You'll find the steering slow compared to a car, but the ride quality is decent whether the van is unloaded or full, and noise levels are surprisingly subdued, at least for a work van, at freeway speeds.

The V6 engine provides adequate performance even when filled with cargo, but the burly V8 makes everything seem easier. Fuel economy will suffer, of course. Regardless of the engine, the five-speed automatic transmission is surprisingly responsive to changes in throttle. Shifts are seamless and well-timed. Visibility is good out the front, enhanced by large side mirrors.

interior

As with other full-size cargo vans, the 2016 Nissan NV's interior is more utilitarian than it is luxurious. Besides utter functionality, Nissan's NV boasts a pair of comfortable and supportive front seats. And yes, the hood of the NV protrudes out in that rather ungainly fashion for a reason: additional legroom thanks to the engine being pushed forward versus other vans. The available center console is another nice touch, offering a generous amount of storage, including space for a laptop plus a built-in clipboard holder. It also locks for the security of valuables. There are plenty of storage bins to stash small items as well, including a handy pull-out drawer under the driver seat of the 2500 and 3500 models.

Gauges and controls are laid out in a straightforward way that makes them easy to use. As with most cargo vans, there's quite a bit of hard, rather cheap-looking plastic throughout the cabin, and we found the armrests and center console lid severely lacking in the padding department.

The NV's cargo area has nearly vertical walls and built-in attachment points that make it easier to fit equipment racks, shelves, workbenches and the like. A low step-in height and large doors make it easy to get both people and cargo in and out. The rear doors open especially wide, and feature helpful magnetic catches to keep them open. When it comes to hauling stuff, the low-roof version of the NV offers 234.1 cubic feet of space, while the high-roof model ups that to 323.1. While that's decent space, the standard-roof Ford Transit Van has 246 cubic feet, while the high-roof configuration boasts an impressive 487 cubic feet. Even though the NV has less outright cargo space, the High Roof version allows a 6-feet, 3-inch tall person to walk around upright. And in terms of usefulness, six floor-mounted D-rings make it simple to secure loads.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.