Used 2016 Nissan NV Passenger Van Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2016 Nissan NV Passenger is a solid choice in the passenger van market, thanks to its capable engines, pleasant driving dynamics and attractive pricing.
What's new for 2016
If you have a family the size of the Brady Bunch, or regularly cart around large groups of people, minivans and large SUVs simply don't cut it. You're going to need a full-size passenger van. Long ruled by pickup-based American vans, these days full-size vans fall into two camps: tougher, more traditional pickup-based vans with lower roof lines, or the newer, taller, more carlike vans with European heritage. Nissan's NV Passenger van falls neatly in between the two.
The 2016 Nissan NV Passenger is a workhorse van that can carry up to 12 passengers. Thanks to its multi-configurable seating options, you can switch it up to carry fewer folks while loading up cargo. It should be noted that several rivals offer seating for up to 15. Nissan gives you a choice of V6 and V8 engines, along with a surprisingly responsive five-speed automatic transmission. But unlike several competitors, a fuel-efficient diesel isn't available.
Once a dying segment, in the last few years the full-size van class has blossomed with numerous great choices beyond the Nissan NV. One of our top picks is the almost-carlike Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which started the tall-roof trend in the U.S. Not surprisingly, as a Mercedes product, it's relatively expensive. American companies are producing tall vans, too. There's the Ram ProMaster Window Van as well as the Ford Transit Wagon Van, both of which offer diesel engine options. If you prefer a true American old-school workhorse, there are the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana twins. Their designs are dated and roof heights are lower, but they can be optioned with a positively burly 6.6-liter diesel V8.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Nissan NV Passenger full-size van comes in just a single model: the 3500. There are three trims: S, SV and SL.
The base S comes with 17-inch steel wheels, a sliding passenger-side door, privacy glass, water-repellent cloth upholstery, a four-way manual driver seat, a tilt steering wheel, air-conditioning and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. Optional on the S is the Power Basic package, which includes power windows (driver's with one-touch auto-down) and locks, cruise control and keyless entry.
The SV gets the Power Basic package's contents, along with rear parking sensors, chrome exterior accents, an eight-way power driver seat, manual lumbar adjustment, a center console, two additional 12-volt power outlets, two 120-volt power outlets, a six-speaker sound system, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, overhead lamps for the second, third and fourth rows and two extra cupholders for a total of 10.
The S V8 and SV V8 both add extendable tow mirrors, two front tow hooks, a Class IV receiver hitch, seven-pin connector pre-wiring and Brake Controller pre-wiring.
The V8-only SL trim level adds front parking sensors, foglights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5.8-inch touchscreen display, navigation, a rearview camera, various NissanConnect smartphone apps (such as Pandora, iHeartRadio and Facebook), a USB input and satellite radio.
Optional for the SV (and previously optional on the SL but now standard) is the Technology package, which includes a 5.8-inch touchscreen display, navigation, a rearview camera, various NissanConnect smartphone apps (such as Pandora, iHeartRadio and Facebook), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a USB input and satellite radio.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 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 with a five-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels.
With the V6 and an accessory tow hitch receiver, an NV Passenger has a maximum tow rating of 6,200 pounds. With the V8 and its standard Class IV tow hitch receiver, the NV has a max tow rating of 8,700 pounds.
Standard safety features on the 2016 Nissan NV include antilock brakes, stability control and traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear parking sensors are standard on the SV and SL, while the latter also has front parking sensors. A rearview camera is standard on the SL and optional on the SV.
A Nissan NV 3500 SL Passenger van posted a best stopping distance of 147 feet from 60 mph in Edmunds testing, with the subsequent four stops in the 160-foot range. Our test-driver noted considerable sway back and forth, with a less-than-confident feel. For comparison, a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 passenger van stopped in 138 feet, and showed better consistency.
There's no confusing the 2016 Nissan NV for anything other than a giant van. Well, maybe a bus. But it's certainly easier to drive than the older Chevy and GMC vans. The NV's steering is slow and you'll need quite a bit of it to negotiate tight turns. The ride quality is decent whether the van is unloaded or full, and noise levels within the cabin are surprisingly low at freeway speeds, at least by large-metal-box-on-wheels standards. Visibility is good out the front and is enhanced by large side mirrors.
The V6 engine produces satisfying enough performance even with cargo on board, and the V8 is even better. No matter which engine you choose, you'll find that the automatic transmission is responsive and delivers seamless, well-timed shifts. It even blips the throttle on manual downshifts to smooth the transitions.
If there's one thing Nissan has come to be known for in the last few years, it's fantastically comfortable front seats. That remains the case here with the 2016 NV. With support in all the right places, these seats were designed with day-long road trips in mind. There's excellent legroom up front, too, thanks to the elongated hood, which places the engine farther away than in most vans.
A little more traditional in its design versus the Euro-inspired high-roof vans from Ford and Ram, the Nissan NV's interior is highly functional, with little nooks and crannies to store stuff, including a handy pull-out drawer under the driver seat. The SV and SL models also come with a useful center console with a spot to store your laptop.
Gauges and controls are designed and laid out in a straightforward way that makes them easy to use. Just keep in mind this is a utilitarian cabin, with minimal luxury touches to be found. There's also quite a bit of hard, rather cheap-looking plastic throughout, and we've found the armrests severely lacking in the padding department.
The NV Passenger comes with four rows of seating for a maximum capacity of 12 passengers. The second and third rows are split 65/35, while the fourth row is a 50/50-split. Each section can be individually removed, granting owners considerable flexibility for accommodating passengers and luggage. With the fourth row removed, the second and third rows can be repositioned farther back for additional legroom.
There are 18.9 cubic feet of cargo room behind the fourth row. But if you have a need to haul a bunch of cargo rather than people, you can remove the second, third and fourth rows to open up 218.9 cubic feet of space. Compared to SUVs and minivans, that's a lot of space, but the Ram ProMaster Window Van offers up to 459 cubic feet of max cargo, while the Ford Transit Wagon Van in high-roof/extended-length configuration tops even that with 487 cubes.
Besides the sliding side door, access to the Nissan NV 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.
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.