2013 Nissan NV200: First Drive

June 29, 2013
Small cargo vans might not be the first vehicle you consider when shopping new, but chances are you've gone for a ride in one already--or will soon.

The NV200 is new to the U.S. market, but it's been on sale in 40 other countries for some time. If you're a world traveler, you've seen it before. The compact van also was chosen as the upcoming New York City "Taxi of Tomorrow," and will hit the streets of the Big Apple later this year, just in time to ferry you from LaGuardia to Times Square.

Function over form

Cargo vans aren't designed to look pretty, they are designed to be functional, and the NV200 doesn't stray from that model. The front end is blunt and sharply angled; the steep rake generates a little aerodynamic help.

Not to spoil the mystery ending, but the rest is...a van. A usefully sized box, the NV200 has 40/60 split-opening rear doors with both 90- and 180-degree opening positions. This makes curbside unloading both easier, and safer. The cargo doors are solid metal, though glass windows are an option.

It's a basic look, with black plastic bumpers even, but upper trim models feature body-colored front and rear bumpers, door handles, outside mirrors, and a chrome grille.

Nissan built in low-effort dual sliding side doors, and a low load floor. The lift-over height both at the sides and at the rear doors is low at 21.1 inches, making loading and unloading heavy items a little easier.

It's all about the workspace

Nissan believes vans like these are stealth offices, so the NV200's interior has been styled to accommodate.

The dashboard is a boring but functional stretch of hard plastic, with simple-to-use knobs that can be easily controlled while wearing gloves. The front passenger seat can fold down to create a worktop space, or to increase cargo capacity.

The recessed storage area on the upper instrument panel can hold folders and documents, a thoughtful touch. A cubby between seats holds more small items, and if you need to hide a laptop, there's a tray under the passenger seat.

Cargo van drivers rely on technology. The NV200 has an available 5.8-inch color touchscreen display with NissanConnect, which includes navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio with real-time traffic, and a USB port. This system also enables hands-free text messaging, streaming audio, Pandora radio capability, points-of-interest by Google, and Google's send-to-car, which gives you the ability to send your destinations to the car from a computer. A backup camera is also available, and highly recommended for those times when the rear is loaded with cargo.

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