2013 Nissan NV200: First Drive Page 2

June 29, 2013

How much can you haul?

The NV200 doesn't seem like a large vehicle from the outside, but the interior is spacious thanks to an efficient design. It can carry 122.7 cubic feet of cargo, and has an estimated payload capacity of 1,500 pounds.

Unfortunately, both of these numbers trail the current Ford Transit Connect at 129.6 cubic feet of cargo room, and 1,600 pounds of payload. And the next-generation Transit Connect coming next year retains the 1,600-pound payload rating while increasing cargo capacity to at least 130 cubic feet.

Under the hood of the NV200 you'll find a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 131 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission option is Nissan's Xtronic CVT, and this helps the powertrain get 24 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined. After zeroing out the NV200's built-in trip computer, we averaged 22 mpg in mixed driving with a heavy foot and the air conditioning blasting.

The NV200 beats the current Ford Transit Connect's city and combined fuel economy numbers of 21 mpg and 23 mpg respectively. But it falls short on the highway as the Transit Connect is rated at 27 mpg. While Ford hasn't released official fuel economy ratings for the new Transit Connect, it has promised it'll be the most fuel-efficient commercial cargo van, with a 30-mpg-plus rating on the highway.

Nissan's planning to test a zero-emission electric NV200 dubbed the e-NV200. It will be testing the plug-in electric van with small businesses around the U.S. later this year. If successful, it could end up working its way into mass production, and even the New York City taxi fleet.

As far as cargo vans go, the NV200 drives like you'd expect. It's not fast, there's no feedback as to what the wheels are doing, and with only 131 horsepower you really need to be above 3,000 rpm to make anything happen quickly, and we use the term quickly loosely in this instance. The suspension is soft, allowing the NV200 to absorb bumps and broken pavement with ease without jostling the cargo too much.

The NV200 is available in two trim levels. The base S model is priced from $20,835 including an $845 destination charge. It includes power windows, a trip computer, and AM/FM/CD radio with two door-mounted speakers. The $21,825 SV model adds power heated outside mirrors, power door locks with auto-locking capability, keyless entry, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted controls, and six cargo hooks in the cargo area. The technology package which adds the 5.8-inch touchscreen and NissanConnect, will cost you $950.

While the 2013 Nissan NV200 holds slightly less cargo than the current Ford Transit Connect, its fuel economy is competitive, and even the SV model is cheaper than a base model Transit Connect. It's a tidy cargo van that makes good economic sense, so long as it makes good utilitarian sense for your small business.

The 2013 Nissan NV200 is on sale at dealerships now.


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