Road Test: 2013 Nissan NV200

If someone would have told me I’d have separation anxiety after parting with the 2013 Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo Van, I’m not going to lie, I would have laughed in their face. And I wouldn’t have held back.

The thought was outlandish.

But sometimes, you just fall in love in the most random places.

And that place for me just happened to be behind the wheel of this Brilliant Silver, two-passenger utility vehicle.

Who would have thought?

The practical part of my brain already knew I was going to put it to use, therefore our working relationship was already off to a good start.

Even before being handed the keys, a friend of mine was moving that week and I offered to assist. She was ecstatic.

I also knew that the band I occasionally perform with would have a gig in Nanaimo and we’d need to transport the sound equipment and more to the venue. Yeah, we’re just that big we have to haul around our own stuff! No roadies, but we’re happy doing the heavy lifting.

On top of it all, I’d be picking my mother up from the airport (she does not pack light), and then we’d head to the wonderful world of Costco for supplies she required for an event she was putting on.

Needless to say, it was a busy week. And I was thrilled to have shared it with the NV200.

I’ve established its ability to haul gear, but let’s look at what makes it tick and why it received such high praises in my books.

The NV200 is based on Nissan’s B platform, and has been used by the Japanese automaker since 2002, so it has a good foundation to work with. The Juke, available here in Canada, is also built on this platform.

Under its hood is a 2.0L, 4-cylinder engine producing 131 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque. That might not sound that impressive, but it has a surprising amount of pep even for a vehicle with a curb weight of 1,473 kg (3,245 lbs.). The NV200 is then coupled with a CVT transmission, which I grew very fond of over the test period.

Whether loading your gear through the side sliding doors, or the rear doors, there’s a total cargo volume of 3,474L (123 cubic feet).

The best part about loading gear from the tail end is that the floor is low, which is class-leading. Meaning, the cargo area liftover height is 54 cm (21.1 inches, or 1.76 feet.)
I could inundate you with dimensions, but the Nissan website can do that as well! (

The things you need to know are, yes, you can fit a motorcycle in the rear, so long as the handlebars don’t exceed the opening. Bonus.

Yes, there is a light in the cargo area. It’s above the rear doors. Albeit small, but there’s one there.

Speaking with Sebastian Defilippi, Head of Nissan’s CV division, he mentioned that the NV200 has a “Broad base in its clientele,” meaning anyone from a tradesperson to a caterer to someone who wants to convert it into a camper (yes, someone did) will find that it is extremely versatile in nature. Furthermore, it comes with pre-cast mounting points behind the sliding doors, so it’s ready to be outfitted with cabinetry (if needed) from the get go.

The bed area is flat, making it easy to slide/drag heavy items inside. You can load up to 679 kg (1,498 lbs.) of stuff in the back, whether those are amps, bookshelves, tables or anything in between.

You also have a very manageable height — 187cm/6’1” — so it fits very well into urban environments, including my underground parkade.

Luckily, the NV200 SV trim came with the optional Technology Package, which added navigation, a 5.9-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth audio and the most treasured of all features, a rearview monitor!
I couldn’t have lived without that.

Despite its compact size, I needed all the help I could get when parallel or reverse stall parking.

I would have liked to have two things added on the NV200.

One is a vanity mirror! It’s the girl in me who just wants to be able to check her teeth to see if any spinach has set up shop on my dentition after a lunch date.

I asked Mr. Defilippi about why there wasn’t one. He answered that the visors are mainly used for paperwork and it wasn’t necessarily needed. Then he joked and said I could always use my iPhone! Good call.

I would have also liked a locking glove compartment.

That said, the utilitarian nature of the 2013 NV200 SV won me over. I had great visibility of the road ahead because of the high seats and it was just a pleasure to drive.
I’m NV-ous of the next person who gets to spend time with it! But I’ll wait patiently for my next turn.

The 2013 NV200 SV has a base MSRP of $23,398. The price as tested, including destination (excluding taxes) is $25,683.

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About Alexandra Straub