Road test: 2014 Nissan NV200

Autojournalists are a crafty bunch. We’re here to help you and to give you honest feedback on the cars we drive, but once in a while, we can be selfish, too. I once booked a sexy red Audi RS 5 Cabriolet to test drive, and my week with the car happened to conveniently fall on my birthday week last year.

This time around, I was moving into a new home and couldn’t think of a better time to test Nissan‘s new NV200 cargo van. This may seem self-serving, but how can you properly test a cargo van if you didn’t have a huge amount of stuff to haul? This is for you, the readers. Don’t call me a hero or anything, but this test was for you. The move was just a handy bonus, you know, to add context to the story.

The NV200 only comes in two trim levels, the S (starts at $20,240) and the SV ($21,230). To keep the price low, the van does not come with a huge list of standard features, but for the small price difference, the SV offers a lot more value and more opportunity to add useful options to get the most utility out of the van.

The first thing that takes getting used to is the NV’s lack of rear windows. There’s also no rear-view mirror, because, well, you have nothing to see out of. Luckily, the NV (in the higher SV trim) has an optional back-up camera that makes parking the compact cargo van incredibly easy. This feature alone makes the SV’s price premium worthwhile.

Parked this big boy in one shot. Without any windows or a a rear view mirror. Pro. @nissancanada—
Jodi Lai (@DrivingMissJodi) October 04, 2013

A high seating position, a large windshield, thin A-pillars with a window cutout and big front windows make forward visibility fantastic. The NV’s side mirrors are also huge and have a focus point on your blind spot, so despite not having rear windows, being fully aware of what’s around you isn’t a problem.

The rest of the interior is what should be expected from a compact cargo van: It is utilitarian. The grey, plastic dashboard is not a beautiful thing, but it’s not supposed to be because its main goal is to be durable and easy to clean. Everything is also logically laid out and user-friendly, and the cabin is filled with useful bins and cubbies big enough to store anything from file folders, to laptops, to loose parts. True to its “mobile office” aspirations, the passenger seat also folds all the way forward so you can use it as a desk, and there is also a hidden drawer under the seat for more storage. The van also features two 12-volt power outlets and a USB input jack (both optional).

2014 Nissan NV200

2014 Nissan NV200
Jodi Lai, Driving

The front seats are not the most comfortable for long trips and they could use more bolstering, but the NV’s front seats come with useful vinyl patches where the most wear-and-tear is expected. The inclusion of an arm rest is something that’s often overlooked, but in a cargo van, it’s very important, and the NV has it covered. Legroom is also very accommodating.

Moving rearward, the NV’s cargo area means business. Behind the front seats, there is a cavernous 3,474 litres of cargo space and the van is rated to have a payload capacity of 679 kilograms (1,498 pounds). To make the most of that space, the NV includes 20 integrated and reinforced cargo mounting points so drivers can install custom shelving. In SV trim, six floor-mounted D-rings are standard so you can tie down your cargo and keep it secure. Some things I wished for were a brighter light in the cargo area and more cubbies or a cargo net in the back.

When I was moving boxed hardwood floors to replace the dingy, old carpet in my newly acquired townhome, I found the cargo area extremely accommodating. The floors are flat, making it easy to slide large items in and out, and the load height is low to the ground (lift height is just about half a metre), so there was no heavy lifting needed. The 137-cm by 187-cm rectangular opening accessed by the 60/40 split cargo doors means easy access to all your stuff.

Hauling hardwood floors was a great test of the Nissan NV200's hauling capacity.

Moving hardwood floors was a great test of the Nissan NV200′s hauling capacity.
Jodi Lai, Driving

Even when loaded close to capacity with hardwood floors, the NV200′s 2.0-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine never felt overwhelmed, although I would never refuse more power (or even a diesel option!). The direct-injection engine, which outputs 131 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, is paired to a CVT, which I still feel lacks responsiveness; highway passing (especially with a payload in the back) takes a bit of patience. Otherwise, driving the NV200 was even easier for me than driving a pickup truck. The NV200′s compact dimensions and tight turning circle made it easy to maneuver in the city and in and out of busy Home Depot parking lots during my move.

If you have a business and need room to haul, the NV200 is a solid choice. Its versatility, durability and endless customization options paired with its easy-to-drive nature means you don’t have to make huge sacrifices for practicality.

2014 Nissan NV200

2014 Nissan NV200
Jodi Lai, Driving

The Specs
Type of vehicle Front-wheel-drive, two-seat compact cargo van (light commercial vehicle)
Engine 2.0-litre DOHC direct-injection four-cylinder
Power 131 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm, 139 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm
Transmission Continuously variable
Brakes Front disc, rear drum with four-wheel ABS
Tires P185/60R15
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km) 8.7 city, 7.1 highway
Price  S ($20,240); SV ($21,230)
Standard features (On S trim) Six air bags, 20 interior integrated reinforced cargo-mounting points, six roof rack-mounting points, fold-down passenger’s seat with seatback tray table, air conditioning, pre-wiring for telematics upfitting, cargo area work light, hardboard interior cargo panels, rear cargo floor protector, power windows with driver’s one-touch auto-down with auto-reverse, trip computer, upper dashboard storage bin, passenger’s under-seat slide-out storage tray, front door map pockets, cup holders, 12-volt DC power outlet, AM/FM/CD audio system with two speakers, auxiliary input jack, cloth seats with vinyl wear patches, six-way manual driver seat with lumbar support, four-way manual passenger’s seat
Options Power exterior mirrors, navigation, voice recognition, Bluetooth, six floor-mounted D-rings in cargo area, rear-view mirror, remote keyless entry, power door locks, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, back-up camera, MP3/WMA playback capability, USB connection port, satellite radio and more

Ps. Here’s something else random I noticed while I was moving:

Moving boxes. Boxes everywhere. And my cat isn't sitting in ANY of them. #lame—
Jodi Lai (@DrivingMissJodi) October 04, 2013

About Jodi Lai