Up until just a few years ago, the market for commercial vehicles inside the U.S. was dominated by large vehicles from Ford and General Motors, but the emergence of the compact commercial van segment has opened the door vehicles such as the 2016 Nissan NV200.
Just about all vehicle segments are seeing a trend toward smaller, more-efficient vehicles, and commercial vehicles are no different. Standing as the little brother to Nissan’s full-size NV Cargo and Passenger vans, the compact 2016 Nissan NV200 competes against commercial rivals like the Ford Transit Connect, Ram ProMaster City and even the mid-size Mercedes-Benz Metris. Together, Nissan’s NV vans provide businesses – big and small – an economical option when it comes to fleet vehicles being affordable to both own and operate. While most consumers will only encounter an NV200 during a service call of some sort to their home, I spent a week with the 2016 Nissan NV200 to see what sort of advantages this work-ready minivan holds.
2016 Nissan NV200 Exterior:
When it comes to commercial vehicles, designers don’t often get too fancy with the exterior styling, and the 2016 Nissan NV200 is no different. Built for the sole purpose of maximizing cargo space, the 2016 Nissan NV200 has a slab-sided design making it an open canvas for any business to paint or wrap to fit their brand image. Speaking of brand image, with the exception of Nissan’s signature V-motion grille affixed to the sloped nose, this van has almost no identity, which isn’t exactly a huge concern for its target market and it even made it easy for the Chevrolet City Express – the NV200’s bowtie-branded sister van – to exist. Since it’s a commercial vehicle, most of the options available in and on the 2016 Nissan NV200 relate to upfitting the van for specific jobs including two different rack packages that mount to the six roof rack mounting points.
Being the higher SV trim level, this Graphite Blue 2016 Nissan NV200 tester did come with the Exterior Appearance Package that adds a chrome grille, different hub caps and body colors bumpers and door mirrors. Even though the bumpers are body colored, they have a textured finish to them, which presumably makes them more durable. Adding rear door glass as this van had costs $190, while passenger sliding door glass is just $50. Overall, the 2016 Nissan NV200 isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but it delivers big on the one area that commercial buyers are most concerned with, the interior.
2016 Nissan NV200 Interior:
Open the rear doors or the dual sliding side doors, and the 2016 Nissan NV200 reveals its interior that was designed to store and haul stuff. Just looking at the key specs shows the NV200 offers 122.7 cubic feet of cargo volume and has a payload capacity of 1,450 pounds. The cargo area measures 82.8 inches long, 53 inches tall and 54.8 inches wide including exactly 48 inches between the wheel wells, which is perfect for a pallet or stacking drywall, and longer items are easily accommodated by the folding passenger seat. The sliding doors provide a wide opening and the rear doors open 180 degrees, and there’s a 21.1 inch cargo area liftover to go along with step-in heights of 19.2 inches through the rear doors and just 14.8 inches through the side doors – with some ramps and the use of the six cargo area tie-down hooks, the 2016 Nissan NV200 would actually be a great vehicle in which to haul motorcycles!
Unlike its Ford and Ram rivals, the 2016 Nissan NV200 (excluding the purpose-built NV200 Taxi) is only available as a two-passenger cargo model, but the front seats are both comfortable and the instrument panel is laid out in a simple, easy-to-use manner. In base form, the SV trim level adds features such as the floor-mounted tie-downs, heated seats and a 12-volt power outlet found on the back of the center console, but this tester was equipped with the $1,050 Technology Package that adds NissanConnect with Navigation and Mobile Apps, displayed on a 5.8-inch color touchscreen monitor, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, Bluetooth hands-free and streaming audio, Pandora radio compatibility and a USB port. This package also includes the RearView Monitor, which due to the location of the camera gives an awkward, fish-eye display when backing up.
In terms of cargo area customization, the 2016 Nissan NV200 offers 20 cargo area mounting points, and Nissan offers eight different Cargo Management Packages straight from the dealer. My biggest gripe about the cargo area of the 2016 Nissan NV200 is the lack of lighting. There is just one, small overhead light for the rear cargo area, and some bigger, LED lights would definitely brighten things up.
2016 Nissan NV200 Performance:
Powering the 2016 Nissan NV200 is a 2.0-liter DOHC inline-four rated at 131 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque, which sends power to the front wheels through Nissan’s advanced Xtronic continuously variable transmission. This powertrain combination helps the 2016 Nissan NV200 deliver EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 24 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway**, and with a combined rating of 25 mpg the NV200’s efficiency is only matched by the Ford Transit Connect with the optional EcoBoost engine.
I was able to drive the 2016 Nissan NV200 both completely empty and what I imagine was about half of its max payload capacity, and in both situations, this van had absolutely no problems accelerating or stopping. As you would expect from a front-drive compact van weighing 3,263 pounds, the 2016 Nissan NV200 rides and drives like a compact car, but it still takes a little getting used to driving a vehicle like this – mostly related to the fact that even with the optional rear windows, visibility could be improved. Unlike full-size cargo vans and pickup trucks, though, the 2016 Nissan NV200 is easily maneuverable in tight quarters, and it isn’t scary driving down a washboard road or on a windy day.
2016 Nissan NV200 Safety:
Even though the 2016 Nissan NV200 was designed to haul more cargo than passengers, it still comes standard with six airbags, traction control and Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This tester was even safer and easier to park thanks to the Technology Package’s RearView Monitor and the $250 Rear Sonar Package.
2016 Nissan NV200 Overall:
After a week of driving the 2016 Nissan NV200, the one thing that kept surprising me the most was how small and efficient this van is while also offering a cargo area that is about the same as the cargo bed of the Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup truck – and it adds better security and storage options at a much lower price. Just as passenger vehicles have undergone a downsizing in recent years, the commercial segment has also seen a trend in smaller, more economical vehicles, and the 2016 Nissan NV200 is an excellent choice. The 2016 Nissan NV200 is starts at $21,760* making it the lowest-priced commercial van on the market, and even when loaded up with plenty of content as this NV200 SV was, it still had an impressively affordable as-tested price of just $24,325.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Nissan dealership and test drive the 2016 Nissan NV200 today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2016 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.