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2018 Nissan NV: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Nissan NV, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Nissan NV Review

The 2018 Nissan NV cargo and passenger vans combine the tall roof and easily configurable interior of European-inspired vans like the Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit with the brute V8 muscle commonly associated with domestic pickup trucks. Riding atop the previous-generation Titan pickup platform and powered solely by its rear wheels, the NV can’t offer the year-round traction of the all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, nor can it equal the fuel economy of rivals that offer a turbodiesel engine. On the flip side, the NV does come with the industry’s best commercial van warranty, providing bumper-to-bumper coverage for five years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Because buying American is important to many companies these days, it’s important to note that the NV is assembled at the same Canton, Mississippi plant that builds the Titan truck and the Armada SUV. With a clean-sheet approach to its design and specification, Nissan put everything on the table, including overall design, powertrains, interiors, customer needs and dealership practices. The result is a full lineup of three platforms (1500, 2500 and 3500) and a choice of two engines and both high- and low-roof variants, as well as a 4-row, 12-passenger version of the big van.

What’s New for 2018?

For 2018, the Nissan NV gains a rear backup camera, a 5-inch color display monitor, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, streaming Bluetooth audio and a USB/iPod connection port as standard equipment. The S grade also now features as standard power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry and cruise control. See the 2018 Nissan NV models for sale near you

What We Like

Maximum utility from a platform designed in this century; secure storage; stand-up headroom in the high-roof version; some semblance of comfort and composure; excellent warranty

What We Don’t

Modest power with V6; no diesel-engine option; no all-wheel-drive option; no chassis cab or cutaway option

How Much?

$30,145-$45,000 (includes $1,295 destination charge)

Fuel Economy

The NV comes with a choice of two well-regarded Nissan powertrains, a 4.0-liter V6 and a 5.6-liter V8. Neither is taxed in Nissan’s pickups and SUVs the way they are in the NV. The NV is substantially heavier than Nissan’s pickup line, and because it has all the aerodynamic attributes of a barn door, it is considerably more difficult to push through the air. But if most of your time is spent in stop-and-go traffic, delivery or carpool-type driving, the 261-horsepower V6 with its 281 lb-ft of torque might serve you well. If you spend a lot of time on the interstate or if you intend to keep the NV filled to the max with people and/or things, we’d advise you to opt for the 5.6-liter V8. It provides a bump in hp to 375 hp, but torque is elevated dramatically to 387 lb-ft.

Even with the smaller V6, you shouldn’t regard this model as economical transportation. Given that the NV lineup has a gross combined vehicle weight of more than 8,500 pounds, the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t provide economy figures. But if you take the old Titan pickup’s 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway and deduct 10 percent for poorer aerodynamics, you should be fairly close to the numbers you’ll get with either the NV’s V6 or V8.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Nissan NV comes in both commercial and passenger models, with two roof heights and three trims: S, SV and SL.

The Nissan NV 1500 S ($30,145) includes a V6 engine, 17-in steel wheels, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, cruise control, a single sliding right-hand door, integrated roof-rack mounting points, an AM/FM/CD stereo with an auxiliary input, a rear backup camera, Bluetooth for phone and music streaming, two speakers and 12 cargo-area mounting points in the floor and an additional 24 cargo-area mounting points on the side walls.

The NV 2500 S ($31,145) features the same equipment as the 1500 but in half-ton configuration.

The NV 3500 S ($34,445) features the same equipment as the 1500 but in 1-ton configuration and with the V8 engine.

The NV 1500 SV ($31,135) adds 17-in styled steel wheels, a 4-speaker stereo, power mirrors, steering-wheel audio controls and rear sonar assist.

The NV 2500 SV ($32,135) includes the same equipment as the 1500 SV plus a center console with lockable storage, two additional cupholders and a sliding table. High-roof models get an overhead console, while heated side mirrors are standard on models equipped with the V8 engine.

The NV 2500 SL ($33,255) adds chrome for the bumpers, grille, door handles and mirror caps, chrome-clad wheels, an 8-way power driver’s seat, a security system and first-row side and roof-mounted curtain supplemental side-impact air bags for front-outboard occupant head protection (includes rollover sensor).

The NV 3500 SV ($35,435) includes all the same equipment as the 2500 SV plus a standard V8 engine.

The NV 3500 SL ($36,515) adds the same equipment as the 2500 SL.

The NV 3500 S Passenger ($36,465) has power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, side privacy glass with manual flip-out venting, 12-passenger seating, Bluetooth, second- and third-row 65/35-split bench seating, fourth-row 50/50-split bench seating and ceiling-mounted side airbags covering all four rows.

The NV 3500 SV Passenger ($38,415) adds 17-in chrome-clad wheels, an 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, full carpeting, 6-speaker audio, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, a center console, rear map lights, two 120-volt outlets and the rear sonar system.

The NV 3500 SL Passenger ($43,315) adds a V8 engine, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, leather seating, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic temperature control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass, navigation with NissanConnect mobile apps and a 5.8-in touchscreen and front-sonar assist.

The high-roof option adds roughly $2,500 to the 2500 and 3500 models, while the V8 engine adds another $1,560 to the NV’s bottom line.

Other options are bundled into packages that are unique to each trim. They include a vinyl seat package for the S trim, while the SV and SL can be equipped with the Navigation package that adds a 5.8-in touchscreen navigation system with NissanConnect mobile apps. Other options include rear-door glass and various dealer-installed cargo-management packages.


Active safety, which is the ability to avoid an accident, is enhanced by a relatively low center of gravity in commercial-van terms. Should you collide with something, Nissan’s advanced-airbag system with dual-stage front airbags is there to protect you. Side-impact airbags for front-seat passengers and roof-mounted supplemental curtain airbags are standard on the passenger and cargo vans. The NV van has not been crash-tested.

Behind the Wheel

Unlike many commercial vans, which make the driver and front passenger skew their legs and feet to straddle the truck’s engine cover, the NV’s ergonomics are much closer to those of a pickup. The engine and transmission are located ahead of the firewall and A-pillar, creating a much more conventional position in which to operate the vehicle.

Once behind the wheel, you’ll find that the driving dynamics make the NV feel much more like a pickup than a domestic commercial van — that is, unless you’ve opted for the high-roof version, and high winds are buffeting the vehicle. In that case, you’ll know you’re in a commercial van due to the noise and other negatives that come with piloting a big box at highway speeds. None of the above is problematic, but for the first-time owner or user, piloting the NV does require a modified skill set for safe driving.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 RAM ProMaster — The RAM ProMaster features an economical diesel engine, two wheelbase options and an equally large cargo compartment, but it starts at about $2,000 more than the NV and has an unproven track record. The ProMaster also comes in chassis-cab and cutaway configurations.

2018 Ford Transit — Like the ProMaster, the Ford Transit is a modern European van brought stateside. It features numerous engine and configuration options, as well as high-tech features designed to improve productivity, but its base price is much higher than the NV’s.

2018 Chevrolet Express — Although the Express van is nowhere near as roomy or tall as the NV, it has its perks. Its standard V6 is more powerful than the V6 engine in the NV, and its long service means it’s well-known to fleet mechanics. There’s also a turbodiesel option.

Used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter — A 2012-2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offers a fuel-efficient yet powerful diesel engine, plus equally versatile cargo-bay configurations, wheelbase lengths and roof heights.

Autotrader’s Advice

For fleet-limo service, you’d be hard-pressed to improve on the NV passenger van. After all, it has seating for 12, easy access in and out and plenty of cargo area, even with four rows of seats. If you’re only carrying cargo, the standard-roof NV is more than adequate, especially when equipped with the Titan’s 5.6-liter V8. We’d resist the urge to load it up, preferring a middle-of-the-road approach.

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