Combining the muscle of a gas-powered V8 engine with the tall roofline commonly associated with European-style vans, the 2020 Nissan NV cargo and passenger vans offer a unique twist that should be appealing to anyone needing to haul either lots of people or lots of stuff. The rear-wheel-drive (RWD) NV can’t offer the year-round traction of the all-wheel-drive (AWD) Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Ford Transit, nor can it equal the fuel economy of the diesel powertrains offered by the competition, but it’s still a compelling, no-nonsense package. Perhaps the NV’s biggest selling point is that it comes 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 in Canton, Mississippi. 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.
What’s New for 2020?
The NV carries over unchanged for the 2020 model year. For 2019, both the cargo and passenger variants were updated with a 7-in infotainment system with USB and aux ports along with Bluetooth connectivity. On cargo vans, the Backdoor Glass package was made available on S and SV V8 models. See the 2020 Nissan NV models for sale near you
What We Like
- Rugged, capable body-on-frame platform
- Secure storage
- Stand-up headroom in the high-roof version
- Loads of room for people in the passenger version
- Some semblance of comfort and composure
- Excellent warranty
What We Don’t
- Modest power with V6
- No diesel option
- No AWD option
- No active safety features
- No chassis cab or cutaway option
The NV comes with a choice of two proven 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. 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 considerable bump in power, putting out 375 hp and 387 lb-ft.
Even with the smaller V6, the NV doesn’t exactly make for fuel-efficient transportation. Given that the NV lineup has a gross combined vehicle weight of more than 8,500 pounds, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t provide fuel economy figures. That said, as the vehicles share powertrains, don’t expect better than the Titan’s 18 miles per gallon in combined driving.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Nissan NV comes in both commercial and passenger models, with two roof heights and three available trim levels: S, SV and SL.
The NV 1500 S V6 ($31,285) 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, a 7-in display audio AM/FM stereo with USB and auxiliary inputs, 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 1500 SV V6 ($32,275) adds 17-in styled steel wheels, a 4-speaker stereo, power mirrors, steering-wheel audio controls and rear sonar assist.
The NV 2500 S V6 ($32,185) features the same equipment as the 1500 but in half-ton configuration.
The NV 2500 SV V6 ($33,175) includes the same equipment as the 1500 SV plus a center console with lockable storage, two additional cup holders 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 with the upgraded V8 engine costs $34,775.
The NV 3500 S ($35,485) features the same equipment as the 1500 but in 1-ton configuration and with the V8 engine.
The NV 3500 SV ($36,475) includes all the same equipment as the 2500 SV but includes a standard V8 engine.
The NV 3500 SL ($37,555) 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 airbags for front-outboard occupant head protection (includes rollover sensor).
The NV 3500 S Passenger ($37,505) 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 ($39,455) 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 ($44,255) adds the V8 engine, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, leather seating, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic temperature control, an autodimming rearview mirror with a compass, navigation with NissanConnect mobile apps and a 5.8-in touchscreen and front-sonar assist.
The high-roof version — available in either 2500 or 3500 guise — comes at a $2,150 premium, while the V8 effectively adds $1,600 to the NV’s price.
Also offered on SV and SL trims is an available 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 accessory packages.
Given its status as a full-size van, the Nissan NV has not been crash-tested by either the federally-run National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the independent third-party Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While passenger variants do come standard with eight airbags and a rear sonar system, the NV doesn’t offer any of the active safety features available on the majority of Nissan’s products.
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 — unsurprising given that it shares its basic architecture with the Titan. The engine and transmission are located ahead of the firewall and A-pillar, creating a much more conventional driving position.
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. Driving the NV feels like you’re driving a big van, because it is a big van.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Ram ProMaster — Unlike the other full-size vans on sale today, the ProMaster is based on the European-market Fiat Ducato, and thus uses a front-wheel drive (FWD) platform. While somewhat unconventional, the ProMaster manages to be a little easier to drive than the competition without sacrificing much with regard to capability.
2020 Ford Transit — The Transit is more modern than the NV and therefore offers more modern powertrains — including a turbocharged V6 engine — and newer technology, like Ford’s great infotainment system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and active safety features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and more.
2020 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter — The Sprinter was all-new for the 2019 model year and brought with it a number of improvements with regard to safety and technology, not to mention functionality improvements geared specifically toward its intended customer base. Gas and diesel powertrains are available, as is AWD.
2020 Chevrolet Express Van — On sale basically unchanged since way back in 2005, the Chevrolet Express uses an old-school body-on-frame architecture and a V8 engine, although these components are nowhere near as modern as what you’ll find in the NV. The Express should appeal only to the most price-conscious of shoppers.
When it comes to configuration, you know your needs better than we do, so we aren’t going to tell you to buy a high roof over a low roof or a passenger van over a cargo van. Regardless of whether you’ll be hauling people or things, though, we do think the most compelling thing about the NV is that it’s available with Nissan’s potent 5.6-liter V8, which sets it apart from the rest of the segment. Additionally, the NV has been on sale largely unchanged since the 2012 model year, meaning that most buyers should find it to be reliable and dependable. Otherwise, the NV competes primarily on price, as competitors like the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter have both surpassed it in terms of modernity, safety and available technology. Find a Nissan NV for sale