Big and brawny, the 2021 Nissan NV remains a solid, if old school, contender in the world of cargo and people carrying vans.
For businesses and consumers alike the Nissan NV offers a combination of size and optional gasoline-V8 power.
The only other player in the van field is the Ram ProMaster, which boasts many configurations for commercial purposes but no factory-sourced passenger versions.
With the same basic structural and rear-wheel-drive (RWD) powertrain elements under its skin as Nissan’s burly Titan pick-up truck, the NV is rugged and tough. As such, it’s well qualified for the purpose of hauling around bulky loads of cargo or up to 12 passengers.
But buyers should not expect much in the way of comfort or convenience features, or any but the most basic safety technologies. Nor should one expect it to be as pleasing to drive as the Ford or Mercedes-Benz.
At its core, the NV is a no-frills, business vehicle, built for basic transport purposes. Even with its flaws, it’s worth considering, especially as it offers the segment’s best warranty, with full coverage for five years or 100,000 miles.
What’s New for 2021?
The NV soldiers into 2021 with virtually no changes, other than the addition of in-dash navigation as a standard feature on the SV as well as SL trim levels. Find a 2021 Nissan NV for sale
What We Like
- Powerful V8 engine option
- Burly body on frame construction
- Ample headroom in tall roof version
- Spacious passenger model
- Excellent warranty
What We Don’t
- Very thirsty V8 fuel consumption
- Rear-wheel drive only
- Lacks newer safety features
- Ungainly handling
- Heavy curb weight
Prices start at $36,760 and top out at $43,510.
With the aerodynamics of a flying brick, heavyweight construction and a big 5.6-liter V8, the inevitable result for the NV is depressingly poor fuel consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency does not test vehicles as heavy as the NV, but we would expect this Nissan to return average mpg in the low teens.
The optional 4.0-liter V6 engine will not do much better, especially as it has to work extra hard when pushing around a loaded NV.
Standard features and Options
For 2021, the NV is offered in passenger and commercial forms, with three trim levels; S, SV and SL. The commercial versions also can be optioned with standard or high roof body styles.
Starting with the NV HD 3500 S, ($36,760) the powertrain is a 4.0-liter V6 engine with 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. Standard across all models are 17-inch wheels.
Inside, there are four rows of seats for up to 12 passengers. The second and third seating rows can be removed altogether or repositioned for improved legroom. The fourth row seat is split 50/50 and can be completely or partially removed.
For extra flexibility, the front passenger seat back can be folded to create a work surface. On the dashboard there is a standard 7-inch audio system display screen.
The NV HD 3500 SV ($39,210) adds chrome exterior accents, a 5.8-inch color touch screen for navigation and eight-way power driver’s seat with manual lumbar control. There are additional 12-volt and 120-volt power outlets in the cabin and a rear parking sensor.
The range topping NV3500 SL ($43,510) steps up to the 5.6-liter V8 engine with 375 hp and 387 lb-ft of torque, in place of the V6, paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission. The trim includes fog lights, leather wrapped steering wheel, leather trimmed seats, heated driver and passenger seats and a front parking sensor.
Switching to the commercial NV, the line-up becomes more complex with standard and high roof versions. There are three models, NV1500, NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD. Each is available in three grade levels: S, SV and SL. The high roof configuration is not available on the S mode, but allows users to walk and stand in the cargo area.
Nissan claims the cargo bay can accommodate 4×8-foot drywall sheets or 10-foot piping. Payload rating for the NV cargo models starts at 2,730 lbs for the V6 1500 to 3,720 lbs for the V8 SV 3500.
Prices range from $30,540 for the standard roof S1500 model to $36,230 for the standard-roof SV 3500. Moving to the high-roof models, prices begin at $33,590 for the S 2500 and range to $39,460 for the SL 3500.
Unlike Nissan’s passenger vehicles, the NV is light on safety features, with equipment limited to a standard electronic stability control system and airbags.
Crash tests have not been conducted on the NV by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Behind the Wheel
Driving the NV takes some adjustment for those unused to the sheer size and awkward nature of a large van. The V8-powered NV is surprisingly quick off the mark for such a bulky vehicle but its handling is cumbersome and parking can be challenging in tight spaces.
The unibody construction Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans are more nimble handling but cannot match the towing capacity of the body-on-frame V8 NV.
At the wheel, the NV feels much like the full-size pick-up it is based on, except that most of the upscale features are absent.
Other Vans to Consider
2021 Ford Transit – We like the Transit for its modern design, safety features and available all-wheel-drive system.
2021 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – Expensive but very capable and loaded with safety features, the Sprinter is the most refined van on the market.
2021 Ram ProMaster – Unusual for being a front-wheel-drive (FWD) design in a RWD market, the ProMaster has a good deal to recommend it in terms of multiple available configurations, but it is not available in passenger carrying form from the factory.
The NV is falling behind the competition in terms of creature comforts, safety features and overall refinement, but it will get the job done, whether it involves moving people or cargo. We recommend opting for the V8 version over the V6. You won’t appreciate the heavy fuel consumption but the extra performance will be welcome. Find a 2021 Nissan NV for sale