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When Nissan invited me to sample the Versa Note hatchback, tucked away in a corner was the new-to-America Nissan NV200 compact cargo van.
Practicality has a downside, like the current Transit Connect, the NV200 isn’t the most attractive thing on the road. Nissan is touting a driver-focused cabin with business-oriented features, something that also sets Nissan’s full-size NV1500 apart from the Americans. Cruise control and Bluetooth hands free are not standard, but can be added to the base NV200 S for $200 and $250 respectively.
Commercial vehicles put function over form, that’s why the Americans use short hoods and engines stuffed under doghouses in the cabin. The NV200 may be cheaper than a Chevy cargo van, but its important to remember that GM fleet shoppers get incredible discounts on even small orders of the big vans dropping base models below $20,000 in real dollars. Motivating the NV200 is the same 2.0L four-cylinder engine that powered the last generation Sentra. Maneuvering the NV200 around downtown San Diego proved easy thanks to a tight 18.3-foot turning radius (1 foot smaller than Ford and Chrysler) and heavily boosted electric power steering.
Nissan flew me to San Diego for the Versa Note launch and they made a few NV200s available to those interested.
IMO its slightly more attractive up front than the NV, though obviously that’s not hard. The Chevy version will be available in Fall 2014; not sure about pricing but its probably quite similar to the NV. The author has written many fair and well balanced reviews on this site before, covering many brands and vehicles, so I would disagree with you because I find it hard to believe the author would sell out now… Over one van. Not every contractor is a framing carpenter or drywall rocker who needs to haul 4X8 sheet goods every day. In the NV200 these features include a comfortable driver’s seat with a right-side armrest, a hanging file holder in the center console, large glovebox, deep pockets in the doors and a fold-flat passenger seat.

If you needed something more utilitarian than a Caravan or Odyssey, you had to step up to an enormous van with thirsty engines and old 4-speed automatics. TheĀ  NV200 doesn’t have to steal hearts to accomplish its mission enabling Nissan to pen vertical slab sides and a very vertical tail. This parts sharing helps keep the NV200’s purchase price at a low $19,990 which is nearly six-grand cheaper than the Chevrolet Express and $2,435. If you were hoping for a 5-seat NV200, don’t hold your breath, Nissan tells us they have no plans to offer a competitor to the Transit Connect Wagon in America. In addition to greatly improved voice commands, Nissan’s cheapest nav unit adds smartphone integration for Google data services and Pandora internet radio streaming.
That means there is a trade-off between interior space and somewhere to put that driveshaft. The folding front passenger seat allows you to toss 10-foot long items in NV from the dash to the rear doors and the wheel-wells are just over four-feet wide.
Without the $950 option the NV is more of a challenge but still easier to deal with than a full-size cargo hauler. But I wanted a couple more windows, couple more seats, and the six speed manual that came in my first cube.
Plumbers, florists, HVAC guys, you name it, and they are driving a white TC with their name on the side of it. Instead we got windy two lane blacktop between Portland and Bar Harbor and again from Bar Harbor to New Brunswick. Ford promises the 2014 Transit Connect will be a different animal sporting the Fusion’s award-winning nose. However, the distance from the driver’s seat to the rear doors is 18-inches shy of 4X8 hauling nirvana. When looking at those numbers, keep in mind the driver and passenger’s weight is included in the payload.

Before you complain about CVTs, keep in mind we are talking about a cargo van where driving dynamics are secondary to the mission. If you want to know more, check out the video review of the Versa Note which uses the same system.
It’s easy to see that 131HP and 139lb-ft need all the help they can get, and that help comes in the form of infinitely variable ratios. If Ford can deliver the impressive mileage they are claiming, larger cargo capacity with a similar footprint and a sprinkling of style, the NV is unlikely to fly off the lots. As I said 2014 looks to change everything with the attractive new Transit Connect landing with MyFord Touch, two wheelbases and a range of turbo engines.
Ford is promising 30MPG out of the new Transit Connect in 2014, but I suspect that the city mileage will be lower than the NV’s 24 and the combined number is unlikely to be much higher.
Unlike the Transit Connect which feels winded when fully loaded, and never seems to have the right gear for hill climbing, the CVT seems to have the right ratio for every situation. You can thank the CVT for that combined number because it’s easier for the engine to stay at an efficient RPM in a wider variety of situations. The tangible benefit is: you can load up your NV200 and climb a mountain pass at a constant highway speed while the Transit Connect is doing the speed-up-upshift-slow-down-downfshift-speed-up dance. However you feel about CVTs, anything is better than the current Transit Connect’s 4-speed auto.

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