For a long time there were only a few dominant players in the full-size passenger van scene, built by domestic automakers who traded back and forth over who could convince the greatest number of fleet buyers - and the occasional private citizen - to purchase one of these people-moving behemoths. Although there have been occasional forays from European brands into the big van scene, it is the 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van that for the first time throws down for the import crowd by making affordability a crucial part of its overall transportation package.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van.
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van represents the first full-size van salvo for the Japanese company. Although Nissan has a strong history of producing minivans and crossovers - some featuring unusual styling when compared to their competitors - large vans dedicated to hauling huge numbers of people or cargo have not historically been a part of the brand's North American lineup. In fact, Nissan has until now stayed away from serving commercial customers in the United States, and the company's fresh take on how a passenger van should look, feel, and drive injects some much-needed spice into the U.S. market.
02. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Features A Strong Platform
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van borrows its underpinnings in large part from the Nissan Titan pickup truck. The Nissan Titan's full-frame design provides the ruggedness needed to handle the trials and tribulations associated with the van's high passenger capacity. All told, the Nissan NV can handle up to 3,200 lbs of payload, which translates into a substantial number of riders and their associated luggage. The NV is also capable of towing trailers weighing up to 9,500 lbs, depending on how the vehicle is configured, which makes it a viable SUV replacement for those who regularly need to hitch up and roll out.
03. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Provides Unique Styling
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van cribs more than just its basic platform from the Nissan Titan. Keen eyes will be able to spot the similarities between the Nissan NV's sheet metal and that of the Titan, especially forward of the windshield where the pickup and the van share a significant number of styling cues. The NV's truck-like snout is a prominent part of the vehicle's design and helps to set it apart from other full-size vans that push the engine bay back under the passenger compartment. A stronger grille treatment - one more in keeping with its utility-focused mission - helps to separate the NV Passenger Van from the Titan, while its large greenhouse and wide door openings are part for the course in the full-size hauler segment.
04. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Comes Two Engine Choices
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van comes standard with a 4.0-liter V-6 engine that has been tuned to provide 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. Like the Titan, the NV Passenger Van can also be equipped with an eight-cylinder motor that displaces 5.6-liters and churns out an appreciable 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission - and rear-wheel drive - are standard across the board. Due to its weight category, Nissan is not required to publish fuel mileage ratings for the NV, but expect numbers to crest in the mid-teens on the highway.
05. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Offers Extensive Seating Configurations
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van features four rows of seating right out of the box. This means that in standard configuration, the NV Passenger Van can transport up to 12 passengers. What makes the NV an interesting option for buyers is that each of these rows is split, and each split seating section can actually be removed from the vehicle. Nissan claims that there are over 300 different seating configurations that can be used with the NV, a number that certainly seems high but which might have some merit given how versatile the vehicle's passenger compartment is.
06. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Can Still Haul Cargo
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van is at its core a huge cube on wheels, which means that it's not just restricted to its primary mission of shuttling people from point A to point B - the vehicle is also quite adept when it comes to transporting cargo. As much as 234 cubic feet of total space can be made use of inside the NV if all three rear rows of seating are removed. Throw in the fact that the vehicle's rear doors open up wide and can be held in place using a magnet system (to prevent swinging or damage to the hinges and the body), and the practical nature of the van is quite apparent.
07. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Comes In Three Trim Levels
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van is offered in a trio of models. The entry-level S trim provides tinted windows, cloth seats, a CD player, air conditioning, and 17-inch wheels. Upgrading to the SV edition brings with it nicer exterior trim, parking assistance at the rear, carpeting, a center console, additional speakers for the stereo system, and a power adjustable driver's seat. The top-tier SL is loaded with heated leather seats, additional parking assistance up front, Bluetooth connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and dual automatic climate control. On the outside the vehicle also gains fog lights, making the SL version of the van easy to spot.
08. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Can Be Had With Several Options Packages
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van's base model can be had with a Power Basic package, which installs keyless entry, power windows and door locks (to replace the hand-cranks and manual units), and cruise control. The Technology package is intended to improve the feature-set of the van's two higher trim levels, and it includes satellite radio, a rearview camera, a navigation system, and USB input into the vehicle's stereo system. For those who intend to tow with the NV Passenger Van, Nissan also offers a Tow package in order to enhance its cooling capabilities and simplify wiring up trailer electronics.
09. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Offers Respectable Safety
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van is charged with protecting as many as 12 people in the event of an accident, and it does so via the inclusion of standard side curtain airbags that rear from one end to the other of its sizable cabin. Dual-stage forward airbags are also provided free of charge with the NV. Electronic stability control and traction control are present and accounted for in order to help keep the vehicle from ever being involved in a collision in the first place, and anti-lock brakes help to wrestle the heavy van down to a stop without risking a loss of control.
10. The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van Takes On Traditional Full-Size Contenders
The 2012 Nissan NV Passenger Van is dipping its toes into a market that has been dominated by two manufacturers for decades. Chevrolet/GMC and Ford essentially own the big van segment, having pushed out Dodge several years ago. That being said, new players have been known to make in-roads in this area, with Mercedes-Benz in particular enjoying some success with its Sprinter full-size van - a vehicle that proves buyers are willing to step out of the ordinary and embrace a model that offers superior utility and practicality. The Nissan NV's Titan platform, healthy V-8 power, and large dimensions place it in a good position to challenge the authority of America's reigning van royalty.