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2017 Nissan NV200: The Sensible Compact Cargo Hauler

Delivery vans, as I often say, are a real bread and butter market for big time auto manufacturers. Sure, Ford has its evergreen Transit, but even companies you wouldn’t think of as being haulers of small(ish) cargo have more than a toe in the delivery van market. Mercedes-Benz, for example, has a whole host of package delivery vans, mostly seen in Europe at the moment.

Nissan too, is a player in the game. They’ve just released some details on their upcoming 2017 Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo. Van! I keep wanting to add that word.

No, indeed the complete corporate name for this guy is “Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo.” Van is not mentioned, although it is obviously a van.

Photo: Nissan.

Mindful Maintenance

It looks like the box they shipped it in, only bent a little. It is a slightly odd-looking beast. Theoretically, all design and style considerations go out the window with rides like this. You’re here for one reason: to move as much stuff in as few runs while consuming as little fuel as possible. Ergo, what you would theoretically want would be a box, or a cube, with the wheels pushed all the way to the four corners, so you get the maximum internal volume with the smallest footprint on the road.

But there’s a countervailing design consideration at play here: Maintenance.

One of the most important things to a fleet owner is maintaining vehicles. I remember talking to a taxi driver in San Francisco once, and the maintenance was just amazing. Oil changes twice every week. Swap in an overhauled engine every 6 months. Twice a year?! Junk the entire car in 4 to 5 years. The miles pile up brutally fast.

So, although you’d want to go with a bigger van because of the box design to maximize cargo-carrying capacity, engine placement, especially with regard to maintenance, becomes a serious issue.

Photo: Nissan.

Sensible Compromises

If you’ve ever spent time in full-size domestic 1970s vans, and I have, you know that doing any sort of maintenance to the engine can be a real pain. First off, just getting that doghouse off so you can see the engine (I can’t use the word “access” since that’s a bit of a misnomer) is a chore in and of itself.

And that engine cover is particularly gunky on the underside, so you get debris all over your deep pile shag carpet and the swiveling captains chars and the dark oak with velvet trimmed waterbed in the way back.

So, Nissan has kind of halved the difference and the engine rides way up front in a fairly conventional way, making the Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo look sort of like a pickup fused with a van.

Practicality, functionality, maintenance, and cargo capacity-wise it makes nothing but sense. Aesthetically, it’s hideous. But who cares? You’re not going to enter it into the Oakland Roadster Show. Now, go make some deliveries!

And delivering the goods, literally, is what the Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo is here to do.

Photo: Nissan.

Driving Dynamics & Useful Tools

Nissan says the NV200 features car-like handling, a small turning radius for easy parking and maneuvering in city traffic, and a comfortable, commanding driving position. All of those are really important. Unless it’s in the hands of Sabine Schmidt, no one is going to care about Nürburgring lap times with this thing.

Other delivery-oriented niceties include a passenger seat fold-down feature, which provides a convenient worktable (think signing forms, bills of lading, invoices etc.). There are also integrated mounting points included to allow for third party fitting of racks and bins. Furthermore, is the whole slew of techno goodies that would be superfluous on most cars, but strike me as being almost essential tools on a delivery van.

The 2017 Nissan NV200 can function as a mobile office. Photo: Nissan.

Sensible Technology

The 2017 Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo features available technology such as Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, available Streaming audio via Bluetooth, USB interface, RearView Monitor, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, NissanConnectSM with Navigation and Mobile Apps, and a 5.8-inch touch screen display.

Additionally, there is Nissan Voice Recognition, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, and Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant.

And everyone one of those makes sense to me, honestly. If you’ve ever had to drive a delivery van to drop something off, especially in a semi-distant town you aren’t all that familiar with, everything on that list makes me say “yes.”

Packages & Warranty

Nissan has added some upgrades for 2017 here and there. The NV200 adds standard power door locks and Hill Start Assist (HSA) to the S model (previously standard on SV model). The SV model now features body colored front and rear bumpers, outside mirrors, and rear license plate finisher – along with a chrome grille and full wheel covers. You know, for you hoity-toity delivery people, I guess.

The Sliding Door Glass Package has been revised to add wire mesh to the passenger side sliding door glass and back door glass, which, again, makes total sense. A rear window defroster and an interior rearview mirror are also included in this package.

Every 2017 NV200 Compact Cargo also offers “America’s best commercial van warranty,” with basic limited warranty coverage of 5 years/100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Although those 100K miles would probably tick over within 5 months, not five years, but it’s still a nice gesture. The powertrain limited warranty is also 5 years/100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The 2017 Nissan NV200 offers a variety of cargo storage and management options. Photo: Nissan.

Engine & Transmission

Speaking of powertrains, the front-wheel drive Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo is motivated by a 131 horsepower 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, matched to an updated, next-gen Xtronic transmission. No, not much grunt, but do see the above reference to Mr. Schmidt. On the upside of a small(ish) four-banger, the fuel economy is pretty impressive with 24 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 25 combined.

Trim Levels & Pricing

The NV200 Compact Cargo is offered in two trim levels, S and SV (grades, as Nissan calls them). There are a number of packages that allow buyers to create the exact model for their specific business needs. Price is not all that bad. The NV200 S is $21,230 (MSRP-USD) and the NV200 SV is $22,130 (MSRP-USD), both of which are completely reasonable for the work truck market.

Of course, the proof will be in the pudding, or, more accurately, in the sales figures.

Nissan already has a pretty good install base in general, and they bring with them their reputation for reliability and frugality. Now to see if that will translate into sales? Would you own one if you were making deliveries?

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photo: Nissan.

Photos & Source: Nissan