First Drive: 2012 Nissan NV2500 HD

Don't Forget The Driver
Cargo may seem to be king, but Nissan hasn't forgotten about the driver's needs. By eliminating the typical engine doghouse cover, the NV provides expansive legroom to both driver and passenger. A number of storage cubbies scattered throughout the interior (including pull-out underseat bins on 2500 and 3500 models) offer plenty of room for clipboards, notebooks, and other personal items. Bucket seats, trimmed in a waterproof, stain-resistant fabric, are nicely bolstered and quite comfortable -- perfect for spending long hours behind the wheel.

SV-trim models offer even more amenities, including power windows and locks, an eight-way power driver's seat, a rear parking sensor, a security system, chrome exterior trim, remote keyless entry, and cruise control. If that isn't enough, SV models are also available with a technology package, which adds navigation, a rear-view camera, XM Satellite Radio, a USB audio input, and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.

Perhaps most impressive, however, is the NV's demeanor over the road. Lest you gaze rearwards into the expansive cargo hold, it's easy to mistake the NV as just another full-size SUV. Unladen, the NV drives much like the Titan, albeit with slightly stiffer springs. Despite its upright stature, the van feels surefooted in crosswinds -- even in high-roof form.

Both V-6 and V-8 models are peppy off the line, but we'd opt for the V-8 if you plan on regularly hauling hefty loads or ordering the high-roof model. Not only does this engine have plenty of power to spare, but it's also able to tow nearly 9500 pounds, provided it's paired with an available class IV hitch receiver.

Priced to Please
Despite outpacing its rivals in terms of refinement and content, the NV manages to undercut both the E-Series and Express when it comes to the MSRP. List price for a standard roof NV1500 with the V-6 comes in at $25,570 with destination, almost $300 less than a comparable six-cylinder Chevrolet. Better yet, every buyer will be able to add up to 70 square feet of custom vinyl graphics or a basic interior shelving package from Adrian Steel at no additional cost.

It's unlikely that companies already loyal to Ford or GM vans will cast aside their fleets and parts supply in favor of an all-new design, but the NV's packaging, pricing, and performance will certainly woo -- if not convince -- those who actively use vans for their daily business.

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melmac50
Yet another needlessly clunky, clueless design from the "leadership" of Larry Dominique. When will Nissan stop allowing him to pollute our highways with these over-chromed eyesores?!!!

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