by Gabe Beita Kiser
While it won't be winning any awards, the Nissan NV Passenger is a solid passenger transit van. The interior doesn't feature particularly high-quality materials, but it is well-built and the seats are extremely comfortable, focusing on passenger comfort over aesthetics. With two engine options – either a 261 horsepower V6 or a 375 hp V8 – the Nissan can tow between 6,200 and 8,700 lbs, which is impressive for the segment. With solid handling and decent power, as well as a competitive price tag starting at $35,760, the NV is certainly a contender, but it is far from being a class leader. Rivals like the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offer better performance, infotainment, safety, and multiple body configurations.
The 2019 NV has been subject to only minor adjustments. Standard features now include a seven-inch touchscreen with AM/FM radio, a USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming with voice control, and an auxiliary audio input for iPods or similar devices.
The price is mostly on par with rivals, coming in a bit cheaper than the higher-quality Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, but more on par with the Ford Transit passenger van. An MSRP of $35,760 will see you behind the wheel of the base S model, while the SV, still sporting the same engine, will cost $37,710. To get your hands on the more powerful V8 in the SL, you will need to shell out $42,510. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and Nissan's $1,395.
See trim levels and configurations:
For a vehicle of its size, the NV Passenger handles quite well but it won't be delivering any thrills, and the lack of driver-assist and safety features means you won't want to push its already low limits. The steering could be more responsive, with the van being saddled with a 45.2 ft turning radius, but the brakes are quite good, bringing the rotund vehicle to a stop from 60 mph in under 150 ft. However, the van doesn't remain stable during panic stops, with great amounts of wobble and potential fish-tailing stripping away driver confidence as a result.
Ride comfort is good though, thanks to the sturdy chassis and comfortable seats. The suspension isn't too firm, but loading more passengers adds more stability. Noise is well-managed by the cabin, with the engine not intruding too much even at highway speeds. Considering the NV is designed to deliver efficiency in completing a task, it doesn't sacrifice as much as you might think to do its job.
The van serves its purpose as a mass-passenger transit vehicle. But this about all it manages to accomplish. The base engine provides enough power to move the massive van, while the optional V8 makes doing so much easier. Regardless of the powertrain you choose, handling is adequate at best. Neither you nor your passengers will get a thrill out of the ride, which is perhaps for the best. With the van offering little to no real safety features to assist you, safe driving is the only real way to ensure passenger safety.
Infotainment is equally spartan, leaving no doubt in anyone's mind that this is a utility vehicle, first and foremost. While this kind of focus is good, many other passenger vans offer just as much, if not more, utility while still including significantly better tech and convenience features.
Most rivals offer more engine, transmission, and body configurations while boasting extensive driver-assist features and infotainment that many modern sedans struggle to match. For this reason, it is impossible to call the Nissan NV Passenger a good great van. It does the job, but so many others do it better.
Even the lower-powered V6 engine is more than sufficient to move the van with ease and, even on the top trim level, safety features and infotainment are nothing more than afterthoughts. There is little reason to look above the base S model unless you find the minor improvements to the infotainment system and the addition of rear parking assist appealing. The power-adjustable driver's seat is a nice addition, though, and the extra $2,000 for the SV won't break the bank either, so we think it is probably the best choice.
There is a reason that the Ford Transit is the top-selling van in the US. There are areas where certain rivals surpass this streamlined utility van, but none best it in every category. The Ford has an array of potent engine options that give it a level of power few can match, all while offering handling that is impressive for a vehicle of this size. Plenty of safety features come standard, with more becoming available as you move up the trim levels. The infotainment is not world-class but it has the basics, and even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. In the right guise, the interior is so spacious that passengers can stand upright, making moving around even easier. The Ford achieves all of this without sacrificing much in any area, making it one of the best all-round vans. The NV Passenger doesn't hold a candle to it.
Entering a new generation, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has a lot going for it. It offers a premium interior that few rivals can hope to match, along with a roomy cabin that allows passengers to really stretch out and enjoy the ride. Seat comfort is above average, and build quality is class-leading. The van does suffer from a slightly underpowered engine when in its largest configuration, but that's not unusual for these highly configurable vehicles. It handles well around town, nonetheless, and even has a modicum of off-road capability. Where it really shines is its modern tech features, especially the available MBUX infotainment system. However, to get the best that the Sprinter has to offer, you will need to be willing to empty your wallet, with the Mercedes van costing up to $20k more than the Nissan when fully loaded. Overall, the Sprinter is the better choice, even if you need to tone down on add-ons to get the price more in line with the competition.
The most popular competitors of 2019 Nissan NV Passenger: