2013 Nissan NV200
2013 Nissan NV200
2013 Nissan NV200. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Mark Stevenson

Have you ever had a weird fascination with a vehicle? Maybe you have a fetish for early 90s Pontiac Sunbirds or maybe you can see beyond a nameplate and you really dig Ford Probes. Hey, it’s your thing, not mine. I am not going to judge you (but it’s still weird to me). Seriously, I’m not judging. You’re an adult; you can make your own decisions.

I’m not immune to being oddly attracted to a vehicle that makes absolutely no sense to anyone else, and commercial vans are that kind of vehicle for me. More specifically, small commercial vans.

Front-wheel drive? Totally cool in my book. Has the engine output of a value-priced hatchback and a transmission to match? Yep, that works too.

While almost every small delivery-style van, such as the NV200 and its closest competitor, the Ford Transit Connect, will be scooting around town wearing a small business logo or a Canada Post badge, I truly think these vans make sense for a small subset of people.

I don’t own a delivery business, nor am I a tradesman, yet I still want one of these vans. It makes so much sense. Trust me on this.

After my Nissan cube, I owned a Ford Ranger. With its compact dimensions, real (manual) transmission, and extended cab, my Ranger was big enough to move my two furry friends and I from Nova Scotia to Texas with a bed load full of my worldly possessions while towing two motorcycles.

I’m not saying my Ranger was the “be all, end all” to solve every transportation problem for everyone. The underpowered 3.0L Vulcan V6 under the hood debuted back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and Henry Ford himself oversaw the last Ranger redesign.

Yet, I miss that truck and I would buy another one. Except I sent a letter to Mr. Mulally and he said they don’t make the Ranger anymore, and I absolutely refuse to upsize to an F-150.

Maybe a compact van is a better alternative, especially when I’m constantly using the cargo area to haul stuff around and I have two dogs whose idea of personal space is that gap between my molars at the back of my mouth after I’ve just eaten a pulled pork sandwich.

For me, a small commercial van is the ultimate choice. There’s lots of room in the back to haul a motorcycle (and keep it dry if I want to make sure it keeps its “just cleaned” look). And, if I so choose, I can put down some dog beds or load up the kennels to enjoy a blissful trip to the country without having them make a mess of the seats or attempting to crawl into my lap.

2013 Nissan NV200
2013 Nissan NV200
2013 Nissan NV200. Click image to enlarge

Okay, so I am not the typical buyer for the NV (or Transit Connect), but I still value the same things as a jobber or delivery guy: cost of ownership, easy access, and cargo space.

First, let’s look at the financial equation.

You can get into a base model S trimmed NV200 Compact Cargo (not the bigger brother, Titan-based NV) for two bucks shy of $22,000 before freight, dealer fees, and government hands. That’s before you haggle or add any incentives, making it significantly more affordable than the Ford Transit Connect. The Blue Oval offering has an MSRP floating close to $28,000 without any options.

The NV200 is also more fuel efficient and more powerful than the Transit Connect, though we aren’t talking by significantly large margins. Still, it’s two feathers in the hat for Nissan, even if the Japanese option has a CVT transmission that makes the engine sound absolutely horrible.

The engine is a 2.0L four-cylinder producing 140 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque. No, it is not going to win any stop light drag races. But it will definitely get you where you need to go slightly faster than the Transit Connect and with a thicker wallet.

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