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Meet Van, Jr.

2014 Nissan NV200

Size doesn’t matter, they say. But they never had to maneuver a full-sized van through narrow city streets to deliver a bouquet of flowers, a carton of office supplies, or a muffler and tailpipe to a repair garage. Hah! But in my travels over the years, I have.

And I can say without a doubt I’d much rather to have been driving a Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo Van like the one I tested last week at West-Herr Nissan, thanks to Jeff Roth (W-H’s commercial vehicle account manager). It’s shorter, narrower, and has a tighter turning circle than your every-day full-sized van. No, they’re not for every business, as the NV200 is, as the name suggests, a compact. But it’s a well-thought-out compact, with scads of room inside for a driver, one passenger, and a lot of cargo—122 cu. ft. worth. The space is very accessible through two side-sliding doors, and a set of center-opening rear doors with stops at 90 and 180 degrees. The rear doors are 60/40, with the right-side door (which opens first) the wider one for fitting those larger packages without always having to open both doors.

The entire cargo area is also easily accessible from the passenger compartment. And that passenger compartment is roomy and easily gotten into. The passenger seat folds flat to use as a work surface/laptop holder for the driver. All controls (and there aren’t that many!) are easily reached and logically laid-out. Visibility was pretty good all around, although, the test truck was equipped with the optional rear-door glass and rearview mirror; without them I imagine it would be not quite so easy to park and/or drive in traffic (it would also, it seems, be a bit claustrophobic). If you go to the website, there is also information about the NV200 taxi, which has side windows and a second-row seat.

The rear door opening is wide enough for a 40x48 pallet, and its low loading height makes it easy to get things in and out. The tops of the wheel wells are flat, which helps in stacking things on top of them

All NV200s are powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine which is connected to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) driving the front wheels. The powertrain is EPA-rated at 24/25 mpg city/highway, which is another improvement over full-sized vans. My test drive was in an empty van—well, empty except for me, and performance was adequate, but you won’t be running in too many stoplight races. I imagine—no, I know, that it will be even more sluggish with a full load, but should still be more than enough to get any load around town because after all, the cargo capacity is only around 1,500 lbs. depending on which model you choose.

The test truck was the SV model, which adds: power heated outside mirrors, six floor-mounted D-rings in the cargo area, power locks, keyless entry, cruise control, and a console-mounted 12-volt DC power outlet. It also had the exterior appearance package (full wheel covers, painted front and rear bumpers & outside mirrors, and a chrome grille). There is an available Technology Package which adds rear camera, nav, Google® Send-To-Car service, and text-to-speech for hands-free text messaging and receiving.

Styling? Well, it’s a delivery van. I’ll go so far as to say it’s a European-style delivery van looks-wise. In other words, it could be worse. It does look better in the SV trim, as the base model gives you black bumpers & mirrors, open-faced steel wheels, and a silver-painted grille. Maybe though, that’s a good thing, as your customers will see you as frugal.

Pricing starts at $20,290. The test van, as equipped, came to $22,710. Not too shabby at all.

More info at: nissancommercialvehicles.com

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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