First Look: 2011 Nissan NV Full Size Commercial Van


At last year’s NTEA Work Truck Show, we took you on a video tour of Nissan’s NV2500 commercial van concept. This year, the company is showing off the production version. It’s the first in a lineup of full-size body-on-frame light commercial vehicles that Nissan is expected to build and sell for the North American market.

The NV Van Series is aimed at the large-van market, long dominated by vehicles like Ford's E-Series and GM's full-size vans, but it’s got some unconventional new features that are likely to attract attention in a segment that sees major model revisions only once every decade or so.

Instead of a conventional short-nose configuration, where part of the engine sits in the cab next to the driver, the NV has a long-nose front end, like a full-size pickup truck. Nissan has positioned the engine ahead of the A-pillar and firewall. That’s not surprising, since the NV is based on a modified version of the Nissan Titan half-ton pickup’s F-Alpha body-on-frame platform. The long-nose layout also makes maintenance easier because most of the powertrain can be accessed under the van’s hood.

“From the seats forward, the NV looks, acts and feels like a pickup,” said Joe Castelli, Nissan’s vice president of commercial vehicles and fleet for North America. “You don’t have to take apart the interior to see the engine, and you don’t have to worry about tucking your work boots into a cramped footwell. But make no mistake, behind the seats the NV is pure, practical van.”

Two roof configurations will be available, depending on job needs. The standard roof offers a maximum 55.4-inch height from load floor to ceiling, and a very tall roof version is 76.5 inches tall inside – enough for most people to stand up and walk around inside without stooping. The standard roof can hold up to 220 cubic feet of cargo, and the high roof can accommodate up to 300 cubic feet.

Although Nissan previously announced that it’s partnering with contract diesel engine manufacturer Cummins and German supplier ZF to develop and build two diesel engines and a six-speed automatic transmission, the oil burning powertrains won’t be available when the vans first arrive. Two gas engines will be the initial choices. There’s a 4.0-liter V-6 that’s shared with the Nissan Frontier midsize pickup and a 5.6-liter V-8 that’s shared with the Nissan Titan. A five-speed automatic transmission will be the only gearbox.

Power figures have not been finalized for the engines, according to Nissan spokesperson Brian Brockman.

The Nissan NV will be available in three models: the NV1500 half-ton, NV2500 HD three-quarter-ton and NV3500 HD one-ton. There’s one 146.1-inch wheelbase.

The front suspension is independent, and the rear uses a live axle and leaf springs.

Eventually, Nissan is expected to develop a heavy-duty pickup based on the same LCV platform as the NV vans.

We’ll have more news and information about the vans live from the show floor of the 2010 Work Truck Show in St. Louis this week.


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