2012 Nissan NV

MIAMI — Although Nissan has been building commercial vans for 75 years in the global market, this is its first product for the U.S. "As the first non-domestic nameplate to design, manufacture and sell CVs in the United States, we bring a more than seven-decade tradition of durability, quality and reliability to our products,” said Joe Castelli.

Castelli is vice president, Commercial Vehicles and Fleet, Nissan North America.

The full-sized commercial van is available both as a high roof model that is nearly two feet taller than the standard van. Raising the roof might be a game changer in the full-sized work van segment, which has been dominated by Ford and General Motors. The unique high-roof model starts at $28,970 including destination. The standard roof model begins at $25,570.

The NV’s high roof cargo area is tall enough for even a six-footer to stand in upright and walk around. In fact, several journalists and a Nissan official concluded a "walk around" of the NV with a 10-minute session inside the new van.

Another unique feature is an interior wall framework to which shelves and bins to stock parts and/or tools can be bolted without drilling holes in the body. When the van is resold, the storage area can be easily reconfigured to meet the needs of the next owner.

Nissan’s Castelli notes as the new kid on the block they wanted to get it right. “It’s been too many years since any manufacturer in this segment has taken a ’clean sheet’ look at the needs of owners and operators in the CV segment,” said Castelli.  “We’ve invested more than five years researching the comfort, style and smart functionality demands that will enable business owners to accomplish more throughout their day. We plan on coming out of the box with segment-busting vehicles, so customer input was essential.”

Production has started in Nissan's Canton, Miss., plant and includes the NV1500, NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD, two body styles (standard and high roof) and with two engine choices. Base engine in the 1500 series is a 4.0-liter V-6 making 261 horsepower. All HD vans come with Nissan's 5.7-liter V-8 making 317 horsepower. Both engines are mated to 5-speed automatics. Nissan will also throw in either an exterior graphics package or an interior up-fit at no charge.

Nissan officials said that 250 dealers have signed up to sell the commercial van. Their target is 300 dealers. Vans should reach the participating dealers in March.

About $35,000 worth of building materials were hauled in the commerical vans from a building supply store to the Miami Habitat for Humanity's warehouse by members of the media as part of Nissan's charitable relationship with the organization. See story on MotorwayAmerica.

— Jim Meachen