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For decades, the Ford E-series and Chevrolet Express have dominated the full-size van segment in the United States. Over the last few years, however, Mercedes-Benz has fairly successfully elbowed into the market with its diesel-powered Sprinter. And in 2012, Nissan decided to give it a shot with the NV.
While it may not be as large as domestic challengers, the NV does offer amenities and driving ease that can be hard to find in vehicles this of this nature. There are three duty levels to choose from: the 1500, the 2500 and the 3500.
Nissan based the NV on a highly-modified frame from the full-size Titan pickup, and the newly-styled NV3500 Passenger HD has a more SUV-like profile than its older competitors. Power comes from a 4-liter V6 or 5.6-liter V8—the former generates 261 horsepower and 281 pound feet of torque while the latter produces 317 horsepower and 385 pound feet of torque. The V6 is strong and pulls well for its size, but if you're expecting to tow much, do yourself a favor and opt for the beefier V8.
As a van designed for the 2010s, the NV3500 offers an interior that compares favorably in the class. The dashboard layout also looks more like an SUV than a van, and the good driving position puts all controls within easy reach. Unexpected luxuries include heated front seats.
The NV3500 has four rows of seating that comfortably carry up to 12 passengers. All rear seats fold completely in order to further improve already-ample cargo capacity. The big van's tech features include Bluetooth connectivity and a navigation system. There are a number of outlets for powering electronic devices: up to three 12-volt and two 120-volt.
Nissan won't conquer the segment with the NV3500. It's not quite as roomy as the Ford and Chevrolet, and it doesn't currently offer an optional diesel engine. But its tow-capable V8 and interior amenities make it an excellent new competitor in the passenger can class.
Starting at $31,990, the base S trim level offers basic features like 17-inch painted wheels and water-repellent cloth seats trimmed with vinyl bolsters. It can, however, be ordered with many of the amenities that come as standard equipment on the SV.
Upgrading to the $34,190 SV adds features like: 17-inch chrome wheels, and power windows and seats. The SV also makes optional a Bluetooth connectivity system that isn't available in the lower-priced S model.
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The available 6.8-liter V10 packs a good deal more power than the Nissan's V8, but the interior isn't quite as well-trimmed
The dashboard looks and feels a bit on the cheap side, but the available diesel engines are a big plus
The standard diesel engine is efficient and capable, but prepare to pay more
Essentially the same as the Chevy Express, but with more chrome and luxurious appointments