RICK KRANZ

Raise the roof: Nissan is coming with the NV van

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.
There are two ways to increase the utility of a full-sized van: Stretch the wheelbase or extend the roof upward.

The 2012 Nissan NV just might change the way General Motors and Ford market vans. Some of their next-generation vans might need to get much taller.

The NV is Nissan's first attempt to grab a share of the full-sized, commercial van market dominated by the Chevrolet Express, Ford Econoline and GMC Savana. The van will be built in Nissan's Canton, Miss., plant. It is scheduled to go on sale this spring at selected Nissan commercial vehicle dealers.

The base model, the NV 1500 Standard Roof S V-6, carries a $25,570 sticker price, including delivery, making it competitive with GM and Ford vans.

What stands out is what Nissan calls the high roof model, a van that is nearly two feet taller than the standard roof NV. The cargo area is tall enough to stand in and walk around. A tradesman can easily set up a work bench. Shelving can be attached to each interior wall to stock parts and tools. It can be turned into a workshop on wheels.

What’s interesting here is that NIssan is offering vans that are factory-built, factory-warranted and can be easily selected with a wide range of options.
In addition to its utility, what will make the high roof model attractive to some tradesmen is the price, a $28,970 sticker, including delivery. That's $3,400 more than the regular roof model. Mercedes-Benz offers a tall, full-sized van, but it's price prohibitive for most van buyers -- it stickers beginning at around $36,000.

Neither Nissan nor Mercedes invented the tall van. Coachbuilders have offered a tall, box design for decades created off a cab chassis. But GM and Ford do not offer a factory-built high-roof model.

What's interesting here is that an automaker is offering a tall van that is factory-built, factory-warranted and can be easily selected with a wide range of options. It is just a matter of checking off the boxes on the dealer order form. And it carries an attractive sticker price.

I've walked through the high-roof Nissan NV. It's a segment changer.

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