Sometime next week I will hit 10,000 miles on my Nissan NV200. It’s hard believe that I have owned this van for 9 months.
As a car that is rather new to the US, I feel it is a hidden gem. It has problems none the less but it’s been great for my requirements.
For those of you who don’t know, I bought this NV200 to convert it to my living space. I wanted a solution that was cheap, safe, and that was reliable in the future. I am constantly working and it was very hard to justify my West Hollywood rent, especially when I was never home. I try and work on movies as much as possible. When I am not working on movies I work on my own content and I spend time traveling. As much as I hate to admit it, a van was the perfect compromise.
It would allow me to travel in my off times and it would help me save money. As a guy in my early 20’s it’s very hard to justify spending a $1,000 a month on rent when I am never there.
When I was looking for an urban cargo van I took about a month to research them and visit dealers. This was the first car I was planning to buy new. Mainly due to the problem that the Nissan NV200 was so new that there no used ones on craigslist.
The two models I compared were the Ford Transit Connect and the Nissan NV200. I honestly wanted the Ford Transit Connect because I felt the recent redesign made the car much more attractive, especially over the Nissan.
But I quickly realized that the Nissan has a much better economic design and has much more space compared to the Ford.
So I bought the NV200. I paid $20,000 out the door, taxes, fees, and etc. I got the S model with rear windows and cruise control upgrade.
Since then I have taken the van all over California and up to Portland. It’s been my home since I bought it and it’s been an incredible one at that. It feels so great to own my living and to not have to share it with a roommate. There are many compromises when living in a car but for me, they outweigh the comprising of living in a rented apartment with a roommate .
As far as a review on the van, I am not a car guy. I believe cars are made to get from point A to point B. Don’t get me wrong I hope to one day own a Porsche Classic, but until then cars are meant to get you from point A to point B.
One of the biggest selling points of the NV200 was the CVT and the gas mileage. For those who are not familiar, a CVT is a Continuous Variable Transmission. It’s a transmission that doesn’t have gears but instead used belts to maximize fuel economy. With my solar panel mounted, my fridge, my bed, and all my belongings I still get about 26 MPG (city and highway). It’s incredible that this white box is able to get such great fuel economy.
The Nissan NV200 holds 122.7 ft³ of cargo. The Ford Transit Connect in comparison has 105.9 ft³. That extra 16 ft³ makes a significant difference when it comes to a living space. Combine that with the added benefits of the backwards mounted passenger seat and the table I build with my friend Ziggy off the passenger rear door and it ends up being a relatively big space in comparison to the what the eye sees when walking by.
With 10,000 miles I have had zero problems. I have changed the oil and rotated the tires myself. Currently I am running full synthetic oil and a mobil one filter. With my 10,000 mile oil change I am taking a sample and sending it in to get tested. I personally feel that changing oil every 5,000 miles is excessive but there is no way of knowing without testing it. I will report back when the results have come back from the lab.
The biggest problem I have found so far is that the plastic in the interior of the NV200 is some of the cheapest plastic I have ever experienced in a car. My Honda Civic was 11 years old when I sold it and it and the plastic inside looked better than my van does after only 10 months. I would have thought because it was a cargo van that the plastic would have been more industrial, but my assumption was wrong. The slightest touch and a mark seems to appear.
The tires are the next problem with the van. Most people are quick to notice that the van has relatively small wheels for it’s size. I know I did. Upon researching online I found that the tires are only rated at 15,000 miles. Let me repeat that: a commercial vehicle has stock tires rated at 15,000 miles. Not only that but the only tires that fit the NV200 and meet the weight requirements are exclusively sold by Nissan and cost upwards of $350- $400 a piece. Luckily for me I do not come close to the weight rating of these tires so I will be changing after I hit 15,000 miles.
For a reference I found some that Costco carries that are 92% the weight rating, cost about $100 apiece, and have a 40,000 mile warranty.
Nissan, is a 15,000 mile tire for $400 really the best you can do?
Looking back, I made the right purchase. The look of the NV200 has definitely grown on me and I love the optical illusion that never suggestions that a 6’3” guy could be living in it. It has played to my advantage many times.
After 8 months of living and sleeping around Los Angeles, I have never been hassled by residents or cops, and that was the goal. Yes I would love to own a Sprinter 4x4 but I would never be able to live the quiet low key life that the NV200 enables me to live.
If you are able to get past the cheap plastic interior and the cheaply made tires you will see that the NV200 is a great van. It’s competitor, the Ford Transit, starts at more than $2,000 MSRP above the Nissan and comes with a warranty that doesn’t come close to the 5 year / 100,000 warranty that Nissan offers.
As much as I love this car I cannot ignore the fact that both Nissan and Toyota have an incredible lineup of urban commercial vehicles overseas that would fit my conversion dreams perfectly.
Let’s hope by the time they bring the others over, I still have a desire to live in a van.