Vital Stats

Engine:
2.0L I4
Power:
131 HP / 139 LB-FT
Transmission:
CVT
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Seating:
2+3
MPG:
24 City / 25 HWY
Base Price:
$29,700
"You're a long way from home!"

When I signed up to drive a pre-production version of the Nissan NV200 Taxi, I expected to have a higher-than-normal level of interaction with the public at large. However, while I was hoping for unsuspecting Ann Arborites to perhaps hail me down, or maybe even get a hop-in when stopped at an intersection, I didn't really think I'd be hassled in parking lots so much. And yet, almost as if all of the Dad-Joke energy in the universe was drawn to my tall, yellow ride, seemingly everywhere I parked I heard some iteration of the phrase above.

Har har, guys.

So, my week as a taxi driver didn't go as I'd planned – not a single fare was earned. But I did get a good sense for why and how Nissan is making another significant push into the workaday world of commercial vehicles.

Driving Notes
  • My NV200 test vehicle wore a 2013 model year designation but was technically specified as a 2014 taxi model with New York City livery.
  • Though Nissan NV200 taxis are popping up, or about to, in markets all over the country, my test car was liveried for New York City where the model is now in service. It was NYC taxis and other fleet cars that honed the NV into the vehicle you see here; cabbies and passengers helped tailor its content to fit real needs.
  • From a passenger perspective, this means the luxury of room, if not luxurious materials. The rear bench seat has acres of legroom to go with just enough width to fit three abreast. There's also room for a fourth passenger in the front, though that sorry sucker will miss out on amenities like a really big rear entertainment screen (sadly non-functional in my demo car) and easily accessible 12-volt and USB charging ports. There are even independent climate controls for passengers that get too hot or cold.
  • As I mentioned, materials and surfaces tend towards durable and not stylish. Nissan tells me that the simulated leather seating surfaces are easy to clean, which I can believe, and also anti-microbial, which seems like a great idea. One extra effort against cold and flu season.
  • The driver's seat, meanwhile, has a breathable cloth surface on the seat bottom and back that is also a little bit grippy, for what it's worth. The seat itself is pretty flat and soft, perhaps designed to wear well, but it won't be the most supportive chair for long stints behind the wheel.
  • The driver also faces one of the most austere dashboards and instrument clusters I've seen in some time – though that's hardly unexpected for a work vehicle. The 5.8-inch infotainment display is unspectacular in view of regular passenger cars, but is kind of a high-end feature in this segment. Everything else, from the hard-surfaced steering wheel to the flinty gray and black plastics and the basic switchgear all seems aimed at long life and cost reduction.
  • Handling is actually very direct and nippy for the tall-but-short (wheelbase) NV200. Quick steering allows for easy maneuverability, both at low speeds and between lanes, and forward and lateral visibility are excellent, allowing for confident swashbuckling with traffic. Comparisons with the outgoing Ford Transit Connect are apt, and accurate.
  • And the powertrain? Well, I'll just say that each one of the 16-valve, 2.0-liter four's 131 horsepower are called into regular service. That power output, with 139 pound-feet of torque, is enough to move this little van around in city traffic without major penalty, but your 85-year-old, Lincoln Towncar-driving grandpa wouldn't be fooled into calling it "quick." Mat the throttle, listen to the continuously variable transmission let the engine drone, and check you watch – you're not going anywhere terribly soon. Hey, it's a taxi, not a racecar.
  • Fuel economy is rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city (25 on the highway), which is about double what the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria cab is regularly reported as getting in service. Though it's fair to mention those figures are less impressive than those observed by the Ford Escape Hybrid cabs that have seen an explosion of popularity in NYC.
  • I'm hardly an expert, but this NV taxi feels as though it's smartly constructed for drivers and fleet companies, while still offering easy, comfortable transport for riders like you and me. And if you happened to see a version in Michigan, wearing NYC stickers and being driven by a large Dutchman, flag it down – you'll probably get a free ride and a high-five.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      Krayzeeass
      • 4 Months Ago

      I don't drive a cab in New York City, but I do drive one in Boise, which is where I have seen one of these NV taxis collecting dust for the better part of a year. Here's why: First, and definitely foremost, it's $30,000!!!!!!! For a cab!!!!!!!! Not even the biggest cab company in Boise can afford that! The reason most cabs are Crown Vics is because they're dirt cheap used cop cars, not because they're any good, which they definitely ain't! Secondly, what's the point of having a minivan if it only seats four??! I drive a Sedona, which can haul six passengers, plus luggage or river floating equipment, comfortably. My boss picked it up slightly used for $18k and after only two years it's already got 148k miles on it, and while it's probably gonna last another two years, he won't be done paying it off by the time it goes to the junkyard. Hell, even if one were to buy a brand new Sedona, and then equip it with a meter and top light, it would still be cheaper and infinitely more useful than an NV taxi! I just configured a Transit Connect for the job and it still comes in almost $3,000 cheaper than the NV! Good luck, Nissan!

        Ken
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Krayzeeass

        Doesn't a medallion cost the better part of a million bucks in NYC (and six digits in many large cities)?  Having anything but a new, reliable car would be bad business.

          Krayzeeass
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Ken

          Well, Crown Vics sure weren't new, or reliable. Can't say anything about the cost of a cab license in a big city, but in Boise, it only costs about $150. Not exactly a deterrent, which is why we have a butt load of refugee taxis sitting up at the airport all day.

        futurecars
        • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
        @Krayzeeass

        I am not defending NV200, but it is not as simple as you put it, niether did autoblog eloberate on it usefulness, only on driving dynamics which did not help to show why it so expensive, the crown vic did not have wheel chair lift, or the seat fold to fit a wheel chair passenger, the NV200 have all that, and more, it not just about haul six passengers, but it usefulness.

        Can the crown vic and sedona do all of this?

        http://www.freshnessmag.com/2013/03/29/nissan-nv200-mobility-wheelchair-accessible-new-york-city-taxi/

        Add things to the ford transit like wheel chair accessory will be putting it back in the same price or more.

      RLC
      • 4 Months Ago

      Couldn't Nissan have included an ounce of style? This thing makes a Crown Victoria look like an Aston Martin.

      Echelon Bob
      • 4 Months Ago

      Looks terrible... and terrible is also the view that passengers get from the back with those awkward windows and sliding door.

      Pathetic that the back only seats 3.  I guess making sure they could blast you with a giant advertising screen was more important than additional rearward facing seats.

        Hernan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Echelon Bob

        It looks from the pictures like it would have to be substantially longer to accommodate extra rear-facing seats.

      Steve
      • 4 Months Ago

      What an ugly cab!!!

      Winnie Jenkems
      • 4 Months Ago

      It's still a freaking Nissan and it's hideous. Looks like a toaster.
      RIP Crown Vic.

      Larry Litmanen
      • 4 Months Ago
      The fuel economy numbers are meaningless. I recently used a taxi in Manhattan and it was a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The driver had the MPG display on the central screen and it was like 17 MPG, it is rated at 27/28, so this Nissan will get FAR less when it comes to MPG as you can potentially stop at every intersection when you are in Manhattan (or almost anywhere in NYC).
        Ryan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen

        17 MPG sounds quite low for a hybrid. The driver could have just come back from a fillup or being parked for the average to read that low. 

      Larry Litmanen
      • 4 Months Ago

      " And yet, almost as if all of the Dad-Joke energy in the universe was drawn to my tall, yellow ride, seemingly everywhere I parked I heard some iteration of the phrase above."------------------Wonder if the writer ever played college football.

      David Fox
      • 4 Months Ago

      I sat in one at a dealer the other week and thought it was right out of last decade. Awful.

      Pazzo
      • 4 Months Ago

      Now imagine it in the new Bloomberg green. The NY taxi future is getting uglier by the minute!!

      telm12345
      • 4 Months Ago

      As one who lives in NYC and uses taxis at least once a week, and as a passenger, I really like the Nissan. I didn't want to, but compared to the BO ridden Crown Vics or the awkwardly cramped Ford Escape taxi configuration, it's so much nicer. There's also a huge difference in interiors when compared to the Transit. You also have to understand that NYC taxis are a way of life for some and even if not, they get a lot of use and all the time. They're practically driven 24 hours a day. Boise and NYC are just very different as is the use of cabs in NYC (and I'm not saying it's better at one place or another, just an unfair comparison).

      icemilkcoffee
      • 4 Months Ago

      I don't know why Nissan doesn't sell a civilian version of the NV200. This is just about perfect as a minivan. The small foot print and the tall height makes it better than all the behemoths on the market now.

      sirjaysmith
      • 4 Months Ago

      taxi of tomorrow is a complete joke. this is an overpriced van at best. its 2014 and this thing looks dated even 10 years ago. hardly a taxi of TOMORROW; when i read that name, i expect something that looks and works like futuristic product should. thank goodness crown vics are bomb proof and will last longer than these cheap sardine cans

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