It may look boxy, but Nissan’s entry into the commercial van market could become a new favorite for service employees. A relative newcomer in a crowded U.S. market long dominated by Ford and General Motors, initial reviews for the Nissan NV are mostly positive.

According to Scripps News’ Frank Aukover, Nissan’s take on the white van offers something to wheel-bound technicians that Ford and GM don’t: an available high roof that’s two feet taller than standard commercial vans. With more cargo space and features not seen in many traditional service vans (like vertically straight walls that make the most efficient use of interior space), Nissan’s latest offering includes innovations that could change the game when it comes to commercial vans. Aukofer writes:

Starting with a clean sheet of paper, Nissan improved the big van concept. … Aside from the fact that the NVs are giant vehicles more than 20 feet long with rear-wheel drive, the seating, driver position and driving experience are not unlike that of full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. Handling is relatively benign and competent, though this is a vehicle that works best in slow motion.

But as with the Nissan Titan, which the NV is built from, fuel efficiency is a concern. According to Edmunds, the Titan truck averages about 17 mpg, and some reports peg the NV as low as 12 mpg. With gas prices climbing ever-higher, and no diesel option, some fleet managers may balk at upgrading their fleet with gas-guzzling NVs.

Nissan’s other challenge is breaking into a competitive U.S. marketplace, as Aukofer reports Ford and GM sold nearly 158,000 vans last year, nearly 95 percent of the total commercial vans sold nationwide. That said, it should be interesting to monitor whether a little added competition in the service vehicle market will lead to more innovations and improvements down the road for the field service workers who use them every day.

Read more about the Nissan NV on The Smartvan

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