"82 cylinders, more than 5000 horsepower, and 4000 lb-ft of torque split between 11 performance cars worth more than $1.5 million." Impressive figures looking back on our 2011 Best Driver's Car last year, but when senior features editor Jonny Lieberman rattled them off, I would argue he forgot about a very important 8 cylinders, 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. These notable numbers belong to one vehicle with a big nose and an even bigger butt: our tire-hauling High Roof NV on loan from Nissan for the event. The presence of 5000 horsepower can chew through lots of tires and we needed every bit of space in the NV to haul the spares up to Laguna Seca, then down to El Toro Airfield. I was lucky enough to pilot the NV for the bulk of that journey and all I'll say about trying to keep up with all those supercars in a fully loaded NV is, the steering gets a little light at triple-digit speeds.
Between BDC, commandeering the same high-roof variant to TOTY and back, and a recent trip with our long-term NV to help my sister move from San Diego to Fernley, Nevada, there's a distinct possibility I've logged more time in Nissan NVs than anyone else on staff, and I love them. We're pretty fortunate around the Motor Trend office to have these long-term vehicle loans, but when someone is relegated to the NV an immediate "trade my baby carrots for your Fruit Roll-Up" trade-off is attempted. This is understandable because the NV is hardly the coolest member of the fleet and its sheer gargantuan mass, along with a lack of windows behind the B-pillar make it downright impractical to be a daily driven civilian vehicle. When it came time for my sister to move almost half way up the country though, I traded my Fruit Roll-Up for some baby carrots.
"Holy Crap! We thought you were bringing a minivan or something. Well, it will definitely fit in that." A full-sized dresser and a couple rooms worth of junk were swallowed up with ease and we were on our way. I let my sister drive the first leg so I could take some pictures and she was very impressed with the ease of operation found in the 5996-pound (when empty) whale. "It just drives like a truck, pretty easy." And this is with a full hull mind you. A fair observation given the strong sibling ties to Nissans other big cars, the aging Titan pickup and Armada SUV. When the first pit stop transpired about 3 hours into the drive you might expect a petit blonde to hobble out of a commercial van battered and bruised, sweaty, and bored. Instead I got "Are you sure? I can keep driving. It's kind of fun."
The thing is, I know it's kind of fun. You ride high and tall with some presence, bouncing around on the tall suspension just enough to swallow up unfavorable road surfaces while staying totally in control. In our particular configuration with the $950 Technology package satellite radio is at your fingertips, though I opted to plug my iPhone into the USB port. The five-inch navigation screen is smaller than most but still more pleasant to look at and easier to read than the Etch-a-sketch systems Toyota and Honda still use in all their cars. The seats (with their very clever entry/exit leather wear prevention) were adequately comfortable and supportive considering the 10 hours each way.
Upon arriving home after another long adventure in the driver's seat of a Nissan NV I was ready to hop in a normal-sized vehicle with windows in front of me and behind me. But I've always seen plumbers and computer repairmen and mobile pet grooming vans and thought how awful it must be to spend all day driving those things around. As I see more and more Nissan NVs, I'm not sure I'll feel so bad anymore.
|Our Car |
|Months/miles in service ||4/7787 |
|Avg econ/CO2 ||14.4 mpg/1.35 lb/mi |
|Energy cons ||234 kW-hr/100 mi |
|Unresolved problems ||None |
|Maintenance cost ||$0 |
|Normal-wear cost ||$0 |