I have driven all different sorts of vehicles in my life both privately and in public service, but I had never driven a taxi. I can now cross that one off the list, as Nissan recently sent me its Taxi of Tomorrow in the form of a New York City cab on the NV200 compact commercial van platform.
The test model was a near identical copy of the actual NYC cabs that hit the streets of The Big Apple last fall. It features the modern styling most automakers are adopting these days, with the long sloping nose, cockpit that features the latest amenities and technology and multipurpose cargo space that allows seating or storage.
The NV200 is the baby of Nissan’s NV family that includes three-quarter and one-ton chassis as well. This model features sliding side doors with automatic entry step and grab handles, opening side windows, transparent panoramic roof panel, overhead and floor lighting and mobile charging station with 12V outlet and two USB ports.
The Nissan NV200 is powered by a 131hp 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine and backed by Xtronic CVT gearbox in front-wheel drive configuration. Fuel economy rating for this vehicle is 23 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. The engine feels a bit underpowered in this application especially given all the weight of the vehicle but Nissan delivers it with a 150,000-mile powertrain warranty for peace of mind.
Nissan boasts the NV200 Taxi to be the only taxi ever to be safety tested and certified with the full taxi partition in place. And speaking of that partition, the upper portion is a solid chunk of molded glass that appears to be bulletproof and a two-way intercom is provided for communication between front and rear seats.
Additional Nissan NV200 taxi features include dedicated rear seat area climate controls and anti-microbial vinyl seating surfaces. There is also a large flat-panel color monitor built into the lower portion of the partition wall for rear seat passengers viewing pleasure should the scenes outside the side windows or overhead panoramic roof not be entertaining enough.
The NV200 taxi rides on 15-inch wheels and tires (for the life of me I cannot remember the last time I drove a vehicle with 15-inch tires) and these seem a bit small for the vehicle both from the drivers seat and aesthetically but the vehicle handles fairly well although it can feel a bit top heavy at times.
Pricing for the 2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi is $30,560 but a base NV200 compact commercial van starts at $20,240.
I certainly got plenty of odd looks during my week behind the wheel of the Nissan NV200, but then so does any misplaced Yankee when deep in the heart of Texas. I took a New York native coworker to lunch at a restaurant run by ex-pats of The Big Apple, and they all loved the vehicle that even left them a bit verklempt as it brought back so many memories of life in that city that never sleeps.