A passenger-carrying version of Nissan North America’s commercial van – officially introduced earlier this year at the National Truck Equipment Assn. annual convention – will hit the streets in spring 2012, offered for both personal and fleet use and featuring four rows of seats holding up to 12 passengers.

The 2012 Nissan NV3500 HD passenger van will be offered in a choice of two engines: a 261-hp. double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 24-valve 4.0L V6 with 281 lbs.-ft. of torque or a 317-hp. DOHC 32-valve V8 with 385 lbs.-ft. of torque.

Both engines include Nissan’s continuous valve timing control (C-VTC) to improve fuel efficiency and will come matched with a heavy-duty 5-spd. automatic transmission, noted Joe Castelli, Nissan’s vp-commercial vehicles and fleet.

Other standard features include an independent front strut/solid rear axle with rigid leaf springs suspension, heavy-duty disc brakes with anti-lock braking system (ABS), engine-speed-sensitive power steering, and a 28-gal. fuel tank.

The 2012 Nissan NV3500 HD – to be built along with its cargo carrying brethren in Canton, MS – will be offered in three models: the NV3500 HD S, the NV3500 HD SV, and NV3500 HD SL, which only comes with a V8 engine.

A number of option packages will be offered as well, including: a power basic package (S models only), with power windows and door locks; a tow package (V8 only), with extendable heated outside mirrors and Class-IV receiver hitch, wiring and heavy duty battery; the power basic package + tow package (S-grade V8 only); and the technology package with rear camera (SV and SL only), featuring an XM Satellite Radio option, 5-in. touchscreen SD navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free phone system (standard on SL-grade) and rearview monitor.

Castelli believes Nissan “has found a great balance between functionality and comfort” with the passenger-carrying version of its NV3500 van, highlighting several characteristics:

  • Safety – integrated seat belts for all rear seating positions; standard headrests for all seating positions; and segment-exclusive standard side curtain air bags for all four rows of passengers
  • Seating flexibility – 12-person seating capacity with up to 324 possible seat configurations; large 1st row seats to optimize comfort, completely removable and repositionable 2nd and 3rd row seats; 50/50-split 4th row seat than can be partially or completely removed as needed
  • Mobile office support – large center console with storage for laptop computer and charger, business cards, hanging files, pens and paper; available 120V outlets; seat wear patch; fold-down front passenger seat with under-seat storage; no engine intrusion into the cabin area
  • Comfort and convenience – rear HVAC system, available personal lamps for 2nd, 3rd and 4th rows; rear cargo lamp behind 4th row; available 3rd row 12V outlet; numerous cup holders and bottle holders