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Nissan NV comes to Chicago ready for the trails

Xtreme 4x4 host Dan Johnson endows NV cargo van with new set of skills

Published: February 2, 2017, 9:30 PM
Updated: February 7, 2017, 5:40 AM

Nissan NV Cargo X

Nissan NV Cargo X

For those who have never been able to get a UPS delivery because the trucks just can’t navigate the rugged trail to your cabin, or for those who have ever had to take a float plane to that rocky mountain-top, Nissan introduces the NV Cargo X.

“The Nissan NV – Cargo and Passenger van configurations – has the durability, quality and reliability that works hard for business applications,” said Fred Diaz, division vice president and general manager, North America Trucks and Light Commercial Vehicles, Nissan North America, Inc. “We thought it would be interesting to take an NV Cargo to the extreme – pushing it to where no cargo van has ever gone before. We weren’t disappointed.”

Scheduled for introduction at next week’s Chicago Auto Show, the Cargo X is a one of a kind 4WD, raised-floor NV2500 HD show vehicle powered by a Cummins turbodiesel V-8. It was built by Ian Johnson, host of Xtreme Off Road — a show where he leads modifications of vehicles for extreme off-road use — that airs on CBS Sports, NBC-SN and Spike.

Xtreme Off Road with Ian Johnson

“When I looked at the NV Cargo, I saw a hard-working van with a heavy-duty foundation,” said Johnson. “And I also saw possibilities for a rock crawler that could serve as its own support vehicle.”

The Cargo X stands over seven and a half feet tall (2,337 mm) with a ground clearance of 559 mm, thanks in part to 37-inch General Grabber X3 off-road tires, as well as a partly modified suspension. The off-roading van comes with the NV’s ladder frame that provides a strong and versatile foundation on which to change the standard front independent double wishbone suspension, while keeping the stock rear leaf spring design.

“A strong foundation is what makes the NV Cargo X build possible. Most work vans come with a C-channel frame that would flex and squeak under the stress of Pyeatt Draw. But every NV Cargo is built on a rigid, fully boxed ladder frame,” explained Johnson.

The NV’s 5.6-litre V-8 was swapped out for the Titan XD Pickup’s 310-hp 5.0-litre Cummins turbodiesel V-8, which puts out 555 lb-ft of torque peaking at just 1600 rpm — invaluable for low-speed rock-crawling ability. The Titan XD also provided the running gear (Aisin 6-speed automatic and advanced 4-wheel drivetrain), since it was easier to keep it together than to source new components.

Nissan NV Cargo X front winch

Off-road essentials were added after the van was ready to roll — custom off-road LED lighting, 10,000 lb. front winch, and a front tube bumper with skid plate to offer protection of the front-end components while increasing the angle of approach.

And then it was time to turn attention to the interior.

“With the NV Cargo, the customization potential is practically limitless. Its spacious interior cargo is designed to upfit and outfit for just about any type of job,” said Johnson.

The decision was made to turn it into the ultimate wilderness support vehicle, equipping the 6,626 litres of cargo space with the necessities for off-road safety and repairs — onboard air system, fluid containment and storage, recovery rope and tracks, high-lift jack, portable welder and a comprehensive tool bag. It also features a full-size spare for its own safety and reliability.

And then it was off to Arizona’s Pyeatt Draw, a 7.5-km rocky dry-wash bottom trail located just north of Payson, in the middle of Tonto National Forest.

“We asked the NV Cargo X to do work that’s way outside of its normal job description, and it rose to every challenge,” concluded Johnson.