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Nissan NV Cargo X Powered by Cummins Diesel

February 02, 2017

Photo of NV Cargo X project vehicle courtesy of Nissan.
Photo of NV Cargo X project vehicle courtesy of Nissan.

The Nissan NV Cargo X project vehicle will make its world auto show debut at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show that opens on Feb. 11, according to Nissan.

Built in partnership with off-road builder Ian Johnson, host of Xtreme Off-Road, the NV Cargo X stands more than seven-and-a-half feet tall on 37-inch tires and is powered by a Cummins 5.0L V-8 turbo diesel transplanted from a Nissan Titan XD full-size pickup.

In addition to its appearance at the show, which runs at Chicago's McCormick Place through Feb. 20, footage of the NV Cargo X build and its shakedown on Pyeatt Draw trail in Arizona's Tonto National Forest can be viewed at NVCargoX.com.

Starting with a stock NV 2500 HD Cargo, Johnson and his team set out to build a custom vehicle that could handle everything from maintenance to mayhem. 

While the NV Cargo's front independent double-wishbone suspension and multi-leaf rear suspension is responsive and rides smooth through even the toughest workdays, the NV Cargo X required something a little more radical for Johnson, including a custom-modified off-road suspension system with enough suspension travel and wheelwell clearance to fit a set of 37-inch General Grabber X3 tires. While the front suspension is 100 percent custom, the rear retains the NV Cargo's standard leaf spring design.

Next, the factory 5.6L gasoline V-8 engine was replaced with a Cummins 5.0L V-8 Turbo Diesel borrowed from Nissan's TITAN XD pickup. The engine is rated at 310 hp and, important for rock crawling, 555 lb.-ft. of torque. The TITAN XD also donated its heavy-duty Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission and advanced four-wheel drive system.

Once the front sheet metal was reinstalled following the engine transplant, other exterior modifications included installation of a custom off-road LED Lighting System, 10,000-pound front-mounted winch and a tube bumper with custom skid plate. A special black-and-white custom wrap finished the exterior.

Next came the challenge of the cargo end of the NV Cargo X. With 234 cubic feet of available cargo space, the build team decided to go all out – equipping it with all the goodies usually found in an off-road support vehicle. The custom build-out utilized the NV Cargo's standard reinforced mounting points and standard cargo containment system. Ultimately, the cargo bay was filled with an onboard air system, fluid containment and storage, full-size spare, recovery rope, recovery tracks, high-lift jack, portable welder and the always important tool bag.

Then it was off to Arizona for a full-out rock test. "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.

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