Hands-on With Nissan's Taxi of Tomorrow: Teched Out Cabs Take To the Streets

Ford's land yacht masquerading as a car, the Crown Victoria, has been a staple of the busy streets of New York for more than 30 years. But when the Blue Oval decided to end production of the Crown Vic in 2011, the city that never sleeps put out the call for a new vehicle to take the place of Ford's roomy rear-wheel drive behemoth. Hundreds of entrants signed up for a chance to become the Big Apple's next vehicular icon, an in the end it was the boxy van-like Nissa NV200 or Taxi or Tomorrow, that took the prize.

With the New York International Auto Show in town, Nissan decided to bring its cab to the the city to show its often fickle residents the vehicle they'd be riding in for the foreseeable future. We were lucky enough to jump into a display model for a little hands-on time with the NV200 to see just what all the fuss is about.

Teched Out Taxi

The Crown Victoria was a lot of things, large, fast, borderline indestructable. But one thing it wasn't was smart. Sure, over the years yellows cabs started being equipped with touchscreen displays for rear-seat passengers, but they were always too slow. The Taxi of Tomorrow, on the other hand, was built with technology in mind from the start. Back seat passengers now have a large 12-inch display, two USB charging port, and a 12-volt adapter ports.

But it's not just about the electronic goodies. Nissan has outfitted the cab's ceiling with a carbon activated coating that will help cut own interior odors. Even the seats get a helping of tech with their anti-microbal, environmentally-friendly fabric.

Vehicle Improvements

The Taxi of Tomorrow also features improved creature comforts. Passengers will now have access to rear climate controls, as well as a opening side windows and overhead rear reading lights. The biggest advantage the Taxi of Tomorrow has over the Crown Vic is in rear seat legroom. Ford's beast was by no means a tight fit for most passengers, but with the Taxi of Tomorrow, Nissan is offering up the largest amount of rear seat volume of any cab in the U.S. The improved space is partially the result of Nissan's decision to make the cab's floor completely flat.

Nissan has also made some big improvements to the outside of the cab. The company has decided to create a "low-annoyance" horn with exterior lights that activate when your press the horn. Nissan says the addition of exterior lighting will lead to drivers using the horn less frequently, but if you've spent more than 15 minutes in New York, you may find that claim a bit hard to swallow.

The Taxi of Tomorrow also comes equipped with two sliding rear doors, which will help reduce the risk of opening a door and smashing it into a biker or passing car. Pull open one of the cab's doors and a large red light in the shape of a pedestrian will pop up on the rear of the taxi., letting drivers know that a passenger is stepping out of the vehicle.

Accessibility Upgrades

New York's current fleet of cabs aren't known for their accessibility. Wheelchair bound New Yorker's are often unable to get into cabs, while the blind often have no way of knowing the name of their driver or medallion number. The hard of hearing can also find it difficult to hear what the driver is saying. Thankfully, the Taxi of Tomorrow includes braille writing identifying the name of the cab's driver and a hearing loop system and driver and passenger intercom system.

Certain models of the cabs will include a rear access ramp for wheelchairs complete with straps to hold the chair in place.

Warp Up

With the Taxi of Tomorrow, Nissan has finally brought the cab into the 21st century. From being able to charge your devices to improved accessibility options, the cab is a massive improvement over the current fleet of Crown Vics for passengers and drivers alike. The new taxi may not solve the biggest issue facing cab passengers, the city traffic, but it will certainly make it much more tolerable.