The Truth About Cars » Nissan The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Nissan Ghosn Presents 2020 Autonomous Drive Roadmap Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:00:37 +0000 Carlos-Ghosn-5112012-10

Before the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan Thursday, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn issued a roadmap outlining the automaker’s path toward the first autonomous vehicles in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal reports the following steps Renault-Nissan will take towards its 2020 Autonomous Drive target:

  • 2016: The automaker will introduce a traffic jam pilot and fully automated parking systems, the former of which would allow vehicles to safely drive their passengers through rush hour and other congestion scenarios.
  • 2018: Vehicles will use multiple lane controls to safely negotiate road hazards and lane changes.
  • 2020: Vehicles will use intersection autonomy to delivery their passengers safely through intersections without the need for driver intervention.

Ghosn emphasized the difference between his company’s approach to autonomy over those like Google, who are pursuing vehicles that drive themselves:

Autonomous Drive is about relieving motorists of everyday tasks, particularly in congested or long-distance situations. The driver remains in control, at the wheel, of a car that is capable of doing more things automatically. Self-driving cars, by comparison, don’t require any human intervention — and remain a long-way from commercial reality. They are suitable only for tightly-controlled road-environments, at slow speeds, and face a regulatory minefield

He concluded that the 2020 roadmap was only the beginning, with further advancements to come on the momentum generated by the plan.

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Corvette Stingray Bests Viper, 911 In Sales Through First-Half Of 2014 Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:28 +0000 2014-chevrolet-corvette-stingray-convertible-red-front-end-in-motion-05

The current Corvette is doing well for itself as of late, not only moving off the lot at a greater clip between January and June of this year than last, but also besting the SRT Viper and Porsche 911.

GM Authority reports 17,744 Corvette Stingrays made it to the highway during the aforementioned sales period, over three times what was sold during the first six months of 2013. Meanwhile, only 354 Vipers managed to do the same — thanks to its high price and the velvet rope surrounding the one or two models available in most showrooms — as well as 5,169 of Stuttgart’s finest during those months. Nissan’s 370Z, priced much lower than the Stingray, also fared poorly against the Kentucky-built thoroughbred, 4,114 sold this year thus far.

Within the Chevy dealership, 2,723 convertibles and coupes left the lot in June, down from 3,328 in May. National Automobile Dealers Association forecasts the Corvette Stingray is on pace to hit 35,000 sold by the end of 2014, aided by the improved 2015 model and the introduction of the Z06.

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Japan Three, Others Meet With President Over Supplier Aid Pledge Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:00:56 +0000 Barack Obama playing pool

A number of U.S. and multinational corporations met with President Barack Obama Friday to shine a light upon their pledge to pay their suppliers within 15 days as part of an initiative to help small businesses expand and bring on more employees.

Automotive News reports representatives for Nissan, Toyota and Honda, including Honda North America executive vice president Rick Schostek, were in attendance for the 90-minute meeting about the pledge, based upon a similar program with government contractors, whereupon the federal government promises to quickly pay its contractors if the latter does the same for the smaller suppliers that help them.

The original initiative affected 172,000 small businesses, bringing $1 billion for workforce investment since its launch in 2011. Friday’s meeting was to reaffirm the pledge, as well as to introduce the program to the public sector.

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Nissan’s D-Step Tweaks CVTs To Act More Like Traditional Automatics Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:00:46 +0000 2015-nissan-versa-sl-photo-590018-s-1280x782

CVTs aren’t the most popular of transmission options around despite its improvements to fuel efficiency and ride on a vehicle so equipped. Nissan hopes an upcoming software tweak will change a few minds, however.

Automotive News reports Nissan will introduce its D-Step Shift logic CVT software to more vehicles for the 2015 model year, including the Versa, Versa Note and Pathfinder. The software, already in the 2014 Rogue and 2013 Altima four-pot, helps the CVT act more like a traditional automatic when it comes to shifting, emphasis on “act.”

On board vehicles like the new Versa, the D-Step will prompt the CVT to jump ahead a gear around 4,000 rpm, creating a brief drop in driving power while lending a sense of gears changing, all to ease Nissan owners’ concerns that their vehicle’s transmission is somehow broken due to the lack of a notable gear change. More models will receive D-Step in 2016.

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Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 nissan-leaf-using-chademo-fast-charger_100457004_l

Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013.

Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that number within 18 months. Nissan North America senior manager of corporate communications Brian Brockman announced last week that his employer had gone above and beyond by bringing online nearly 500 units in the time period, with all listed on PlugShare.

As for the rest of FY 2014, Nissan will push forward to bring more CHAdeMO stations online, from its network of dealerships, to top Leaf markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Meanwhile, another vehicle will be able to make use of the chargers when the 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale later on this summer.

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BMW Mexico Plant To Build 150,000 Annually Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:00:06 +0000 2015-MINI-Countryman-Cooper-S-8

Though BMW may announce Thursday where in Mexico it will build its second North American plant, sources close to the matter said the plant will pump 150,000 units annually into auto trains bound for the United States.

Automotive News Europe also reports a Mexican government official claimed the new plant would come with a €1 billion ($1.36 billion USD) investment, and may either be located in the state of Hidalgo just north of Mexico City, or in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico.

The plant — following on the heels of a new Daimler-Nissan small-car factory to be built in Aguacalientes, as well as an Audi factory in San Jose Chiapa — will likely be used to build MINIs and the FWD 1 Series, with localized 3 Series assembly also speculated based on the automaker’s potential need to better compete against the U.S.-assembled Mercedes C-Class on price.

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Reader Review: 2014 Nissan Quest LE Fri, 27 Jun 2014 12:30:42 +0000 quest exterior

Reader Nicholas Naylor submits his review of the Nissan Quest

Minivans are overdue for an image makeover.  Crossovers are less comfortable, less spacious, more thirsty, and absolutely zero percent cooler than a minivan (except for maybe the Flex). Yet it seems the majority of attractive MILF’s (Maternal, Image-Loving Females?) that I speak to would still never want to be caught dead driving a minivan.  What gives?  There’s an opportunity for a gifted designer to embrace what a minivan can do, and make it cool again, via good design, an accommodating interior, and affordability for young families.   No one is doing this quite yet—but who is the closest?

After 14 years of driving body-on-frame SUV’s, I found myself with a growing family and a wife who wanted to drive the “big” car despite 20k miles + a year of driving for work.   This means no more 16mpg truck, or 16.5mpg Crossover with a sticker on the window that says it should get 20mpg but you’re obviously driving it wrong.

Thankfully, my wife and I are both comfortable with being somewhat anti-cool.  Yet I’m still an enthusiast; I still want something with at least a hint of interest about it.  In other words, I look at a Town & Country, and despite the B&B’s love for the Pentastar motor, I don’t want to be that anti-cool.  You only live once—and the T&C looks like a Wikipedia description of ‘Minivan’, or….a rental car.  Chrysler practically is the reason minivans went out of fashion.  They can fix that with a proper redesign—and history tells us they’re capable of doing it (although whether or not the Chrysler brand is the right one is arguable).

The Odyssey is suburbia’s default minivan choice, and although more socially acceptable, thus also bores me, despite its competence otherwise.   Toyota seems to be the only company that can build a heavy FWD vehicle that doesn’t explode its transmission early, which, after having transmissions replaced in my last three cars in a row, really appealed to me.  We rented a Sienna for a week, and for the most part loved it, but it had cheap interior materials, an expensive price tag, and it still was a pretty boring choice.  The current Kia Sedona looks like it’s for people who buy discounted expired meat (I used to do that, btw), and is the last vestige of the old, miserable Kia.  There’s a new one on the way that looks better, to their credit, although I was hoping Schreyer would do something more bold and embracing of the VAN, rather than the SUV-derivative style it looks to have.

I went to a Ford dealer as soon as the Transit Connect Wagon came out and sat in the spacious, economical, quirky, Spanish-built euro-van.  I liked it—it had character.  It was unique and affordable, despite fearful reliability concerns.   But I couldn’t get my wife to even go near the dealer…she deemed it to be a “Pet Cremation Services Vehicle.”  She didn’t want quirky & commercial.

So then we went to a Nissan dealer, and sat in the one, the only current Nissan that I had any sort of positive connotations for—the Quest.  Unlike almost all other modern Nissan’s, the Quest is not a victim of bottom-dollar cost cutting, fleet sales, and sub-prime volume.  It is still made in Japan, and has a Lexus-like level of craftsmanship to show for it.  The Quest sells at only a little over 1/10 the volume of the Odyssey or Sienna, and I think it’s largely because the value-spec models look pretty awful.  However, if you can swing an SL or LE, with the chromed out window trim and sharp 5 spoke 18” alloys, the aesthetics improve dramatically.

quest interior 1

And then you get inside.

The Quest LE is an Infiniti minivan.  I’m not kidding.  It has deep, supple leather.  Beautiful interior materials and craftsmanship–everywhere.  Soft, leather padded armrests on the doors.  Large 8” in dash nav, an 11” wide LCD for back seat DVD viewing, and two large moonroofs.  The seats in the back are as nicely appointed as the rest of the vehicle.  The interior of this car blows away not only any other minivan on the market, but most other large vehicles, period.  There are no signs of cost cutting, and the level of comfort is immense.  My wife immediately loved it, and I did, too.

The 3.5L V6 is potent as always, and the CVT isn’t anywhere near as transparent or weird in this application as it is in the rental Altima’s I’ve driven in the past.  In fact, I prefer the smoothness of this CVT to many of the 6 speed automatics I’ve driven, which are constantly shifting around, and not always smoothly.  Reliability on the CVT is an unknown, but at this point Nissan’s been at this for 10 years.   Since this world-market Japanese-made version (2011-now) hasn’t sold well, it’s hard to find actual data on record of its reliability (previous version was built in Nissan’s problem-plagued new Mississippi factory, with earlier generation CVT, for North-American market only).  2011 is really still too early to determine much, anyways.  For what it’s worth, the dealer told me it is amongst the best Nissans, reliability-wise.  I got 24mpg on my first highway trip, A/C on, 70+mph, children enjoying movies in the back.  And the ride…I don’t know if it is just that the ride is so smooth, the seats are so good, or the interior is so grand, but when behind the wheel of this Quest, the roads are paved with cream.  This is by far the most comfortable vehicle I’ve ever driven.

quest interior 4

There is one huge problem with the Quest LE…a $45k sticker.  That’s a lot for a family van, but at least it feels like it’s worth it.  Thankfully, depreciation is awful, so I swang a 2013 CPO LE for 2/3 the sticker price with less than 20k on the odometer.  I’m sure I could have purchased a fully loaded new Town & Country at that price, but I wanted to not succumb to my cheapness for once, and enjoy what I think is a much better crafted and more interesting product.   Plus, what you save up front on a discounted Chrysler will largely go away on the back end when you go to resell it.

Due to the price and the styling that only works on $35k plus models, Nissan still doesn’t accomplish the three objectives I suggest to make minivans more socially acceptable –good design, an accommodating interior, and affordability.  VW’s Bulli concept, if made into a real 3-row spacious vehicle, is more along the lines of what I’m thinking—with Bauhaus styling that is clean and universally accepted.  But for my family, at this time, the Nissan Quest LE is that rare beast—a minivan we’re proud to own and drive.

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Ghosn Top Earner In Japan For Fourth Time In Five Years Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:00:45 +0000

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn will once more be graced with the honor of being the highest paid executive at a Japanese corporation, having held the honor three previous times in the past five years.

Bloomberg reports Ghosn made ¥995 million ($9.76 million USD) in salary and bonuses for fiscal year 2013, which ended March 31 of this year; total compensation, including dividends, amounts to ¥10 billion ($9.81 million). This puts the CEO ahead of Toyota president Akio Toyoda, who made four times less than Ghosn despite Nissan eking out a profit amid incentive spending and recall costs in the same period. However, Toyoda’s ¥757 million ($7.42 million) in dividends narrows the gap between the two leaders.

Though Ghosn may be killing it in Japan, his total earnings are outgunned by those of his standing among European and U.S. automakers. Outgoing Ford CEO Alan Mullaly earned $23 million in total compensation last year, while GM CEO Mary Barra may receive as much as $14.4 million at the end of FY 2014. Meanwhile, VW boss Martin Winterkorn took home €15 million ($20 million) and Daimler’s doctor Dieter Zetche made €8.25 million ($11.2 million) in 2013. Renault paid €2.3 million ($3.1 million) to Ghosn, bringing total earnings from the alliance to around $13 million USD..

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Reader Ride Review: 2013 Nissan Leaf Tue, 24 Jun 2014 11:30:03 +0000 photo2

Let’s play a little word association, shall we? Okay, great! I will say the name of a car, and you describe its owner.

Nissan Leaf S. Got it? Cool.

Here’s what I came up with: LeMons-racing, Glock-owning, Libertarian-leaning, father of four, mechanical engineer. Wait, that’s not what you came up with? Well then you don’t know Brian, TTAC reader and owner of today’s Reader Ride Review, a black 2013 Nissan Leaf S.


Who is the smartest guy you know? Okay, in true Niles Standish fashion, “Double it!” Brian’s brilliant engineering mind led him to lease the Leaf about eight months ago. Although certainly not opposed to the ecological benefit, he leased the Leaf because “I did the math on it. I had a PT Cruiser before this, and when I calculated the cost of the lease after the available subsidies, subtracted fuel cost, and added in the twenty bucks a month to charge it, it worked out to be a significant savings for us.” As a father of four, Brian also owns a Pentastar minivan for kid-hauling duty, and he races a ’75 LTD in LeMons (which Bark M. said was a pain in the butt to pass, at Carolina Motorsports Park earlier this year).


As opposed to most Leaf owners who are city dwellers, Brian and his family live in a rural area known as Greer, SC. It’s a little ways out from the city, which we southerners like to say is out in the sticks. When I arrived at his house to check out the Leaf, the little black car was plugged into a standard garage outlet, charging back up from a day’s worth of commuting.

My initial impressions of the car upon seeing it were…well, I will let Brian say it.

“It’s not an attractive car,” Brian said. “I didn’t buy it for the aesthetics.” He’s right. In the Leaf, Nissan managed to do the impossible—they made a car that’s uglier than the Cube. In the base level S trim, the Leaf’s ugliness is borderline charming, though. Brian’s had cop-spec black steel wheels with no wheel covers, almost like that kid you used to know who wore black military boots to school. This particular Leaf had a unique decoration, placed on the left side of the rear windshield by Brian—a Glock window sticker. “I wanted everybody to know that this car doesn’t belong to a hippie,”he explained. Duly noted!

Sitting behind the wheel of the Leaf requires a bit of re-education. First of all, I realized that the Leaf would be silent upon start-up, but I subconsciously expected to hear SOMETHING when I pressed the Start button. Nope…total silence, like a golf cart. The gear shift in the center console had only two settings—Reverse and Drive, with a button in the middle for Park. The Leaf’s instrument display shows all sorts of things that this author had never seen before. Squarely in the middle sat a gauge that showed how much electricity was either being used under acceleration or being generated by the regenerative braking system. In the bottom right of the display was a miles to empty gauge—it showed 37 miles when I started our drive out of Brian’s driveway. I immediately and needlessly sensed a bit of range anxiety. What would happen if we got stuck in traffic? Or had a detour? Or had an emergency ice cream run? One never knows about these things.

My first impressions upon driving the Leaf? It’s not slow. Not at all. In fact, the instant torque delivered by the electric motor makes it pretty quick off the line. “It’s as fast from 0-45 as a BRZ,” explained Brian from the passenger seat. Granted, that’s not saying a whole lot, but it’s definitely sufficient to move the Leaf around comfortably in city traffic. The low-rolling-resistance tires didn’t inspire cornering confidence, but grip was sufficient for everyday driving.

The one thing that surprised me was a light whistling sound the car made when you would slow down to a stop. Brian explained to me that because the Leaf makes nearly no noise when going slowly, Nissan added the whistle to alert pedestrians amend other motorists of its presence in city situations to satisfy some pending legislation. Too cool!

Visibility from the main cabin was excellent, aided by some cut outs in the A pillar; it felt as if I was driving a windshield, not an EV. In comparison to my Sonic, it was spacious and comfortable. The back seat was big enough for an average adult to sit quite comfortably in, and the rear storage area was surprisingly large—a week’s worth of groceries for this single gal would fit, no problem. The S trim level meant that the bells and whistles of the car were pretty limited, but it still had Bluetooth connectivity (which Brian used to connect his flip phone…engineers!) and steering wheel audio controls. Black and gray plastic is abundant throughout, but the spartan nature of the interior almost added to the functional charm of the car.

As we drove, I asked Brian what else he had considered in addition to the Leaf. “Honestly, other than Tesla, there isn’t another truly electric car on the market. In South Carolina, neither the Spark EV or the Focus EV is available for sale. Plus, Nissan just did this car correctly. Everything about it is right.” Upon entering the highway, I found it hard to disagree with him. I had no trouble coaxing speeds well over the 65 MPH limit out of the Leaf—in fact, the single gear transmission and lack of engine noise make it easy to nose the car past 80 without even realizing it. It never struggles or whines or roars…it just goes, and it does so without difficulty or complaint.

I kept watching the miles to empty tick down closer to zero, and as we got under ten, it no longer gave me an actual number. Instead, it just blinked at me. Brian said that it has been surprisingly accurate,over the course of his ownership, especially considering how difficult it can be to measure such things. He launched into a very technical explanation of why that was, but as a mere mortal, I just took his word for it.

I saved my final and most important question for last: If you only had two kids, would you consider making this your only car?

Brian hesitated slightly, and answered reluctantly. “No. I still like to go on trips every now and then, and the range of the Leaf just isn’t sufficient for that.” I couldn’t agree more. If you buy an EV then you are consciously making a choice that will change your lifestyle and fact is, some lifestyles are not made for conformity.

So, does Brian have any regrets about the decision to lease a Leaf?

“Not one. It’s been great. It’s exactly as advertised, and, again, Nissan did everything right when it came to this car.”

After my thirty-seven miles in the Leaf, I came to the same conclusion. Yes, it is, for all intents and purposes, an appliance. However, it doesn’t pretend to be anything but, and it also happens to be a damned good appliance. Everything about the car is exactly as it should be. Everything just works.


My only complaint is the price. $28K before subsidies, and in South Carolina, about $21K after, which puts it squarely in the realm of some cars that might be more enjoyable to drive, still deliver good fuel economy, and have many more standard features (Fiesta, Sonic, Fit). That being said, it’s not a penalty box by any means, and if you drive enough to make the math work for you, then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I liked it much more than I expected to, and if you aren’t “too cool” for it, you would, too.

Many thanks to Brian, who provided his car and a tank of…er, some electricity!


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Daimler-Nissan JV To Build Next-Gen CLA, Unnamed A-Class At Mexican Plant Tue, 24 Jun 2014 11:00:16 +0000 2014 Mercedes CLA

Aside from Infiniti sharing engines with Mercedes, the Daimler-Nissan joint venture will also lead to production of the next-gen CLA and an A-Class sedan at Nissan’s plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Automotive News Europe reports Daimler’s board will approve the decision within the next two weeks. Although the GLA crossover was supposed to go over to Mexico originally, insiders claim that the CLA and the unnamed A-Class will take its place.

Production is set to begin in time for exportation to the United States in 2017, with an Infiniti compact — built upon Mercedes’ FWD bones — to join the CLA and A-Class. Annual output is expected to be around 100,000 to 150,000 units.

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Honda, Nissan, Mazda Recall 3 Million Over Defective Airbag Inflators Tue, 24 Jun 2014 10:00:29 +0000 Honda_Civic_Si_EP3

Honda, Nissan and Mazda are recalling a total of 3 million vehicles equipped with defective airbag inflators supplied by Takata, following a similar action by Toyota.

Automotive News reports 2.03 million Hondas, 755,000 Nissans and 159,807 Mazdas globally are being recalled to replace the defective units. The effort comes just after Toyota recalled 1.62 vehicles outside Japan that were recalled earlier this month for the same issue, and 655,000 vehicles in the home market that were being recalled for the first time. As of June 23, 10 million vehicles between 2009 and 2014 have been recalled due to defects in Takata’s airbag units.

June’s action follow those by the four automakers conducted in April of this year, when Takata informed the group that a number of the defective units had escaped into the supplier channels due to poor record-keeping between 2000 and 2002 at the supplier’s plants in Washington and Mexico, where the moisture-infected units were assembled and stored. Moisture degraded the airbags’ inflators, which led to the units exploding, throwing metal shrapnel throughout the cabin.

Other manufacturers who used Takata airbags — including Ford, Chrysler and BMW — are also calling back a handful of affected models, especially those in humid climates such as Florida and Puerto Rico; CEO Shigehisa Takada claimed “the high levels of absolute humidity in those states” may also cause catastrophic failure of the inflators.

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Nissan Aiming For European Diesel Van Fleets With e-NV200 EV Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:00:16 +0000 Nissan e-NV200

Though diesel rules the delivery fleet in Europe, Nissan would like fleet managers to leave oil-burning behind for the all-electric e-NV200.

Automotive News Europe reports brand general manager for product strategy and planning Thomas Ebeling believes the EV would be a better fit over diesel power, thanks to 40 percent lower costs of operation and better handling due to the van’s low center of gravity and wider stance than the competition. The brand says 200,000 commercial vans are in service over European roads at present, and though it hasn’t offered how many e-NV200s will be sold to replace them, Nissan believes all of those vans are potential customers.

There are a few challenges to meeting that goal. For starters, the van is currently made in one location: Barcelona, Spain. Output is expected to reach 1,200 units in 2015 for the global market, 2,742 by 2020. Another factor is price: German fleet operators pay €16,480 ($22,418 USD) with tax for petrol versions of the NV200, and €18,390 ($25,017) for diesel power. The e-NV200, by comparison, would cost €29,819 ($40,564) with tax and battery purchase, though operators could also pay a monthly rental fee of €87 ($118) for the pack, dropping the price to €23,919 ($32,538).

The e-NV200 is already in showrooms in Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, and will arrive in Teutonic and Nordic countries later this summer before entering Japan in October. As for the United States, Nissan is currently conducting trial runs to determine market viability before deciding whether to bring the commercial EV to market.

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Reader Review: Infiniti G37x Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:30:50 +0000 G37x8

TTAC reader Tim Rust sends us his review of his 2010 Infiniti G37x.

Do you pass up the expensive steak house restaurant to buy your meat at Costco and grill the perfect steak at home?  Do you purchase your clothing at an outlet mall to avoid the huge mark-up employed by brand-name stores in a mall?  Is hiring a handyman/contractor a last resort when your house needs some work? If so, a gently used Infiniti G37 may be the vehicle for you.


As people go, I tend to fall more on the practical end of the spectrum.  When I purchase a product, I like to get good value for my dollar, but I also like high-quality products. Sports sedans have always called to me for that reason.  They are not too ostentatious or gaudy, but definitely hint that there is some performance underneath the conservative sheet metal—the E39 BMW 5-series would be my prototypical specimen.  So why not buy a used E39, you ask?  Well, I want a product that will last without numerous trips to the mechanic and intimidating repair bills.  I also require some of the creature comforts only found in newer models (decent audio system, Bluetooth, up-to-date safety features, etc.).  Looking at sports sedans circa 2010, the Infiniti G37 stands out as being both dynamic and reliable.  Consequently, last year, I purchased a 2010 Infiniti G37x sedan with about 25,000 miles on the clock.

Why might you not want to get this car?  Well, the gas mileage is poor compared to some newer models—I get 19 mpg with a majority of city driving.  The cup holders also stink.  Two soda cans fit well, but try getting two large McDonald’s cups in there during a road trip and you’re just asking for a spill.  But, these aren’t factors that should keep you away from the G37.

The ride, handling, and driving feel in a practical package are the reasons to purchase this car.  In my non-sport trim, the ride is firm, but forgiving.  Uneven road surfaces are felt, but are tolerable.  Driving on the twisty roads in the Hocking Hills of Southeastern Ohio is enjoyable, but there is some body roll, reminding you that you are not in a full -on sports car.  The G37 still employs hydraulic power steering, so steering feel is great compared to newer vehicles with electric power steering.  It feels a bit heavy while navigating parking lots at slow speeds and firms up nicely at higher speeds for confident handling.  For a daily driver, it offers a great compromise between a firm sporty suspension and a comfortable commuter.  Road noise is noticeable, but not so bad that you will hate yourself after a long road trip.  Much of the noise comes from the coarse, throaty engine note, which adds to the sporting nature of the car.

And about that engine… This was a pleasant surprise for me after owning the car for a while.  The engine note is almost more muscle car than sports sedan.  I’ve never really been attracted to muscle cars, but the sensation of all of that power is growing on me.  Acceleration in city driving is great and a blast when in sport/manual shift mode.  At highway speeds, it seems to be a little out of the torque curve and it can take some minimal effort to pass.  The automatic transmission has been a bit of a disappointment with this car.  There are seven gears, but the shifts can be a little rough, especially when coasting to a stop.  Even though my car is not a sport model, I have also read online that it should still be prewired for the shift paddles that come on the sport model.  It looks like it is a reasonably easy self-install after buying a kit and it is on my list of things to do this summer.

My prior car was a 2004 Subaru Legacy sedan and there is a noticeable difference between Subaru’s symmetrical all wheel drive and the AWD system on the G37x.  For those that don’t know, the Subaru system sends power to all four wheels all of the time.  The G37’s AWD powers only the rear wheels until they slip and then power is sent to the front as well.  This is great, in that it maintains the RWD feel of the car.  Still, compared to the Subaru, it is disconcerting to feel the back of the car start to slip before the AWD kicks in.  At low speeds, the car can be locked in AWD with the “Snow Mode” button, but this deactivates at higher speeds.  In all fairness, I only really notice problems while trying to drive on unplowed roads with more than two inches of snow on the ground.  In light snow or plowed streets, the G37’s AWD is great for winter driving.  I haven’t noticed any difference driving in simply wet conditions.

I admit, the interior of the car is starting to look a little dated.  I prefer a more classic look, so this works for me.  Infiniti’s center screen with dial and keypad below looks premium and is simple to use.  It may not be cutting edge, but it works well and minimizes distraction from driving.  The screen also works as a touchscreen in cars equipped with navigation.  The voice commands work well for making phone calls and using the navigation system.  Bluetooth audio streaming comes with models with navigation and works well 95% of the time with a few glitches.  Curiously, there is no auxiliary jack, so Bluetooth is the only connectivity option for playing music from your own device.  There is a hard drive that can rip CDs—I know, terrible outdated.  The Bose sound system is pretty decent, although I am not a hardcore audiophile and I don’t expect my subwoofer to rattle my neighbors’ windows as I cruise by.  It seems a step above the Bose system in the 2014 Mazda6.

I prefer lighter vehicle interiors rather than an expanse of black plastic and leather and went with the Stone interior and aluminum trim.  It’s a little different than a typical beige car interior and may strike some as too bland.  Aluminum also helps to make the interior look a little more contemporary compared to the optional wood trim.  The non-sport front seats are very comfortable and tend to be on the firm side.  No problems after a seven-hour road trip.  They do allow some room for sliding around during hard cornering, though.  The seat heaters are excellent and the climate control is very quick to heat or cool.

The rear seat room is another plus of this car.  Compared to a 2010 BMW 3 series, Audi A4, or Lexus IS there is considerably more room for two adults to comfortably sit in the back.  I am six feet tall and can sit comfortably behind my drivers seat position.  The center armrest is chunky and padded, adding to the comfort and coziness of the back seat.  I have not tested this personally, but several online reviews show that rear-facing infant and child seats can also fit in the backseat without ruining the front seat legroom.  This was a big factor in the practical nature of this car, as it truly can be a family vehicle.

Visibility is quite good and a back-up camera is standard even though it’s really not necessary.  There are also rear backup radar sensors to help with parking and pulling out of parking spots.  The trunk is so-so.  The opening is probably too small, but there is room for several roller bags for airport runs and the like—approximately 13.5 cubic feet.  The rear seats do not fold down, though, so you’ll have to take your SUV when making hardware store runs for longer objects.  There is a small pass-through for skis.  Overall, I found this interior more comfortable, practical, and better looking than the comparable BMW.

Infiniti’s exterior styling seems to be pretty polarizing.  Compared to other models, they showed some more restraint with the G37.  The front end is beautiful with the swooping sleek HID headlights and aggressive fender flairs.  These are the best headlights I have experienced in a car—very bright with a large area of coverage.  Of note, there are no daytime running lights.  The back end of the car does not work as well.  The G sedan has had the same basic taillight design for a while now and it looks old.  It is unique, though, in an age where many cars seem to have the same basic rear end design.  The rear end just looks frumpy compared to the curvaceous front end.  And I am not a fan of the chrome trim on the spoiler either.

The excellent reliability record according to Consumer Reports and True Delta along with the reasonable price, driving dynamics, and interior amenities made this purchase a no brainer.  You can get more for more money with a newer model, but this value is hard to beat.  BMW—and with recent models, maybe now Cadillac—may be the Ultimate Driving Machine, but the Infiniti G37 is the Ultimate Used Sports Sedan.  If you are a practical guy or gal on a budget looking for a sophisticated, fun ride, definitely check one out.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV Take Two Sat, 21 Jun 2014 14:18:25 +0000 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV side

In the not too distant past, buying a cheap car meant getting something with crank windows, manual steering, and often with no radio. Air conditioning was a luxury feature which, when equipped, would often cut the available engine power from little to none. Even safety features such as ABS required a jump to model that was no longer cheap. Having grown up with the cheapest of the cheap, ‘80’s and early ‘90s Hyundai Excels, I have come to despise cheap cars. The question is, are today’s inexpensive cars still cheap?

2014 Nissan Versa Note SV front

One of the least expensive cars currently on the market is the Nissan Versa sedan and its hatchback sibling the Versa Note. While the entry level S models still come with manual windows and door locks, they all come with power steering, power mirrors, radio, air conditioning, airbags and ABS. But the really surprising part is the list of features available on the higher trim levels: keyless entry, push button start, heated seats, steering wheel controls, and an Infiniti-like top-view parking assistant. That’s amazing!

To be fair, the model in question here is the top of line Versa Note SV with SL Tech Package. While a base Versa Note S starts at $13,990, and is available with three in-between models, this fully loaded test car has the MSRP of $18,490. The extra $4,500 buys an upgraded cloth interior and trim, power windows and door locks, 5.8” infotainment with the fancy parking assistant, Bluetooth, heated front seats, alloy wheels, and all the previously mentioned stuff . While all Versas have the same 1.6-liter 109hp engine, higher level models have Continuously Variable Transmissions while the base S has five-speed manual transmission. The S therefore takes a penalty in fuel economy: 27mpg city and 36mpg highway versus 31mpg city and 40mpg highway for the CVT cars.

2014 Nissan Versa Note SV interior details

Gone are the days when the cheapest of cheap were identified by unpainted bumper covers, door handles, or mirror housings. The two differences between all models are hub cabs covering black steel wheels versus alloy wheels and the addition of fog lights. This may be due to the fact that people don’t want to look like they are driving a stripper. Otherwise, all Versa Notes look like cute shrunken down minivans. The design is inoffensive yet not too bland, and overall it does not look like a car that was made intentionally small: see Chevy Spark.

Things are not that bad inside either, at least not in the upgraded SV test car. The manual seats are well padded, won’t make you uncomfortable on longer drives, and the fabric does not feel cheap. The headroom and legroom for all occupants is surprisingly good, but the rear bench is best for two people. Those loading toddlers into the car seats will immediately notice that all of Versa Note’s side doors open to almost ninety degrees, making getting in and out easy. Note’s biggest shortcoming is in the trunk, which is more vertical than horizontal and has two movable shelves. The rear seat folds down almost flat and is split 60:40.

2014 Nissan Versa Note SV exterior details

In casual driving the Versa Note has just enough power. Highway passing or ascending mountains will force the CVT to keep the engine at its peak operating speed at which point the car barks loudly but doesn’t quite bite.  That engine power is really one of very few things that remind the driver that this is an entry-level vehicle. It handles well given its power, tires, and torsion beam rear suspension. The ride but can be harsh on the worst of winter beaten roads but overall there is not much to complain, just as there is not much to praise.

When Nissan delivered this vehicle to me other autojournos said, off the record of course, that they felt bad for me. “It’s the worst car in the fleets,” was the general consensus. After spending a few days with this car I absolutely disagree with them. Yes, any critic could rip it apart especially since it is a good car to wobble on, but one needs to keep in mind that even when fully loaded, this is still an inexpensive car. Furthermore, it is a good inexpensive car, if such things as bad cars still exist. Where the Versa Note shines is that it is inexpensive but it does not feel cheap, which cannot always be said for all inexpensive cars.

2014 Nissan Versa Note SV rear side

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Nissan UK: Leaf Dominated EV Sales In 2013 Fri, 20 Jun 2014 12:00:43 +0000 2013 Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy Nissan.

Though consumers in the United Kingdom may not have been too interested in electric vehicles last year, Nissan says the majority of those sold belong to the automaker.

Just-Auto reports out of the 2,507 EVs sold in the U.K. in 2013, 73 percent — 1,830 — belonged to the Nissan Leaf. The automaker added that the nation’s EV market continues to be “well-supported” by incentives and breaks on taxes and congestion pricing.

Meanwhile, charging the Leafs continues to be made easier thanks to expansion of the charging network. In 2011, only 752 units were available along the roadway; today, 5,731 thus far. Fast-charging Chademo stations also are on the rise, beginning with 60 in 2013 and growing to 232 currently. Nissan expects 500 of the fast-charging stations to be available all over the country by 2015, with 90 percent of all service areas in possession of a Chademo.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Nissan Rogue SV FWD Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:00:27 +0000 1_Rogue_front

Behold the 2014 Nissan… wait, haven’t we covered the redesigned Rogue already?

Indeed, Winston recently offered a solid writeup on the top-trim Rogue SL with all-wheel-drive, and his findings were largely positive. What if you are on a budget though? How enjoyable is Nissan’s mainstream compact crossover when the heated leather seating, Bose stereo and touchscreen navigation system aren’t included? Sounds like a review of the more mainstream SV trim is in order.

In truth, I owed Derek this review several weeks back. Why so late? Part of the blame can be attributed to a unicorn hunt.

Allow me to explain. The Rogue (182.3” long, 106.5” wheelbase) is now one of the largest entries in the compact crossover class. That length enabled Nissan to add an optional third row to the lower two trim levels. Judging from Nissan’s specs, the Dodge Caravan and other affordable seven-seaters have little to worry about – the Rogue’s third row looks especially low and tight. I can’t say for sure though. Despite monitoring inventory for six weeks, I never got managed to sit in one.

Eventually, I settled for a two-row SV. As previously mentioned, the SV’s seats are cloth, the speakers lack Bose logos and touching the radio display just smudges it. There is still plenty of kit included for $25,350 (MSRP and destination) though – privacy glass, roof rails, Bluetooth, a rear camera, dual zone temperature control, a proximity key and power mirrors, windows, locks and driver’s seat are all included. The only feature I’d really miss out of the SL is the genuinely useful Around View Monitor. It’s hard to go back to the SV’s admittedly-competent rear camera. Some shoppers may also miss the touchscreen radio and fog lights many competitors now offer on their mid-level trims, but most of the content matches up well.


SV buyers won’t be awash in toys, but they do get one of the more upscale exteriors in the class. I’ll leave the detailed stylistic analysis to the professionals, but I do find the front LEDs to be a bit much in that typical Nissan way. I’d still pick the redesigned Rogue over its predecessor, but yesteryear’s style lives on as the 2014 Rogue Select for those who disagree.


I can’t imagine anyone would maintain their preference for the previous model after driving them back to back though. Neither is remotely sporty, but the redesigned Rogue improves where it counts in the class – fuel efficiency is up, noise is down and the overall drive is easygoing but not mushy.

Nissan used a carryover 2.5 liter inline four-cylinder engine across all trims, but it is better utilized by the new CVT. I don’t have any experience with Honda’s Earth Dreams CVTs, but this is the best cog-free automatic I’ve experienced so far. EPA ratings of 26 mpg city/33 highway/28 combined for FWD units don’t hurt either.

The electric power steering was also a pleasant surprise. The rack is two-finger light at parking lot speeds but firms up nicely on the open road. I might have even imagined a few tingles of feedback. My only real critique of the drive is that, like the previous generation, the new Rogue exhibits moderate body flex and loses its composure over rough pavement. Crash performance is also a bit curious – the Rogue was an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus but scored only three stars in the NHSTA frontal test (four stars overall).


As with all crossovers these days, the real story is the interior. Nissan’s redesign is much flashier than before, but the initial impression doesn’t quite hold up. Material quality is generally improved, but many of the surfaces are still undeniably cheap. Still, the second-row slides, modern touches abound and folding the rear seats yield a very competitive 70 cubic feet of space. Nissan also touts their “Divide-N-Hide” configurable tray. It felt a bit like an answer seeking a question, but I’m sure some consumers will love it.

So far, the redesign has been a commercial success. Inventory turnover is currently high, and sales have been brisk since launch. Being that this is Nissan’s second most popular vehicle, it had better sell well though. According to Timothy Cain’s data on, US Rogue sales have increased every year since introduction. With 84,236 reported sales in five months, 2014 is on track to continue the trend.

Is this marketplace success deserved? As an enthusiast, I never paid much attention to the previous generation. My wife, though, had as strong a girly crush on Gen 1 as I’ve ever seen her develop for a vehicle. Gen 2 just increased the attraction, so the updated Rogue became an immediate frontrunner in our search for a new vehicle. We tested the Rogue twice but ultimately walked away. Why? The sportier drive of some competitors was a small factor (she’s a keeper!). However…

TrueDelta indicates that the 2013 updates for the Altima and Pathfinder were both relatively rough affairs by modern standards. Unfortunately, my tested Rogue also had a few teething issues that seem common in Nissan forums. The passenger door trim refused to stay aligned, the upper tray of the center console frequently did not release, the accelerator offered a surprising amount of vibration and plastic flashing along the lower portion of the center console gave me a nice scuff on one leg. None of these are major issues, but they were enough to dissuade us from becoming Nissan’s beta testers.

Quality issues aside, Nissan has a solid formula here. I didn’t buy one with my own money, but shoppers interested in space and efficiency would do well to consider the 2014 Rogue in any trim level.

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Nissan, PGE In Six-Week Commercial EV Market Research Trial Mon, 16 Jun 2014 12:00:28 +0000 Portland General Electric Nissan e-NV200

While Portland, Ore. may be the place where the dream of the 1990s is still very much alive and well, the 21st century — and Nissan — is bringing the city’s electric company up to date as far as electric vehicles are concerned.

Autoblog Green reports the automaker has enlisted Portland General Electric to help in a six-week trial of its e-NV200 electric van, recording data to help better determine the EV’s viability in the United States commercial vehicle market, as explained by Nissan Director of U.S. EV Marketing Toby Perry:

Oregon has been a top five market for Nissan LEAF sales in the U.S. due to proactive policies at the state level to encourage EV adoption, as well as robust charging infrastructure championed by the state and others like PGE. If we determine that e-NV200 fits into the U.S. commercial vehicle market, we expect that Portland would be a leading driver for sales as well.

Nissan is deploying two e-NV200s along the West Coast and within the Beltway, partnering with companies like PGE and FedEx to further its market research. Currently, the PGE project has placed the EV with an underground crew, swapping places with a large diesel van for the six weeks the research will be conducted. The e-NV200 will go on sale in Europe later this summer, and in Japan later in the year.

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Rental Review: 2014 Nissan Altima S Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:00:27 +0000 IMG_2151 (Medium)

Photography by our very own Murilee Martin!

I gave up a Camry SE for this car. There was a silver one sitting in the “Gold Choice” lane at the Denver airport, just like the one I enjoyed so much last year. All I had to go was walk over and get in. But nooooooo, dear reader — my phone told me that I was supposed to receive a “2014 ALTIMA SDN GRY” so, thinking of you, I trudged down to spot 571 and prepared for a short high-altitude date with the third-most-popular car on the market.

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Our own sales specialist, Tim Cain, has the Altima gaining slightly last month in a very close struggle with the Accord for second place. (The Camry is a full 20% ahead of them.) Without so much as setting foot in the Altima, I found that puzzling. Okay, the Toyota is the default choice and is going to sell in big numbers to everybody from Hertz to your sixty-year-old mother who still shudders at the thought of her last domestic (a 1982 Skylark). The Honda is, frankly speaking, a brilliant car and has its own group of no-comparison-shopping captives. But the Altima? Who buys it? Isn’t all the momentum behind the Koreans nowadays? Apparently not; the Sonatoptima combined doesn’t match Nissan’s numbers.

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First impressions: the old Altima reeked of external cost-cutting, but this one has some nice trim details even in the “Pure Drive” 2.5 S model. The chrome is well-done and the flame surfacing looks expensive. As with pretty much every Nissan automobile in the past fifteen years, it looks like a first-generation G35 left to melt a bit in the oven. It’s frankly fascinating that Nissan has been able to do what Honda, Toyota, Ford, GM, and the aforementioned Koreans can’t, which is to build and maintain a visual brand identity. The minute I saw the first new-generation Altima in traffic, I knew immediately that it was an Altima and not something else. Even the current Malibu, which is a sort of caricature of the previous one, wasn’t immediately recognizable as a Malibu from any direction that didn’t show the grille.

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Alright, let’s hop in. This car is the slightly up-optioned 2.5 S that has keyless entry and cruise control, stickering for $22,690-plus-$810 instead of the $22,170 for the base-base variant. There’s some money on the hood beyond that, of course. Surely you could buy one for under twenty grand. If you can, spring for the $320 Display Package, which includes a rearview camera and USB port, you should. Hertz didn’t, so I spent a fair amount of time guessing at where the very high tail of this sedan might exactly be.

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The interior of every base-model family sedan on the market is a dark cave of brittle plastic, and the Altima is no exception. There is some relatively pleasant fake-bamboo-looking trim on the center console and passenger glovebox area. It’s tinted dark grey like the silver-flecked wood accoutrements in the recent Infiniti M56, but that is where the similarities to that wacky muscle-sedan end. The door cards bend when you lean on them. On the positive side, the touch points of steering wheel, shifter, and seat are all class-competitive and even mildly sporting-looking. Without that center console video screen, however, the main stack looks unforgivably cheap. There’s an LCD between the well-marked and well-lit twin instrument binnacles but it does very little in this model. Most of the time, it just shows an Altima from the back. In case you’d forgotten that you’d bought an Altima and thought you were in a GT-R or something.

I’ve been a fan of Nissan’s CVT implementation in the current Coupe, which is actually the old Altima, but right away I’m surprised at how much I dislike it here. There’s been a tremendous effort made to mimic a conventional automatic, to the point where I pulled off Pena Boulevard and started asking the Internet whether there was, in fact, some sort of entry-cheapie Altima with a four-speed auto. (No, there isn’t.) Under acceleration, the CVT permits big rev swings for no apparent reason before chopping into the next “gear” abruptly. Toyota and Honda are doing it better with a traditional automatic and CVT, respectively.

It wouldn’t be fair to talk about the Altima’s power too much because it was at a fifteen-percent disadvantage from the thousand-foot elevation of Columbus, Ohio, where I drove its competitors. Still, between the dopey CVT and the gasping big-inch four-cylinder I occasionally wondered if I’d make it up mild hills. When I decided to go to Mount Evans, which runs a paved road all the way to 14,100 feet, I promptly swapped it for something with a twin-turbocharged small-displacement V-8. (Plus doors that swing up — but more on that another time.) My friend Josh has this same powerplant in a better-equipped 2013 model and hasn’t complained, so I’ll chalk it up to the ‘tude.

You can’t blame elevation for dead-feeling steering and brakes, however. If the Altima has gained a bit in refinement from its predecessor — and it has, with both ride and noise levels that appear to be improved quite a bit and easily on par with the Accord, if not slightly superior — it has lost that much again in dynamic capabilities. Perhaps this is the price Nissan’s paid to sell big-boy numbers, but why buy an Altima over an Accord or Camry unless it’s the sporting, fun-loving choice? Regardless, there’s no G35 influence in the way the Altima drives. It’s pleasant and you really can feel the improvement over the old car on the freeway or a rough road, but it’s not very Nissan-ish.

The stereo’s a bit of a joke, as it is on the Accord LX but not necessarily the Camry LE. Subjectively speaking, rear-seat room trails both the Japanese-brand competitors but Malibu owners would find it positively delightful. They’d also like the relatively large amount of glass and very satisfactory visibility. It’s the equal of the Camry and superior to the Fusion in that regard, if not the Accord.

The “Pure Drive” badge on the back indicates that this is the most fuel-efficient Altima configuration available. I tested it in a very rough way by driving it 70 miles without seeing the fuel needle move. (Yes, I know that everybody does a “sticky” fuel needle now, but try driving a Kia Optima that distance and seeing what happens.) It’s clearly a huge improvement from the indifferent economy I saw in the previous generation. Perhaps all the CVT ridiculousness exists to make it Accord-competitive at the pump.

What else is there to say about this relatively basic, unassuming member of the blandest vehicle class know to man? The tilt-and-telescope wheel has a good range of adjustment. The trunk is subjectively less useful than the Accord or Camry trunk, more in line with what the Fusion offers. The odometer on my test example was in the thousand-mile range, which is too little to make the lack of obvious interior wear remarkable. The headlights were strong and usable but not exemplary.

If you’re a Nissan fan, you’ll want this because it’s a Nissan. The same will no doubt hold true if you live or work in Tennessee. One wonders, however, just how this unassuming vehicle is matching the surprise-and-delight Accord for sales. As previously discussed, there isn’t too much of that hot-ass, white-trash Nissan mojo that was so evident in the old, old Altima 3.5 SE-R. Maybe there’s none of it, in fact. It’s a little more visually interesting than the Accord or Camry, I suppose. It’s also a bit cheaper, offering an Accord EX level of equipment for the LX price even before you use the cash on the hood.

Against that, you have the major difference in reliability, real or perceived, between this and its name-brand competitors. Nor does it scream fast-fashion like the Koreans. It’s the Stringer Bell of mid-sized sedans: not smart enough to hang out with the Honda and Toyota, not brash and stylish enough to slum it with the Kia, Hyundai, and Ford. Breathes there the man with soul so dead that he thinks that the Altima is cooler than a Camry? If I see you driving one on the street, I won’t point and laugh. But when I see a Camry in Gold Choice, I’m going to choose that instead.
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EXCLUSIVE: Nissan Will Forgo Navara, Bring Small, Affordable Pickup To North America As The Next Frontier Wed, 11 Jun 2014 21:16:36 +0000 big_62046

The all-new Nissan Navara, unveiled today, will be Nissan’s mid-size truck in world markets. But unlike past Navaras, our next Frontier will be a completely different truck. Nissan is (literally) going back to the future on this one.

Speaking with a supplier source, TTAC  has learned that the next Frontier will abandon the current F-Alpha platform used on this generation Frontier/Navara, and instead use an updated variant of the D22 Frontier. Make no mistake, this is an old truck, dating back to the early 1990′s. Nissan is currently attempting to engineer the old D22 technology to be both emissions compliant and pass FMVSS crash tests with flying colors – and according to our source, they are not having an easy time with the latter. But there’s a method to their madness.

What Nissan is trying to do is bring back an affordable, fuel-efficient compact truck. Not a fairly large “mid-size” truck like the Tacoma, the upcoming Colorado/Canyon twins or the Global Ranger that everyone is lusting for. Instead, this will be a modern version of the old Nissan Hardbody. It will be simple, (relatively) small, and cheap.

The basis for this truck will be the Mexican-market NP300, which is an updated D22 Frontier, still sold in certain countries. The truck will have all-new sheetmetal, in addition to the emissions and safety features that FMVSS requires, but it will still contain the rugged (and, to be fair, somewhat antiquated) bones of the old Frontier. This gives Nissan a few advantages: for one, it’s a proven design that will have most of its costs absorbed via years of sale on the open market. For another, it will lend them a fairly lightweight architecture to develop the truck off of, which will be beneficial for fuel economy and of course, CAFE (which is notoriously unfriendly to small trucks).

An NP300 Crew Cab weighs in at about 3,800 lbs, while a current Frontier Crew Cab weighs anywhere from 4,200-4,500 lbs, no doubt in part to its over-engineered F-Alpha chassis shared with the Titan, Armada and QX56. This kind of weight savings is a major breakthrough in the truck world, with Ford touting the same 700 lb weight loss for its new all-aluminum F-150. Nissan seems to have achieved it by turning back the clock (though, with new crash safety and emissions equipment, that gap could easily narrow)

Our source was unable to estimate the cost of the necessary re-engineering, or what kind of pricing Nissan was aiming for, but there will likely be significant offsets from using off-the-shelf technology. The “small” truck segment is one that is generally derided as being unprofitable, with an unattractive price position relative to full-size trucks, low profit margins and unfavorable characteristics for regulatory compliance. But if Nissan really is dusting off old technology to provide a new, affordable small truck, Nissan may have been able to dodge these concerns while honing in on a niche that nobody in North America is serving.

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Infiniti ESQ: Infiniti Gets A Small Crossover, But Only For China Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:41:41 +0000 kcp6xowebol7ndrn3wfy

That Infiniti-badged Nissan Juke that seemed so outlandish? It’s coming – but only for China.

A Nissan spokesman confirmed to Jalopnik that the Infiniti ESQ, pictured here, is indeed a Chinese-only Infiniti product. Essentially a rebadged Nismo Juke, the ESQ makes next to no attempt to disguise its origins – it’s literally a rebadge job that only the least discerning consumers would ever confuse for a distinct Infiniti product. But it does give Infiniti a toehold in the red-hot compact crossover segment.

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Nissan Navara Previews Next Frontier [Update: More Pictures] Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:00:56 +0000 140611-01-01

While light on details, Nissan has released photos and some specs on its newest mid-size pickup, the Navara.

The new truck, which is likely to form the basis of the next Frontier, will come with two engine options in the world market, both of which are 2.5L 4-cylinder engines. The main difference lies in the fact that one is a gasoline engine while the other is a diesel. A seven-speed automatic and a six-speed manual are offered. The diesel is expected to make roughly 187 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. We’ll have more details as they’re available.


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Are You The Next Nissan Mid-Size Truck Mon, 09 Jun 2014 11:00:27 +0000 nissan-frontier-leak-2_653

That soon-to-be-launched Nissan truck we showed you a few days ago? Apparently, this isn’t it.

Even though the Nissan Navara, sold in world markets (including Thailand, where these pictures were apparently taken), is basically the same as our Frontier, Nissan’s PR team has apparently disavowed any link between this new truck and the next Frontier. We’ll see on June 11th, when Nissan takes the wraps off their new truck.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Nissan Rogue Tue, 03 Jun 2014 12:00:10 +0000 2014-nissan-rogue-14

We’re surrounded by contradiction. Multitasking isn’t and modern conveniences aren’t. The 2014 Nissan Rogue is is the second generation of Nissan’s utterly conventional compact crossover. The Rogue is not what its name says it is, but that’s working better than ever.


Nissan gave the Rogue a complete makeover for 2014 with styling that aligns with the Altima and Pathfinder. The 2014 Rogue is also larger, with enough interior room for an optional third row. It’s not getting on any bedroom walls with a carried-over 2.5 liter four cylinder engine and new CVT as its only powertrain. As banal as the Rogue may be, buyers are excited. The new  Rogue is outdoing last year’s model, now called the Rogue Select, by more than 25%. That’s 20,000 vehicles.

The 2014 Rogue is gaining on the leaders, climbing the sales charts faster than the rest of the top five crossover classmates. It’s the fifth best-selling car in the class, just ahead of the also-new Jeep Cherokee. Derek and I have a running bet over Rogue and Cherokee sales, and he’s probably going to win. While the Cherokee made a big splash when introduced, the quieter Rogue has the lead by about 15,000 units. The cheeky Jeep has gained lately, and it’s a neck and neck battle for monthly numbers. I may win yet, but it’d take a disastrous month or two of Rogue sales for that to happen. While personality will get you a lot of press, conformity will get you customers.


Sometimes you don’t need to cause a revolution. The 2014 Rogue is a solid execution all-around, and it does offer some unique, useful features to keep driving sales after the new wears off. There’s three rows of seats, a folding front passenger seat, the slick Around-View Monitor system, though not all the good stuff is standard. The engine is torquey, if not exactly refined. When you make it work hard, a lot of sound booms through the firewall. Some more noise insulation would go a long way to refining the impression, because there’s nothing wrong with the way the powertrain works. Even the CVT is pretty well sorted. The strangest behavior I noted is how the transmission ratchets its variable ratios up during hard acceleration, and most people never, ever floor it.

The most noticeable thing about the CVT is its stepless nature, and that’s a positive. The second most noticeable thing is its contribution to fuel efficiency. The engine loafs on the highway and the window sticker of the AWD model I drove says you can expect 32 mpg, with city economy coming in at 25 mpg. Credit the computing power behind the XTronic, which adapts to driving style and calls on other sensors within the vehicle to determine whether the car is climbing a hill, zipping down the highway or on a windy secondary road. The transmission control unit chooses from an array of available patterns, and that’s how the XTronic CVT manages to please most drivers without totally offending the discerning tastes of automotive journalists. Yes, that’s a joke. One nice touch is the smooth way the transmission will automatically select a lower gear ratio for engine braking when you back off the accelerator. Internal upgrades to the transmission reduce friction and with the new software to tell the hardware what to do, only Honda can match Nissan’s CVTs.


The optional all-wheel drive system is an occasional-use affair. Rogues with AWD remain a front-wheeling proposition until things get slippery. It’s perfect for the way most people want AWD: seamless, unobtrusive, and automatic. Let’s face it, any Rogue that goes off road is probably doing it accidentally. There’s a locking function to the AWD system, good for situations where you can’t wait for the power to transfer from front to back, such as getting un-stuck.

The impression from behind the wheel is much improved over the first generation. The earlier car was fine, but only fine. The 2014 Rogue feels much more solid structurally, with grown-up suspension tuning that won’t give you internal bleeding. Weight gain has been kept in check by the use of lightweight materials for the hood and liftgate, among other measures, and that contributes to the lack of bobbing around. It’s not interested in any of the antisocial behavior you might call fun, but at least they got the steering weight right. There’s no feedback, though. The interior materials are on par with what you’ll find inside the Jeep Cherokee. That means it’s better than the RAV4 and CR-V. The SL is pretty loaded, feeling like it has more in common with an Infiniti than it does a Versa.


The $32,395 bottom line of the Rogue SL AWD I spent a week is also closer to Infiniti territory. That’s not inexpensive, so what do you get for your money?

The 2.5 liter and CVT are de rigeur, and there were 18” alloy wheels, LED running lights, foglamps, automatic headlamps, heated exterior mirrors with LED turn signal repeaters, privacy glass, rear wiper, and a very slow power liftgate among the highlights of the Cayenne Red test car. The tester also had the SL Premium Package, a $1,900 basket of excellent LED headlights, overly-sensitive Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Forward Collision Warning and Moving Object Detection.

Other SL-trim highlights include leather seating, power-adjustable driver’s seat and NissanConnect system with 7” touchscreen, Navigation, and voice recognition. Bose Audio is also part of the SL’s deal. For under $33K, you’re getting a lot of equipment, and there’s just as much cargo space in the Rogue as there is in the segment-leader CR-V. More, in fact, with the second row seats still in use (39.3 cubic feet in the Rogue vs. 37.2 in the CR-V.) Fold the seats and Honda has almost one cubic foot more, but the flip side of that is the 126 cubic feet of passenger volume when you get the three-row Family Package, which my test car was not equipped with. A two-row Rogue has 105.8 cubic feet of space for people, also just edging the CR-V.


With the 2014 Rogue, Nissan studiously took a tape measure to the competition. That’s not what you’d expect a rogue (small “r”) to do. They could have made the bodyshell from Plutonium and called it the Pillage, buyers would still like it. It’s hard not to like something that’s so full of cupholders, cubbie holes and cushy touches, and it’s got more personality than the RAV4 or CR-V. The driver’s choice in this class is still the Mazda CX-5, which loses pretty hard to the Rogue on paper.

The Rogue is a traditional SUV gone rational. Those hoary old truck-based things were truly contradictory. Four-bys being used as family cars. At least the Rogue is comfortable in its skin, which keeps everyone else equally comfortable within that skin.

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Compact Trucks Still Alive At Nissan Mon, 02 Jun 2014 16:39:31 +0000 rmvnbvl3pc7jlhhceuff


Next Wednesday, Nissan will unveil a new compact truck, presumably the all-new Frontier/Navara.


Our resident compact diesel truck lovers have extoled the versions of the oil-burning Navara as a superior alternative to our full-sizers. With the next Titan getting a 5.0L Cummins V8 diesel, the smaller truck may be in line for one as well. Nissan did show off a Frontier “concept” with a diesel engine not long ago…

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Portal To All Of Them Here Sun, 01 Jun 2014 14:58:36 +0000 Our whirlwind tour around the planet takes you to a new country every week. We have explored 75 destinations so far, and they are all listed below.
Each title is also the link to the full article.
If the nation you are looking for is not here, my blog covers 177 countries and territories so it should quench your thirst…
Datsun Go. Picture courtesy of What Car? India
The Indian new car market and its dynamics have very unique characteristics. Understanding India is essential in today’s worldwide automotive scene – a lot of the innovation taking place here will soon be applied to other developing markets (like Africa). Jump in to be an instant Indian car market expert.
1938 Delahaye 135
Now that Dongfeng and the French state have stakes in PSA Peugeot Citroen, does it make the French manufacturer better equipped than Renault mid-term profitability?
Zhiguli for TTAC
Trans-Siberian Series:
For the next few weeks I take you on a trip through the Russian, Mongolian and Chinese steppe… Follow the journey step by step below.
Shanghai traffic. Picture courtesy of Flickr
Check out what made car sales headlines around the world last year.
Carfree Paris. Picture courtesy of
Ford and Renault don’t see a return to growth until the end of the decade. I ask: Will it ever?
Volvo V40. Picture courtesy of
I’ve been generous: no less than 6 models are under the worldwide spotlights this month…
Kia Rio. Picture courtesy of
The Jeep Wrangler is the best-selling US model in this Carribean Island…
8 of the 9 best-selling models in California are Japanese…
Renault Captur. Picture courtesy of Auto Bild
Two French models and two Czech shine this month…
JAC Tojoy. Picture courtesy of JAC
Somehow hitting a wall at home, Chinese manufacturers have had to develop strategies to win overseas. We explore how they do in 5 Parts.
Honda CR-V. Picture courtesy of
Literally. Check out the ranking above.
2013 Honda Accord Sport Sedan
It depends on how you look at it…
Toyota RAV4. Picture courtesy of
Toyota waited 8 years to replace its RAV4, and now it’s making waves worldwide…
Audi A3. Picture courtesy of
A perfect example of the ‘low-cost or premium’ trend at play in European markets…
Wuling Hongguang. Picture courtesy of copy
A Chinese on the podium! Discover the 200 best-selling cars in the world by clicking on the link above.
Nissan Leaf. Picture courtesy of
If the Nissan Leaf has struggled to make itself noticed in most parts of the world, it’s a completely different story in Norway…
Nissan Qashqai.Picture courtesy of
Even though it is basically a facelifted version of a 6 year-old model, the Nissan Qashqai continues to turn all car marketing knowledge upside down, still breaking record after record…
It’s no secret that Chinese brands have been struggling in their home market. Is this about to change though? Yes sir…

World Full Year 2012: Discover the Top 1000 (yes. One Thousand.) best-selling models!
For the first time in the history of the internet and cars, you have access to the 1000 best-selling cars around the globe. So enjoy!

Mexico Full Year 2013: The only country where Nissan is #1
There is a new #1 in the models ranking in Mexico this year, and surprisingly it’s not a Nissan…

Germany Full Year 2012: Volkswagen sovereign
What model has been #1 in Germany for 37 of the last 38 years? Click on the title above to find out…

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