The Truth About Cars » Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 22:11:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/nissan/ At This Price, Nissan Just May As Well Pay You For a New Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/price-nissan-just-may-well-pay-new-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/price-nissan-just-may-well-pay-new-leaf/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152793 I live at the crossroads of liberal and libertarian. Despite what some of you have said, I’m not Marxist (although I have read plenty of his work, along with Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, Milton Friedman followers, et al.) and economics for me qualifies as a hobby. Therefore, the economy of how Colorado just made the Nissan […]

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2011 Nissan LEAF

I live at the crossroads of liberal and libertarian. Despite what some of you have said, I’m not Marxist (although I have read plenty of his work, along with Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, Milton Friedman followers, et al.) and economics for me qualifies as a hobby.

Therefore, the economy of how Colorado just made the Nissan Leaf one of the least expensive new cars in America is fascinating.

Right now, Leaf buyers in Colorado can receive the following perks: a $7,500 federal rebate, around $5,000 back from the state of Colorado, and $5,000 from Nissan if you finance your purchase through them. (Georgia, West Virginia and Connecticut are pretty high as well.)

All told, that’s $17,500 back in Colorado on a car that starts at $29,860 ($850 destination included) and your price — before negotiations with the dealer — is $12,360, if your shirt is starched, teeth are white and you max out rebates.

I called up a local Nissan dealer to confirm the details and after a little bit of checking (and a lot of trying to sell me on a lease) she confirmed I could score a Nissan for severely cheap.

FYI: A Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $12,995.

The financing rebate ends at the end of August, and Colorado’s $6,000 incentive (which is the highest in the nation) can’t last forever.

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2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD Review – Suave Ugly Duckling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-nissan-murano-sl-awd-review-suave-ugly-duckling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-nissan-murano-sl-awd-review-suave-ugly-duckling/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152009 2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD 3.5-liter VQ35DE DOHC V-6, Continuously Variable Timing Control System (260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 240 lbs-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm) Xtronic continuously variable transmission (2.413:1 – 0.383:1 range, 0.958:1 final drive) 21 city/28 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 22.4 mpg on the Soccer Dad test cycle, 75 percent city (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: SL trim, all-wheel […]

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2015 Nissan Murano (1 of 13)

2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD

3.5-liter VQ35DE DOHC V-6, Continuously Variable Timing Control System (260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 240 lbs-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm)

Xtronic continuously variable transmission (2.413:1 – 0.383:1 range, 0.958:1 final drive)

21 city/28 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

22.4 mpg on the Soccer Dad test cycle, 75 percent city (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: SL trim, all-wheel drive

Base Price (S FWD):
$30,445* (U.S.)/$31,858* (Canada)
As Tested Price:
$39,435* (U.S.)/$41,393* (Canada)

* All prices include $885 destination fee (U.S.) or $1,860 destination fee, PDI and A/C tax (Canada).

“Damn, that’s ugly,” I thought to myself — in addition to saying it openly amongst my automotive journalist friends when Nissan unveiled the new, third-generation Murano at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

“Who’s going to buy this?” I asked myself — in addition to everyone who would possibly listen to my whining.

“I bet this won’t sell,” proclaimed my inner monologue — in addition to my external one.

Boy, was I wrong on that last point. The new Murano’s year-to-date sales in Canada have already eclipsed last year’s entirely (sales surpassed 1,000 units in June 2015 for the first time ever in Canada), and it will likely sell more in the U.S. than it has in the last couple years at the very least.

When I had a chance to drive the newest “lifestyle” crossover from Nissan, I realized why my predictions were so wrong. If you can look past the sheet metal, the aging VQ35DE V-6 engine and the continuously variable transmission that’s become ubiquitous with the Nissan brand, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what is arguably the best lifestyle crossover on the market.

That should be no surprise. One could make a case for the Nissan Murano being a pioneer in this segment. Back in 2002, Nissan rolled out the first-generation Murano to either fanfare or fiery criticism, depending on who you asked.

The non-luxury softroader was born — whether you liked it or not.

2015 Nissan Murano (2 of 13)

Exterior
To better understand the Murano and its “Predator with a Beverly Hills facelift” styling, one must understand the competition — namely the Ford Edge. Neither vehicle communicates a modicum of off-roading intentions, even though both are available with all-wheel drive. Both are targeted directly at yuppie dinks with money to burn and status to reinforce. They want a vehicle that’s visually loud so they can be unique just like everyone else.

Compared to prior generations, the Murano is more visually windswept up front due to its corporate V-motion grille and Z-inspired headlights. It’s a cohesive design regardless of how visually off-putting I might personally find it.

Around the side, the Murano flaunts the same floating roof treatment craze that’s seeing more use at Nissan and elsewhere. Our mid-trim SL tester wore standard 18-inch wheels shod with 235/65R18 rubber that didn’t visually fill the wheel wells as much as the 20 inchers available on the Platinum trim, but still did a much better job of not making the car look plebeian compared to the Edge on its smaller wheels. Actually, the 18s make the Murano look trendy, expensive and — viewing it as a car guy — comfortable.

2015 Nissan Murano (3 of 13)

Around back are some of the most confusing shapes and surfaces you’ll find on any crossover on sale today. The rear lamps sport the same boomerang styling as those up front. The blacked-out floating roof section, when inspected closely, even has some metallic flake in the plastic so it doesn’t look flat and cheap. Like the side, a chrome strip breaks up the lower body cladding and high-gloss paint, like a belt separating black pants and a loudly colored button-up shirt.

Overall, the Murano looks expensive and expressive, but its execution is far from my cup of tea. The Ford Edge ticks the same boxes without being visually nauseating.

2015 Nissan Murano (5 of 13)

Interior
Years ago, I listened to a stand-up comic — whose name completely escapes me — do a bit on yuppies and yard sales.

“Yuppie yard sales are just like normal ones — except nothing is for sale. Yuppies just want you to look at their stuff.”

Nissan knows the typical Murano buyer isn’t going to have kids — or if they do have that elusive single child, the chances of he or she having more than two friends willing to ditch their Facebooks and video games to actually drive somewhere is pretty slim. Instead, what yuppies do have is personal belongings — or at least more personal belongings than their kid has friends — so, understandably, there’s no third row seating. In its place is a cavernous cargo area so you can take all your stuff to the local yuppie yard sale, show it off, and bring it home in a flashy ride.

Unfortunately for the Murano, the Edge can hold even more yuppie junk in its upwardly mobile trunk; 32.1 cu. ft. of cargo space is available behind the second row in the Murano (minus 1 cu. ft. with the moonroof) versus 39.2 cu. ft. in the Edge.

You’d think that maybe the Murano is shorter than the Edge, but it’s actually longer on the outside by 4.7 inches. Wheelbases are similar at 111.2 and 112.2 inches respectively. And, as far as I can tell, the space isn’t being shifted to the passenger compartment.

2015 Nissan Murano (12 of 13)Murano (w/o moonroof)

Front headroom – 39.9 inches
Front legroom – 40.5 inches
Front hip room – 55.4 inches
Front shoulder room – 59.5 inches
Rear headroom – 39.8 inches
Rear legroom – 38.7 inches
Rear hip room – 55.2 inches
Front shoulder room – 58.8 inches

Edge

Front headroom – 40.2 inches
Front legroom – 40.5 inches
Front hip room – 55.9 inches
Front shoulder room – 60.3 inches
Rear headroom – 40.3 inches
Rear legroom – 40.6 inches
Rear hip room – 57.5 inches
Front shoulder room – 60.5 inches

(Bold is the greater measure.)

I’m flummoxed.

Regardless of the numbers, the Murano is incredibly comfortable up front and I didn’t once think I lacked space for my 6-foot-1-inch lanky frame. Nor did passengers ask for me to scootch the driver’s seat up to give them additional rear legroom. However, if you’re a sizable dink, you might want to opt for the Edge.

2015 Nissan Murano (7 of 13)

When you do find your place of comfort in the driver seat, you’re greeted by a steering wheel that could be found in almost any other Nissan. The push-button start is easily found in the center dash instead of tucked somewhere being the steering wheel. Other controls are quite simple, with HVAC knobs and buttons located below the infotainment screen and shortcuts to navigation, radio and other infotainment features placed on either side. Nissan says it has decreased the number of buttons needed to operate their system and this amount seems like a happy medium.

2015 Nissan Murano (8 of 13)

The instrument panel consists of two large dials separated by a very clear, 7-inch LCD screen with pages that are easily accessible through the steering wheel mounted controls. Unlike the Micra, the Murano is fitted with an actual fuel gauge and not just an LCD representation.

As I mentioned above, the front seats are incredibly comfortable, though they do have a look of cheapness. Maybe it’s the semi-gloss sheen. I just wish they looked as good as they felt. Same goes for the rear.

At least you will be safe, with a full suite of airbags that includes a driver’s knee airbag, just in case.

2015 Nissan Murano (4 of 13)

Powertrain
The 3.5-liter VQ35DE V-6 sitting under the hood of the Murano has to be one of the oldest engines on sale today. Introduced in 2001, the VQ series engine has been constantly updated and comes in a number of tunes depending on its application. However, it doesn’t come with direct injection or some of the other goodies found in competing products.

That said, the VQ is still one of the best sounding engines money can buy — probably because it doesn’t come with direct injection or the other goodies. Even when paired with Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission, the VQ rumbles with its all-but familiar growl.

When Nissan started fitting its lower-end, four-cylinder cars with CVTs, I moaned a great moan. But this — with the V-6 and some torque to keep revs low — makes boatloads of sense and is exceptionally smooth without the typical whine experienced with smaller engines mated to similar transmissions. To top it all off, Nissan’s combination is 4 mpg easier on fuel on the combined cycle than the Edge, representing a $350 annual savings according to the EPA calculator.

2015 Nissan Murano (13 of 13)

Infotainment
Nissan’s Around View has been on the market for quite some time, but this is the first time it’s been fitted to the Murano (incidentally, after it was fitted to the Versa Note). As one can expect, images from the camera are fairly distorted to give you a better field of vision, but there’s something else that bothers me about it. Image quality is, well, a bit subpar. Even though other systems obviously don’t give you a full 360-degree view of the vehicle on an 8-inch screen, the images offered on the Nissan system look pixelated to the point where you might actually miss something — though if that something is moving, the Moving Object Detection should pick it up. Meanwhile, the “Camera” button on the console lets you activate the system when parking nose first, which is great for someone like me who can’t place a vehicle square between two white lines.

Around View aside, the new NissanConnectSM system is enhanced over the last generation, though its ease of use has been hampered because of it. Thanks to a number of new connectivity features and other digitial knickknacks, the Nissan infotainment system is a bit more bloated. If you like fully featured infotainment, this is a great solution, but this might not be a selling point if you are like the vast majority of vehicle buyers who don’t use all the features provided by automakers.

Drive
What sets the Murano apart from the rest is how it drives. The 3.5-liter engine is as smooth as you can get. The CVT will do some “shifting,” but only so you can feel a little bit of torque transmitted into the seat now and then. Also, those seats are as good as they come.

However, these pieces aren’t the Murano’s killer app. Instead, its suspension tuning and decent tire sidewalls on our SL-trimmed tester that give the Murano a ride befitting its Infiniti luxury brand. Platinum models give you 20-inch wheels as standard, and I’m not sure that’s a good buy if ride quality is No. 1 on your car hunt.

In addition to the suspension, the Murano’s electric power steering also makes it light to handle. Who cares if it feels a bit disconnected? If you are looking for an engaging drive, you are shopping in the wrong segment by looking at the Murano. For a few thousand more, there are some interesting options from the Germans, though you might have to downsize.

Aaron Cole, Chris Tonn, and I all had a chat about the Murano styling. They quite like the Nissan … and they’d take it over the Ford Edge. I’d rather the Blue Oval, based on styling alone, inside and out. Yet, if the Edge didn’t drive as nice as the Murano (and I’m not sure if it does but an Edge is on the way) I’d probably have the Murano … the fuel economy bump for me is a nice to have.

If you’re a yuppie with some coin to spend, the Murano and Edge are like white and red wine: they’re both wine and they both get the job done of looking classy, but it’s all a matter of taste. The Murano, to most, will taste just fine.

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Nissan’s Next Z Vehicle Could Be a Death Star http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissans-next-z-vehicle-death-star/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissans-next-z-vehicle-death-star/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152625 Nissan’s next Z could be a crossover because the world needs another crossover, Autocar is reporting. The next-generation Z may appear in Frankfurt as a concept to gauge the new direction for the model, according to the report. The car could be a two- or four-door crossover, powered by a gasoline or hybrid powerplant — […]

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2016 Nissan 370Z NISMO

Nissan’s next Z could be a crossover because the world needs another crossover, Autocar is reporting.

The next-generation Z may appear in Frankfurt as a concept to gauge the new direction for the model, according to the report. The car could be a two- or four-door crossover, powered by a gasoline or hybrid powerplant — or it could be a sub-orbital military base with the power to destroy planets. (We just don’t know!)

A crossover Z could be a logical step for the company to appeal to more buyers, or it could cannibalize sales from the Juke. At least we know the next-generation Z won’t be the IDx.

According to Autocar, the crossover Z could be based on the future shared global CMF B platform and theoretically home a 1.6-liter turbocharged mill.

We may have to wait until the Frankfurt Auto Show next month to see what Nissan’s up to, but any concept would likely be a far first step in some kind of product planning.

Car rumors are fun.

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What’s Going on With The New Maxima? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/whats-going-new-maxima/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/whats-going-new-maxima/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 22:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151721 Nissan’s new Maxima, which went on sale earlier this year, has already had a bumpy road. Last week, the automaker announced it would be recalling around 6,000 cars for an improperly installed fuel tank 0-ring that could leak and ignite after a crash, according to AutoGuide. Nissan hasn’t identified a fix for the problem yet. […]

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2016 Nissan Maxima (18 of 23)

Nissan’s new Maxima, which went on sale earlier this year, has already had a bumpy road.

Last week, the automaker announced it would be recalling around 6,000 cars for an improperly installed fuel tank 0-ring that could leak and ignite after a crash, according to AutoGuide. Nissan hasn’t identified a fix for the problem yet.

That may be in addition to (or the reason for) a stop-sale on the Maxima in July for an unspecified “quality assurance” problem with the cars. We reached out to Nissan for a comment and have yet to hear back. 

Early owners have reported minor problems including moon roof noises, headlight issues and electronic woes.

This isn’t the first generation of Maxima models produced in Smyrna, Tennessee, nor is it the only model that plant produces. But any further hiccups in initial quality could damage the car’s tenuous position.

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Nissan, Enterprise Want to Get ‘Em Hooked on Versa Young http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissan-enterprise-want-get-em-hooked-versa-young/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissan-enterprise-want-get-em-hooked-versa-young/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 16:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1138474 Nissan and Enterprise CarShare announced Tuesday a plan to equip 90 colleges and universities in the United States exclusively with Nissan cars for students to move, haul, travel (and barf in the backseat) for $5 an hour until Dec. 31. Presumably, the college experience includes familiarity with the Versa Note’s hand-crank windows and will ultimately feed […]

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Enterprise CarShare and Nissan

Nissan and Enterprise CarShare announced Tuesday a plan to equip 90 colleges and universities in the United States exclusively with Nissan cars for students to move, haul, travel (and barf in the backseat) for $5 an hour until Dec. 31.

Presumably, the college experience includes familiarity with the Versa Note’s hand-crank windows and will ultimately feed into Nissan’s College Grad sales program.

(I’d like to say the whole thing will be wildly ineffectual, but while typing away on my Mac this morning the first basis for reference I could think of was my elementary school’s beige Apple crapboxes in the 1980s. On that basis: It’ll work, Nissan.) 

Enterprise offers their cars on 90 campuses around the country for drivers who are 18 years old and older (18- to 21-year-old drivers need to get a parental consent form). Enterprise CarShare is also offered in several major metropolitan centers including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

Fees for the service vary depending on usage. The most basic plan includes a $40 annual membership charge and hourly fees from $3 to $9 depending on location.

Competing service ZipCar says they have more than 100 universities signed up for their car sharing service.

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Nissan GT-R LM is Officially on Life Support http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissan-gt-r-lm-officially-life-support/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissan-gt-r-lm-officially-life-support/#comments Sat, 08 Aug 2015 16:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1136514 After Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said they would have to reassess whether their GT-R LM program was fruitful, the company announced Friday it was pulling the car out of competition. “We know people will be disappointed, but be assured that nobody is more disappointed than us,” said Shoichi Miyatani, president of NISMO. The car had […]

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Nissan GT-R LM NISMOAfter Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said they would have to reassess whether their GT-R LM program was fruitful, the company announced Friday it was pulling the car out of competition.

“We know people will be disappointed, but be assured that nobody is more disappointed than us,” said Shoichi Miyatani, president of NISMO.

The car had struggled in competition this year with one car finishing at Le Mans well behind the leaders, one disqualification and one DNF at the famed race in France. 

Nissan said the car’s complex Energy Recovery System was to blame for the poor results. Although the car developed around 1,250 horsepower — nearly half from the electric motors in the rear wheels — most of it never materialized. Nissan said the system was disabled on all three cars at LeMans and the lone finisher limped to the end of the race.

Nissan said testing the car — which is widely expected to share some of its powertrain with the next-generation GT-R — will continue in the United States.

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Volkswagen Selling e-Golf SE in August, Targets Nissan Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135890 A lower priced e-Golf will directly compete with the Nissan Leaf for sub-$30,000 electric car buyers, the automaker announced Wednesday. The e-Golf SE will start at $29,815, before federal and any available state incentives, which is nearly the same price as a Leaf S, Autoblog correctly pointed out. The e-Golf has a range of around 83 miles. […]

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2015 Volkswagen e-Golf 3

A lower priced e-Golf will directly compete with the Nissan Leaf for sub-$30,000 electric car buyers, the automaker announced Wednesday.

The e-Golf SE will start at $29,815, before federal and any available state incentives, which is nearly the same price as a Leaf S, Autoblog correctly pointed out. The e-Golf has a range of around 83 miles.

The Leaf has sold nearly 11,000 copies since the beginning of 2015.

The SE trim will have a smaller, 6.5-inch touchscreen, compared to the SEL’s 8-inch model. Additionally, the e-Golf SE will only have a 3.6 kW onboard charger as standard. A 7.2 kW DC fast charger will be available later in the year for the model.

The Leaf S has an available quick charge package that boosts capacity to 6.6 kW for $1,770.

The Golf SE should be arriving in dealerships later this month, Volkswagen said.

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2015 Nissan Micra S Review – Lively Lilliputian http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-nissan-micra-s-review-lively-lilliputian/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-nissan-micra-s-review-lively-lilliputian/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 22:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127761 Staring at a Monroney sticker with a four-digit MSRP would only excite you if spending a weekend clipping Sam’s Club coupons while sipping Faygo is a “fun night in.” With a base price of $9,998 in the Great White North, the Nissan Micra is the definition of Quebec Special: an entry-level car in the lowest of […]

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2015 Nissan Micra S (2 of 10)

Staring at a Monroney sticker with a four-digit MSRP would only excite you if spending a weekend clipping Sam’s Club coupons while sipping Faygo is a “fun night in.”

With a base price of $9,998 in the Great White North, the Nissan Micra is the definition of Quebec Special: an entry-level car in the lowest of trims and absolutely zero options. Wind-up windows. Manual locks. An actual, honest-to-goodness metal key. All it needs is a cassette deck and a bench seat to take you back to a time when parachute pants were cool and Wesley Snipes was paying taxes.

Yet, this diminutive, red hatchback is much more than its price and lack of options suggest. While my predecessor likened the Micra to the EK Civic, I’m going to take it one step further: The Nissan Micra is a four-door Mazda Miata.

 


The Tester

2015 Nissan Micra S [Canada]

Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC I-4, CVVT (109 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, 107 lbs-ft @ 4,400 rpm)

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 27 city/36 highway/31 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 32 mpg, 50/50 city and highway, 50/50 eco-driver and small-car, fast-lane lunatic

Options: What you see is what you get, folks.

As Tested: $11,565 (sheet), approx. $8,950 USD.


“Miata with four doors? Have you completely lost the plot?” Maybe, but …

All the important ingredients from the Miata are woven into the Micra’s DNA as well: light weight, just enough power to spin the little front rubber donuts, and the suspension — well, let’s just call it peculiar for now as it needs an explanation all its own.

The bottom line: The Micra provided the most engaging and fun driving experience I’ve had in at least 12 months, and that includes all the 400+ horsepower cars that have graced my driveway over the same timeframe.

2015 Nissan Micra S (1 of 10)

Exterior
Before we get into why the Micra is a four-door Miata, we should talk about its looks for a moment, because this is really the only area where Nissan’s sub-compact could use some effort the next time around.

As much as some writers believe we shouldn’t genderize car design — especially when critiquing said sheet metal — the reality is automakers pen vehicles to appeal to certain demographics: young women, older men and any combination thereof. Certain genders will be drawn to particular design cues more than others.

When I attended the launch of the Micra last year, Nissan representatives were surprisingly upfront about the car being styled to primarily capture the attention and interest of female buyers — and it shows. The Micra is a women’s car whether you want to bury your head in the sand about it or not.

However, the cheap-and-cheerful demeanor of the Micra isn’t so dissentious that male buyers should disregard this wonder of economical automotive manufacturing. In a color other than our tester’s Red Alert, the Micra is a bit more palatable.

With that out of the way, the V-Motion grille is a bit of an architectural afterthought, like an addition to a family home gone awry. Fortunately, this forced design lineage only affects the Micra in the Canadian market. In other regions — where this runabout is named March — a single chrome bar floats within the grille’s crevasse. Headlights are the same globally, finding their place far up the hood much like the Chevrolet Spark and even the Nissan Juke, though their placement much less visually pronounced on the Micra.

A side view of the car brings back memories of the old New Beetle and its perfectly arched roofline thanks to the Micra’s semi-circular window frames. Unpainted door handles and mirror caps are noticeable but not in the same way as black plastic bumpers grabbed your attention on base model Chevrolet Cavaliers. Even though this Micra is the bottom rung on the trim hierarchy, its wheel covers still manage to look higher end than the optional alloys available on the Mirage.

2015 Nissan Micra S (4 of 10)

There’s additional unpainted black plastic at the back, but thankfully it’s limited to just the door handle for the rear hatch. The taillights and bumper seem to have received more stylistic attention than one would expect for a car costing significantly less than its competitors. To top it off, the rear window also provides ample vision from inside the car — and you’ll need it, as there’s no back up camera on this Japanese go-kart. But, you do get a rear spoiler, so at least there’s that.

2015 Nissan Micra S (7 of 10)

Interior
Complaining about the Micra’s interior materials is like going on a tirade at H&M about the quality of their $4.99 fashion-of-the-week, button-up shirts. A car that’s near-as-makes-no-difference $10,000 is going to be incredibly cheap. You don’t buy this type of car for its soft-touch dash and rubberized temperature control knobs. You buy it because it’s usable and serviceable. The plastic knobs are almost translucent in their cheapness, but they work and that’s all they’re meant to do. You should feel lucky the Micra even has a tachometer in this trim.

The only complaint I have — a trivial personal preference more than anything else — has to do with the gas gauge. You are given a digital gas gauge in the Micra — and I hate it. Please, Nissan, just give me a nice little dial so I can more accurately estimate the amount of fuel in the tank.

Other than that, the seats are incredibly simple along with the rest of the interior and not something you’d want to sit in for long jaunts on the highway, but this car isn’t built for long highway jaunts anyway.

2015 Nissan Micra S (9 of 10)Infotainment
I used to have a manual, Vulcan-powered Ford Ranger with a manual transmission. Like the Micra, it didn’t have air conditioning and just a simple radio provided your anthem for the road. When I bought my Ranger, the total came out to nearly $14,000 in used condition. It also featured two speakers — one in each door. The Micra has double the number of speakers and is cheaper in new condition. Folks, by all accounts, that’s a bargain!

In all seriousness, the Micra does come with a CD player and auxiliary input as standard. If you are keen on tuning into some daytime sports talk radio on the AM dial, you can do that, too.

You aren’t locked into the ’90s radio option, however, but you’ll need to spring for the Krom or SR-trimmed Micras to get USB input, Bluetooth and display audio as standard and those models are significantly more expensive than our base model tester.

As you can imagine, audio quality with the simple four-speaker stereo is on par with listening to a alleyway catfight on a string can telephone — tinny, full of treble and all the vocals sound like they’re being performed by Richard Simmons with a throat infection.

The 2015 Nissan Micra will mark a new era of unbeatable value for Canadians when it arrives this spring. Combining Japanese quality with European styling and heritage, Micra will provide Canadians with more fun, more attention to detail and more value than they've ever expected in a small car.

Drivetrain
Under the Nissan Micra’s short hood sits the same 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the Versa Sedan and Versa Note producing 109 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. These numbers might seem downright dismal in comparison to other slightly more expensive offerings; in the Versa Note equipped with the CVT, this engine is slow, loud and almost as annoying as Social Justice Warrior Comedy Hour. When sent through the standard five-speed manual transmission, the little four pot sings along just like the eager hatchbacks of 15 or 20 years ago. The 1.6 loves to rev, but still has a grunty note that permeates the cabin. Meanwhile, it’s probably the most responsive motor in the sub-compact class with a manual that I’ve driven in recent memory. Even if you opt for the automatic transmission, you will still be welcomed by four real gears instead of the near-ubiquitous Nissan CVT.

However, the Micra isn’t incredibly efficient. Fifth gear in the manual box is too short for highway usage and bumps up fuel consumption a tad. Again, this car is built to be a cheap city grocery-getter and not a cross-country cruiser.

The manual gearbox itself is a tad loose, but it’s fairly forgiving, making missed shifts a rare occurrance. I could also say the clutch needs to provide some more feedback, but then I’m really going down the road of nitpicking. The manual in the Fiesta is better.

2015 Nissan Micra S (3 of 10)

Drive
Even with all the text above extolling the Micra’s cheap car virtues, driving it on a windy road is what makes it a real winner. The five-door Datsun absolutely loves corners — but not in the way you’d expect.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is highly regarded as being the most-fun driver’s car per dollar. That’s not because the Miata puts up huge horsepower numbers or corners completely flat or does record-setting laps around the Nurburgring. Instead, it’s because the Miata communicates with the driver and doesn’t desensitize the driving experience. If the body rolls a little bit, you’re going to feel it. When braking, the Miata’s brake pedal will communicate to the driver the exact point before ABS kicks in.

The Micra does the same thing.

No, it isn’t going to attack a corner as fast as a Miata, but it feels just as fast. If the brain is tricked into thinking it’s going fast — even if the car is only doing a bit over the speed limit — isn’t that all that matters? You don’t need to be a driving hero. You only need to feel the sensation of being a driving hero.

While we all know this feeling is very hard to quantify, let alone market to the buying public, this is the Micra’s greatest party trick. It’s the slow car you want to drive fast — or at least think you’re driving fast. And it isn’t by accident that the Micra drives the way it does, especially in Canada.

Compared to overseas units, the Micra in Canada has different sway bars — front and rear — and steering tuned specifically for North American roads. This makes the Micra more chuckable, more communicative, and — as a result — a helluva lot more fun.

Unfortunately, those of you in the U.S. won’t be able to enjoy the magic of this micro machine — at least not yet. A year ago, there were rumors swirling about the Micra’s future availability in the U.S. They’ve simmered down before coming to fruition.

It’s unfortunate, really, because when the answer is not Miata, it could surely be Micra.

2015 Nissan Micra S (1 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (2 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (3 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (4 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (5 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (6 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (7 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (8 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (9 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (10 of 10)

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Nissan To Trump-bashing California Dealer Ad: ‘No Bueno’ [Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-trump-bashing-california-dealer-ad-no-bueno-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-trump-bashing-california-dealer-ad-no-bueno-video/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127961 Nissan scolded one of its dealers Tuesday for releasing an ad showing the battering of a piñata resembling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Automotive News is reporting. The ad depicts salesmen repeatedly hitting a Trump-looking piñata and declaring, “At Van Nuys Nissan, Latinos rule.” The ad was made after Trump denounced some undocumented Mexican immigrants […]

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Van Nuys Nissan

Nissan scolded one of its dealers Tuesday for releasing an ad showing the battering of a piñata resembling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Automotive News is reporting.

The ad depicts salesmen repeatedly hitting a Trump-looking piñata and declaring, “At Van Nuys Nissan, Latinos rule.” The ad was made after Trump denounced some undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists” in a June political speech.

“We find these advertisements to be neither responsible or respectful, and we do not condone what they represent,” Nissan said in a statement. “We expect our dealers to establish advertising that is responsible and respectful and represents the best interest of the Nissan brand.”

Commenters have blasted Nissan of Van Nuys for airing the ad.

“I’m Hispanic, and I’m embarrassed for you. I’d never go to your dealership based on your crappy reviews. The idiotic piñata thing is the icing on the cake,” one commenter wrote. “Van Nuys Nissan, get your PR crew together and get rid of that racist manager.”

Nissan said it respected the dealer’s right to free speech.

Of course, this is hardly the first dealer to air a controversial ad. Nor is it the most entertainingly profane (link NSFW, obviously).

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Nissan Halts Sales on Some Maximas for Quality Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-halts-sales-maximas-quality-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-halts-sales-maximas-quality-issues/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 18:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124145 Nissan has told its dealers to stop selling specific models of the Maxima due to unspecified quality issue, Automotive News is reporting. The issue involves Maximas with a specific VIN, not a model type. It’s unclear if those cars have been delivered to dealers or customers. According to Automotive News, Nissan hasn’t identified how many models […]

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2016 Nissan Maxima (18 of 23)

Nissan has told its dealers to stop selling specific models of the Maxima due to unspecified quality issue, Automotive News is reporting.

The issue involves Maximas with a specific VIN, not a model type. It’s unclear if those cars have been delivered to dealers or customers. According to Automotive News, Nissan hasn’t identified how many models would be affected by the stop-sale, nor how many of the models may have already been sold.

Nissan hasn’t made available details about the VIN number or how to identify the held cars.

A Denver-area Nissan dealer said he wasn’t aware of the stop-sale at all.

A Nissan spokesman told Automotive News that the company would investigate the issue further before making any public statements.

“Nissan is committed to a high level of customer service and satisfaction,” the company said in a statement to Automotive News. “This commitment requires Nissan to periodically place certain specific vehicles on a temporary Quality Assurance Hold to assure that these vehicles, as delivered to our customers, meet our exacting standards and our customers’ expectations.”

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Front-wheel Drive Nissan GT-R LM NISMO Might Be Non-hit Wonder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/front-wheel-drive-nissan-gt-r-lm-nismo-might-non-hit-wonder/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/front-wheel-drive-nissan-gt-r-lm-nismo-might-non-hit-wonder/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 18:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1120145 After a less than stellar result for Nissan at the 24 Hours of LeMans this year, Carlos Ghosn has stated the program — at least in its current form — is under review. According to Sportscar365 (via AutoBlog), “high-level executive meetings” were to take place last week and could decide on the future of Nissan’s […]

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Nissan GT-R LM NISMO at Le Mans 2015

After a less than stellar result for Nissan at the 24 Hours of LeMans this year, Carlos Ghosn has stated the program — at least in its current form — is under review.

According to Sportscar365 (via AutoBlog), “high-level executive meetings” were to take place last week and could decide on the future of Nissan’s front-wheel drive endurance contender.

Speaking at London’s Formula E race last month, Ghosn was up front about the future of Nissan’s latest creation.

“Nissan has always been associated with innovation,” Ghosn said. “We made an attempt that did not prove fruitful. We must reassess the strategy.

“We wanted to be different and competitive but we’ve only been different.”

The team is still planning to take part in a test at Circuit of the Americas later this month.

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Nissan Rogue Hybrid Imminent, Qashqai Replacing Rogue Select http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-rogue-hybrid-imminent-qashqai-replacing-rogue-select/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-rogue-hybrid-imminent-qashqai-replacing-rogue-select/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 15:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114561 Nissan will add a hybrid powertrain to the Rogue and bring the smaller, European Qashqai to the U.S., AutoGuide is reporting. A few days ago, we reported that Nissan would be ending production of the last-generation Rogue in Japan, which is sold as the Rogue Select in the United States. Now it appears the Qashqai […]

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Nissan will add a hybrid powertrain to the Rogue and bring the smaller, European Qashqai to the U.S., AutoGuide is reporting.

A few days ago, we reported that Nissan would be ending production of the last-generation Rogue in Japan, which is sold as the Rogue Select in the United States. Now it appears the Qashqai will effectively replace the Rogue Select in Nissan’s lineup, giving the Japanese automaker another small crossover to sell stateside.

And Nissan is selling the snot out of crossovers in the U.S.

Nissan made rumblings about a hybrid Rogue back in April and it believes the already huge market hasn’t yet been tapped.

“We haven’t hit the ceiling yet. We have more opportunity there if we can get our dealers more [crossovers],” Fred Diaz said, Nissan’s senior vice president of U.S. sales, said according to AutoGuide.

The Qashqai is built on a similar platform as the Rogue, but is 10 inches shorter, and also sports a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that may or may not make the ride over to the states.

No word yet on whether Canada will be getting the Qashqai.

In case you’re wondering:

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Nissan May Be Considering NISMO Maxima http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-may-considering-nismo-maxima/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-may-considering-nismo-maxima/#comments Sun, 12 Jul 2015 16:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113649 Nissan may consider building a NISMO variant of its Maxima sedan based on sales of its SR model, The Detroit Bureau is reporting. Initial sales of the Maxima have been relatively strong so far, and Nissan said it expects 20 percent to 25 percent of its sales to be of the sportier SR model. A performance version […]

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2016 Nissan Maxima (8 of 23)

Nissan may consider building a NISMO variant of its Maxima sedan based on sales of its SR model, The Detroit Bureau is reporting.

Initial sales of the Maxima have been relatively strong so far, and Nissan said it expects 20 percent to 25 percent of its sales to be of the sportier SR model.

A performance version of the Maxima would be welcome news considering the model was nearly killed off four years ago.

According to The Detroit Bureau, a NISMO version of the Maxima may get a horsepower bump — although it’s unclear where the boost would come from. The Maxima currently sports a 3.5-liter V6 and, short of pulling an engine out of thin air, it would likely stay that way.

In reality, the NISMO version may be a more aggressive handling and appearance package for the Maxima, which may help it realize its “four-door sports car” moniker our managing editor Mark Stevenson said it fell short of last month.

Nissan’s NISMO division, a former racing outfit turned into branding mechanism, may expand in coming years to capture enthusiast interest a la BMW’s M division and Mercedes’ AMG group. Currently, Nissan sells NISMO versions of its Juke, 370Z and GT-R — although who wouldn’t like to see the NISMO Leaf in dealerships?

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Nissan May Be Ending Rogue Select Sales in U.S. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-may-ending-rogue-select-sales-u-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-may-ending-rogue-select-sales-u-s/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 20:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113041 Nissan announced yesterday that the current-generation Rogue would be concurrently produced for U.S. sales in Japan, Korea and the automaker’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant, which had us wondering: What about the Rogue Select? According to a Nissan spokesman, the Rogue Select (which is essentially the last-generation Rogue) won’t be built alongside the current-generation Rogue in Japan, […]

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2014 Nissan Rogue Select

Nissan announced yesterday that the current-generation Rogue would be concurrently produced for U.S. sales in Japan, Korea and the automaker’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant, which had us wondering: What about the Rogue Select?

According to a Nissan spokesman, the Rogue Select (which is essentially the last-generation Rogue) won’t be built alongside the current-generation Rogue in Japan, which may spell the end of the Select model in the states.

It’s unclear how many Rogue Selects Nissan sells in the U.S. Nissan doesn’t differentiate in its sales data between the two Rogue models. Last year, Cars.com reported that as much as 43 percent of new Rogues on dealer lots were Rogue Selects.

Nissan sells the 2015 Rogue Select for $2,990 less than 2015 Rogue.

A Nissan spokesman didn’t specify how many Rogues on sale in the U.S. would be built in Japan, Korea or the U.S.

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Nissan Can’t Build Rogues Fast Enough in Tennessee, Apparently http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-cant-build-rogues-fast-enough-tennessee-apparently/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-cant-build-rogues-fast-enough-tennessee-apparently/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 19:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1112241 Nissan announced today they’ll expand production of the current-generation Nissan Rogue to its Japanese plant and import those cars into the U.S. Nissan’s Kyushu plant produces a version of the Rogue already on sale in the U.S., called Rogue Select. It’s unclear if the current-generation Rogue and last-generation Rogue will be produced side-by-side or if […]

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Nissan announced today they’ll expand production of the current-generation Nissan Rogue to its Japanese plant and import those cars into the U.S.

Nissan’s Kyushu plant produces a version of the Rogue already on sale in the U.S., called Rogue Select. It’s unclear if the current-generation Rogue and last-generation Rogue will be produced side-by-side or if Nissan will discontinue selling the Rogue Select.

U.S.-sold Rogues are sourced from Nissan’s Symrna, Tennessee plant and Busan, Korea.

In April, the Rogue became America’s second-favorite compact crossover behind the Honda CR-V, and helped fuel a sales surge for the automaker.

Year-over-year sales jumped 41 percent in March, and Nissan reported January to June sales of the CUV were up 36 percent from the same period last year.

Selling two generations of a car made in three different countries may not be enough. June sales for the Rogue were up 54.3 percent over last year, the automaker reported.

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After Clearing Legal Hurdles, Taxi of Tomorrow Now Taxi of Today http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/clearing-legal-hurdles-taxi-tomorrow-now-taxi-today/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/clearing-legal-hurdles-taxi-tomorrow-now-taxi-today/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:30:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107321 The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission finally cleared its last hurdle in making the Nissan NV200 the new official taxi for NYC, Car and Driver reports. The commission installed the NV200 as the new official taxi back in 2011, but legal challenges have delayed that process until now. The city licenses more than 13,000 cabs. The […]

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Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission finally cleared its last hurdle in making the Nissan NV200 the new official taxi for NYC, Car and Driver reports.

The commission installed the NV200 as the new official taxi back in 2011, but legal challenges have delayed that process until now. The city licenses more than 13,000 cabs.

The challenge stemmed from a group of taxi owners taking exception to the commission dwindling the number of acceptable cab models from 47 down to just one. However, the C&D report points out, owners can choose from a slightly larger list of acceptable hybrids (by larger, we mean three: Lexus 450h, Prius V and Toyota Highlander Hybrid) instead of the gas-powered NV200.

Nissan won a $1 billion bid to become the supplier of the new taxi four years ago beating out Ford and Turkish automaker Karsan.

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Nissan, Toyota, Honda Team to Build Fuel-Cell Infrastructure in Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106169 According to Toyota, three Japanese automakers — Honda, Toyota and Nissan — are working together to build hydrogen fuel stations around for future fuel-cell cars. The program, which will subsidize fueling stations up to 11 million yen ($89,500) per year for each station, is meant to boost the nation’s infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars. The agreement […]

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According to Toyota, three Japanese automakers — Honda, Toyota and Nissan — are working together to build hydrogen fuel stations around for future fuel-cell cars.

The program, which will subsidize fueling stations up to 11 million yen ($89,500) per year for each station, is meant to boost the nation’s infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars.

The agreement was formed in February between the large automakers, but began accepting applications July 1.

The program also boosts “awareness” of the FCVs by offering incentives for stations to stay open longer and offer more services.

A similar alliance between automakers in the U.S. could boost FCV participation rates, but maybe we can’t have nice things.

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Nissan Taking On Tesla Powerwall With Recycling Approach http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nissan-taking-on-tesla-powerwall-with-recycling-approach/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nissan-taking-on-tesla-powerwall-with-recycling-approach/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 18:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1092769 Nissan is looking to take on Tesla et al in the stationary energy storage game with their own battery solution. However, unlike the Silicon Valley based electric car manufacturer and ZEV credit printing press, the Japanese automaker is looking to take a much greener approach. Instead of building fresh batteries for commercial stationary applications, Nissan will […]

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2015 Nissan LEAF battery pack

Nissan is looking to take on Tesla et al in the stationary energy storage game with their own battery solution. However, unlike the Silicon Valley based electric car manufacturer and ZEV credit printing press, the Japanese automaker is looking to take a much greener approach.

Instead of building fresh batteries for commercial stationary applications, Nissan will instead reuse lithium-ion batteries from the LEAF with partner Green Charge Networks.

The first application “will be installed at a Nissan facility this summer, where multiple Nissan LEAF batteries will be configured to offset peak electricity demand,” said Nissan in a statement released today.

Since the batteries can be offered at a significant savings over newer counterparts from competitors, Nissan hopes customers in regions without incentive programs will see them as a cost-effective option.

“A lithium-ion battery from a Nissan LEAF still holds a great deal of value as energy storage, even after it is removed from the vehicle, so Nissan expects to be able to reuse a majority of LEAF battery packs in non-automotive applications,” said Brad Smith, director of Nissan’s 4R Energy business.

 

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2016 Nissan 370Z Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-nissan-370z-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-nissan-370z-review/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1081361 Constant readers may recall I recently traded a 2008 Honda S2000 for a new Volkswagen GTI 6-speed. Both can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in the mid to high 5s, but with the turbo lag on the VW and the pre-VTEC lack of punch on the Honda, the power delivery on both cars is nonlinear, which grows tiresome […]

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Constant readers may recall I recently traded a 2008 Honda S2000 for a new Volkswagen GTI 6-speed. Both can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in the mid to high 5s, but with the turbo lag on the VW and the pre-VTEC lack of punch on the Honda, the power delivery on both cars is nonlinear, which grows tiresome at times.

I need a break from millennial motors and motorcycle-inspired engines. I want torque and I want it now, damn it.

Enter the 2016 Nissan 370Z.

Now in its eighth model year with few significant changes, 370Z sales in the U.S. have dropped from a high of 13,188 units in 2009 down to an annual average of 7,073 units from 2013 through May of 2015. Lack of updates and an overall drop in sales in the two-seater segment have hurt the Z, which is too bad because we place it at the top of our “Nearly Forgotten Great Sports Car” category.

Curiously, Nissan is using this red base model coupe with a 6-speed manual as its press car rather than the more popular Sport or Touring models. I was a bit disappointed as I wanted to play with their downshift rev matching system which is only available on upper trims. Nissan’s strategy to publicize the base model may be because of its MSRP of only $29,990 plus $810 freight, an amazing value. Adding the 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters will cost you another $1,300. The only popular features missing in the base Z are a navigation system, a backup camera and a decent sound system.

The next step up is the Sport model which is priced at $33,570 and adds bigger brakes, 19-inch RAYS wheels [which have been around forever -Mark], the rev-matching system, grippier Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires, a Viscous Limited-Slip Differential, a rear view monitor and a subtle rear spoiler. The Sport Tech model costs an additional $3,500 and includes a Bose stereo, navigation and Sirius satellite radio. Step up to the Touring model at $37,970 to get most of the above plus power leather seats.

The 370Z’s design has aged well, highlighted by its cool “boomerang” head and tail lights. I am not a fan of red cars and even less of a fan of black wheels, so make mine the new-for-2016 Deep Pearl Blue patina in the Sport model:

New Deep Blue Pearl color with Sport Package featuring 19" Rays wheelsThe cloth seats were very supportive and comfortable for my 6-foot 2-inch frame. Other reviewers have carped about the lack of rear vision due to the low seating position and gently sloping hatch, but I had no problem, perhaps because I am tall or maybe because of the comically large side mirrors. The uncluttered dashboard and controls are very well laid out. Bluetooth connectivity to my phone and iPod was a breeze. And, hey kids, those three instrument pods on the dash are not copied from a Fast and Furious movie. They are a tribute to the ones on the original 1970 240Z.

The Z is all about its 332 hp DOHC 3.7-liter V6 engine powering the car to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat. The slightly heavy clutch and shifter are in contrast to the light but very communicative steering. Tearing up and down Tucson’s Mt. Lemmon was tons of fun, though the base model’s noisy Yokohama ADVAN Sport tires could not quite keep up with the well-balanced chassis. The 6-speed Z is rated at 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway and we observed 21.8 mpg in a week of spirited driving.

steering-wheel 370z courtesy nissan.com

All 2016 Zs except the base car have a new Active Sound Enhancement system that sends fake engine noise to the cockpit. The Z may actually need it as our tester was a bit too quiet in the exhaust department. (I have concluded that the sole reason more and more automakers are adding this feature is to make the car sound more appealing during test drives in order to sell more units. That is why they rarely mention the feature in their marketing efforts.)

Supply of the 370Z is in line with its tepid demand. The eight Nissan dealers within 150 miles of me have a total of 30 new Zs in stock, so finding the exact model and color you want may be challenging. As far as real-world pricing, TrueCar says the average discount on a 370Z is $1,318. One local dealer recently had the twin of this car in a 2015 model on their lot, with an MSRP of $30,118, advertised for only $27,000. That is a great price, but knowing Arizona dealers it is more likely a case of, “Well, folks, we added Tru-Coat, window tinting, window etching, an alarm system, lost key protection, the Desert Protection Package, wheel locks, and the $499 documentation fee for a total of $31,432.99.”

Nissan dealers ranked slightly below average in the 2014 J.P. Power Sales Satisfaction index.

IMG_0203

The 370Z is a fun car and a great value – but what does the future hold? The current incarnation dates back to 2008, so a major overhaul is likely imminent, though Nissan’s not talking. As the only Japanese V6 two-seater, we hope Nissan will soldier on with this model and its legendary nameplate. The Altima owners dominating the 370Z message boards are certain the next generation Z will be powered by either a 4-cylinder turbo mill or a detuned GT-R motor. On that note, we will end this test with a Quasi-QOTD: what do you think Nissan will do or should do with the next 370Z?

Picks

  • Tremendous value
  • Near-perfect driver ergonomics
  • Still looks great after eight years

Nit Pics

  • Lack of sporty exhaust note
  • Tire noise
  • Weak sound system in the base model

Wife Sez: “Love the color, drives great but there’s no “Jesus!” handle to grab when I’m riding shotgun.”

Perfect 370Z Song: “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Simple Minds, 1987

Nissan North America provided use of vehicle for one week, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

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2016 Nissan Maxima Review – Four Doors Yes, Sports Car No http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-nissan-maxima-review-four-doors-yes-sports-car-no/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-nissan-maxima-review-four-doors-yes-sports-car-no/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 04:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083017 Today, every other outlet publishing driving impressions of the all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima is going to leverage nostalgia – just like Nissan wants them to – as they reference the return of the ‘4-Door Sports Car’, or 4DSC for short. While the four character alphanumeric has never really disappeared since its inception, Nissan is putting a […]

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2016 Nissan Maxima (11 of 23)

Today, every other outlet publishing driving impressions of the all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima is going to leverage nostalgia – just like Nissan wants them to – as they reference the return of the ‘4-Door Sports Car’, or 4DSC for short. While the four character alphanumeric has never really disappeared since its inception, Nissan is putting a renewed marketing focus on the term with the express purpose of conjuring up mental images of California canyon carving while Timmy Jr. rides booster seat in the back.

I’m not going to do that.

At 30 years old (or young, depending on your relative position along the lifecycle timeline), I hold no nostalgia toward the return of Nissan’s marketing term from yesteryear. I grew up with the Foo Fighters (and the very tail end of Nirvana), $5 Colt 45s and – when I could finally afford a car – a 2000 Honda Civic purchased used when I reached the grand age of 20. By the time cars entered my radar, most of the original 4DSCs (the third-generation Maxima built from model years 1989 to 1994) had succumbed to rust or one of the many ails claiming many a car along the salty east coast I call home.

I’ve not a single memory of the first 4DSC, and that’s a problem.

Nissan flew me to Nashville, Tennessee – the home of Nissan in America – to test the new Maxima. They put me up for an extra night because United doesn’t know how to operate planes, apparently, and offered me a wide selection of red meats to satiate my hunger, which I accepted. My girlfriend put me on a salad-based detox upon my arrival home.

Before we get into the marketing of Nissan’s newest mid-full-size* car, a talk about its nuts and bolts are in order.

* Nissan markets the Maxima as a full-size competitor, but due to interior volume it’s classified as a mid-size sedan by the EPA.

2016 Nissan Maxima (3 of 23)

Just like the current year Maxima, the 2016 model is powered by a 3.5L VQ35DE V6, now with a revised output of 300 hp versus 290 as before while pushing out an identical 261 pound-feet of torque. The valves are sodium-filled just like the GT-R, because GT-R. Also, Nissan made sure all journos in attendance were aware of the Maxima’s stiffer oil pan, because that sounds sporty. (In reality, a stiffer oil pan is to reduce NVH and has absolutely nothing to do with performance.)

And, just like the current year Maxima, the new car also sends power solely to the front wheels by way of a continuously variable transmission. It, too, has been revised with a wider effective gear ratio along with a taller final drive. For those who enjoy the sensation and aural cues of a conventional automatic, the CVT features D-Step logic (fancy talk), or fake shifts (common sense talk). Even with those ‘shifts’ nibbling away a small percentage of fuel economy and output efficiency, Nissan claims the CVT is still more efficient while delivering the same effective gear ratio range as a conventional eight- or nine-speed automatic.

Turning the front wheels to-and-fro is a hydro-electric power steering system while coil springs with independent struts keep the rubber firmly planted where it should. At the rear, a multi-link independent setup is used. All four corners see new ZF Sachs twin-tube shocks as standard while sportier SR models gets a sport-tuned setup, Yamaha performance chassis damper and Integrated Dynamics-control Module (IDM), which includes Active Ride Control (ARC), Active Trace Control (ATC) and Active Engine Brake (AEB).

2016 Nissan Maxima (13 of 23)

Yet, any way you cut it, front-wheel drive and a CVT does not a sports car make. For the rest of the review, let’s call the Maxima what it is – a sporting family sedan – and make the proper comparisons instead of pretending to care how quickly it can shuffle around Buttonwillow.

In the real world, where 100 percent of Maximas sold spend 100 percent of their lives on roads that 100 percent aren’t race tracks, Nissan’s all-new family sedan can shuffle around back roads with ease. In SR trim, those capabilities are kicked up a slight notch thanks to the aforementioned suspension tuning and computer wizardry. However, the Maxima is not a car that instills confidence in the driver.

Even with the decidedly non-sporty combo of naturally-aspirated V6 and rubber-band transmission, the Maxima still pulls hard, though it lacks the immediacy of a true geared automatic or manual. Upon dropping the hammer, revs tend to climb for short periods of time without any change in forward acceleration rate. However, once the CVT finds the ratio it seeks, acceleration is smooth and brisk.

2016 Nissan Maxima (20 of 23)

Steering is far from communicative. Even in SR spec, and I assume this is because of the variable-speed steering, a dead-zone exists within a degree and a half or two of center. On a flat surface during a simulated evasive maneuver, the car also exhibited some quirky reaction differences between the initial evasive steering motion and the return motion to bring the car straight again. Never did I feel I was having a direct conversation with the front wheels, but I also never felt like the conversation through the variable-speed steering intermediary was being misinterpreted. If anything, my choppy directions were being listened to, translated from a Southern drawl to proper Queen’s English, and communicated to the wheels as a more svelte and sophisticated series of commands.

Ride quality is quite exceptional considering the Maxima’s sporting intentions. At no point during the drive day did I come upon a road imperfection, bump or gaping entrance to hell the car couldn’t handle. Nor did I attack a corner without being able to come out the other end – even with my poor, little brain misjudging entry speeds. Nissan has seemingly nailed the suspension tuning equation, solving for X where X equals the perfect blend of sport and luxury.

2016 Nissan Maxima (19 of 23)

Using jet cockpits as inspiration, or so Nissan says, the interior isn’t your typical full-size family sedan environment. Like many true sports cars, the center console sits rather high in the Maxima, cradling you between it and the also rather high window sills. The clear and concise instrument panel is framed by a thoroughly chunky, fully-adjustable steering wheel (trimmed in Alcantara in SR models, just like the seat inserts) while the rest of the interior materials are either top-notch or close as makes no difference to it. Seats are well, but not overly, bolstered and provide a level of comfort slightly exceeding the segment.

The only drawback to the new Maxima’s interior experience is the new NissanConnect infotainment system. While all models come standard with navigation and an 8.0-inch screen, I found the new system a bit clunky and more confusing from a usability standpoint than the outgoing software. Also, Nissan’s Around View Monitor is only available on top trim Platinum models, which is surprising as it’s also available on the lowly Nissan Versa Note and has been for a couple of years now.

2016 Nissan Maxima (15 of 23)

As always, styling is a subjective matter. Considering the outgoing Maxima, which has aged quite gracefully and doesn’t look played out or tired, the new design is a radical departure. It’s floating roof and edgy front end are growing on me, little bit by little bit, and I’ve come to appreciate it. In contrast to the front, the rear looks under styled for the car, almost to the point of being a yawn fest. Other than a chrome trim piece that stretches the width between the two taillights, there’s nothing particularly interesting about the Maxima’s rump, especially from a short distance. Also, there’s nothing about the overall design that shouts, “I’m a sports car!” If anything, it looks rather plump.

2016 Nissan Maxima (5 of 23)

And that brings us full circle: the Maxima is not a sports car, no matter how many 4DSC insignias you find festooned throughout the exterior and interior. And, if you’re under a certain age as I am, the 4DSC branding means absolutely nothing to you.

[Correction: The ‘4-Door Sports Car’ and 4DSC names were first used on the third-generation Maxima between MY1989 and MY1994. Sorry, folks. I dun fucked up. This math at the end is useless, but my statement of having no personal nostalgia toward the 4DSC branding still applies. I’m leaving the following paragraph unchanged.]

If you were 16 when the first 4DSC emblazoned Maxima was introduced in 1985, some simple maths puts you at the prime age of 46 this year. Using Nissan’s own figures, a disproportionately younger demographic flocks to the Maxima in comparison to its competitors; 67 percent of Maxima buyers are under the age of 55 versus only 38 percent of the segment average. From that we can guesstimate there’s a decent percentage of typical Maxima buyers where 4DSC means nothing to them from a historical perspective, just like myself. No nostalgia. No identifiable connection. No interesting historical story to share to impress my friends.

But, it doesn’t matter. Nissan will still sell loads of Maximas. And I hope they do, if for no other reason than to prove the viability of a sportier offering, no matter what shape it takes.

The 2016 Nissan Maxima is available now in five different grades – S, SV, SL, SR and Platinum – priced between $32,410 and $39,860 with no available options.

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Nissan IDx is Super-Dead, But Parts May Live On in FWD Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nissan-idx-is-super-dead-but-parts-may-live-on-in-fwd-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nissan-idx-is-super-dead-but-parts-may-live-on-in-fwd-platform/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072786 Nobody at Nissan is talking about IDx. That’s what we learned from Pierre Loing, Vice President of Product Planning for Nissan North America. But, there’s a chance certain styling elements could make their way to other products, or possibly even a front-wheel drive performance option below 370Z. While at the 2016 Nissan Maxima media preview […]

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Nissan IDx Freeflow Concept

Nobody at Nissan is talking about IDx.

That’s what we learned from Pierre Loing, Vice President of Product Planning for Nissan North America. But, there’s a chance certain styling elements could make their way to other products, or possibly even a front-wheel drive performance option below 370Z.

While at the 2016 Nissan Maxima media preview in Nashville, Tennessee, we had a chance to prod Loing on what could be the future of IDx considering its overwhelmingly positive reception in Tokyo and Detroit.

Nissan IDx Freeflow / IDx NISMO

“IDX is an interesting project; a show car that received good reception. But, to go from concept to production, the reality always kicks in,” Loing said about the future of IDx as we saw it revealed in Tokyo.

The reality is auto manufacturers are finding it difficult – or impossible – to build a small, rear-wheel drive performance vehicle and make money. Either a current platform, like that of the 370Z, needs to be shrunk down, or a whole new platform needs to be engineered to serve one niche vehicle.

2016 Nissan 370Z NISMO

Unfortunately, at least for Nissan, the 370Z platform isn’t an option.

“Small, sporty cars are very attractive for consumers but not in huge numbers. To do them properly – in our case – you can’t rely on an existing rear-wheel drive platform, because its dimensions are for a much larger powertrain. So, for us, it would mean developing a different rear-wheel drive platform and then we are bumping into the same obstacles every other automaker has: the volumes of a small, sporty car are not enough to justify the investment,” said Loing.

With the current Z doing quite well, at least in the eyes of Nissan as top-dollar NISMO models make up nearly 20 percent of units sold, going down-market is going against the market. Also, based on Loing’s remarks about size, it doesn’t look like we will be getting a smaller Z car next time around.

But, since it was the IDx’s design garnering the most attention, could it transfer to something else?

“It wouldn’t be the same design because, of course, the proportions are based on a rear-wheel drive platform,” Loing explained. “But that kind of retro 510 inspired design was very well received in Japan and in the U.S. (when Nissan debuted in Tokyo and Detroit), and to some extent in Europe as well. So, yeah, that could be an option – among other ones, it could be an option.

“I think we may still have some room (to add a retro-inspired car). We have a wide lineup.”

And with the new Maxima pumping out 300 horsepower to the front wheels alone, a FWD performance compact is possible.

Renault Megane RS 275

“If you look at the Alliance, Renault has some extremely strong front-wheel drive cars that are very sporty; Megane RenaultSport, for example, holds the front-wheel drive record on the Nurburgring. So, yes, it is possible within the limitations of front-wheel drive today.”

But, is that something Nissan is considering? Loing held his cards close to his vest.

“You will have to come back in a few years to see if it has materialized or not. *laughs* But, we do show cars to test reactions all the time, so those reactions are included in the debate on future global products. Sometimes they will be the deciding factor to go one way or another. Sometimes they won’t.”

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This Is The 2016 Nissan Maxima’s Pumped-In Engine Note http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/this-is-the-2016-nissan-maximas-pumped-in-engine-note/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/this-is-the-2016-nissan-maximas-pumped-in-engine-note/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 12:51:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072026 Earlier this week, I was able to drive the 2016 Nissan Maxima around the great state of Tennessee and enjoy some of the twistiest roads outside of the Tail of the Dragon. While I can’t share driving impressions just yet, there is one thing I can offer up: the Maxima’s piped-in engine note. Again, thanks to embargoes, […]

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2016 Nissan Maxima Front Three-Quarter

Earlier this week, I was able to drive the 2016 Nissan Maxima around the great state of Tennessee and enjoy some of the twistiest roads outside of the Tail of the Dragon. While I can’t share driving impressions just yet, there is one thing I can offer up: the Maxima’s piped-in engine note.

Again, thanks to embargoes, we can’t tell you much. However, here were the circumstances of the recording: we were cruising at about 35-40 mph while I held my iPhone against a speaker on the passenger side and asked the driver to give it some gas. The system – called Active Sound Enhancement – is similar to that in the new Camaro. Both are provided by Bose in conjunction with Active Noise Cancellation.

If you’d like to know anything other than that, you’ll have to come back on June 3rd for the full review.

 

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2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4×4 Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2015-nissan-pathfinder-4x4-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2015-nissan-pathfinder-4x4-review-video/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1049737 Nissan’s path to the modern Pathfinder has been long and wandering. In 1985 the 2-door truck based Pathfinder was the answer to Chevy’s Blazer and Ford’s Bronco. In 1995 Nissan changed absolutely everything and made the Pathfinder a 5-door unibody SUV to compete head-on with Jeep’s successful Grand Cherokee. Nine years later, Nissan started over, […]

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2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior

Nissan’s path to the modern Pathfinder has been long and wandering. In 1985 the 2-door truck based Pathfinder was the answer to Chevy’s Blazer and Ford’s Bronco. In 1995 Nissan changed absolutely everything and made the Pathfinder a 5-door unibody SUV to compete head-on with Jeep’s successful Grand Cherokee. Nine years later, Nissan started over, yet again, with a body-on-frame design to do battle with the myriad of General Motors midsize SUVs choking up suburban expressways. Then, in 2013, Nissan went back to the drawing board for a fourth time with a new mission: build a spacious and well-priced soft-roader to battle the new Explorer and the GM Lambda platform triplets (Acadia, Traverse, Enclave).

Exterior

Before we dive deep into the Pathfinder, we have to identify this breed’s natural habitat, and that means forgetting every Pathfinder that came before. While you’ll still find WD21 Pathfinders climbing rocks, this Pathfinder is more at home on the school run. I mentioned GM’s Lambda CUVs earlier because this Pathfinder is big. Really big. That means the Pathfinder isn’t the most direct competitor to entries like the Kia Sorento that’s more than a foot smaller or even the Toyota Highlander that is 6 inches shorter. The mission of the Sorento and Highlander is to carry 4-5 adults in comfort while providing a third row for children, mothers-in-law or emergencies. The Pathfinder however was intended to carry 7 adults in relative comfort.

Because the new Pathfinder’s mission is people hauling, not rock climbing, you won’t find aggressive approach and departure angles on the nose and rump. Instead, we get slab sides, a variant of Nissan’s truck grille up front and a rather vertical hatch in the back. The overall look is simple and clean but lacks the excitement (yes, I used that word in a CUV review) you’d find in entries like the new Sorento.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Third Row Seat-001

Interior

The Pathfinder sports the most combined legroom in this segment (1st row + 2nd row + 3rd row) and combined legroom is important. Other entries claim to have more third row legroom (like the Traverse), but if the other two rows are cramped, you end up sliding those seats back cutting down on the room left in the mother-in-law-row. Looking deeper, the Traverse claims 3.4 inches more 3rd row room but you’ll find that the Chevy’s 1st row is 1 inch smaller and the middle row is 5 inches smaller. This means with the driver’s seat adjusted ideally for me at 6-feet tall (not giving a toss about the folks in the back) I can adjust the second row seat to have 2-3 inches of leg room and have a similar 2-3 inches of legroom in the third row of the Pathfinder as well. I’m a little surprised Nissan chose not to make an 8-passenger version of the Pathfinder because the 3rd row is as accommodating as the Highlander’s 3-seat rear bench. Speaking of the Highlander, you’ll notice upper trims come only with captains chairs in the middle row, meaning passenger number five has to sit in the cramped third row.

The second reason to buy a Pathfinder is for the trick second row seat. If you’re a parent with two or three child seats in the middle row, you’ll appreciate that Nissan designed the 40% section of the bench to contort in a way that allows adults to get in to the third row. While it is possible to get into the back in other 3-row vehicles with a child seat in the middle, it isn’t easy.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Second Row Folding Child Seat

Legroom isn’t everything, of course, so Nissan kept the roofline high at the rear of the Pathfinder giving a generous 37.8 inches of 3rd row headroom. If you want this kind of room without a Nissan logo on the hood, you’ll be looking at full-size SUVs. I am talking Suburban-sized since the Tahoe actually offers 6 inches less total legroom than the Pathfinder. If you need something bigger than that, you’re in Blue Bird bus territory.

The Pathfinder’s generous legroom comes at a price: the small cargo area. Admittedly, the 16 cubic feet of space behind the last row is 1 more than you get in the Tahoe, but it’s 8 less than the Traverse and 23 less than the Suburban. So, while the Pathfinder is as accommodating as a Suburban for 7 adults, you can’t fit 7 suitcases in the back.

Also on the down side is a cabin that’s starting to show its age. The seats are class leading in terms of comfort, but the cabin is full of hard plastics. I’m not one to bash hard plastics off-hand, but casting the primary dashboard touch points out of hard plastic is unusual in this segment and it makes entries like the Durango, Sorento and Enclave look and feel more premium.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Interior Infotainment.CR2

Infotainment

Although the Pathfinder isn’t that old, the base “S” trim gets you a 6-speaker audio system and in-dash 6-CD changer … and that’s it. No Bluetooth, no AUX input and no USB/iPod interface. If you want those, you have to step up to the $32,990 SV trim which includes a 7-inch infotainment LCD. Although I dislike the stripper trim concept, you should know the SV is still about $2,000 less than a comparable Highlander. (Keep in mind Toyota’s base model lacks a V6.) SL Tech trims get an 8-inch infotainment display and the same 13-speaker Bose sound system as the Infiniti QX60. At $38,090, it’s also the cheapest way to get navigation. Any way you slice it, however, Nissan’s infotainment options are a step behind the new entries like the Sorento, Highlander, Durango and 2016 Pilot.

On the up-side, Nissan’s touchscreen infotainment system was one of my favorites last decade, so in terms of functionality it fares quite well. GM’s Lambda SUVs all get small infotainment screens set low in the dashboard due to the age of the platforms and, interestingly, a Traverse with navigation is just $250 less. On the down-side, the Pathfinder is at least five years behind the rest, especially compared to Toyota and Chrysler’s latest systems. GM’s refreshed infotainment options in the Lambda CUVs operate on a smaller 6.5-inch screen but look more modern.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 AWD control

Drivetrain

Under the hood lies Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.5-liter V6 tuned to 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, 5 hp and 8 lb-ft less than the same engine in the QX60. In addition to being down a few ponies compared to its luxury cousin, it’s also the least powerful in its class. As you would expect from Nissan, power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT, but this one has been revised to handle a 5,000 lb tow rating. The new transmission uses a steel chain instead of a steel belt for durability, but importantly the ratios stay more-or-less unchanged. Nissan’s reps confirmed the transmission is the primary reason for the QX60 and Pathfinder’s different tow ratings.

If towing with a FWD crossover doesn’t sound like fun, $1,690 buys you AWD. The system normally defaults to FWD mode for improved fuel economy but as a (small) nod to the Pathfinder’s history, the system has a lock mode mechanically connecting the front and rear differentials so power flows 50:50 (front:rear). Unlike more traditional transfer case setups, the clutch-pack allows a small amount of slip so the system can be used on dry pavement without binding. Leaving the AWD system in “Auto” keeps power to the front unless fairly significant slippage occurs (in order to improve fuel economy).

2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Gauges

Drive

The Pathfinder is loosely based on Nissan’s D-Platform which underpins the Altima, Murano and the last generation Maxima. One thing all those vehicles have in common is being light for their category and that’s true of the Pathfinder as well. At 4,317 lbs in FWD trim and topping out at 4,506 in AWD trim, that’s about the same weight as Toyota’s Highlander V6 and 300-500 lbs lighter than a comparable GM crossover. The weight reduction and other efficiency differences pay dividends with real world fuel economy in the AWD model coming in around 21.5 MPG in mixed driving. That’s around 11 percent better than the Traverse, 15 percent better than the Enclave and 18 percent better than the Tahoe on my same fuel economy route. While a few MPG doesn’t sound like much, at this end of the scale it equates to $450 lower annual fuel bills vs the Buick.

The comparatively light curb weight and CVT compensate for the lower torque numbers and allowed our tester to scoot to 60 in 7.1 seconds. While not the fastest in the pack, this is better than the majority of three row crossovers on the market. This is despite the CVT’s final drive ratio being tuned toward fuel economy. The CVT’s main benefit is it allows the engine to hang out at the peak of its power band for maximum acceleration. For 2015, Nissan programmed the CVT to imitate a traditional stepped automatic when in “D.” Not surprisingly this results in lower performance because it negates the major benefit of a CVT in the first place and actually causes a 2/10th longer run to 60 (7.3 seconds) than when the transmission is in “L” and ditches the imitation shifts.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior Hitch Receiver

Everything has a trade off and so it is with the Pathfinder. The CVT’s low ratio isn’t terribly low at 13.5:1 (low gear and final drive), this doesn’t compare all that well with the lower 15.2:1 that you find in the Ford Explorer and higher overall than basically all the competition. This tall starting ratio conspires with the soft springs and compliant sway bars to make the Pathfinder feel about 1,000 lbs heavier on the road. In the stop-light races, most of the competition will beat the Pathfinder to 30 mph because of that ratio choice. Past 30, the Pathfinder picks up steam and may win the race overall, but in the real world that 0-30 time is more important.

More than most new cars, we have to separate lateral grip from handling “feel” when discussing this Nissan. Why? Because the Pathfinder actually road-holds as well as a Mazda CX-9 according to most publications (TTAC doesn’t have access to a skidpad) but the feeling is night and day different. Steering turn-in is lazy. Soft springs that give one of the best rides in the segment make body roll excessive. There’s plenty of pitch and dive when accelerating and braking. This is the prefect example of numbers not giving you the complete picture. The Pathfinder is faster than almost all of the competition, it stops from 60 mph in a short 125 feet and pulls lateral Gs like a Mazda crossover. Get behind the wheel however and the Pathfinder feels enormous.

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Towing with a CVT is an unusual experience to say the least. I attached a 5,000 trailer and gave it a whirl. As expected, the tall starting ratio in the transmission makes for sluggish starts, but when I started climbing hills things went just fine. Like Chrysler’s 8-speed automatic, the ability to find an “ideal” ratio for the moment is what saves the Pathfinder here. Sure, you hear plenty of the 3.5-liter V6 in the cabin when the engine is revving its nuts off, but it feels peppier on a 15 percent grade than a GMC Acadia with the same trailer.

With the Pathfinder, Nissan has created one of the best crossovers on paper. It has legroom to spare, the highest fuel economy among its direct competition, and delivers great acceleration, braking and handling numbers, but it looses something by the time you add it all up and drive one yourself. Perhaps the toll to be paid for checking every box the crossover shopper wants is engagement. The Pathfinder is a crossover I have recommended and will continue to recommend if you want an honest to goodness usable third row and great fuel economy. It also remains one of the better buys in this segment thanks to its low starting price and aggressive equipment bundles. Unfortunately, if driving pleasure, interior refinement, or modern infotainment are higher on your shopping list, there are better options.

Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as testesd

0-30: 2.7 Seconds

0-60: 7.1 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.24 Seconds @ 93 MPH

2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 AWD control 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Cargo Area 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Cargo Area-001 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Cargo Area1 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Cargo Area-002 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Cargo Area-003 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Center Console 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Engine 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Engine-001 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior Hitch Receiver 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior-001 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior-002 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior-003 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior-004 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior-005 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior-006 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior-007 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Gauges 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Instrument Cluster 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Interior Dashboard 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Interior Dashboard-001 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Interior Dashboard-002 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Interior Infotainment.CR2 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Interior Infotainment 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Interior 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Power Seat Controls 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Rear Air Vent 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Rear Air Vent1 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Seats 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Second Row Child Seat 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Second Row Folding Child Seat 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Second Row Seat 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Second Row 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Second Row-001 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Second Row-002 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Start Stop Button 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Third Row Seat 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Third Row Seat-001

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Dispatches do Brasil: Renault Re-Invents Itself in Latin America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/dispatches-brasil-renault-re-invents-latin-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/dispatches-brasil-renault-re-invents-latin-america/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053257 Among the first to come to Brazil when the market was opened up again in the 1990s – after a hiatus of almost 50 years when this country closed itself off to the world – Renault has seemingly reached a limit in Brazil. Its market participation has hovered around 6 percent for years. Now, hungry for […]

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Renault Logan

Renault Logan

Among the first to come to Brazil when the market was opened up again in the 1990s – after a hiatus of almost 50 years when this country closed itself off to the world – Renault has seemingly reached a limit in Brazil. Its market participation has hovered around 6 percent for years. Now, hungry for more, the French company is showing its new plans that will deeply affect their operations in Latin America at large and shake up their manufacturing base in South America, most especially Mercosur (namely Brazil and Argentina).

When their Ayrton Senna factory was opened in São José dos Pinhais in Paraná state, their line was in tune to what they produced in Europe. They offered the Clio, Kangoo, Mégane and Scénic. With an emphasis on safety, even the lowly Clio offered dual frontal airbags. At that time, the relative parity between the Brazilian real and American dollar allowed them to import systems such as the aforementioned airbags on the cheap. The minivan Scénic offered space for five, a large trunk, modular seating and became a favorite for families. The Mégane and Kangoo meanwhile suffered at the hands of more established competition and never made a dent in Volkswagen Golf, Fiat Stilo or Ford Focus sales. The Fiat Doblò passenger and commercial versions plus the Uno-based Fiat Fiorino conspired to keep the Kangoo down.

In the Brazilian market, reception was mixed. At the entry level, the Clio had lukewarm success. The majority of compact level car buyers are not exactly flush with money, so buying a new entry into that market was seen as a risky proposition. The Scénic and other minivans slowly, but surely, decimated the station wagons then available on the market. Together with Citroën minivans, Renault owned that market. As it became a favorite, the prices of this type of car rose above the rest of the competition and became expensive to buy.

Undeniably, Renault and other French makes suffered a perception problem. While most think their engines are robust and can take the pressure, suspension systems were and remain under suspicion in the eyes of Brazilian consumers. So, despite placing rather high in consumer satisfaction surveys, Renaults take a hit at re-sale time.

Brazilian Clio

Brazilian Clio

Over the years the American dollar and euro appreciated against the Brazilian real and growing sales plateaued. Renault’s reaction was to cheapen their offerings. Soon, the Clio lost its airbags, losing its appeal to the better off buyers that seemed to favor it over the VW Gol or Fiat Uno. When it was re-designed, it kept the previous car’s internal design. A new Scénic was launched in Europe, but citing cost complications, Renault chose to keep building the old one. Renault also tried to gain market penetration by locally building and selling a Mégane sedan and station wagon. Inevitably, Renault’s line became outmoded and nothing on offer in Europe was sold here.

Of course, errors in reading the market collaborated to their downfall. In the early 2000s, Renault was challenging Ford for fourth place in the Brazilian market. Ford reacted by launching the EcoSport and new Fiesta, new engines, and soon saw the distance between it and Renault grow. Besides the cheapening and non-updating of the line, beginner errors abounded. In Brazil, the Scénic was a solid middle class car, even higher middle class, and not the cheap and cheerful family transportation pod it was in Europe. As such, Brazilian dealers clamored for black and silver Scénics while the French continued offering it in purple, red and other colors the middle class rejected. The Clio, besides keeping the same interiors forever, never changed wheel cover designs or had new versions launched (tricks in which the traditional Brazilian Big Four – Fiat, GM, Volkswagen and Ford – are experts).

In the late 2000s, Renault re-made itself in Brazil. The Scénic was gone. The Kangoo was now only a commercial vehicle. The Clio soldiered on unmolested and seemingly only existed so Renault could keep a foot in the entry-level market. A solution was found though and it was the result of the deepening of the synergies and integration within the scope of the global Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Renault underwent the so-called “Dacia-lization” (Dacia being a Romanian company that Renault uses as its low-cost brand in Europe). The Logan, Sandero and eventually the Duster were launched. In spite of the insipid design, the cars used a Renault-Dacia version of a modern Nissan platform. The Logan family’s claim to fame and a space in the market was that it offered a lot of space for modest prices. Size-wise similar to Focus and Toyota Corolla type cars (sometimes even bigger, trunks tended to be larger), but priced similarly to smaller cars like Gol or Fiat Siena, they appealed to a more rational buyer. After a few years, with the launch of the Duster CUV, Renault was again encroaching on Ford and distancing itself from the Asian brands that were finally “acclimatizing” (by offering compact cars similar to market favorites) to Brazil and had been threatening Renault’s (by then traditional) fifth place in Brazilian sales rankings.

Nov-Ford-Ka-SEL-2015 (3)

As the 2000s became the 2010s, Renault was again under assault. Competition grew. Everybody copied their idea of a larger cars for more modest prices. Fiat launched a bigger Palio and a Grand Siena. Volkswagen do Brasil got into the compact sedan market again with its Voyage. Ford brought the new Fiesta and conjured up the highly competitive new Ka. GM came strong based off of its GM Korea know-how and re-invented themselves in Brazil, becoming the leader of in-car mobile electronics. Toyota got serious in Brazil and the Etios family has been gaining ground, horrible design notwithstanding, based on modern mechanics and a good ride. Hyundai’s HB20 has done the opposite: it has conquered image conscious consumers due to the success of it fluidic design language, in spite of the bad ride. All these companies and cars offered up new technologies and engines, bringing more fuel economy to buyers, extra gadgets and crept up on the Logan family’s cost benefit advantage.

Reacting, Renault has launched a re-designed Logan and Sandero. Though the new designs have been well-accepted and increased sales, this growth has been deemed insufficient. Both Hyundai and Toyota routinely sell more than Renault on a monthly basis and could soon take fifth place in overall sales. As such, Renault studied its South American operations and has cooked up a plan.

Renault Oroch Concept

Renault Oroch Concept

An “un-Dacia-lization” of sorts seems to be in place. Logan and Sandero production is being moved to Argentina. The company is investing heavily in their ancient Santa Isabela factory in that country. Duster production will be kept in Brazil and soon the Oroch pickup (based on the Duster and rumored to be a 1 ton pickup) will be launched. From what the press has been able to piece together, both Duster and Moroch will be produced off of the current platform and updates will be infrequent, following the age-old strategy of competing on price and, also, space. The Duster is larger than EcoSport and the recently launched Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V and Peugeot 2008. The Moroch will dwarf the current Fiat Strada (new, larger version of which has been seen tooling around the factory), VW Saveiro and the old-as-the-hills, barely competitive Chevrolet Montana.

The Moroch however is an indication of the deepening of the CUV event horizon presciently seen by our recently departed Derek Kreindler. Renault is going all-CUV-in. The Renault Captur, a current Clio-based mini CUV is a foregone conclusion. Renault is not even hiding it anymore and it has been seen around the factory in Paraná and on highway tests. This lends credence to the thesis Renault is re-inventing itself. The new Brazilian Clio, the same again as the Euro Clio, should also appear soon, albeit placed in a category above the current Brazilian Clio’s status. Suppliers also say Renault is quoting prices for a sedan version of the Clio (non-existent in Europe) and indicative of the soon to come demise of its midsize sedan offering, the Fluence. Informed journalists in Brazil have stated that the Espace, Renault’s large (and former) minivan, which has turned into a sort of a CUV, is slated to be introduced in Brazil in 2016 as a locally-produced offering.

The current Brazilian Clio is also on its last days. Though reports are conflicting, either a version of Nissan’s own low-cost brand Datsun Go will be built here in Brazil, or a version of the concept recently shown in world Auto Shows by Nissan called the Sway (supposedly an early version of a substitute for the March/Micra line), could gain a Renault badge and come strong in the lower echelons of the Brazilian market.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, besides the heavy modernizing investments at the local plant and the responsibility of building the Logan family, current cars will remain in production. And very interestingly, the new Frontier/Navara pickup that will used by Mercedes Benz to offer its own global midsize pickup (compact PU for Americans) will also gain a Renault badge for sale, initially, all over Latin America. Internally called the Raptur, this will be Renault’s first incursion into the traditional midsize pickup market. It is an important step and will allow Renault to compete in an important market spanning the entirety of Latin America. Coming soon (reports say early 2016) you could soon take your pick and buy your midsize pickup in your preferred flavor – Nissan, Mercedes or Renault – as they will all be built side-by-side at the Argentinian factory.

The next few years will be very important for Renault in Latin America. It will keep and modernize entry-level cars. It will continue offering competitively priced compact cars that offer a bit more and are the bulk of the Brazilian market. It will make new tries, with new product, to gain a presence in upper middle-class garages by “Euro-pizing” its Brazilian production. It will sell CUVs for all pockets. Pickups, small and large will further broaden Renault’s Latin American presence.

If this will be enough to keep Toyota and Hyundai at bay remains to be seen. However, it seems if they will be offering cars, CUVs and trucks, the market wants. Sounds like a plan.

Brazilian Clio Ayrton Senna Factory Hyundai HB20 Nissan Frontier Renault Oroch Concept Santa Isabela Factory Renault Logan Renault Captur European Clio Renault Fluence Renault Kangoo Express Toyota Etios

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Capsule Review: 2015 Nissan Pathfinder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-2015-nissan-pathfinder/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-2015-nissan-pathfinder/#comments Sat, 04 Apr 2015 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037369 Before you read this road test of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, I must write that it isn’t as comprehensive as I want it to be, even though I put well over 1,000 miles on it. There was supposed to be a road trip from San Jose to Lake Arrowhead with at least three other people […]

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Before you read this road test of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, I must write that it isn’t as comprehensive as I want it to be, even though I put well over 1,000 miles on it. There was supposed to be a road trip from San Jose to Lake Arrowhead with at least three other people on board. They were supposed to critique the car’s features, evaluate the interior comfort during the trip, and simulate the amount of stress that most families would put on a seven-passenger crossover. It wasn’t meant to be, though, with all three bailing out with various reasons, from studying to the CPA exam (a very valid excuse) to needing to visit family (again, a valid excuse) to saying they would come if the destination was changed to Santa Barbara (not a valid excuse and grounds for a passive-aggressive e-mail).

Such an experience was supposed to make up for the fact that actual, live families would potentially read this review of the Pathfinder and seriously regard what I, a childless, flip-flops-wearing, Gran Turismo-playing millennial, wrote about their possible next family car. “Oh, he actually carted around 4 full-size adults for over 1,000 miles rather than using it alone on his daily commute,” they would think, “This test really simulated family use. He probably even yelled at the back seat passengers to turn their music down.” Unfortunately, I never got my chance. Instead, the long trip consisted of tuning into Christian rock stations throughout the Central Valley while trying to find an alternative rock station, until I got to Pasadena, where I began loudly complaining to myself about traffic in Southern California.

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But enough about Southern California traffic (and I could really go on), I must discuss the history Pathfinder nameplate. In 1985, Nissan debuted the Pathfinder, which was intended to compete with the Jeep Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner, though it was only available with two doors at launch. It was a very capable vehicle off-road and was built on a truck platform. It eventually gained two extra doors as well as a third seat in later generations while retaining the off-road capability of the original. The last-generation Pathfinder was even available with a V-8. But it became difficult to market as a family vehicle due to its body-on-frame construction, which didn’t help its fuel economy and limited interior space.

Other car platform-based seven-passenger family crossovers like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Mazda CX-9 were taking away sales from truck-based SUVs like the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder needed to be significantly updated for better fuel economy and better internal packaging for the needs of most families, many of whom didn’t need the extensive off-road and towing capabilities of the old Pathfinder.

As a result, my 2015 Pathfinder 4×4 test car is completely different from the old Pathfinder. It’s based on the same platform as the Murano and Altima. It handles better than the old truck-based Pathfinder and gets significantly better fuel economy largely due to its much lower weight. Its door handles aren’t on the C-pillar. The exterior design is a lot cleaner and a lot more rounded. The interior is a much nicer place to be and has more space to move around in. The transmission is continuously variable rather than having actual gears. The competition is now vehicles like the Pilot and Highlander rather than the 4Runner and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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Since I spent well over 1,000 miles in the driver’s seat, I’m going to first focus on comfort. As potential Pathfinder buyers will be spending a good deal of time behind the wheel, driving the kids to numerous activities like fencing and jai alai (kids really need to stand out for those college apps) and taking long road trips (jai alai tournaments are perhaps very few and far between), I can definitively write that the front driver’s seat of the Pathfinder is a satisfying place. There’s no other way I could have lasted six hours straight driving back from San Bernardino to San Jose without a long pause. Some sections of highways I drove on were very bumpy, yet the Pathfinder’s ride soaked up the bumps and didn’t provide a jarring experience. During the trip, I didn’t find out myself shifting around in the seat after 300 miles like I would in other cars. When I arrived home, I didn’t feel stiff and felt I had the energy to do things.

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The back seat isn’t such a bad place either. There’s an easily accessible 120V power outlet for plugging in a laptop or other equipment and the second row can also control its temperature. It’s possible to recline the seats and relax. I wouldn’t recommend the second row for people well above six feet since there wouldn’t be enough legroom for them. Meanwhile, the third seat is strictly for two people who haven’t hit their growth spurt. Anyone above 5 feet and 5 inches would have a rough time sitting in the third seat after 90 minutes. Extra legroom can be derived by moving up the middle row, but then adults in the middle row would lose plenty of legroom and become uncomfortable too. All passengers in the back have their own air vents, so there’ll little question of keeping cool during the summer.

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When it comes to cargo capacity, with the third row up, there’s enough room for two large suitcases and one airplane carry-on bag. There is some extra space for miscellaneous objects below the trunk which can accommodate two small backpacks. With the third row folded down, the cargo capacity substantially increases, making the Pathfinder a good match for four to five person road trips. The middle row folds down too, so the car can fit long surfboards and bikes inside rather than affixing them to the roof or an attachment to the tow hitch. Furthermore, the spare tire is mounted underneath the car behind the tow hitch, not impeding the interior cargo space.

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To move all 4,500 pounds of the car, Nissan equipped the Pathfinder with the 3.5-liter V-6 which makes 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, which is right in line with the V-6 options of the Pilot, Highlander, Kia Sorento, and Santa Fe. Unlike the competition, the Pathfinder’s V-6 is pared to a CVT, which helps considerably with the fuel economy numbers. The powertrain had no problem keeping up the very fast traffic on Interstate 5, with the car traveling between 75 and 80 miles an hour for two hours straight. Even from a stoplight, fully loaded the car doesn’t have trouble getting places.

A common complaint about the Pathfinder is its continuously variable transmission. For 2015, the CVT in the Pathfinder received “D-Step Shift Logic” which makes the CVT feel like a traditional transmission. During my time, I had no problems with it. The only thing I noticed involving the CVT occurred when driving on a particularly hilly section of highway (the Grapevine section of Interstate 5). The CVT was constantly trying to find the right planetary gear to climb up the hill, acting like a seven or eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite that, the transmission was still maintaining a constant speed of 65 mph, and didn’t have a problem with how much throttle I gave the car. However, the CVT didn’t have that issue when driving up the mountains to go to Lake Arrowhead, perhaps because of the lower speeds with the winding roads.

However, the fuel economy of the Pathfinder was exceptional, considering mine had four-wheel-drive and can seat seven people. Granted, the Pathfinder carried two people at most, and a majority of the miles I drove were on the highway in two-wheel-drive mode, with air conditioning off some of the time, but the Pathfinder managed a little bit over 25 miles per gallon, which is on the upper end of the EPA estimate of 19 city and 26 highway. The CVT definitely helped in achieving than figure.

As for utilizing the four-wheel-drive system on the car, I didn’t have a chance to do so. Unfortunately, no snow fell around Lake Arrowhead, and though taking the Pathfinder to my local off-road vehicle park was thought about, I didn’t think Nissan intended the current Pathfinder to face obstacle that even some current Jeeps have some difficulty completing. Nonetheless, Nissan’s intuitive 4WD system has 2WD, automatic, and 4WD lock modes as well as hill start assist and hill descent control. All of those features may come in handy when driving in snow or climbing and descending steep dirt or gravel roads.

My test car was the SL 4×4 model which had leather seats, a power passenger seat, power lumbar support, power liftgate, rear SONAR, a blind sport warning system, and a remote engine start system, useful for warming up the car in cold weather. Mine also had the SL Tech Package, which included navigation, a Bose sound system, the Around View monitor, and a tow hitch receiver with the trailer harness. With the $860 destination charge, the MSRP came to $40,850. Considering the amount of equipment on the Pathfinder, I think it’s very well-priced and the MSRP is very similar to other seven-passenger crossovers with a similar level of equipment as my Pathfinder test vehicle such as the Pilot Touring trim and the Highlander Limited model.

In the end, the Pathfinder should be on most families’ shopping lists. Those families who don’t want a minivan and are only willing to consider either a Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander are missing out on a very nice interior, much cleaner and classier outside styling, and many, many features for the price. After over 1,200 miles with it, I can write the Pathfinder is an excellent vehicle for driving long distances. What I can’t write is whether four millennials can tough out 1,200 miles as passengers in a Pathfinder, which in hindsight, is for the best. Otherwise I’d be writing this review with a hoarse voice.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He’s still proud and amazed of the fuel economy numbers he achieved with the Pathfinder.

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