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. Sun, 02 Aug 2015 00:58:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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/ 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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IMG_0204

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.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 Exterior-007

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

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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.

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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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Rental Review: 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 CVT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/rental-review-2015-nissan-altima/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/rental-review-2015-nissan-altima/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:30:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1031561 Well, it’s well into 2015, and time for another Nissan Altima review. My Casamigos hampered research tells me TTAC has done a review of the Altima every year since 2006, except for 2011. Go ahead, search for Nissan Altima, I’ll wait. You are the B&B and you’ll probably find the review I missed. It looks […]

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Well, it’s well into 2015, and time for another Nissan Altima review. My Casamigos hampered research tells me TTAC has done a review of the Altima every year since 2006, except for 2011. Go ahead, search for Nissan Altima, I’ll wait. You are the B&B and you’ll probably find the review I missed.

It looks like I was the first one this year to lose rental car roulette.

I spent 2013 in the Middle East. My default vehicle was a capable and reliable Toyota Fortuner, but those in a lesser position were saddled with a CVT equipped Altima. On an outing where I didn’t drive because I was hammered, looking to enjoy local culture, we usually took a Nissan of questionable maintenance.

Out of the gate, I loathe this car. I know hormonal teenage One Direction fans amped on Diet Mountain Dew more capable of making a decision than the Nissan CVT transmission.

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This is my opening mindset before I spent an hour in line at the Dollar Counter at Houston’s William F. Hobby Airport to get my reserved full size car.

I was told I could take any car along line “M.” I surveyed my choices, a gray Nissan Altima, a black Nissan Altima and a white Nissan Altima. Apparently Dollar Rent A Car does not read TTAC or they would realize that it is a midsized car.

Dear reader, I share this with you to place you in my state of mind when I climbed into the Altima. Yes, I allowed emotions and previous experience to cloud my analysis of this car. My neutral journalistic aspirations could use some training, but my integrity is fully intact.

I left Dollar’s parking lot en route to my hotel in 20 miles away. My first observation is the lack of a USB port. Petty yes, but a Chevrolet Sonic rental comes with Bluetooth and USB.

Once in motion, the CVT transmission did not disappoint. It was the same rev-happy, indecisive collection of rubber bands I remembered. I took stock of the interior. The seats are terrible, flat and hard; I fiddled with the controls for most of the trip. I suspect that was mostly the mileage. I would bet there was more than one occasion that the window had been left open during a rainstorm.

At dinner, I parked in front of a Chevy Malibu. Visually, the dimensions aren’t that far off. The Malibu is marketed as a full-sized car in some rental fleets, so I may have been judgmental. My mood improved with some calories and on the return I tried the “S” setting on the transmission. Nissan should re-label this “T” for tolerable. It ‘s not sporty, but seems to be more agreeable.

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Interfaces aside, the stereo is not bad and capable of annoying the next car at a stoplight with a Foo Fighters tune.

Before dawn I was back in the Altima, in a better mindset. I knew the secret to the transmission was “S” and the seats were bad. Maybe I had been a bit harsh on the old gal.

Nope. I was still right. Not quite hormonal fans of One Direction, but certainty hormonal teenage level. Freeway on ramps are an absolute conflict of perception and reality. The engine is revving for all its worth giving indications of what should be a neck-snapping launch. The reality is more 80’s Hyundai speed for the on ramp and a “please have mercy on me” merger.

For all of its sound and fury, the Altima’s sensation of speed was like an 80’s VW diesel. The numbers tell me this car hits 60 a gnat’s hair under 8 seconds. That makes it quicker than a Camry base and places it on par with an entry level Accord. So I have to logically conclude this is my flawed perception, due in large part to the transmission and the noises from the engine. Which ads credence to this car being better than I will admit.

The obvious advantage of the CVT transmission is the fuel economy, for which I am ashamed to say I cannot give a solid observation. I was in Houston for a very rainy race and the racecar’s fuel consumption was half of what was planned, so my tank was filled at the track in an effort to empty the team’s transfer tank. Driving 20 miles from the airport to the hotel, then another 18 to the track barely moved the gas gauge. After the tank was overfilled, I drove over 20 miles to dinner, 20 back to the hotel,  then almost another 20 back to the rental car counter. This did not deviate the needle from the “F” on the gauge. So that was almost 60 miles, with a probably “sticky” fuel gauge, but at any rate, I cannot complain about the MPG. In fact, its pretty impressive.

So for all of my venom, I honestly cannot call this a bad car. As I get farther from my time with the Altima I am forced to judge it on merits rather than impressions and it stacks up better than I would have admitted last weekend. But there is a reason it was all that was left in Dollar’s lot. It is simply an uninspiring car, long in the tooth, due for a refresh and the folks at Nissan have gotten lazy with the needed upgrades to keep it competitive with Honda and Toyota.

If you are looking for a capable comfortable sedan, and your waistline has expanded a bit since you graduated, you’d be very happy in an Altima. If you spend a lot of time in rush hour traffic, the transmission would undoubtedly yield superior returns on MPG. It’s not expensive, but not cheap. My internet search produced consistant prices of $23,5 for the 2.5 base, but a limited selection at most dealers in the Atlanta metro.

But you are the B&B. You willingly operate old slant 6 Darts, and Ford Flex’s. You are discriminating consumers and deserve better. You know Kia and Hyundai offer a superior product for less and you enjoy vehicles with at least some impression of a personality and dare I say, soul. While I cannot call Altima a bad car, I am comfortable saying that if you have bothered to read this far, then the Nissan Altima not the car for you, and that includes as a rental.

Christian “Mental” Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is a graduate of Panoz Racing School, still loves cartoons and once exceeded the speed of sound. Married to the most patient woman in the world; he has three dogs, a Philosophy degree and an actual Yamaha Vino scooter, so this wasn’t his first CVT transmission. Follow him on Twiiter, Instagram and Vine at M3ntalward

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Rental Car Review: 2015 Nissan Rogue Select http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/rental-car-review-2015-nissan-rogue-select/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/rental-car-review-2015-nissan-rogue-select/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 13:40:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020361 Back when I was a kid in the 90s, the word “select” seemed to mean something. Our town of 30,000 had one select soccer team which entertained over a hundred kids at tryouts every year for fifteen coveted spots.  We had one select baseball team—a team that was so good that a future major leaguer got cut from it. […]

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Back when I was a kid in the 90s, the word “select” seemed to mean something. Our town of 30,000 had one select soccer team which entertained over a hundred kids at tryouts every year for fifteen coveted spots.  We had one select baseball team—a team that was so good that a future major leaguer got cut from it. To be considered “select” was to among the most elite of the elite. You had to be, you know…selected.

Well, nowadays, “select” soccer teams are limited to the number of kids whose parents can afford to write a check for the uniform.  My little suburb now has five entries into the regional select soccer league, and there are multiple other leagues that have sprung up, as well. Anybody who wants to be “select,” or more to the point, anybody whose parents want to say that they had a kid on the “select” soccer or basketball or baseball team, can do so.

Therefore, it makes sense that in today’s “You’re all winners!” society that the worst vehicle that ever I’ve had the misfortune to drive is called “Select.” To be more specific, it’s called the Nissan Rogue Select.

For the 2014 model year, Nissan introduced a new version of its compact CUV, the Rogue. However, as is prone to happen when new models are released, the Rogue’s MSRP crept into the mid-twenties, leaving Nissan without a player in the fleet and entry-level crossover market.

Never fear. The tooling already existed for Nissan to continue cranking out the old version of the Rogue with limited content—we’ll call this the “Malibu” Classic approach.  It’s difficult to know how successful this has been from a sales perspective, as Nissan fails to separate the Select from the regular Rogue in its sales reporting. However, on the fine Nebraska winter day when I was given a brand-new Rogue Select with less than 1K on the clock as an “upgrade,” the Select was abundantly available at the rental car counter.

It’s at this point in most of the buff book reviews that they talk about the glorious locale that the OEM has selected for the press preview. Well, for my glamorous trip, I was going to drive from Omaha, Nebraska to Des Moines, Iowa on I-80 East, and then back again on I-80 West. It’s straight. It’s relatively flat. It’s 117 miles. There are no lights. There are barely any exits. There’s a whole lot of nothing. And when you think about what most people who would consider purchasing a Rogue Select plan to do with it, it’s a perfect proving ground.

Since I have no desire to hurt anybody at Nissan’s feelings, we’ll use the POP (Positive-Opportunity-Positive) method of reviewing the Rogue Select.

 

Positive:

At no point did I feel like the Select was going to break down. It provided reliable transportation.

The gas mileage was not horrific. Although my trip was 100% highway miles, which should have returned around 28 MPG according to the EPA, I averaged 24.2 MPG.

Ummm…give me a second. I’m sure I can think of something else. Hmmm. Okay, I’ve got nothing. Let’s move on to the Opportunity part.

Opportunity:

The visibility was horrible. The A pillar is positioned so that the Rogue Select manages to do something I hadn’t previously experienced in a car—it has a forward blind spot. Parking became an adventure.

It took me a solid two minutes of looking to find the side mirror adjusting knob. It wasn’t near the mirrors, or on the center console, or near the power windows. Nope, it was right above the hood release.

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The stereo sounded somewhat like two tin cans tied together with string. Each adjustment I made to the EQ made it worse. It was unable to figure out how to read my iPhone 5S, either via USB or Bluetooth. I got this message every time that I tried to use it.

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Luckily, though, you’ll drown out the stereo every time you use the accelerator—and not in a good way. The Select protests vehemently any time the go pedal is used in aggression, and the tire noise on the highway is downright offensive.

There was no seating position that I could find over the course of four hours that was even remotely comfortable. There was a large hump in the middle of the seat back that forced my 5’9″ frame into a sort of contortionist pose. I was either too far back for my legs or too close for my arms, no matter what I did.

The CVT had real problems with things like “hills.” At the slightest hint of an incline, the CVT lurched, forcing the engine to whine and complain up to about 4500 RPM.

The cargo area was insufficient for a 27″ suitcase.

In theory, it was AWD, but the button that was smartly situated right below the Power Windows adjuster did absolutely nothing when I pushed it. I’m sure that this could be remedied by reading the owner’s manual, but its function was in no way intuitive.

The “Frosted Steel” color of the exterior was just plain offensive. I hadn’t seen a car company ruin “Blue” up until this point. I have now.

These wheel covers are the automotive equivalent of Dick Van Dyke’s British accent in “Mary Poppins.” In other words, nobody is fooled.

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The back seat was barely any roomier than you’d find in another Nissan offering—the Versa. I sat in the back for a second, just to check it out, and immediately I wanted to get out. Fine for children, but adults will get claustrophobic in a hurry.

You’d think a car this lame would at least have an awesome price, right? Nope. A 2015 Rogue Select, configured exactly like this one, will run you $23,255. Do you know what else you could get for $23,255? You’re about a grand away from a Chevrolet Equinox, which is light years away from this thing. Heck, you’re only a couple of hundred bucks away from a Honda CR-V. You could buy this E-Class Wagon two and a half times! Oops, wrong site. But you catch my drift, yo. For as terrible as this vehicle is, you’re not saving nearly enough money to make it worth the suffering.

Positive:

Oh, man, I have to come up with another positive now? Well, it did have a USB port. Although it proved to be completely useless for actually reading my iPhone, it did prove to be suitable for charging it. No, wait, I’ve got another one. The steering wheel buttons were intuitive and functioned well. Whew.

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It would be one thing if the Rogue Select were only available for fleet/rental usage, but Nissan actually has the nerve to sell this thing as a retail unit to the general public. If you could get one for $18K, I could maybe see a purpose for it as a Kia Soul fighter. However, at $20K and above, it’s just light years behind its competition, and literally a model year or two behind, as well. The only thing this car should be selected for is a Buy Here Pay Here lot in about three years.

It’s the worst new car value in today’s marketplace, period.

 

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Review: 2015 Nisssan Murano Platinum (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-nisssan-murano-platinum-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-nisssan-murano-platinum-video/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 12:45:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015554 If you look at the numbers, sales of the Murano are on fire with a 72% sales jump in January of 2015 vs 2014 thanks to the new model. Looking more closely however, you’ll see that there was practically nowhere to go but up as the Murano barely outsold the now-dead Venza. Putting that in […]

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2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-001.CR2

If you look at the numbers, sales of the Murano are on fire with a 72% sales jump in January of 2015 vs 2014 thanks to the new model. Looking more closely however, you’ll see that there was practically nowhere to go but up as the Murano barely outsold the now-dead Venza. Putting that in perspective, Nissan’s compact Rogue is the 6th best-selling SUV in America and the Murano is 26 rungs lower on the sales ladder. Nissan sells more Rogues in 6 days than Muranos in an entire month. Rather than killing the model as Toyota did with the Venza, Nissan decided to re-invent the formerly bland soft-roader into a flagship crossover. This actually makes sense, because it helps keep the mid-sized 5-seat CUV from being the awkward “middle child” between the 7-seat Rogue and the 7-seat Pathfinder. Does the all-new and all-curvy Murano have what it takes to compete with the Edge, Grand Cherokee or even the RX 350?

Exterior

The exterior of the 2015 model is a sharp departure from the last generation and is as head-turning as the last model was bland. I wasn’t sure what to think about the Murano when it was announced, the first pictures looked like someone had confused a product launch with a concept car. While much of that had to do with the dramatic angles and color of the launch vehicle, the Murano certainly looks more exciting than Ford’s Edge or it’s Korean look-alike (the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport). Thankfully the engineers responsible for the 2015 model didn’t let the questionably styled Juke influence them.

The first clue that the Murano is a production car is the long front overhang since it remains a FWD crossover with optional AWD. Contrary to what some folks I met during the week thought, there is zero relation to the RWD Infiniti QX70 (the artist formerly known as FX37 / FX50). Helping disguise the overhang is a tall hood, pointy snout, heapings of chrome, and angles that draw the eye rearwards. The dramatic lines gyrate up and down and culminate with bulging tail lamps at the rear. As polarizing as the Murano seems in pictures, in person reactions were entirely positive and garnered more looks than most cars I’ve driven in the last 12 months.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Center Console.CR2-001

Interior

With a starting price of $29,560, Nissan was able to equip the interior with more soft touch plastics than most of the competition save the luxury and near-luxury cross shops. This helps even the top-level Platinum we tested feel more harmonious than, for instance, top-end trims of the Grand Cherokee where a leather dashboard and real-wood are nestled next to hard plastic center consoles and questionable faux-metal finishes. As with the exterior, Nissan took some bold steps inside as well with a “floating” pleather hood over the gauge cluster and dramatic shapes galore.

Out tester was outfitted with “mocha” leather and trim panels that were a cross between silver-colored faux wood and brushed metal. (Faux-brushed-wood?) Meanwhile the light “cashmere” interiors get trim panels with brown “spots” tossed in giving it a white-washed birch appearance. You’d better like the trim, because there’s a ton of it. The faux-brushed-wood starts with large panels on the doors, a band running across the dashboard, and a large expanse covering the center console and a strip bisecting the center armrest. The overall style is decidedly funky, but to my eye is barely escaped crossing over into “bizarre.” Unlike some reviews I have read, the cashmere interior is my favorite because the lighter color and dashboard shapes make the interior feel cavernous.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Seats.CR2

As with many of Nissan’s latest products, front seat comfort is exceptional, scoring easily above the Lexus, Cadillac and Lincoln competition for my 6-foot frame. Seats in the 2016 Edge and Santa Fe miss the mark slightly, and the Grand Cherokee’s seats are probably the stiffest of any crossover giving you the impression you’re sitting “on the seat not in the seat.” Sadly the passenger seat lacks the same range of motion as the driver’s seat and you should know that lumbar support is of the 2-way variety.

The Murano’s new 7-inch LCD  instrument panel is standard on all trims including the base “S”.  Unlike Jeep, Nissan keeps analog dials for the tachometer and speedometer leaving the LCD for navigation, infotainment, trip computer functions, and other read-outs. Also standard is dual-zone climate control and 39.6 cubic feet of cargo room. I was surprised to find that despite being smaller and “swoopier” than the Pathfinder, the Murano has nearly as much room behind the second row as the larger CUV (third row folded.) The generous cargo hold and comfy front seats are the prime reason to get the Murano over compact crossover options.

2015 Nissan Murano Nissan Connect Radio

Infotainment

While the 7-inch LCD disco-dash is standard, Nissan reserves the 8-inch touchscreen NissanConnect infotainment system for SV trims ($32,620 starting) or as an $860 option on the S trim. Making a different system just for base S trims strikes me as an odd choice, especially since the functionality is largely the same except that it lacks some touch gesture suopport and navigation. The software is a revised version of what is found in the Altima and Rogue with visual and functional refinements, built-in apps and certain smartphone-app integrated features.

In addition to the screen-size bump, the 8-inch system supports multi-touch gestures and built-in navigation software. Regardless of the version you get, Nissan has expanded the voice command library to be competitive with MyFord Touch and Chrysler uConnect. The software proved to be responsive and easy to use, although some features were less intuitive than competitive systems. Our model had the up-level 11-speaker Bose system which is among the best in this class. Unlike many systems, rear USB port link to the head unit and may be used as a media source. (Most rear USB ports are charge-only.)

2015 Nissan Murano Engine.CR2-001

Drivetrain

Sideways under the hood you’ll find the same 3.5L V6 (VQ35DE) as a variety of Nissan vehicles mated to one of Nissan’s continuously variable transaxles (CVT). Because of the CVT, power is tuned down from the high-output variants to 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. Despite sharing engines with the Pathfinder, the transmission is apparently different and more similar to the last generation Murano. The result is a tow rating of just 1,500 lbs vs 5,000lbs in the 3-row Nissan. While towing in mid-size SUVs and CUVs has fallen out of vogue, that’s 500lbs less than the 190 horsepower four-cylinder Santa Fe Sport and on par with a RAV4. Nissan tells us that few tow with vehicles in this category, and they are probably right. Mid-size utility owners like me that do tow should limit their search to the Grand Cherokee, the only option in this segment capable of towing over 7,000lbs.

Thanks to the CVT and a slippery coefficient of drag, fuel economy has improved dramatically for 2015 coming in at 21/28/24 (City/Highway/Combined). Despite AWD adding some mechanical loss and 130lbs to the picture, the EPA numbers remain the same as the FWD variant. You will find more power in the competition, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better fuel economy even in the 2.4L non-turbo Santa Fe Sport. Our FWD tester barely beat the EPA average at 24.2 MPG.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Instrument Cluster Gauges.CR2

Drive

Driving dynamics weren’t the forte of the last generation Murano and this acorn hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. Nissan chose to tune the chassis toward the softer and more comfortable side of this category giving it a plush ride despite the 20-inch wheels our model sported. As you’d expect, the CVT is an efficient but not especially engaging companion. Thanks to the softer suspension,  235-width tires and plenty of body roll, certain models of the Grand Cherokee actually score higher when it comes to handling, and I’m not talking about the SRT model. The Murano doesn’t handle poorly, in fact I expected less grip than I received on my favorite mountain roads, just don’t expect the curvy Nissan to dance with the new Edge Sport. The steering is numb but accurate, the brake pedal is moderately firm and the action linear.

Thanks to the CVT and a 3,800lb curb weight, our front wheel drive model ran from 0-60 in 7 seconds flat which is a little faster than the V6 Grand Cherokee and on par with the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T and the V6 and turbo versions of the Ford Edge. Obviously the Edge Sport and its 2.7L twin-turbo V6 and the two different V8 Jeeps are in a separate category in this regard.

2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Side.CR2

Spanning from just under $30,000 to $43,745, the Murano is one of the less expensive options in this tiny segment. Only the Sotrento (available as either a 2-row or 3-row crossover in most trims for 2016) and Santa Fe Sport manage to undercut the Murano when adjusting for feature content. Despite the high value, the Murano’s flagship status ends up working thanks to the quality and consistency of the interior, something that can’t really be said of the Edge or Grand Cherokee despite those vehicles offering high-end options and features not found on this Nissan.

When viewed as the budget alternative to the Cadillac SRX, Lincoln MKX or Lexus RX 350 the Murano also fares well despite not offering the same level of high-end features. While the luxury set offers improved leather, real wood, hybrid options and luxury service, the Murano fights back with a polished ride, higher fuel economy, superb front seats and a sticker that is at least $6,000 less. While I’d personally buy the new MKX, I can’t say the $6,500 extra for a comparably equipped model is entirely “worth it.”

If you’re looking for the crossover with the most capable 4WD/AWD system, that’s easily the Grand Cherokee. If you want the best handling option, that’d be the Grand Cherokee SRT and Edge Sport. The Santa Fe Sport is the discount player delivering high value with me-too styling. The Murano, unsurprisingly, strikes a comfy balance in the middle of the segment with exceptional fuel economy. If you’re looking for the best highway cruiser for a wine-tour weekend in Napa for four, the Murano is exactly the tall Maxima you’re looking for.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.37 Seconds

0-60: 7.07 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.44 Seconds @ 95 MPH

Average Economy: 24.2 MPG over 649 miles

 

2015 Nissan Murano Engine.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Engine.CR2-001 . 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-001.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-002.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-003.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-001.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-001 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-002.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-003.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-004.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Side.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Cargo Area.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Cargo Area 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Cargo Area-001 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Center Console.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Center Console.CR2-001 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2-001 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2-002 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2-003 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2-004 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard-001 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Drivers Side 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Instrument Cluster Gauges.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Instrument Cluster Gauges 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Rear Seats Folded 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Rear Seats.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Rear Seats 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Seat Controls.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Seats.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Nissan Connect Radio 2015 Nissan Murano Nissan Connect Radio-001 2015 Nissan Murano Wheels.CR2

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Nissan GT-R Approaches 10,000 U.S. Sales After Best-Ever January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-gt-r-approaches-10000-u-s-sales-best-ever-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-gt-r-approaches-10000-u-s-sales-best-ever-january/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:09:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009074 Following a six-year period in which an average of only 55 GT-Rs were sold in America during the first month on the calendar, Nissan USA reported 101 GT-R sales in January 2015. The GT-R’s 28% year-over-year increase hides a 110% improvement compared with January 2013 and a 405% improvement compared with January 2012, equal to […]

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2015 Nissan GT-R red profileFollowing a six-year period in which an average of only 55 GT-Rs were sold in America during the first month on the calendar, Nissan USA reported 101 GT-R sales in January 2015.

The GT-R’s 28% year-over-year increase hides a 110% improvement compared with January 2013 and a 405% improvement compared with January 2012, equal to an extra 81 sales.

This sudden January uptick comes after sales in 2014 jumped 16% to 1436 units, the third-highest-volume year in the GT-R’s seven-year history. 2014 was down 17%, or 294 units, from the pace Nissan set in the GT-R’s first year on the market, 2008.

Over the final five months of 2014, U.S. GT-R volume shot up 63%. December sales doubled to 156 units. August volume, at 208 units, was the best month for the GT-R since November 2008.

GT-R sales chatThe January improvement is therefore not out of the ordinary given the recent history of Nissan’s junior supercar. More importantly, it’s noteworthy because the car – frequently updated but never thoroughly reengineered with an all-new introduction since a different guy became Russian president – is soon going to crack the 10K barrier in U.S. sales. Through the end of January, 9397 GT-Rs were sold in America.

True, the GT-R has been helped along by consistent horsepower improvements, a boon to a car that takes speed as seriously as a minivan takes its responsibility to provide redundant cupholders. I’m told that Nissan USA employees were offered spectacular short-term lease deals, a factor which may have contributed to the recent spike.

But an automaker deserves credit when they sells their most expensive product in healthy numbers even as that product becomes firmly entrenched in old age. Nissan has managed to keep the GT-R sufficiently current in a market that always wants tomorrow’s car. Perhaps this says something about the degree to which the GT-R was futuristic when it arrived at the dawn of a recession.

While the GT-R continues to earn plaudits, one key high-end sports car continues to sell far more frequently. The Porsche 911, which is sold in a wide range of configurations, was up 33% to 1052 sales in January alone. For every GT-R sold by Nissan USA in 2014, Porsche sold more than seven 911s. Meanwhile, over the last four months, BMW USA reported 573 i8 sales to Nissan’s 519 GT-Rs. (Chevrolet reported 11,016 Corvette sales during that period, albeit with a much lower base price.)

On the other hand, the GT-R nearly outsold the Dodge Viper and Audi R8 combined in 2014. The fact that a $101,000+ Nissan was outselling anything at all in its seventh year is a testament to the GT-R’s appeal.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Nissan Xterra Leaving US Market After 2015 Model Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-xterra-leaving-us-market-2015-model-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-xterra-leaving-us-market-2015-model-year/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007842 Looking at buying a new Nissan Xterra? Better pull the trigger soon, as the SUV will leave the U.S. market after the 2015 model year. Edmunds reports the Xterra is leaving these shores for regulatory reasons, with Nissan finding no business case in bringing the SUV up to code for an audience that also adores […]

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2015 Nissan Xterra

Looking at buying a new Nissan Xterra? Better pull the trigger soon, as the SUV will leave the U.S. market after the 2015 model year.

Edmunds reports the Xterra is leaving these shores for regulatory reasons, with Nissan finding no business case in bringing the SUV up to code for an audience that also adores the Jeep Wrangler. Updating the Xterra to meet regulatory and environmental requirements was deemed too costly for such a low volume product. CAFE regulations also don’t favor the Xterra’s small, body-on-frame SUV layout, making the updates a tougher sell.

The automaker moved 16,505 Xterras in 2014, a 7 percent decline compared to 2013’s 17,766 units sold. The SUV also faces stiff competition from crossovers like the Buick Encore, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan’s own Rogue, nearly 200,000 of which left the lot last year.

For those few who will buy one of the last Xterras, features for 2015 include NissanConnect, a USB connection for the iPod, and a new color named SolarFlare Yellow.

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A Leaf Falls In January: After 23 Consecutive Increases, Nissan USA Reports Leaf Decline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/leaf-falls-january-23-consecutive-increases-nissan-usa-reports-leaf-decline/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/leaf-falls-january-23-consecutive-increases-nissan-usa-reports-leaf-decline/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:54:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006802 In the same way that consecutive games without a point draw attention to the fact that Sidney Crosby previously achieved a 25-game point streak, the Nissan’s Leaf slight decline in the lowest-volume month on the calendar shines a light on what was a 23-month streak of year-over-year improvements. Leaf volume slid 15% in January 2015, […]

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2015 Nissan Leaf whiteIn the same way that consecutive games without a point draw attention to the fact that Sidney Crosby previously achieved a 25-game point streak, the Nissan’s Leaf slight decline in the lowest-volume month on the calendar shines a light on what was a 23-month streak of year-over-year improvements.

Leaf volume slid 15% in January 2015, a 182-unit drop. On a monthly basis, Leaf volume increased every month between February 2013 and December 2014, year-over-year.

It’s not a high-volume car, the Leaf, but it’s not so exclusive as to be called rare. Leaf volume has risen beyond 1000 units in each of the last 23 months. Average monthly U.S. volume measured 2911 units in the second half of 2014, up from an average of 2129 monthly sales in the second half of 2013. Leaf volume shot above 3000 units in May, July, August, and December of 2014. (The Chevrolet Volt has only topped the 3K mark once, in August 2013. Toyota has only sold more than 2000 Prius Plug-Ins in a single month twice.)

In fact, that high December output – U.S. sales jumped 23% to 3102 in the final month of 2014 – was partly to blame for the Leaf’s first decline in two years. “Increased demand in December from customers looking to take advantage of federal and state incentives at the end of the tax year pulled some sales ahead,” Brian Brockman, senior manager of corporate communications for Nissan, told TTAC yesterday. And while Nissan doesn’t see low fuel prices having long-term impact on the EV market, Brockman said, “We are also seeing some short-term effects of historically low fuel prices on EV demand among buyers who are solely focused on the economic benefits.”

Some? In the case of the Leaf, very little at all. Even in January, the lowest-volume month for the Leaf since February 2013, the all-electric Nissan still outsold a long list of conventional cars, SUVs, crossovers, and vans, including a large number of Nissan products: NV, Q40, Armada, Xterra, Titan, Quest, Q70, and many more. The Leaf sold more than twice as often as the approaching-replacement Volt (not that the Leaf is a spring chicken), 43% more often than the Scion FR-S, more than three times more often than the Volvo V60.

January 2015 Nissan USA Leaf sales chartThe Volt, FR-S, and V60 aren’t exactly mainstream machines. But that’s not really the point. In a slow month for the Leaf, it was wildly more popular than truly rare cars. In a slow month for the Leaf, it outsold approximately 47% of all passenger car nameplates in January. In a slow month for the Leaf, it outsold all-electrics like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, Volkswagen e-Golf, Smart Fortwo EV, Fiat 500E, Chevrolet Spark EV, Ford Focus EV, Kia Soul EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, and Mitsubishi i MiEV combined.

It’s worth noting that while HybridCars.com estimates that Tesla sold 1300 copies of the Model S, the Tesla is mostly alone in its electrified nature at the Model S’s price point. The same can not be said for the degree of direct competition faced by the Leaf. Indirectly? Toyota, for instance, sold more than 12,000 total Prius family cars in January.

Regardless of what the competition manages, Nissan would prefer to see Leaf sales continue to improve. Crosby fans also want to see Sidney do more than record points in back-to-back games after being held scoreless in five of six. That’s The Truth About Hockey.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Nissan March SL 1.6 – Brazil Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-nissan-march-sl-1-6-brazil-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-nissan-march-sl-1-6-brazil-edition/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003258 Walking up to the pearl white, Japanese-Brazilian, new Nissan March, I smile. Can’t help it. It looks so cute. Especially in this top-of-the-line version all prettied up, with the bigger (and good-looking) wheels and its funky design that though more grown up than before, is still playful. Plastichrome abounds and can be found in the […]

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Walking up to the pearl white, Japanese-Brazilian, new Nissan March, I smile. Can’t help it. It looks so cute. Especially in this top-of-the-line version all prettied up, with the bigger (and good-looking) wheels and its funky design that though more grown up than before, is still playful. Plastichrome abounds and can be found in the front, sides and back. I instantly warm up to it, I want to like it.

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Though this is the New March and has suffered a re-skin, it’s still a narrow car, that looks quite tall and short. Some don’t like that, comparing it to roller skates and what not, but coming from Brazil, the land of hatches, I’m used to the shape. The headlights are new and less cute than the previous model’s though not overly aggressive. The fog lights are sort of lost in a sea of chrome, but I have seen worse. The new grille helps the overall affect, with a new more sophisticated shape, while the Nissan badge now has a bright V surrounding it. Didn’t like it in the pictures, but in person it works.

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Looking at it from the side, I can’t tell much of a difference from the previous model. While the new March’s new front is a step up from before, it is the side profile of this car that has always got me. Short, high snout, tall greenhouse and a low beltline. No wanton creases and bulges. No need for that on such a short car. The signature half arch shape of the windows is there and adds a bit of drama and a nostalgic hint. Thankfully the roof doesn’t follow the windows and is straighter. All good, as it helps in interior space.

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Going out to the back, the quirky looks of the previous model are all there. The design here is not so clean, but the unusual shape of the backlights adds a real degree of interest. Sadly, they still jut out like there’s no tomorrow. The back window is a little small and I look for the parking sensors. I notice then that dimple or wart that I hadn’t seen on previous Marches. I remember this is the top of the line, so that must be the camera. Honestly, it looks like an aftermarket improvisation though.

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I decide to start my exploration of the March’s innards backwards, so I pop the hatch. Nice, all covered in carpet. On so many Brazilian cars there is always visible metal in the trunk, not so here. Of course, I suspect lowlier Marches will not be so well-finished. The rest is normal for hatches in this type of car. A smallish volume of around 265 L. Good for supermarket runs. On a vacation, a family of four, presumably without a baby, must pack light.

I open one of the back doors and slide in. Here the benefit of the square roof is evident. At 6 feet tall, I have no need to angle my neck and can sit up perfectly straight. In the Versa, this car’s sedan version, I do have to cock my head to the side. The Versa though provides much more leg room, but a quick look up front reveals to me the front seat I’m sitting behind is pushed back and I still have some space. Another nice touch, even back here, power windows. Again, not so common on small Brazilian cars and part of the SL package.

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Jumping into the driver’s seat I think this car looks very solid. The finishing is simple, but good with some variation in color and well-screwed together. There are buttons on the steering wheel and the wheel itself feels thick in my hand (as it should) and has some nice texture. The center stack contains the media center that compromises radio, GPS and the backup camera. I also like its shape. Gone is the old, gimmicky, childish one that looked like a famous dinosaur baby from the 90s. In is a new one, that looked quite conventional in pictures (making me straight off not like it), but in person, and maybe because of the version, it is well-finished and there are no black plastic slabs covering gaping holes.

I put in the key, put it in reverse, the back camera view lights up immediately with a medley of lines that help parking. I adjust the radio, quite easily, see that the buttons on the steering wheel serve to control it and also your paired phone. For free the first three years after purchase, Nissan offers its Connect. It works together with the radio and you can access such things as Facebook and points of interest. If you are invited to an event on the social media, the GPS will trace the route instantly. I’m sure there are other things it can do, but by now I’m anxious to drive the March as I am anticipating good things.

I close the door and, oh no!. The handle does not angle up anymore like in the past. The is some bright work there and controls for all windows, but when I closed the door it pushed my leg back in. Now, I’m a tallish guy with quite a bit of gut (110 kg), but I’m not an NBA player. I drive with my legs a bit open, but that handle is forcing my leg straight ahead. I’ve driven old Beetles, I’ve owned a Ford Ka. I have driven all kinds of Fiats. I recently drove the ostensibly smaller Volkswagen up! and none forced me to sit like I didn’t want or made me immediately uncomfortable. There is no reason for the handle to be so thick, it takes away too much from the limited space. As now I’m feeling grumpy, I notice the pockets on the doors are so thin, they barely hold anything. It’s been a while since I’ve sat in something so poorly thought out. To add a bit more salt to the wound, the seat belts are non-adjustable.

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Remembering the Mistsubishi Pajero (Montero) I recently drove I recall disliking it because when in second gear the knob would eat into my thigh. Now this one is forcing me to drive with my leg in an uncomfortable position. I fidget then with the gear stick and notice, this is weird, too. It’s a little further back than in other smalls cars I’ve driven. This is probably the result of center stack madness. It has become conventional that even in a small car the center stack must touch the floor. Cupholders are also a must. Owing to that, the gear box has been pushed further back. Before even taking it off for a drive, I start to move the gears. Its placement forces an unnatural, shorter movement of the arm. It’s simply too far back.

Adjusting the seat, I find the large seats are good enough, though the cushion is a bit short. I can place the seat far away enough from the dash to feel comfortable (but, damn that door handle). The steering wheel can be moved up and down (as can the seat), but not forward and aft. It becomes apparent the wheel is tilted off slightly to the left, but most won’t notice. On the good side the three pedals are placed far enough apart (sometimes a critical point in small cars) and there is a footrest.

So, off to driving. The first surprise is that the electric steering is extremely light, guess most people like that. However, it is impossible that most people will not be bothered by this car’s second huge fail. That gearbox. What are they thinking? Every gear change, thump! First, thump! Second, thump! Thump, thump, thump! Fast, slow, noise, noise. Ok, I know Nissan wants to push the CVT, but did they forget to add a piece to this car? I’ve read many reviews on the car. No one mentions it (though some hint on it). I call the dealer, complain, the counter guy says it’s normal, but that I should bring it in. Glad I’m not the only crazy one out there hearing things.

With a frown now on my face, I hit the usual spots I like to test cars. Such a sad thing, because in all other regards the car is exemplary.

It uses a 1.6 16v, 111 hp (either on gasoline or ethanol) engine. It pulls strongly and is very responsive. Accelerations are crisp, and the engine revs nicely when solicited. The 16 valves make it a round engine and a pleasure to drive, rarely out of breath (it tops out at 7,000 rpm). According to Nissan, the top speed is 191 km/h. I somehow doubt that, but I do believe the car will top 180 (or get close) and can be driven effortlessly at 160 km/h (100 mph) though noise will be high as there is little sound insulation. In the 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph), most publications peg it at around 11 seconds. So a fast little car it is.

The March takes curves very nicely too. This version uses 185/55/16 rubber. It grips nicely and doesn’t let go easily. As such it has relatively high limits, but more importantly, it is quite docile giving even an unaware driver ample chance to react when it starts to break loose. Body roll is limited and I had actual fun in the curves. So much so I even forgot the thumping for a couple of minutes because despite that huge error, engagements are soft and precise. It is quite fast, too.

Braking is all very acceptable, too. Disks only in front, it does not make lateral movements even under hard braking. ABS as according to Brazilian standards are mandatory (as are the double frontal airbags).

About town, the sight lines help it a lot. It it easy to see out of and the little lines the camera provides make parking even easier. The controls are light and don’t feel flimsy, being that most of them seem to have some padding. It is also quiet in town, though out on the highway you do hear the engine. Good thing in my book, because the noises the engine makes under acceleration is quite good. In town, like with cousin Renaults, this Nissan’s engine sounds a little wheezy at idle.

You can see part of the hood from the driver’s seat. Well, you can see the headlamps. They butt out too, so you always see those little humps. Kind of reminded me of and old Fiat Coupé. The fact is this a light car, only 982 kg, so it is nimble and quick in the city and fast on the road. The lightness makes it fun to drive and the electric steering doesn’t detract much from that and it does harden up some when faster.

The previous March came from Mexico to Brazil. It undercut the competition by a fair margin and was a good buy as content levels were also high. Now, the new March is the first Nissan to roll off the line at Nissan’s new factory in Rezende, Rio de Janeiro state. The design is more grown up and the interior has been much improved because it now looks like a car and not a toy. However, some things have gotten undeniably worse. The constricting door handles and unbelievable gearbox are huge setbacks. Plus, small things like the non-adjustable seat belts or the badly integrated backup camera speak of cost-cutting.

The first Brazilian Nissan is then a bit of a dud. The price has risen, being that this SL that I drove stickers for around R$44,000. For that kind of money there is a plethora of cars that offer even more equipment, more space (cousin Sandero is there, Ford Ka), just a good a drive or even undercut the price without too much sacrifice in space (VW up! Or Fiat Uno).

The new Nissan March is a good car to drive, a fun car that you can toss and will respond without too much drama. Well-finished on the surface, there are too many compromises in the interior and no cost advantage to recommend it over more evolved competitors. Unless you are short. Or hard of hearing.

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