Mini-vans, God love them. Gone are the days when a van was mostly a truck with the front seats set far too close to the windshield and separated by a giant, ill-fitting plastic engine cover that allowed the sounds, smell and heat of the engine to leak into the vehicle’s interior. No, today’s vans are quiet, spacious and refined people movers that still provide a great deal of utility while carrying your precious family in great comfort. While they may not set the average auto enthusiast’s heart aflutter, ask any family man and he will sing you the song of infinite praises for the humble mini-van. I am just such a man, and as my Ford Freestar is on its way out, I must now find a replacement. Read More >
The compact pickup is an endangered species in North America, but the reasons for its demise depend on which camp you ask. Its proponents will tell you that CAFE, the chicken tax and marketing campaigns have all conspired to kill off small trucks. Detractors claim that the new generation of full-size trucks are just as fuel-efficient and affordable, while in many cases being more refined.
I really like pickups, but haven’t had a lot of seat time in them. Hell, it wasn’t that long ago that I mistakenly called the new Ram 1500 a “quarter ton” pickup, with some members of the B&B responding in a manner that made Kohmeni’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie look measured and calm. In keeping with our new mandate to expand TTAC’s rental review program, I decided to work out my Zipcar membership when I needed to haul two sets of R-Compound tires and wheels to the tire shop. And it just so happened that I ended up with what could actually be called a quarter-ton pickup.
Live shots of the Datsun Go, courtesy of our man Faisal Ali Khan of India’s Motorbeam.com
Every generation of Maxima has some fans — I’m partial to the bespoilered black ’87 five-speed my father drove for two years of my childhood — but the reputation of the nameplate is built almost entirely on the brilliant third-gen 1989 Max SE and the 1992 revision of that car that added a BMW-matching 190 horsepower to the already outstanding styling and chassis. After that, it was mostly downhill, with the porky, anonymous-looking sixth-generation ’04 probably representing the nameplate’s depressing nadir.
The current Maxima is anything but anonymous-looking, but it’s failed to make much of an impression and it currently sells at a rate approximately one-fifth that of the Altima that has largely eclipsed it in the marketplace. Many of those sales are to rental companies, and thus I was able to grab a nearly brand-new Maxima SV for a fast drive along the Northern California coast.
When Nissan invited me to sample the Versa Note hatchback, tucked away in a corner was the new-to-America Nissan NV200 compact cargo van. No, this isn’t a relative of the NV2500 that started out our commercial week in 2012, instead it’s a purpose-built cargo hauler [very] loosely based on the underpinnings of the Nissan Cube. You may have also seen the NV200 shown as NYC’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” choice, but this NV is all about hauling. (Strangely enough that’s why it makes a good taxi.)
I seem to be the only car guy with a soft spot for the Versa. My peers at Car and Driver, Consumer Reports and Autoblog (among others) came off less than impressed by the least expensive car in America when we were all invited to its launch. That left me scratching my head. So I borrowed another one and came to the same conclusion: “Versa delivers a totally unobjectionable experience at a very compelling price.” This apparent disconnect bothered me for a while but I wrote it off as a “lack of perspective” suffered by my peers in the biz. Seriously guys, what do you expect out of the cheapest car in America? The new 2014 Versa Note however isn’t the cheapest car in America, nor is it the cheapest hatch in America. How does it stack up? Nissan flew me to San Diego to find out.
It’s hard for me to be impartial about the Nissan Silvia: my first car was a 1983 200SX five-speed. I thought it was the coolest car ever. Unfortunately, I totaled it the very first time I drove it without adult supervision. (The story of that mishap, and its aftermath, can be read here.) I still think the 200SX and its successors are pretty cool cars. Nissan stuck with the rear-wheel-drive compact coupe formula for a full nineteen years after Toyota compromised on the Celica.
Let’s get one thing sorted. The picture above is not, I repeat not, the wasabi-snorting-485-horsepower-3.7-second-to-60 Juke that Nissan has been teasing. Instead, this is the Nismo treated Juke we saw at the Chicago Auto Show in February. If you’re disappointed, or if the unusual confluence of shapes that is the Juke has made you throw up a little in your mouth, don’t click past the jump. We warned you.
There’s something powerful about this video. The violence of the launch. The frantic revs, the merciless shifts, the fact that the driver hits fifth gear before crossing the line. The only question is: how fast is he going?
The Department of Homeland Security may have the Land Rover Defender on their radar, but one Houston truck enthusiast has another pretty cool off-roader for sale, one that’s apparently legally imported too.
Weaker than expected growth in the United States has led Carlos Ghosn to issue an even more ambitious goal; double Nissan’s sales by 2017.
Now waiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit a minute!
Didn’t I just review a grey Nissan Sentra on these very (electronic) pages? Yes, I did, but it was the 2013 Sentra that I took on a long, dreary trip to Minnesota. I found it to be pretty decent but not quite ready to do battle with the class leaders.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at LAX just two weeks later and found the infamous Vodka McBigbra behind the wheel of a 2012 Sentra in about the same color, with about the same level of equipment. “I’m a #1 Gold Hertz Person now,” she said, “and I thought that meant I got a convertible, not this piece of crap. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to mean?”
“The ways of Hertz are beyond the understanding of mere mortals. Move it on over,” I commanded, with all the authority of a young George Thorogood, “it’s time for a time-shifted comparison test.”
“Can it be time for In-and-Out Burger first?”
It’s no secret that Infiniti is looking to diversify its manufacturing footprint. As part of a broader Nissan strategy to localize production and escape the yoke of yen fluctuations, Infiniti will soon be setting up shop in China and at Nissan’s Sunderland facility in the UK. Next on the list is another North American site.
When Alex Dykes checked out a pre-production Sentra in Napa, he was favorably impressed.
When I was given a Sentra SV with just 812 miles on it at the rental counter this past Friday, I was unfavorably depressed; I had to cover 1,380 miles round-trip from Columbus, Ohio to Winona, MN in just 40 hours and I’d been hoping for a Grand Caravan, if only for the way the Stow n’ Go makes sleeping at rest stops a genuine pleasure. Still, this was a rare opportunity: a chance to check out a like-new production car for the totes-reasonable sum of fourteen dollars and seventy cents per day.
Regulators, mount up.
The UAW is stepping up their organization efforts at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant by taking their campaign to…Geneva?