The Truth About Cars » Full-size http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:31:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Full-size http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Why We May Not See The Next Ford Taurus, But China Will http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/why-we-may-not-see-the-next-for-taurus-but-china-will/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/why-we-may-not-see-the-next-for-taurus-but-china-will/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 19:22:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776209 According to some outlets, the 2016 Ford Taurus will be both quicker and lighter than the outgoing car. That’s news to us here at TTAC – last we heard, the Taurus wasn’t even slated for North America. Reeports by Edmunds and other outlets are claiming that the next Taurus will ditch the heavy, antiquated Volvo-based […]

The post Why We May Not See The Next Ford Taurus, But China Will appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2010_Ford_Taurus_Limited_2_--_10-31-2009

According to some outlets, the 2016 Ford Taurus will be both quicker and lighter than the outgoing car. That’s news to us here at TTAC – last we heard, the Taurus wasn’t even slated for North America.

Reeports by Edmunds and other outlets are claiming that the next Taurus will ditch the heavy, antiquated Volvo-based platform in favor of Ford’s more modern CD architecture that underpins the Fusion, the upcoming Ford Edge and other models. This is technically true.

Back in the spring of 2013, our sources told us that a CD-based Taurus was under development, but promptly sent to the garbage dump after its design bombed its consumer clinics. Marketing brass at Ford decided to kill the Taurus, due to dissatisfaction with the way it looked, and the sales volumes the Taurus generated. Given the accuracy of our sources regarding the F-150 and its aluminum construction, as well as the 2015 Mustang, we are inclined to believe them.

Ironically, Taurus sales have grown by nearly 20 percent over the past two years, despite a shrinking full-size car market. But the long-term trend suggests that larger sedans (what’s considered mid-size, as well as full-size) will undergo a contraction in sales, as CUVs take a bigger bite out of the segment.

The full-size sedan market is heavily weighted towards fleet sales, and with the Fusion outselling the Taurus by a roughly 4:1 ratio, it’s understandable that Ford would not want to renew the Taurus for another model cycle. Other considerations, like the Taurus being a drag on Ford’s CAFE ratings (remember, large cars get punished under CAFE, whereas trucks don’t) and the stronger sales of the Explorer Police Interceptor may give the Taurus-killers some more ammo.

One place where the Taurus could survive is in China. Ford is already planning a large Lincoln flagship, codenamed GOBI. Based on the CD architecture and targeted at Chinese business consumers by emphasizing rear seat comfort and amenities, GOBI will replace what we know as the Lincoln MKS in both China and the United States. Our source thinks that a new Taurus, twinned with GOBI, could be a possibility for China – but its future in America is in doubt.

The post Why We May Not See The Next Ford Taurus, But China Will appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/why-we-may-not-see-the-next-for-taurus-but-china-will/feed/ 87
Piston Slap: “Spare” Me from Dry Rot! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-spare-me-from-dry-rot/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-spare-me-from-dry-rot/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 12:05:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769298 TTAC Commentator sastexan writes: With the extreme cold throughout the US and seeing a few shredded tires on the highway this week (in fact, I had a flat myself – not sure what caused it but possibly doing donuts in the FR-S on a parking lot last week with lots of broken up ice on […]

The post Piston Slap: “Spare” Me from Dry Rot! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

TTAC Commentator sastexan writes:

With the extreme cold throughout the US and seeing a few shredded tires on the highway this week (in fact, I had a flat myself – not sure what caused it but possibly doing donuts in the FR-S on a parking lot last week with lots of broken up ice on the edges), I got to thinking about spare tires.

Many of the Best and Brightest have “keeper” cars – myself included with our old Camry. Tires have limited lifespans due to dry rot, and I’m guessing spare tires are included in that category. The spare in the Camry is the original 14 year old tire (full size spare at least). How often do people change their spares, if ever? Has anyone with an aged spare had it blow out due to dry rot? Can you just order a new space saver spare off of tire rack?

Take care,

Steven

Sajeev answers:

Very interesting question, one that raises even more questions! Keep these in mind before we proceed:

  • Tires dry rot slower when living in an enclosed space with no exposure to sunlight (UV rays).
  • You may not see visible cracks like other rotted tires, but rest assured at some point the rubber has petrified like a rock.
  • The odds of getting stranded by a rotted temporary spare is less likely than an ordinary tire, as nobody wants to roll around on that tiny donut for an extended period.
  • Low air pressure can be the reason for a spare blow out, as they tend to leak profusely after a few years of hibernating in a trunk.
  • The items listed above will not necessarily apply to externally mounted spares in trucks/SUVs/CUVs. Treat those more like your other four wheels.

Externally mounted full size spare owners: change the tire every 5-10 years…more or less, depending on your risk tolerance and driving needs.  Or re-use one of your “old” tires as a spare when upgrading to new ones for your regular wheels. And if you are luckily to have a matching 5th wheel as a spare (or unlucky enough to have 5 steel wheels on your ride) just rotate it into the mix.

Externally mounted temporary spare owners?  Good question, as this is a future quandary of my little Ranger pick-em-up truck.  Then again, it might be similar to our next case…

Internally mounted spare owners?  Who knows the safe lifespan, but I’d wager that 10+ years is fine, since I’ve used the original spare in my Mark VIII for short distances in urban conditions. I’d change my tune if I was traveling hundreds of miles daily on rural roads…grabbing spare tires from crusher-bound Taurii and Fusions in the process.

Whenever you “internally mounted spare” folks are ready for new rubber, well yes, Tire Rack sells spares…but I’ll assume China’s finest off-brand donuts trade for less money from another vendor, as that happened when my 1983 Ford Sierra needed new tires in it’s unobtanium space saver-esque size for a measly $34 a pop.  Which is more than adequate for the job.

In the case of your Camry?  I say replace it (full size spare in the trunk) with one of the external tires when its time for new shoes. Or get a used tire from any local shop for $20-ish.  Or just make sure it’s inflated to spec and you drive SLOW (i.e. 50mph or less) for a short period of time. There’s no wrong answer here, unless you’re stranded in the middle of no where and must rely on a fresh tire to take you hundreds of miles away in a harsh climate.

As with everything in life, this Piston Slap boils down to: It depends.

So eyeball the rubber and keep it inflated to spec.  That’s a good start. Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

The post Piston Slap: “Spare” Me from Dry Rot! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-spare-me-from-dry-rot/feed/ 41
Pre-Production Review: 2014 Toyota Tundra (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/pre-production-review-2014-toyota-tundra-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/pre-production-review-2014-toyota-tundra-with-video/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 20:02:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=514913 We don’t just love pickup trucks in America, we practically worship them. The half ton pickup truck is an American icon embedded into our music, our entertainment and almost the core of our culture. If you haven’t owned or wanted to own a pickup truck, you’re probably a communist infiltrating American society and should be […]

The post Pre-Production Review: 2014 Toyota Tundra (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-002

We don’t just love pickup trucks in America, we practically worship them. The half ton pickup truck is an American icon embedded into our music, our entertainment and almost the core of our culture. If you haven’t owned or wanted to own a pickup truck, you’re probably a communist infiltrating American society and should be stopped. Despite inroads from the Japanese competition, the full-size truck market is a solidly American segment that isn’t just led by the big three, it’s dominated by them. In August, RAM took third place with 33,009 pickups sold in the US of A, more than three times the number four player: this week’s Toyota Tundra. Why is this gap so large when Toyota crushes the big three in so many other segments? Let’s explore that while we look at Toyota’s refreshed 2014 Tundra.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When it comes to trucks, we’re talking half-ton cargo haulers, not the compact truck market where Toyota arguably leads. The full-size truck market is about image and brand as much as it is about capability. Aside from men’s razors, no other product in America is marketed in such a completely-divorced-from-reality fashion. We buy trucks both because they haul and because they make us look cool. (Come on, you can admit it.) Truck advertising tells us that real Americans buy trucks, have cattle ranches, sing in country groups and get all the blonde babes. Real Americans also go muddin’, drink Bud and (most importantly) buy American. It is therefore no surprise that Toyota’s biggest market is California. (Make of that what you will.) It’s also no surprise the folks at the launch event were trying hard to sell the Tie-o-ter as the most American pickup on the market. With the highest percentage of American content, plus assembly in San Antonio, there is some truth to their assertions.

Exterior

I think that part of Toyota’s tuck sales problem was the old T100 from 1993-1998. That truck was a half-step between the American mid-size and full-size trucks leading people to consider the T100 more of a mid-size competitor. Then came the 1999-2006 Tundra which grew but failed to keep up with the Americans in terms of styling and dimensions. In 2007 we got the all-new Tundra which yet again grew a half size and was finally competitive with the big three featuring two V8 engines and part-time 4WD. Sales were less than stellar. Why? Toyota believes styling was to blame and I’m inclined to agree. The “bubbly” theme of the old Tundra was fairly emasculating when you parked next to the “rugged” F-150 or RAM 1500.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

For 2014 Toyota has addressed this problem with an enormous new grille that comes in three flavors (you can see two of them in the gallery) and features a prominent Toyota logo and very upright styling. It’s so upright the front bumper hardly protrudes from the grille at all. The larger and “chromier” grill is flanked by new headlamps that pay homage to the daring big-rig style of the 1994 RAM. The new nose makes the Tundra look bigger and meaner even though the dimensions have barely changed at all. Mainstream looks? Check.

2014 maintains the Tundra’s three cab, two bed, two wheelbase product mix. Things start out with the three-seat, two-door SR and stretch up to the six-seat four-door SR5. In a nod to the large number of truck shoppers that buy for image, not payload, Toyota offers three premium trim levels: Limited, Platinum and 1794. 1794 is named after the ranch that used to operate on the property the Tundra factory was built on. Mainstream product portfolio? Check.

2014 Toyota Tundra Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

Truck makers have finally read the memo that truck shoppers expect passenger car quality interiors. Toyota listened in 2007 but didn’t catch the all important detail “car quality interiors” not “car-like interiors.” Thankfully the 2014 refresh banishes the awkward Camry-esque of the old model for a more masculine design language. Like the competition there is plenty of hard plastic in this cabin, more fake tree than a 1970s suburban tri-level and plenty of bling. I can finally say with a straight face that the Tundra’s interior looks like a truck.

Unfortunately for Toyota, 2014 also brings a raft of refreshed, redesigned and tweaked trucks from the big boys. Compared back to back with the 2014 Silverado and the 2013 RAM, the Tundra’s interior looks a little too “try hard” with shapes that are discordant and not harmonious and parts quality that is a notch below the pack. The F-150 is getting a little old with a 2015 redesign widely expected, but I still find the Ford’s interior to be a better place to spend my time than the Tundra. Mainstream interior? Check.

2014 Toyota Tundra Interior, entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

2014 brings a few changes to the Tundra’s infotainment head unit. The major change is that all Tundra models will come with Toyota’s 6.1-inch Entune system only. The 7-inch system that ran the high-end software shared with the Lexus brand is not available in any model of Tundra. Consider me pleased. Toyota’s low-end system still seems to suffer from a dim LCD but the software itself is slick, speedy and easy to use. As before navigation is optional as is smartphone app integration. If you want the detailed look, check out the video. Mainstream tunes? Check.

2014 Tundra 5.7L V8, Picture Courtesy of Toyota

Powertrain

Delivering a new truck with an old drivetrain isn’t new, Ford’s been doing that for years. Unfortunately Ford is known for refreshing the under-hood-bits the next year while Toyota is known for  maintaining the status quo until a redesign. Unless Toyota breaks from tradition, this puts the Tundra at a serious competitive disadvantage. The base engine is ye olde 4.0L V6 mated to Toyota’s tried-and-true (but also tired and behind the times) 5-speed automatic. The rated 270 ponies and 278 twists are competitive with RAM’s 3.6L V6 and Ford’s 3.7L V6 on paper where torque is more important than horsepower for towing, but in the real world Ford’s 6-speed automatic makes better use of the power and 2014 brings ZF’s 8-speed to the RAM 1500 giving Chrysler’s 3.6L engine three more 60% more gears to play with. Toyota claims the V6 exists for a low entry price and as a result doesn’t even list a rated towing capacity for the V6 SR model. (Toyota says it’s 4,400 lbs.) I think that’s a serious mistake when we take two things into account. First, many truck buyers, especially those in California where Toyota is making headway, have no idea what a trailer even looks like. Second, Detroit is changing their tune on the V6 models changing them from entry engines to fuel efficient options that can haul some serious loads. RAM’s 2014 V6 model will tow 7,450lbs. Toyota was quick to say that they are the only ones with SAE verified towing numbers but I’m here to tell you the Chrysler 3.6L V6 and ZF 8-speed transmission are a weekend warrior’s towing wet dream.

Because the V6 is the milquetoast discount engine, Toyota offers two different V8s to fill out the product portfolio. Because Toyota only offers the V6 on the base SR model with the regular cab, most buyers will have a V8 under the hood. Both V8s are closely related to the engines found in modern Lexus models and as such are buttery smooth with a rich V8 burble and a torque curve that’s higher and “peakier” than the American competition. The 4.6L V8 is good for 310 horsepower and 327 lb-ft of torque, only slightly higher than GM’s 4.3L V6 and well behind Ford’s fire-breathing Ecoboost 3.5L V6. Still, this is not going to be the most popular engine because most Tundras will have Toyota’s 381HP 5.7L V8 capable of cranking out 401 lb-ft. Both V8s are mated to a mode modern 6-speed automatic which is on par with GM and Ford but notably shy of the RAM’s new ZF 8-speed for 2014. If you need more power TRD will be selling the same supercharger kit as before (as a TRD accessory it is covered by the Toyota factory warranty) which bumps the 5.7 to a class blowing 504HP and 550 lb-ft.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Driving and hauling

If you are one of the few that tow with their pickup truck, you may be happy to know that Toyota is the only company that follows the SAE standard completely when determining tow ratings.  Or, like me, you may look at the situation more skeptically and say “OK, so Dodge, Ford and Chrysler fiddle with their numbers” but does that matter? Not to me. The big three’s 1500 series trucks all slot in around 10,000 lbs with Chevy currently claiming king of the hill. Big deal. How the vehicles behave while towing is more important to me than the numbers and with that in mind there is one clear winner: the 2014 Ram 1500. Why? It’s all about ZF’s 8-speed automatic. The octo-swapper is two gears ahead of the competition and as a result can better keep the engine in its respective power band. Towing with Chrysler’s 3.6L V6 and 8-speed automatic is an eye opening experience and even though Chrysler’s 5.7L V8 lacks the power of the larger GM and Ford V8s the extra gears make a huge difference. Still, most half ton truck owners in suburbia have a truck because they bought a Ski-Doo and can’t imagine towing a 500-pound jetski behind a crossover with a meager 5,000 pound tow rating. (Seriously, I know some of these people.) With that in mind we can just say everyone in this segment can tow more than you need.

Out on the road the Tundra drives just like a pickup truck. If you had hoped that Toyota’s badge on the nose would turn the full-size cargo hauler into a FR-S on stilts you will be disappointed. The Tundra tips/dives and leans just like a Chevy, RAM or Ford and like the competition the horizontal grip varies depending on the cab, bed and rubber you choose. Steering is accurate but numb amd cabin noise is well controlled for a pickup truck.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

With limited time behind the wheel of the pre-production models I must draw my V6 experience from a dealer provided 2013 model. The V6 is slow and thirsty, with the 5-speed automatic always a step behind what’s required. The 4.7L V8 is thirstier than the V6 but doesn’t drink anymore than the competition. Power delivery is smooth and  the 6-speed automatic shifts firmly with a relative eagerness to downshift when towing. The 5.7L V8 drinks like a college co-ed on spring break and has a somewhat high (3,600 RPM) torque peak which makes it feel out of sorts when towing compared to GM’s 6.2L monster.

After a day tossing the Tundra around Washington state and towing trailers with unknown weights inside (seriously, nobody seemed to know how much weight was in the demo trailer) I came to the conclusion that the Tundra is finally a solid middle of the pack contender. With the exception of ye olde 5-speed on the V6, there’s nothing about the Tundra that’s smaller, weaker, less masculine or less capable than the popular configurations of the Detroit trucks.

Everything about the Tundra is quintessentially middle of the pack, but does that make it the Goldilocks of the 1/2 ton truck market? Yes and no. In the pursuit of mainstream, Toyota has abandoned the attempt to be class leading. As a result, there is nothing extraordinary about the Tundra in a positive or negative way except, possibly, Toyota’s reputation for reliability. In a segment where brand is practically more important than payload and towing (just ask the Chevy vs Ford guys), that’s a problem for Toyota as it gives shoppers little reason to try something new. The 2014 Tundra is the best pickup truck Toyota has ever made and it’s a solid alternative to any of the American pickup trucks.  But, unless Toyota breaks out of their shell and does something radical, the Tundra isn’t likely to sway many shoppers in the heartland.

 

Tundra flew me to Seattle to sample the Tundra refresh.

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-001 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-002 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-003 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-004 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-005 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-007 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-008 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-009 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-011 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-012 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-013 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-014 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-016 2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-017 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior-002 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior-003 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior-004 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior-005 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior-006 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior-007 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior-008 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior, entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The post Pre-Production Review: 2014 Toyota Tundra (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/pre-production-review-2014-toyota-tundra-with-video/feed/ 195
What’s Bigger Than A Bentley And Twice As Cool? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/whats-bigger-than-a-bentley-and-twice-as-cool/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/whats-bigger-than-a-bentley-and-twice-as-cool/#comments Sun, 11 Aug 2013 03:08:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498948 Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play. But if you want to ride on those streets like ev-er-y day, your ride has arrived. Which leads to a question: Full-sized coupes disappeared a long time ago. I’m sure many TTAC readers don’t remember ever seeing one in a new-car showroom. Conventional wisdom says the market for […]

The post What’s Bigger Than A Bentley And Twice As Cool? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
ls2

Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play. But if you want to ride on those streets like ev-er-y day, your ride has arrived. Which leads to a question:

Full-sized coupes disappeared a long time ago. I’m sure many TTAC readers don’t remember ever seeing one in a new-car showroom. Conventional wisdom says the market for them is long gone. And yet… people still buy ‘em. They just insist on paying six figures for them. The Phaeton Turbo Fish-Face Edition Continental GT, the Mercedes CL, the Rolls-Royce Drophead Koo-Pay And Non-Drophead Koo-Pay. The appeal of rolling in a monstrous automobile with limited access to the rear seats still sells. It just doesn’t sell to the little people out there. The question is: why? Why are regular people willing to buy horrifying crap like the BMW X6, a vehicle which is designed to be as offensive as humanly possible and seemingly exists solely to convey the message that you can afford it, but they aren’t interested in the plush ride and placid demeanor of a proper coupe?

The hell with ‘em. If you want to get more house on the boulevard than any Conti GT around, pay this guy eighty-five hundred bucks and you can roll in style, with my full approval. And probably the approval of Andre 3000, as well.

ls1 ls2 ls3 ls4 ls6 ls7 ls8

The post What’s Bigger Than A Bentley And Twice As Cool? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/whats-bigger-than-a-bentley-and-twice-as-cool/feed/ 167
Review: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-toyota-avalon-limited-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-toyota-avalon-limited-video/#comments Mon, 22 Apr 2013 18:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484895 The Avalon has been something of a caricature since it wafted on stage in 1994. The stretched Camry was low on soul, devoid of style and soft of spring. In short, it was the Buick that wouldn’t leave you stranded. Since then Toyota has struggled to divine a mission for their full size sedan, a […]

The post Review: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited (Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
The Avalon has been something of a caricature since it wafted on stage in 1994. The stretched Camry was low on soul, devoid of style and soft of spring. In short, it was the Buick that wouldn’t leave you stranded. Since then Toyota has struggled to divine a mission for their full size sedan, a problem complicated by the re-invigoration of the large sedan market by the American brands. In hopes of resurrecting sales numbers, which have slid to 25% of their 2000 year shipments, Toyota has injected something hitherto unseen in an Avalon: style. Is it enough?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Before we dive into the Avalon, let’s talk competition. Back when the LHS and Park Avenue roamed the land, the Avalon’s competition was easy to identify and easy to overcome. Nearly 20 years later those shoppers are in a nursing home and Toyota is hunting for younger flesh in a more competitive market. We now have the larger-than-ever Taurus, a new Impala that doesn’t make me want to put my eyes out, the Azera/Cadenza twins, Nissan’s Maxima and the less-Bentley aping 300.

But wait, I’m forgetting one. The “elephant in the room” that is the Lexus ES. You see, the kind of shopper that needs a new car and immediately thinks “Toyota Avalon” is far more likely to cross shop the Lexus ES than the gangsta 300 or the Impala. (You know I’m right.) After spending a a week with the twins back-to-back, this comparison is even more valid.

Exterior

While the “I’m a bigger Camry” look is still going on, Toyota has injected enough creases and curves that my 33 year old eyes gave the Avalon a second look (of course, I did buy a 2000 LHS new in 2000, so…) It’s not as exciting as the new Cadenza, but Toyota’s efforts look better thought out than the 11/10ths Cruze grille Chevy put on the Impala.

The new rump features more chrome, dual exhaust tips and tail lamps that wrap well around the side and thankfully share no styling cues with the Camry’s funky “apostrophe” shaped lights. The engineers stretched the greenhouse over the trunk to increase the visual length of the car, a trick that worked on me until I looked at the spec sheet. At 195 inches, the Avalon is 6-inches longer than the Camry, but it’s several inches shorter than the Chrysler, Chevy and Ford. Since the ES and Avalon are now twins separated at birth, most of the dimensions are common except that the Avalon gets a bigger booty (and more trunk space in the process) and has a lower ride height giving it a more aggressive stance.

Interior

The exterior looks like a Toyota product. No news there. Inside is a different ball of wax. The interior is why you may have heard people saying they prefer the Avalon to its Lexus sister. If you recall from our review of the Lexus ES 300h, there were plenty of hard plastics within reach of the driver, and instead of a leather dash (like the 300 wears) or stitched pleather goodness like the competition is wearing, the ES stuck with an injection molded dashboard “faux-stitched” with real thread. In an unexpected contrast, the Avalon’s interior has a more premium feel, thanks largely to heavy use of (you guessed it) stitched pleather. The faux-cow in the Avalon may not be hand-sewn (Toyota is mum on the subject) but its liberal use on the doors, dashboard and center console beat every competitor (except for that Chrysler with the leather dashboard option.)

My lunch group was divided about the styling, some feeling that Toyota had gone too far and the rest thinking it was a bold choice for Toyota. I fell into the latter camp. Yes, there’s an enormous driver’s window defogger vent (in the picture above), but I appreciate the fact that a styling direction was chosen rather than just repeating the same “beige” the Avalon has been known for. That a group of adults in their 30s were arguing the merits of an Avalon interior is nothing short of revolutionary.

Compared to the Avalon’s Lexus sister, the interior has a more expansive and harmonious feel despite the heavily styled parts. I think I chalk some of this up to the tan-on-black color scheme our tester sported, but plenty of it has to do with dashboard shapes. Lexus’ two-tier dashboard and the “high and centered” position of the infotainment screen make the dashboard feel more imposing than the Avalon’s sweeping forms and less “bulky” dashboard on the passenger’s side.

The front seats are functionally identical to those in the ES with the exception that the number of power-motions varies by the trim level. The thrones are thickly padded and comfortable for long journeys but larger shoppers should know that they are more “bucket” shaped than previous models. Taller drivers and passengers will appreciate the largest cabin Toyota has ever built, including the LS 600hL. With 42.1 inches of legroom up front, 39.2 in the rear, and class leading headroom, the Avalon swallows those tall kids of yours more easily than any front driver this side of the Cadillac XTS. How does Toyota do this with a shorter sedan? They “skimp” on trunk space. Our tester’s 16 cubic foot trunk is nearly 25% smaller than the Taurus and 18% smaller than the Impala.

Infotainment & Gadgets

The Avalon comes in four trim levels, three of which have no available options for the picking. Things start with the $30,990 XLE which comes well equipped with 8 speakers, a touchscreen audio system, Bluetooth integration, dual-zone climate control, keyless go, and a heated 8-way power seat for the driver. The $33,195 XLE Premium tosses in a moonroof, backup cam, an extra speaker, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. For $35,500 the XLE Touring adds navigation, shift paddles, driver’s seat memory, fog lights, 18-inch wheels with 225-width rubber, and Toyota’s Entune data services. Our tester was the top-of-the-line Limited which starts at $39,650 and gets auto-dimming side mirrors with puddle lamps, HID headlamps, 11 JBL speakers, rain sense wipers, three-zone climate control, heated rear seats, ambient lighting, a color HVAC control panel, and a passenger seat with eight powered directions instead of four. Limited buyers can further option their car with two technology packages, for $1,750 you get radar cruise control with pre-collision warning and automatic high beams and for an extra $200 Toyota will integrate a wireless charging mat into the console.

On the infotainment side it is important to remember that Toyota makes two different systems that share nothing with one another. The picture above is the 7-inch system in our Limited tester and the picture below is the 6.1 inch “display audio” system in lesser Avalons. The 6.1 system has more basic graphics but is more responsive and is designed around an “app” model where things like navigation (available only on the Touring trim) are just another “app” available via the “apps” button on the dash. The 7-inch system uses XM Satellite data services while the 6.1 uses your paired smartphone for dynamic content. The 6.1 provides a fairly basic navigation experience, but it is easy to use and very responsive. The 7-inch system (only on Limited) is the familiar Toyota/Lexus system that’s been around for several years that has been updated with Entune data services, smartphone app integration and voice commands for controlling your media device ala Ford’s SYNC. This is the same software used in the Lexus, except without the atrocious “Remote Touch” joystick.

Going back to the ES comparison, since the Limited model uses essentially the same system, driving the ES and Avalon back to back served to solidify my dislike of the Lexus pain stick. The exact same interface is considerably easier to use, less distracting and more intuitive when you can glance at the screen and stab the option with your finger.

Drivetrain

The 3.5L V6 is buttery-smooth, but churns out a less-than-thrilling 268 HP and 248 lb-ft of twist. For reasons I don’t understand, Toyota has yet to fit their D4-S direct-injection system which would make it more competitive on paper (the competition are all around 290 HP). (Ford of course still offers the insane 365HP twin-turbo V6.) Proving that horsepower isn’t everything, the Avalon’s light 3,461lbs curb weight allows it to scoot to 60 in 6.25 seconds, among the fastest in the group behind the 365 HP Taurus SHO and the 290 HP Maxima (thank the Nissan CVT). While we haven’t been able to get our hands on the new Impala, expect it to be fairly quick thanks to its low curb weight as well. Meanwhile the 300 V6, LaCrosse, Azera, MKS and plenty of others will be seen in the Avalon’s rear view mirror.

The only major change for 2013 is the fitting of paddle shifters to the 6-speed automatic transaxle in Touring and Limited trims. With the paddles comes revised software that blips the throttle on downshifts. Don’t get too excited, since this cog swapper is just as up-shift-happy and down-shift-resistant as it was before.

For $2,360 on XLE Premium and $1,750 on Touring and Limited you can opt for Toyota’s 200 HP hybrid system. This is the same setup under the hood of the Camry and ES 300h and increases the Avalon’s MPGs from 21/31/25 (City/Highway/Combined) to 40/39/40 resulting an a savings of $900 per year at $4 a gallon. The trade off is the loss of one full second on the run to 60, well worth the cost in my book.

Drive

For 2013 the Avalon has ditched the wallowy ride synonymous with the model in favor of stiffer springs and a more buttoned down demeanor. Thanks to the new found corner carving skills and a curb weight that is 600lbs lighter than the Taurus, the Avalon is more engaging, composed and nimble than the heavy Ford. Notice I didn’t say “handles better.” The reason the Taurus clings onto first place in our road holding test is down to rubber, seriously wide 255/45R19 rubber (Taurus Limited.)

The Hyundai Azera and its Kia cousin are well-priced alternatives. While the Avalon beats them handily in terms of interior refinement, the Koreans have plenty of power (293 HP) and coupled with a curb weight that’s only 150-200 lbs more than the Avalon they are quicker off the line. Thanks to more aggressive rubber and excellent suspension dynamics the pair is also faster around a track. Of course, shoppers in this segment don’t really care about handling limits and that’s a problem for the dynamic duo because their refinement quotient is still a notch below the new Avalon.

Nissan’s Maxima is fairly light at 3,565lbs and has one of the more powerful engines at 290 HP and 261 lb-ft of twist. Thanks to the low starting ratio and step-less nature of the Nissan CVT, the Maxima burns rubber on its way to the best 0-60 time in this bunch of 5.6 seconds. Of course I can’t talk Nissan without admitting that the CVT isn’t the “sporting” choice because of the “rubber-band” like feel they impart but I don’t think its much of a problem in this segment. On the down side, the Maxima is starting to show its age in a stable of products shifting to a new design language.

The Chrysler 300 is the odd man out. I’m including it because some of our readers would have complained if it had been left out. The problem is the 300 appeals to an entirely different sort of person, both because of its aggressive looks and its RWD drivetrain. Still, the 300 V6 would be my personal choice in this shootout, but I have to acknowledge that a bold RWD American sedan isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Chrysler’s smooth 292 HP V6 and the slick ZF 8-speed automatic are no match for the 300′s higher curb weight making the 300 slower to 60 by nearly a full second. Although I prefer the RWD dynamics of the 300, the heavier curb weight means the Avalon is the nimbler choice. On the flip side, the 300 Luxury Series (the most appropriate cross shop) has a gorgeous full-leather dash and the ride of a full-sized luxury sedan.

That brings us full circle to the elephant in the room: the 2013 Lexus ES. Our Avalon Limited tester has so far knocked the ES to its knees by delivering a better interior, nearly identical feature content, and an easier to use infotainment system. Of course, siblings fight dirty and the Avalon kicks her sister while she’s down by handling better thanks to stiffer springs and wider rubber. When you factor in the Avalon’s lower sticker price and the reality that the Avalon and ES are likely to be as reliable as one another and cost essentially the same to maintain, you have to ask yourself how much that Lexus logo is worth to you. Even outside the direct Toyota vs Lexus comparison the Avalon is highly competitive with an excellent interior, plenty of power, huge back seat and a price tag that isn’t as frightening as the “luxury” alternatives. I never thought I would say this about the Avalon: it’s the aggressive sister that knocks down her stuck-up twin and steals the boyfriend by promising to be a cheaper date. Since I like my women cheap and feisty, I’d take the Avalon up on her offer and only think about the ES once a year at family reunions.

 

Hit it

  • The best interior with a Toyota badge.
  • Never thought I would call an Avalon “nimble.”
  • “Better” than the Lexus for less.

Quit it

  • No ability to add navigation to the base display audio system.
  • 268 HP is nothing to brag about in 2013.
  • Smaller trunk than the competition.

 

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.55 Seconds

0-60: 6.25 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.51 Seconds @ 98.8 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 23.2 MPG over 534 Miles

2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear 3/4 View, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Daytime Running Lamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Headlamps, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front Overhang, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Avalon badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Gauges, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Rear Climate Control, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Rear HVAC, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Door Stitching, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Passenger Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Front Door, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Steering Wheel Buttons, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Heated and Cooled Seat Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Memory Buttons, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Premium Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Infotainment and navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Infotainment Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Infotainment Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Interior, Driver's Window Defigger Vent, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Avalon Display Audio System with Entune and Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Toyota 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

The post Review: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited (Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-toyota-avalon-limited-video/feed/ 99
Review: 2013 Nissan NV3500 HD SL 12 Passenger Van (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-nissan-nv3500-hd-sl-12-passenger-van-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-nissan-nv3500-hd-sl-12-passenger-van-video/#comments Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469726   Every now and then a journalist sticks his foot in his mouth, and so it was with me and a Nissan PR person. PR person: we go the extra mile to make sure the press has access to everything we make, we don’t hide anything. Me: (after a long pause) oh yea? What about […]

The post Review: 2013 Nissan NV3500 HD SL 12 Passenger Van (Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

Every now and then a journalist sticks his foot in his mouth, and so it was with me and a Nissan PR person. PR person: we go the extra mile to make sure the press has access to everything we make, we don’t hide anything. Me: (after a long pause) oh yea? What about the NV Passenger van? How about that!? Eh? Why haven’t I seen one before? Hiding something? My Nissan minder whipped out his phone, made a call and a ginormous shiny black box appeared a week later. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I did not, I repeat, did not grovel and beg to Nissan’s top brass to get my hands on a full-size van.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Public opinion on the NV’s styling ranged from “I love the bold grille” to “dear God, put my eyes out.” Let us know what you think in the comment section. The dominant feature on the NV is certainly the front end which features an honest-to-goodness hood. This might sound totally banal at first glance, but anyone who has worked on a GM van knows the engine isn’t under the hood; it’s mostly under the dash with a bit inside the cabin. (This is why minor repairs on a GM van tend to start with “first, drop the engine”). The NV looks more like someone grafted a bread van box to a Nissan Titan, which in many ways is exactly what Nissan did.

Personally I like the shape of the NV. It looks different from the current crop of domestic people movers, I like chrome bling and I have a soft spot for a long hood. Am I crazy? Perhaps, I like the way the Ford Flex looks too. Looks aside, there’s a practical benefit to having a hood: the engine isn’t in the foot-well. In the GM and Ford vans the engine position means your legs are cocked to one side and your right foot is cooked after a 2 hour road trip. The hood allowed Nissan to lower the floor up front improving head room and making the vehicle feel more like a typical SUV than a big-rig.

The NV’s dashboard is formed from hard plastic, just like GM and Ford’s passenger vans. Hard plastics in general put up to hard abuse better than trendy minivan squishy bits. The NV’s interior showed no early wear despite our tester’s gig as a Nissan shuttle for drunk journalists for most of its 6,500 mile life. Although Nissan felt the need to dress parts of the dash in matte black ala GM/Ford, the color choices seem more modern than the competition.

Shoppers have three trim levels to choose from: S, SV and SL. The $31,990 S model is the starting point for the NV vans. Creature comforts like power locks, power windows and cruise control can be added for $650 or come standard along with map lights, a center storage console, 120V inverter, two extra cup holders, backup parking sensors, power driver’s seat, two more speakers (6 total), and a CD player on the $34,190 SV model. The top-of-the-line $37,690 SL model adds dual-zone electronic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, leather surfaces on all 12 seats, heated front seats and Nissan’s “low-cost navigation” system with backup cam. All models come standard with a rear HVAC unit with vents in the ceiling and the floor for rear passengers. Nissan priced the NV carefully, slotting it between the GM 2500 and 3500 series vans (and considerably less than a “comparable”  2WD Suburban if you’re wondering.)


Our SL had Nissan’s standard 5-inch touch-screen nav unit (available on the SV for $950). The nav system also includes XM radio, XM traffic, USB/iDevice integration, Bluetooth speaker phone functionality and a much-needed backup cam. If you’re familiar with aftermarket nav systems, you’ll feel right at home with the Nissan system’s snappy and straightforward interface. The music player interface is fully featured, but the only voice commands built into the system are for the phone interface. While the system will let you browse your iPod or dial a phone number while you drive off the road, you must be completely stopped to enter a navigation destination.

The front seats and most of the switchgear are borrowed from the Titan, complete with adjustable head rests and driver’s lumbar support. Instead of a full-vinyl seat on the S and SV (like Ford and GM) Nissan uses a tough, car-like fabric for the seat and vinyl side bolsters for improved durability. Front seat comfort proved exceptional during my week with the NV, something that is even more impressive when you consider the Savanna and E-Series front seats were not designed with the human back in mind. The rear seats are far more comfortable than the competition but not overly comfortable in general thanks to moderately firm padding and an upright seating position.

Instead of 3-4 person bench seats, the NV takes a page from the minivan playbook and splits the rear thrones into 4 two-seat and 2 singe-seat modules. While the seat modules can’t be described as light, they are easier to remove and replace than those in the competition. Nissan claims the 6 seat modules allow for 324 different seating configurations. All you need to know is: you can carry 12 people and limited cargo, 10 people and 10 suitcases or 8 people with camping gear. Try that in an SUV.

Innovation has been absent from the van market for so long things like headrests in the rear seem like a novelty. The reality is they’re an essential safety feature providing greatly improved neck protection in rear-end accidents. This shouldn’t just matter to customers with large families but to businesses worried about liability lawsuits as well. In addition to the headrests, Nissan tosses in curtain airbags for all four rows (the competition covers the front row only) and seat belts  integrated into the seat modules. Integrated seat belts improve safety system geometry in a crash, they also keep you from having to climb through a seat belt jungle to get to the back row and when the seat is removed so are the belts.

As nice as these improvements are there are still a few things that would bug me if I needed a large family vehicle. The rear seats don’t fold which would make cargo hauling without removing the benches easier (they don’t recline either.) There is also a distinct cupholder shortage in the NV with 10 cup receptacles for 12 passengers (and 4 are up front leaving the 10 people in the back to fight over the remainder.) If you’re a baby-on-board type, the NV has three LATCH equipped seats and two more seats with extra top-tether-anchors.

Under the NV’s long hood you’ll find two engines. The S and SV models come standard with a 4.0L V6 lifted from Nissan’s Frontier pickup truck. The VVT equipped V6 is good for 261HP at 5,600RPM and 281lb-ft of twist at 4,000RPM. Nissan’s 5.6L V8 engine (a close relative to the Infiniti M56′s engine) bumps power to 317HP at 5,200RPM but more importantly cranks out 104lb0ft more twist than the V6 (385 total.) Nissan makes the V8 standard on the leather-clad SL, and a reasonable $900 option on the SV and $990 on the S. Both engines are mated to Nissan’s heavy-duty 5-speed automatic which sends power to the rear wheels only. If you need AWD, visit your Chevy or GMC dealer. The 5-speed auto is a welcome improvement over E-350′s 4-speed, but one cog shy of GM’s new 6-speed in most Express/Savanna models. (GM’s 1500 series vans still get ye olde 4-speed in both RWD and AWD configurations.)

Before you buy the V6 in hopes of better fuel economy, let’s go over some numbers. Our V8 SL tipped the scales at an eye-popping 6,862lbs, the V6 is only 200lbs lighter. Next, consider the payload. An “obese of Americans,” that’s my new collective noun, can reach or exceed the NV’s payload range of 2,408 (V8) to 2,700lbs (V6). Put in perspective the V8 is at its limit after 200lbs of cargo and twelve 180lb occupants. If your clientèle (or family) is on the waiting list for America’s Biggest Loser, look at GM’s 3500 series van. It can haul 3,515lbs of American beef. Trailer owners will be pleased to know the NV still boasts a stout 8,700lb V8 tow rating.

If you’ve been paying attention you will have added these numbers up and discovered a fully-loaded NV weighs a cheeseburger shy of 9,300lbs. Even with the V8′s 33% improvement in torque and a downshift-happy 5-speed, freeway entrance ramps require a heavy right foot, careful preparation and fervent prayer. Add an 8,700lb trailer and 12 campers and you have 18,000lbs to get up to speed. With numbers like these the slight power differences between the Nissan 5.6L and GM6.0L V8 and the extra cog in GM’s transmission just don’t make much difference in acceleration. Should you need more consistent shove, consider GM’s 6.6L diesel, just be prepared to shell out some serious cash since the 525ft-lb Duramax is a $14,000 option.

With a gross vehicle weight (GVWR) starting at 9,430lbs the NV isn’t required to wear an EPA fuel economy sticker, but considering the lighter Titan scores 13/18MPG with the same engine, keep your expectations low. Over a 550-mile week we averaged 13.8MPG in mixed driving and observed a high of 15 on the highway and a low of 10 around town. Most of that time the NV was nearly empty. That may sound bad, but you should keep in mind it’s no worse than the GM and Ford competition. It’s also likely more fuel efficient to carry 12 in one vehicle than driving two 6-passenger SUVs.

By putting the engine under a hood rather than under the dashboard (like GM and Ford), the NV had to be longer than the competition to carry the same number of people. This means the 12-passenger NV is about the same length as the 15-passegner Savana (18-inches longer then a Suburban) making it difficult to find parking spaces. Thankfully Nissan managed to give the behemoth a 45-foot turning radius which is several feet smaller than the GM and Ford vans and just two feet larger than a Suburban. Thankfully our SL model had standard front and rear parking sensors and a backup cam which proved essential in parking lot maneuvers.

With 245/70R17 rubber on all four corners, an SUV-like 8.1 inches of ground clearance, recirculating ball steering and a rear suspension that uses leaf springs and a solid rear axle, the NV behaves like a full-size pickup truck or 1990s full-size SUV out on the road. Nissan’s choice of steering mechanisms may sound odd, but it results in the NV having a more predictable on-center feel on the highway and requires less effort in the parking lot. Honestly, it still has more road feel than a BMW with EPAS.

As you would expect from a vehicle with a high payload capacity, the NV tends to get “bouncy” on broken pavement if the rear seats are unoccupied but overall the ride is closer to a Suburban than a cargo van thanks to the extra weight in the rear. Visibility is the major complain in the NV with the sea of whiplash-reducing headrests making rearward visibility nearly impossible even without passengers in the van. In addition the NV sports an incredibly large B-pillar on the driver’s side which creates a large blind spot on your left. The optional backup cam solves part of the rearward visibility question, and Nissan does include blind spot mirrors on both sides of the NV but I still found the thick pillar bothersome because I’m used to looking over my shoulder when required.

When I tested Nissan’s cargo NV last year I found it to be the most civilized and comfortable van on the market, well priced and ideal for the owner/operator man-in-the-van. The passenger version of the NV sets a new benchmark in a phone-booth sized (and often overlooked) market segment. If you’re looking for a comfortable and upscale vehicle for your airport shuttle business or the most comfortable way to transport your family of twelve, you don’t have many options. Ford’s new T-Series van shows plenty of promise but won’t be on sale for nearly a year. Until the T-Series is out and we can get our hands on one, the Nissan NV should be the first and only van on your list.

 

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.510 Seconds

0-60: 9.52 Seconds

¼ mile: 16.55 Seconds @ 85.9MPH

Average fuel economy: 13.8MPG over 550 miles

2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, badging, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front 1/4 View, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Front Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Exterior, Rear with cargo doors open, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seat Cupholders, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Engine, 5.6L V8, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Engine, 5.6L V8, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Front Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Driver's side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, ceiling, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, ceiling HVAC vents, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, front seat controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Navigation Radio, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Navigation Radio, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Navigation Radio, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Navigation Radio, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Gauge Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan NV 3500 Passenger Van, Interior, Gauge Cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

The post Review: 2013 Nissan NV3500 HD SL 12 Passenger Van (Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-nissan-nv3500-hd-sl-12-passenger-van-video/feed/ 41
GM Adding Third Shift At Arlington Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/gm-adding-third-shift-at-arlington-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/gm-adding-third-shift-at-arlington-plant/#comments Mon, 25 Jun 2012 13:45:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450142 The Arlington, Texas plant that builds full size SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade will get a third shift, adding 800 jobs. The shift is expected to start in Q1 2013. Sales of the full-size SUVs have been steadily climbing in the post-Recession years, though volatile gas prices and the consumer shift towards […]

The post GM Adding Third Shift At Arlington Plant appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

The Arlington, Texas plant that builds full size SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade will get a third shift, adding 800 jobs.

The shift is expected to start in Q1 2013. Sales of the full-size SUVs have been steadily climbing in the post-Recession years, though volatile gas prices and the consumer shift towards more fuel efficient vehicles makes this move slightly puzzling – or not, in light of Bertel’s article on just how important full-size trucks and SUVs are to the general. The Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon and Yukon XL command a significant share of the large SUV market, with both the Tahoe and Suburban handily beating the third place Ford Expedition in the sales race.

The post GM Adding Third Shift At Arlington Plant appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/gm-adding-third-shift-at-arlington-plant/feed/ 41
Piston Slap: What is The Poor Man’s TARDIS? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/piston-slap-what-is-the-poor-mans-tardis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/piston-slap-what-is-the-poor-mans-tardis/#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2011 18:45:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416230   TTAC commentator horseflesh writes: Sajeev, Last year I wrote to you seeking the B&B’s help in selling a car. Well, Grandma’s Park Avenue is gone now, in short, I found that the best way to sell a Buick is to befriend a used car dealer and supply him with BBQ meats until he calls […]

The post Piston Slap: What is The Poor Man’s TARDIS? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

TTAC commentator horseflesh writes:

Sajeev,

Last year I wrote to you seeking the B&B’s help in selling a car. Well, Grandma’s Park Avenue is gone now, in short, I found that the best way to sell a Buick is to befriend a used car dealer and supply him with BBQ meats until he calls some other guys he knows who move a lot of Grandma cars. Done correctly, this takes your friend 5 minutes on the phone, and costs you only 15 minutes at a dealer. It’s a beautiful thing!

But now that the Buick is gone I find myself needing another vehicle… also large, and perhaps also white. I’m looking for something cheap and boxy to haul my toys around in. Mountain bikes, scuba gear, model airplanes… These things can be moved around with a sedan, but it’s a chore and there is never enough room for everything. Oh, there is a Triumph Bonneville 750 in the garage too, so naturally it needs to be taken to the mechanic from time to time. And did I mention the pinball machines that I need to move sometimes? Currently I need to ask friends with trucks for help with those things, and I’d like to become self-sufficient.

So, the ideal vehicle will have a fully enclosed cargo area of TARDIS-like capacity, be indifferent to muddy toys, and be able to haul 500 lbs of broken British motorcycle plus two people. It will be a changing room and occasionally a workshop when a toy breaks. It won’t have to go off-road, but it will have to handle a dirt road. Some kind of sink and potable water tank would be a big plus too–that isn’t mandatory, but being cheap and reliable is.

The ubiquitous Ford E-150 van looks like the right sort of thing, but I don’t know anything about its reliability when well-used, or what other good options might be.

Sajeev Answers:

Yup, you need a full size van. Maybe a Chevy Astro-like Minivan, as they are also cheap and reliable. But the Astro isn’t exactly made for drivers with left feet, so maybe the bigger vans are a smarter idea. Plus, you can get that sink you so greatly desire.

The E-150 is indeed the obvious choice, as it is the 800lb Gorilla in this market. Sprinter Vans are pricey and quite the PITA to service unless you are a certified Sprinter Technician. The older Dodge vans might be okay, but all the ones I’ve experienced suffered from off putting transmission woes. The newer Chevy Express isn’t much to write home about, but the older ones were pretty frickin’ tough and easy on the eyes. You know, for a van.

Oh, and thanks for not giving us a budget to work with. That said, I am assuming you are looking for a beater in the $10,000 or less range…or not much higher.

In that realm? Most definitely the van with the most service records. I’d stick with Fords and Chevys in your price range, with the standard V8, and a smooth (yet not sloppy) shifting transmission. You might find a custom van is your best value, even if you’ll need to hack it up a bit to be more cargo friendly.

Enjoy your rolling TARDIS.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

The post Piston Slap: What is The Poor Man’s TARDIS? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/piston-slap-what-is-the-poor-mans-tardis/feed/ 48
February Sales Snapshot: Truck Month Headed For A Letdown? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/february-sales-snapshot-truck-month-headed-for-a-letdown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/february-sales-snapshot-truck-month-headed-for-a-letdown/#comments Fri, 19 Mar 2010 19:21:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=349668 If there are two words that can’t be left out of any discussion of 2010 auto sales numbers, they are “incentives” and “fleet.” With a fleet sales binge well underway, and Toyota recall-triggered incentive wars raging with no end in sight, the spring Truck month rituals have been bounteous. And with sales of full-sized trucks […]

The post February Sales Snapshot: Truck Month Headed For A Letdown? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

If there are two words that can’t be left out of any discussion of 2010 auto sales numbers, they are “incentives” and “fleet.” With a fleet sales binge well underway, and Toyota recall-triggered incentive wars raging with no end in sight, the spring Truck month rituals have been bounteous. And with sales of full-sized trucks through February trending flat and fragmented, they had to be. But will they make a difference?

GMC and Chevy have seen the fizz go out of their full-sized sales, and are piling on the rebates, and finance deals to move the metal.

Note that the biggest spiffs are reserved for Sierra, which is off nearly six percent this year. And that’s compared to the apocalyptic 2009 numbers.

Chevy is even focusing its Toyota-poaching offers at truck and full-sized SUV buyers… and not Chevy’s main volume (i.e. Camry) competitor, the Malibu.

But the biggest incentives in Detroit come from Chrysler, whose Dodge (or not) Ram is down 26 percent on the year to date. In addition to matching GM and Ford’s zero-percent and cash-back offers, Ram has revived its mystifying “Free Hemi upgrade” incentive. Perhaps it helps Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sleep at night, as it’s a less obvious way of “buying market share,” a practice he loudly derides in polite company.

But most mystifying of all of this year’s Truck Month incentive-fests, was Ford’s. F-series has been running away from the competition in terms of volume, and Ford’s fleet mix indicates that at least some truck profit has already been sacrificed. But with Toyota leaning hard on car sales with finance and cash deals, every last truck sale is that much more important.

The post February Sales Snapshot: Truck Month Headed For A Letdown? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/february-sales-snapshot-truck-month-headed-for-a-letdown/feed/ 41