The Truth About Cars » Nissan The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Nissan Piston Slap: Chronic Xterra Maintenance? Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:26:30 +0000  


No correlation. (photo courtesy:

m koonce writes:

Sajeev – you wanted questions, I have questions! First – I love your column. Great advice, and well written. Now my question(s).

  1. I have a 2009 Nissan Xterra 4wd, X model, 52k miles, and no problems except door squeaks and rubber molding which wont stay attached but that’s trivial. My question is, when should I have a “tuneup” done – i.e., change the spark plugs. Should I wait until Nissan’s recommended mileage (105k miles I think), or do it sooner? And should I replace all the coils at the same time (I presume the truck has a coil-on-plug ignition setup)? What else should I have done at the same time?
  2. Re: same vehicle: at 36k miles (May 2013) I did a transmission fluid dump and refill at local dealership, and did the same again at 49k miles in May 2014, again at dealership. My plan is to continue this dump and refill procedure every year for as long as I own the truck. Am I on the right track here? I’ve also had all other fluids replaced, except brake fluid which will be replaced when I have a brake job done.

Thanks for your advice, and keep up the good work.

Sajeev answers:

Actually you have three questions, come on son!  Now you know I’ll Google up some half-cocked give an enlightening answer for just about any question. And my goodness, do you need questions answered, for the sake of your poor, poor wallet!

Question 1: Squeaky rubber seals: spray them with a silicone based lubricant (safe on rubber, less sticky than WD-40) or do it right with this tube of magic.

Question 2: Direct injection systems aside…rarely, if ever, does a non-modified vehicle driven by a law-abiding motorist need new spark plugs before the recommended interval. Even DI motors won’t necessarily need aggressive plug replacements, and the supercharged versions of your Nissan are fine if you follow the owner’s manual. Spark plugs, be it iridium or platinum, have come a long way, baby!

Question 2.5:  Replace coil pack(s) when the engine computer says so. That is, when you get a stumble/misfire, you scan for codes, etc. and determine the misbehaving coil. Do not change them during the mandated tune up interval, only change normal wear items as per owner’s manual recommendations.

Question 3: ZOMG UR ON THE WRONG TRACK!  Unless this is a work truck towing a loaded trailer every day in city traffic, there’s zero reason for annual ATF changes. You’d be more than safe swapping it out every 50,000-100,000 miles.

Put more succinctly: stop treating this rig like it’s a delicate flower!

Vehicles in the last 25+ years successfully embraced electronic engine control technology, and “long life” fluids are held in high regard across the board…well, Dex-Cool aside. The sooner you embrace the robust beauty of modern vehicles (and fluids) the sooner you can stop punishing your wallet.


Send your queries to 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.

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Daimler To Enter FCV Market In 2017 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:00:48 +0000 Mercedes Blue Efficiency

While Japanese and Korean automakers like Toyota and Hyundai are jumping into the hydrogen game, Daimler plans to begin its own journey in 2017.

Automotive News interviewed Daimler head of corporate research Herbert Kohler about his employer’s hydrogen plans. Kohler briefly reflected on how Daimler were questioned on focusing upon fuel-cell technology before everyone else, stating that if an automaker wasn’t now at least considering the game, it would have to ask itself “some uncomfortable questions.”

As for the timetable of releasing an FCV by 2017, he states that while Daimler had planned to do so by 2015 at the latest, its joint partnership with Nissan and Ford to develop the technology will give all three time to bring the tech’s high costs down amid increasing volumes by the time 2017 rolls around.

Finally, when asked how much Daimler would charge for their FCV — in light of the $68,000 price tag for the 2015 Toyota FCV — Kohler says his employer’s goal is to price its FCV on par with “the hybrid version of a comparable model.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Datsun 210 Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:00:24 +0000 10 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNames for various flavors of the Nissan Sunny got very confusing during the 1970s and 1980s. Starting in the 1978 model year, the front-wheel-drive replacement for the B210— known as the B310 within Nissan— kept the “210″ name in the United States (meanwhile, you could also buy “510s” that were actually A10 Violets), later evolving into the car that became the Sentra. These were cheap but reliable (for the time) misery boxes, competing with the likes of the Chrysler Omnirizon, and so very few of them escaped The Crusher when they started wearing out in the early 1990s. Here’s a rare example that I found in Southern California in January.
13 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Datsun name had just a few years to go at this point.
07 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI can’t tell the A12 engine from the A14 at a glance; either way, this thing delivers well under 75 horsepower.
06 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPretty typical late-70s econobox interior. At least this car has a manual transmission.

08 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]> 42
Nissan’s D-Step Tweaks CVTs To Act More Like Traditional Automatics Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:00:46 +0000 2015-nissan-versa-sl-photo-590018-s-1280x782

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

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

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

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Official: Johan de Nysschen Departs Infiniti For Cadillac Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:59:13 +0000 Johan-de-Nysschen-.-Picture-courtesy-Bertel-Schmitt3-450x300

Johan de Nysschen, the executive largely credited with Audi’s rise to Tier 1 luxury brand status, has left his post at Infiniti after just two years on the job. He will assume the top job at Cadillac, after former President Bob Ferguson was moved to a new post as GM’s head of public policy.

de Nysschen, who took the helm as Infiniti moved its headquarters to Hong Kong and re-organized its nomenclature (into the confusing “Q” and “QX” lines), was expected to lead a long, progressive turnaround for the brand, much as he did with the once-struggling Audi.

But his departure for Cadillac bodes poorly for a luxury brand that has failed to establish itself in the same way that Lexus has in North America, let alone globally. Witness the confusion around the Infiniti Q50, which was branded as a Nissan Skyline in Japan, despite a supposed push for Infiniti’s entry into the Japanese market.

While de Nysschen cited family concerns as a major motivation (he and his family have strong ties to the United States, having lived there for many years), an Automotive News story suggests that CEO Carlos Ghosn’s extremely ambitious targets may have played a part in de Nysschen’s departure.

Despite that, he will have a challenge on his hands at Cadillac. GM is also aiming for a major push into Europe – and you can bet that de Nysschen’s tenure will be focused on that goal.

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Next Nissan Titan Will Make Detroit Debut Thu, 10 Jul 2014 19:56:21 +0000 1024px-2008_Nissan_Titan

The next-generation Nissan Titan will make its debut in Detroit, at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

The next Titan is a make or break product for Nissan, which has seen its half-ton entrant fare poorly in the segment, failing to gain ground on Detroit’s trucks or the Toyota Tundra. But Nissan has invested a lot into the new Titan, from poaching Ram’s truck guru to getting a diesel V8 engine as an optional powertrain.

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While You Were Sleeping: July 10th, 2014 Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:59:37 +0000 IMG_8656-550x366

From Harvard to Germany to North Korea…here’s what you missed.

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Nissan Cube, Murano CrossCabriolet To Die Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:54:37 +0000 DSC_0171-526x350

Nissan will kill off two of its quirkiest vehicles for 2015. Both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet will disappear in the coming model year.

The CrossCabriolet, which famously found a home among a dementia-stricken man, will die along with the current Murano, as Nissan prepares for the 2015 model year and the all-new Murano.

The Cube, which sold is small numbers, will presumably get the axe because everyone interested in a geometric-shaped Japanese car has already bought a Scion xB.

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Next Nissan Pulsar Won’t Be “Sporty” Thu, 03 Jul 2014 16:13:45 +0000

Brace yourselves for the inevitable slate of reviews criticizing mushy steering, an uninspired ride and myriad other complaints that most buyers won’t give a lick about. Nissan’s next C-segment hatch, the Pulsar, will apparently not be “sporty”, and Nissan is just fine with that.

According to AutoExpress, Nissan’s Andy Palmer said that

“I’m not looking for a car that is ultimately very very sporty…I’m looking for something that can transition a customer from a Qashqai to a hatchback. It needs the same DNA, but we want to keep ex-Qahsqai buyers in the Nissan family. It has to have a familiar design and handling.”

Palmer noted that the new hatch “doesn’t transmit impulses back into the car” and that “the steering is quite light”. Sounds like a recipe for enthusiast disaster, right? Well, given the smashing success of the Qashqai (which basically invented the small CUV segment in Europe), it’s easy to see why Nissan is going down this road.

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

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

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

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

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

Reader Nicholas Naylor submits his review of the Nissan Quest

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

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

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

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

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

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

quest interior 1

And then you get inside.

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

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

quest interior 4

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

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

quest exterior quest interior 1 quest interior 2 quest interior 3 quest interior 4 ]]> 56
Daimler, Nissan To Co-Operate On Mexican Factory Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:59:17 +0000 450x275xQ30-Concept-450x275.jpg.pagespeed.ic.-utiLC5SCn

Daimler and Nissan have agreed to a joint-venture that will see front-drive Infiniti and Mercedes models built at a Nissan plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Reuters is reporting that the deal is the largest between the two entities. The deal gives Infiniti a range of front-drive cars, including a sedan, coupe and SUV, based on the same architecture underpinning the Mercedes A, B, CLA and GLA-Class models.

In return, Mercedes will get a low-cost, NAFTA zone production site for these models, which tend to have lower profit margins.

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

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

Nissan Leaf S. Got it? Cool.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Infiniti ESQ Caught In The Wet In Spy Photos Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:00:44 +0000 infiniti esq 1

Yesterday, we received word of the China-only Infiniti ESQ crossover, which is really the Nissan Juke minus the Nissan. Today, we have some spy shots and some information on the ESQ.

CarNewsChina reports the ESQ will enter the market by the end of the year, and will have few differences in appearance with the Juke, though most consumers won’t likely know about the badge-engineering exercise on the showroom floor; the Juke is not sold at all either as an import or as a locally made product.

Infiniti’s crossover will be assembled by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture, and will have the same 1.6-liter turbo delivering 200 horsepower and 184 ft-lb of torque to all four corners via CVT as the Juke Nismo. No price of admission has been given thus far.

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EXCLUSIVE: Nissan Will Forgo Navara, Bring Small, Affordable Pickup To North America As The Next Frontier Wed, 11 Jun 2014 21:16:36 +0000 big_62046

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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