The Truth About Cars » Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:01:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 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 » Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Nissan Qashqai Points The Way For Next Jeep Compass, Patriot http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nissan-qashqai-points-way-next-jeep-compass-patriot/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nissan-qashqai-points-way-next-jeep-compass-patriot/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:15:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028057 With the arrival of the Jeep Renegade, the Compass and Patriot twins – awkwardly slotted above the Renegade in size, but lower in price – are officially overdue for a replacement. The Jeep twins have more in common with the Dodge Caliber than anything else in the brand’s lineup, and will be replaced with a […]

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2014_Nissan_Qashqai_Right_Side

With the arrival of the Jeep Renegade, the Compass and Patriot twins – awkwardly slotted above the Renegade in size, but lower in price – are officially overdue for a replacement. The Jeep twins have more in common with the Dodge Caliber than anything else in the brand’s lineup, and will be replaced with a single, all-new model.

Reports in auto media out of the United Kingdom have talked up the replacement CUV and how it will be positioned against the Nissan Qashqai. Nissan’s CUV, which has been wildly popular in Europe (some even credit it for kicking off the CUV trend on the continent, and rescuing Nissan from irrelevance in that market) has never been sold here, largely because the Rogue made it redundant.

At nearly a foot shorter than the current Rogue, the Qashqai would be awkwardly positioned between the Juke and the Rogue. But in Europe, it’s just right, nestled between those two vehicles in a market where a smaller footprint is actively desired. Since the Qashqai is about the size of a Compass or a Patriot, give or take an inch or two in each dimension, the new CUV will stay close in size to the current Jeep twins. Our Rogue, known as the X-Trail, is considered to be a full size larger, and comes with three row seating. Meanwhile, the Qashqai and its upcoming rival are considered to be the standard size CUV, the same way American buyers consider the Rogue and Cherokee to be an acceptable size.

There will also be a Fiat variant, similar to the shared platform of the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X. Expect a Trail Rated model to accompany the rest of the lineup, which will likely be similar to the rest of the Jeep models, with several trim variants increasing in content and price point. For Jeep, this will be a crucial product. Roughly three quarters of Jeep sales originate in North America, and FCA is keen to increase the brand’s reach in world markets. Currently, the EU makes up about 8 percent of Jeep sales – the replacement for the Compass/CUV will be just as important as the Renegade – and probably more important than the Cherokee – at increasing that figure.

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NHTSA Investigating 2014 Nissan Airbag Software Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nhtsa-investigating-2014-nissan-airbag-software-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nhtsa-investigating-2014-nissan-airbag-software-recall/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028185 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into Nissan’s March 2014 airbag software recall to determine its effectiveness. The Detroit News reports the recall — involving the vehicle’s occupant classification system finding the front passenger seat empty when the seat is occupied by an adult; thus, shutting off the passenger-side airbag — affected 989,701 […]

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2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into Nissan’s March 2014 airbag software recall to determine its effectiveness.

The Detroit News reports the recall — involving the vehicle’s occupant classification system finding the front passenger seat empty when the seat is occupied by an adult; thus, shutting off the passenger-side airbag — affected 989,701 of the following Nissan and Infiniti models:

  • 2013-2014 Altima
  • 2013-2014 Leaf
  • 2013-2014 Pathfinder
  • 2013-2014 Sentra
  • 2013 NV200
  • 2013 JX35
  • 2014 Q50
  • 2014 QX60

The NHTSA’s review of the recall comes after 124 complaints about the problem persisting, even after multiple attempts to rectify the issue. The agency will determine if a new recall is needed.

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Piston Slap: Avoiding Brutal CVT Step Gears? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-avoiding-brutal-cvt-step-gears/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-avoiding-brutal-cvt-step-gears/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:04:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1019698   TTAC commentator Raincoaster writes: Hi Sajeev, I currently drive a 2011 Honda Fit(Manual) and I’m mildly interested in a CVT for my next car purchase. I have never driven one, and one thing that gives me pause is all the “fake gears” that they set them up with. I understand that this is to […]

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A path too Brutalist? (photo courtesy: flickrhivemind.net/Tags/architectute,concrete)

TTAC commentator Raincoaster writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I currently drive a 2011 Honda Fit(Manual) and I’m mildly interested in a CVT for my next car purchase. I have never driven one, and one thing that gives me pause is all the “fake gears” that they set them up with. I understand that this is to make them drive in a manner familiar to traditional automatic transmissions, but this seems unnecessary and possibly inefficient to me. Are there any cars/companies that don’t fake it and just let the engine/trans cook up the best ratio at any given time? I’d like to test drive something like that to see how it feels.

A second and 2 part question. I work a 40 day on, 40 off shift and while working, my car (2011 Fit) sits. Is this bad and is there anything I should do for preparation or upon first start up? This also got me wondering about cars on dealer lots, do they periodically start sitting inventory?

-Raincoaster

Sajeev answers:

A 40-day stagnation period has been discussed, here’s the first example. Your only concern is having an older battery: newer cars in many geographic locations are rough on 3-5 year old batteries, so be ready for a dead battery that won’t come back from a jump start. Hopefully there’s an open parts store or a Wal-Mart nearby when that happens.

I also like the traditional, non-stepped CVT as witnessed by my 2014 Mirage road test.  The Mirage lacks flappy paddles and fake gears, but has a manual “low” for steep hills or maybe autocrossing in a serious sleeper. Add that with the fuel economy benefits, these CVTs are worth considering over auto-erratic slushboxes.

As I mentioned in the review, compared to the slow upshifts and the borderline-unsafe delays on WOT downshifts of modern 6-8 speed automatics (considering decades of performance oriented designs, both from the factory and the aftermarket) a stepless CVT is okay.  But public adoption sans fake gears is unlikely, Nissan’s D-step redesign is proof of that. Hopefully you, me, and threads like this mean that CVT step gears become a fad like motorized seatbelts.

Speaking of steps, I’m side-steppin’ your query.  Aside from the Mitsubishi, I don’t know which new CVTs run without steps. I assume Toyota hybrids stay stepless, as people are okay with a Hybrid being different.  This is why Piston Slap only succeeds with the Best and Brightest in play. So off to you!

 

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Nissan Pulsar NX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-nissan-pulsar-nx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-nissan-pulsar-nx/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1022657 The Nissan Pulsar NX was a weird little two-seater sold in the US market for the 1983 through 1990 model years. Now, the coolest thing about the Pulsar NX was the Sportbak wagon-conversion option, available on the second-gen version, but I have yet to see a Sportbak in a junkyard. So far in this series, […]

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04 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe Nissan Pulsar NX was a weird little two-seater sold in the US market for the 1983 through 1990 model years. Now, the coolest thing about the Pulsar NX was the Sportbak wagon-conversion option, available on the second-gen version, but I have yet to see a Sportbak in a junkyard. So far in this series, I’ve photographed this ’83, this ’87, and now today’s ’89.
15 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis being a California car, it’s not a bit rusty. Maybe it wouldn’t pass the smog test, maybe it broke something costing more than a few hundred bucks to fix, maybe it picked up too many San Francisco parking tickets, or maybe it just plain wore out.
09 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinOver 200,000 miles.


Someone please explain: why is 1980s nostalgia big these days?

01 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 02 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 03 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 04 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 05 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 06 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 07 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 08 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 09 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 10 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 11 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 12 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 13 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 14 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 15 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 16 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin

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Is Infiniti Getting Back To Normal? Two Whole Consecutive Months Of YOY U.S. Sales Growth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/infiniti-getting-back-normal-two-whole-consecutive-months-yoy-u-s-sales-growth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/infiniti-getting-back-normal-two-whole-consecutive-months-yoy-u-s-sales-growth/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 16:35:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023305 Infiniti USA reported a 20% year-over-year February 2015 sales improvement, a gain of nearly 2000 sales during a period which saw Cadillac, Buick, Jaguar, and Lincoln sales decrease. Among premium brands, only Land Rover (up 23%), and Lexus (up 22%) posted greater February gains than Infiniti. In fact, Infiniti’s February improvement was the second consecutive […]

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Infiniti-Q50-drivingInfiniti USA reported a 20% year-over-year February 2015 sales improvement, a gain of nearly 2000 sales during a period which saw Cadillac, Buick, Jaguar, and Lincoln sales decrease. Among premium brands, only Land Rover (up 23%), and Lexus (up 22%) posted greater February gains than Infiniti.

In fact, Infiniti’s February improvement was the second consecutive for Nissan’s upmarket brand – Infiniti sales rose 7% in the first month of 2015 – a meaningful statistic given the way 2014 ended. Second-half sales last year slid 10%.

Moreover, it marked the best February ever for the brand: 27% better than February 2013, 26% better than February 2012, 28% better than February 2011, 66% better than February 2010.

Speaking of February 2012, that was the last time Infiniti outsold Audi in America, at least until last month. On an annual basis, Infiniti was typically the greater generator of U.S. sales volume until 2011. But while Infiniti sales fell 14% between 2005 and 2014 (the latter being just the fifth-best year of the last decade for Infiniti USA), Audi volume more than doubled during the same period. The chart below displays the gradual Infiniti market share decline and the Audi market share upswing.

Infiniti Audi USA market share sales chartNevertheless, February was an especially strong month for Infiniti, a brand which still operates with a relatively small lineup. Setting aside the forgotten QX50 (only 177 February sales), mostly ignored Q60, Q70, and QX70 (formerly the G coupe, M sedan. and FX crossover), reveals 85% of Infiniti’s February sales were collected by just two sedans and two utility vehicles.

By way of comparison only, 68% Audi USA’s February sales volume was produced by its two top cars and two top utility vehicles. In other words, while many luxury brands have more than a handful of products that sell well, Infiniti currently produces the overwhelming majority of its sales with a small portfolio: the Infiniti G sedan-turned-Q40, the Q40’s Q50 successor, the Pathfinder-based QX60, and the Navigator-fighting QX80.

And in their respective classes, those vehicles aren’t unpopular. Q50 volume is up 6% this year to 6615 units, just behind the Lexus IS (which trails the BMW 3-Series/4-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class) but ahead of the Acura TLX; well ahead of the Cadillac ATS and Audi A4.

The Q40 is tasked with tangling a newer crop of entry-level contenders. With 2672 sales so far this year, it’s well back of the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 (5097 and 4662 sales, respectively, year-to-date) but it’s outselling cars like the Volvo S60, Lexus CT, and Acura ILX.

2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of InfinitiThe QX80 doesn’t sell like the Escalade or Mercedes-Benz GL, but with 2831 year-to-date sales, it’s more than 1000 units ahead of the Lincoln Navigator, sales of which doubled in early 2015. The QX60 sells less than half as often as the all-conquering Lexus RX and trails the Acura MDX by 3372 sales heading into March, but it’s only 898 sales back of Mercedes-Benz’s M-Class and well ahead of lower-tier players like the Range Rover Sport, Lincoln MKX, Audi Q7, Land Rover LR4, and Volkswagen Touareg.

Put it this way: Infiniti is capable of building vehicles people want. But they need to build more of them if the brand is going to be a major player in the United States. Indeed, they need to build more of them if Infiniti is going to be what Infiniti once was. A rival for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6 that actually generated any consumer attention would be a big help.

But the Mercedes-Benz GLA-related QX30 is more likely the vehicle that will provide Infiniti’s next big push. Don’t think for a minute that being late to the compact luxury crossover party will cause undue harm, as it’s become obvious that the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3 are clearly capable of stealing sales from the established BMW X1. Perhaps the QX30 can do the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Positive:

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

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

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

Opportunity:

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

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

012

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

011

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

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

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

The cargo area was insufficient for a 27″ suitcase.

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

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

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

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

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

Positive:

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

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

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

 

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

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2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-001.CR2

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

Exterior

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

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

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Center Console.CR2-001

Interior

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

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

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Seats.CR2

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

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

2015 Nissan Murano Nissan Connect Radio

Infotainment

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

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

2015 Nissan Murano Engine.CR2-001

Drivetrain

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

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

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Instrument Cluster Gauges.CR2

Drive

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

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

2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Side.CR2

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

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

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

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.37 Seconds

0-60: 7.07 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.44 Seconds @ 95 MPH

Average Economy: 24.2 MPG over 649 miles

 

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

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Piston Slap: To Need a Gentrified Pickup? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-need-gentrified-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-need-gentrified-pickup/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:10:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1017634 Zach writes: Sajeev, I would like your, and the B&Bs, opinion on my dilemma, but first a love letter of sorts… I’m a proud owner of an ugly truckling, a 1988 Toyota single cab short bed pickup in all its carburated 22R goodness. The 4spd close ratio stick makes anything above 60mph interesting, but I’ve hauled 2200 lbs of […]

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The Cure for Gentrification? (photo courtesy: OP)

Zach writes:

Sajeev,

I would like your, and the B&Bs, opinion on my dilemma, but first a love letter of sorts…

I’m a proud owner of an ugly truckling, a 1988 Toyota single cab short bed pickup in all its carburated 22R goodness. The 4spd close ratio stick makes anything above 60mph interesting, but I’ve hauled 2200 lbs of radiators in it to the scrap yard, and other than having to hit the brakes to steer, it had no problems. No AC, no power anything. For a while I had a dump bed on it, which meant that trips to transfer station attracted every hispanic and african in the vicinity. I bought it for $700 from a gentleman who commuted around DC in it since new, and whose new wife forced him to sell it. I still run into him at the local HomeyD and he always looks longingly at it.

Unfortunately since I’ve finished renovating my rowhouse, it barely gets driven and sits rotting on the street. A couple of weeks ago I had to get the emissions inspected (in DC it gets a dyno drive cycle) and a hard brake line blew in the middle of test, causing them to rerun the test. I passed (!), but the drive home took two bottles of brake fluid and judicious use of engine braking.

I guess this is the long winded way of saying this truck as been most excellent to me in all ways and I feel terrible that it’s going to simply rust away on the street. Not to mention that my neighborhood, once a nice place to live once past the multiple muggings and burglaries, is becoming douchebag central as one of the hottest areas for development in the city, and so parking three vehicles (my 240 wagon, my girlfriends 850 wagon, and my pickup) has become onerous as the out-of-city asshats have no idea how to parallel park.

I’d like to get my fleet down to 2 vehicles (hopefully selling off the POS 850), but I’m way too attached to having a pickup in the city. Its utility is far greater than any negatives I can think of, but at the same time, I want something I can take my dogs to the park in, something the gf can drive to work in a pinch as well as something safer than a tuna fish can on wheels. Fuel efficiency really doesn’t matter to me (<3,000mi/yr, I put more miles on my bicycle), but price does since the damn thing won’t move most of the time.

So the DC Metro area is littered with 11th gen F150 supercabs used as commuters and while not being particularly attracted to the truck, they’re cheap and plentiful. On the other hand, I love me some Toyota, and I’d love to get the last good looking and right-sized Taco, a 1st gen double cab, but they must have made them out of gold. For roughly 2x that of a used F150, I can get an equivalently used Taco, which completely blows my mind. I’m not looking at mint examples either, and the enormous price differential is really pushing me to honestly consider abandoning my small truck love for a full-size. I don’t want anything the F150 supercab provides other than the back seats for the dogs and the bed, but a $4-8K price differential is a very persuasive argument in its favor…

Of course, the Taco is far more nimble and about 30″ shorter than the 6.5′ bed F150, but is the size, Toyota build quality, slightly greater fuel economy worth 2x+ the price of the best selling vehicle in America?

Sajeev answers:

Oh man, that 4th Gen Toyota truck is totally sweet.  I mean dumpy and crude, but I’d rock that bad boy in a gentrified yuppie-hipsterville portion of town all day.

That said, even baseline trucks have come a long way.  Take my daily driven 2011 Ranger, compared to 1990s models that are supposedly the same, it’s obvious newer trucks are superior: better interior electronics, refined engines, improved NVH materials, bigger brakes, safety equipment (like Volvo-esque seat backs Ford ripped off), and the list goes on.

That said, the last of the “good” Tacos was a terrible value in the used market for years, even worse now that newer F-150s fall into that price range.  Not worth it: those Tacos aren’t waaaay better than a modern Duratec (DOHC) Ranger, Frontier, or a newer F-150. If the F-150 fits in your parking space(s).

If you can safely park an F-150 in your world, buy it.

If not?  Try a Nissan Frontier, Duratec Ranger (2003+?, but no crew cab) or a Chevy S-10. No matter what, you’ll get almost the same quality of vehicle for less cash than the Taco. It’s close enough.

 

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Infiniti Q45 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1990-infiniti-q45/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1990-infiniti-q45/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1016786 A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to own a well-preserved 1990s Japanese luxury car, and my first choice was the Infiniti Q45. Well, it turned out that just about every example of the Q45 got completely trashed by about 2005, and so I found a very nice Coach Edition LS400. Still, though, […]

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06 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA few years ago, I decided that I wanted to own a well-preserved 1990s Japanese luxury car, and my first choice was the Infiniti Q45. Well, it turned out that just about every example of the Q45 got completely trashed by about 2005, and so I found a very nice Coach Edition LS400. Still, though, I love the early Q45’s weirdness and its Nissan President origins, and so I shot this first-year example that I found in California.
05 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese were seriously luxurious and powerful cars for their day, but most of them weren’t cared for so well once they went to their second owners.
03 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one just barely made it past 150,000 miles.

There is no compromise at any speed.

Take a long, hard test drive.

In Japan, it was called the Nissan Infiniti Q45.

I couldn’t find the weird US-market “Zen” Q45 ad, but here’s the Japanese counterpart.

01 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Datsun 200SX Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1981-datsun-200sx-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1981-datsun-200sx-coupe/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1010170 The S110 Nissan Silvia, sold in the United States as the Datsun 200SX for the 1979 through 1983 model years, has all but disappeared from American roads by now. We’ve seen a couple of the S110’s successor, the S12, in this series: this ’86 200SX and this ’86 200SX Turbo, and that’s it. Late last […]

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22 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe S110 Nissan Silvia, sold in the United States as the Datsun 200SX for the 1979 through 1983 model years, has all but disappeared from American roads by now. We’ve seen a couple of the S110’s successor, the S12, in this series: this ’86 200SX and this ’86 200SX Turbo, and that’s it. Late last week, I spotted this faded but unrusty two-tone ’81 at a Northern California wrecking yard.
09 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA mere 158,000 miles on the clock.
14 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis switch is the tipoff that there’s a phonograph-based Voice Annunciator System box somewhere in the car, but I couldn’t reach it with the screwdrivers-and-a-needlenose toolkit I had on me at the time. Anyway, I’ve got at least four of the things in my hoard at this point.
03 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo CONELRAD stations indicated on this AM/FM radio, but it does have an analog signal-strength meter and an exquisitely early-1980s equalizer.
25 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou could get these cars in beige-and-brown two-tone, though this one is a more subdued blue-on-blue.

The US-market ads for this car were a little boring, but such was not the case in Japan.

01 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1981 Datsun 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Nissan Xterra

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

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

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

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

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

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20150117_120108

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

20150117_120123

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

20150117_120751

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

20150117_120624

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

20150117_120649

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

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

20150117_120210

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nissan: EV Charging Infrastructure Surpasses Fuel Stations In Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-ev-charging-infrastructure-surpasses-fuel-stations-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-ev-charging-infrastructure-surpasses-fuel-stations-japan/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003682 Driving around Japan in your EV of choice? Range anxiety likely won’t be an issue, as the nation has more charging points than gas stations. Per The Japan Times, Nissan discovered the number of such points — including fast and home chargers — now total 40,000. In contrast, there are only 34,000 fuel stations for […]

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Driving around Japan in your EV of choice? Range anxiety likely won’t be an issue, as the nation has more charging points than gas stations.

Per The Japan Times, Nissan discovered the number of such points — including fast and home chargers — now total 40,000. In contrast, there are only 34,000 fuel stations for those in who prefer Rocket Bunnys and Rauh-Welts over Leafs and i3s. The differing figures show how quickly those points have sprung up, especially when it took decades for the oil industry to work its magic in Japan.

However, many of the 40,000 points are in the home, and therefore, not currently accessible to the motoring public. A possible remedy could come in the form of the emerging sharing economy — Airbnb, Car2Go, Uber et al — where homeowners would share their charging point with others for a small fee.

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Second-Gen Nissan Leaf Announcements Coming This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/second-gen-nissan-leaf-announcements-coming-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/second-gen-nissan-leaf-announcements-coming-summer/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003642 Wanting to know if the Nissan Leaf will look more conventional in its second iteration? Power and range more your concern? Can you wait until this summer? Autoblog reports news of the next-gen Leaf will likely come this summer, despite recent announcements from Chevrolet and Tesla regarding their own respective low-cost electric offerings piquing curiosity […]

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2013 Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy Nissan.

Wanting to know if the Nissan Leaf will look more conventional in its second iteration? Power and range more your concern? Can you wait until this summer?

Autoblog reports news of the next-gen Leaf will likely come this summer, despite recent announcements from Chevrolet and Tesla regarding their own respective low-cost electric offerings piquing curiosity regarding Nissan’s EV.

The only statement to come thus far? Per Nissan North America corporate communications chief Brian Brockman during the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, “things are in the works.” He adds that the silent treatment until the weather warms up is out of concern for the potential of cannibalized pure EV sales, an issue no other automaker has to worry about.

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Chicago 2015: Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept Bows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-nissan-370z-nismo-roadster-concept-bows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-nissan-370z-nismo-roadster-concept-bows/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 20:03:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998530 Another near-production-ready concept turned up at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, this one in the form of the Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept. A topless one-off of the 370Z NISMO Coupe, the roadster boasts the coupe’s 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, NISMO-tuned H-pipe exhaust system, upgraded suspension, and aggressive body kit. Power to the limited-slip rear goes […]

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Another near-production-ready concept turned up at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, this one in the form of the Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept.

A topless one-off of the 370Z NISMO Coupe, the roadster boasts the coupe’s 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, NISMO-tuned H-pipe exhaust system, upgraded suspension, and aggressive body kit. Power to the limited-slip rear goes through the paddle-shifted seven-speed auto found in other 370Z roadsters, which offers rev-matched downshifts for one’s pleasure.

Other features include: 19-inch RAYS wheels; aggressive final drive ratio; black leather/off-white Ultrasuede Recaro seats; NISMO tachometer; and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.

Should the one-off prove popular, Nissan would sell the production 370Z NISMO Roadster for anywhere between $52,000 and $57,000 to start, a $10,000 premium over the NISMO Coupe’s $42,000 to $47,000 price range.

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Editorial: Who Needs Quality? Or, the Myth of Brand Loyalty http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-needs-quality-myth-brand-loyalty/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-needs-quality-myth-brand-loyalty/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:24:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989858    Quick question: what was the number one factor in your most recent new vehicle purchase? Was it styling? Performance? Features? Financing? Price? Comfort? Practicality? Or that old stalwart, quality? If you answered in the affirmative to that last suggestion, you’re part of a shrinking bloc. There were a lot of winners in the 2014 […]

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Quick question: what was the number one factor in your most recent new vehicle purchase? Was it styling? Performance? Features? Financing? Price? Comfort? Practicality? Or that old stalwart, quality? If you answered in the affirmative to that last suggestion, you’re part of a shrinking bloc. There were a lot of winners in the 2014 auto sales race, but quality wasn’t one of them.

Consider the top 5 market share-gaining brands in the 2014 calendar year. They were Maserati (up 171%), Jeep (up 41.2%), Ram (up 27.5%), Mitsubishi (up 24.8%), and Subaru (up 21.0%). If we leave out the ultra-luxe niche brands and those purchased exclusively by the brain-eating undead, we have Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Lincoln (up 15.6%), and Audi (up 15.2%). If we re-organize once more and focus on groups with a wide variety of offerings, it’s Subaru at the head of the line, followed by Fiat-Chrysler (up 16.1%), Nissan Motor Group (up 11.1%), Kia (up 8.4%) and Mazda (up 7.7%).  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the results of J.D. Power’s 2014 Initial Quality Study.

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                Hmm, that’s interesting. Of the non-luxury brands that gained the most market share, only Kia beat the industry average for defects per 100 vehicles. Ram tied the average, Nissan slipped below it, and Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Jeep are all slumming it near the bottom. How about J.D. Power’s 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, which looks at the number of problems experienced by owners of 3 year old vehicles in the previous 12 months?

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                Things are looking a little better for Subaru and Mazda now, who both beat the industry average by a statistically meaningless margin. Nissan and Kia slipped below it, and Ram, Mitsubishi and Jeep are again in the basement. So there you have it: 2014’s biggest market share gainers were solidly mediocre to poor in J.D. Power’s quality studies. Of course, there is bound to be an outcry here that J.D. Power can’t possibly represent everyone’s lived experience, and that’s fair. But perusing the likes of TrueDelta and Consumer Reports won’t poke any big holes in J.D. Power’s reports; they’re all more or less the same, with a few minor variances. More importantly, perennial quality mavens Honda and Toyota posted year-over-year sales gains of 1.0% and 5.8%, respectively. For Toyota, it was a solid if uninspiring year buoyed by strong performance at Lexus. For Honda, it was the kind of year that makes upper management start to look around for parachutes. What gives?

In the press release for the Initial Quality Study, there’s this interesting nugget about how vehicle defects impact brand loyalty:

Combined data from previous years’ IQS results and the Power Information Network® (PIN) from J.D. Power show that 57 percent of owners who reported no problems stayed with the same brand when they purchased their next new vehicle. Brand loyalty slips to 53 percent among owners who reported just a single problem and to only 48 percent among owners who reported two or more problems.

So according to J.D. Power, there’s only a 57% chance that owning a car with zero defects will lead to trading in your vehicle for the same make the next time around. If you have two or more problems with it (and keep in mind, we’re not talking about weighting these stats to reflect severity in any way), it slips to 48%. Those two numbers both have something in common: they’re F grades. The popular meme says that those who own ultra-reliable cars will return to dealerships like migrating geese, but the data says otherwise. Billions and billions of dollars spent on quality control, and the customer loyalty reward is little better than a coin flip. The Power data is the most compelling evidence yet that the “there are no bad cars anymore” chestnut has really penetrated the mainstream. If even the owners of the best-made cars are largely up for grabs, then what does that say about the conventional wisdom that quality conquers all?

Even if you don’t believe it, assume for the sake of argument that it’s true that it’s not that difficult to build a reliable car anymore. Even the most problem-plagued models are likely to have faults more of the annoying variety, with serious mechanical failures few and far between. Most consumers will have their expectations of reliability met, unless they get a statistically rare lemon. If’s that’s the case, then how long can quality endure as a selling point? This is analogous to the problem Volvo is facing right now in regards to safety. Safety has been a key selling point for Volvo for decades. But who makes unsafe cars anymore? Safety standards are stringent, and even cheap cars have an increasing number of whiz-bang safety technologies. Take away safety, and suddenly Volvo loses what little distinctiveness it had left. Volvo’s only hope now is to become the Chinese answer to Audi in the United States. Good luck with that.

There is at least one man in the auto industry who firmly understands that quality isn’t the make-or-break proposition it once was: Carlos Ghosn. As the other manufacturers choked on their passenger cars in 2014, Nissan grew sedan sales 15%. Of full-line brands including trucks, only FCA had a better year. All of this came on the back of a brand which, quite frankly, has shrugged its shoulders at quality for most of the last decade and a half. Nissan’s quality record in the United States is mixed, but looking back through the last couple of years of J.D. Power studies tends to support the conclusion that the company has been solidly below average since around the turn of the millennium. Clearly, there is something besides quality that is pulling people into Nissan dealers. Maybe it’s styling. Maybe it’s value for the money. Maybe it’s performance, or fuel efficiency. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter; all that it demonstrates is that it’s possible to build sales success on the back of supposedly subpar quality. FCA’s sales data says much the same thing. Inversely, the recent success of the brands with iffy quality means that Volkswagen’s sales disaster can’t be traced to reliability woes alone. Weak or missing product, poor marketing, and an infamous dealership experience are all more salient factors. Perhaps it’s time to question the value of endlessly harping on quality as the sole determinant of success. Or at least, devise better statistical tools to understand reliability. That last point is especially important, given how automobile technology has changed so much since the introduction of these surveys.

Like safety, quality is rapidly disappearing as an independently marketable category. The days where squishy, bland cars could be counted on to generate sales by virtue of quality alone are numbered. Toyota has certainly realized this, which explains the direction of much of their new product. The racy new Camry and the pseudo-premium flavor the Corolla both speak to a changed mentality. The FR-S is an attempt to bring some pizzazz back to showrooms, and even the “We ain’t got no room for boring” Highlander commercials are an attempt to push back against the brand’s staid image. Then there’s the un-blanding of Lexus, as that brand heads in a more Germanic direction. At Toyota, quality is still a priority, but in the marketing department it’s already taken a back seat to other virtues. And if Toyota won’t rest on quality alone to sell its vehicles, then who will?

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A Better Look At The Next Nissan Maxima http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/better-look-next-nissan-maxima/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/better-look-next-nissan-maxima/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 15:29:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993074 A return of the 4DSC? Nissan will reveal the 2016 Maxima at the New York Auto Show next month. No technical details have been announced, but this is our best look at it yet.

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A return of the 4DSC?

Nissan will reveal the 2016 Maxima at the New York Auto Show next month. No technical details have been announced, but this is our best look at it yet.

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Costs, Currency Issues Killed Mitsubishi-Renault Deal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/costs-currency-issues-killed-mitsubishi-renault-deal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/costs-currency-issues-killed-mitsubishi-renault-deal/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:09:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989674 Currency fluctuations and a lack of volume helped bring an end to a deal that would have seen Mitsubishi sell Renault-Samsung vehicles as their own in North America, according to a report by Just-Auto. While Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi will continue to share production of a kei-class minicar in Japan, proposed plans to sell a large Renault-Samsung vehicle […]

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Currency fluctuations and a lack of volume helped bring an end to a deal that would have seen Mitsubishi sell Renault-Samsung vehicles as their own in North America, according to a report by Just-Auto.

While Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi will continue to share production of a kei-class minicar in Japan, proposed plans to sell a large Renault-Samsung vehicle as a Mitsubishi in North America have been put on hold, along with the potential to export other models in the future. Currency issues and a lack of profitability for Renault-Nissan were cited as the main reasons that the deal fell through. Mitsubishi is apparently still open to searching for a new partner, while dealers are said to be growing anxious about a lack of competitive sedans in North America.

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Nissan Looking Beyond Federal Credits For Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989562 Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV. According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit […]

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Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV.

According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit harms EV adoption:

Being the first ones on the market, we should be among the first ones to reach 200,000, and you penalize those who’ve tried to be first?

That said, even when the $7,500 credit goes away, Nissan has plans to make the Leaf more attractive, from increasing the range to reducing the cost of the EV’s lithium-ion battery pack. Loing admits that the latter’s cost issue hasn’t improved quickly enough, and worries that falling oil prices aren’t going to help much either.

He was pleased with how well the Leaf fared in 2014, however; 30,200 units left U.S. showrooms that year, an all-time record for Nissan.

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Editorial: Nissan Is Not Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-nissan-is-not-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-nissan-is-not-volkswagen/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:43:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988858 Here’s a question that will determine your reaction to the editorial below. What does a car company need more: a strong lineup of volume offerings, or a few niche products that exist in this world, but will likely never cross your path? If you chose the second answer, you may want to stop reading. News of […]

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Here’s a question that will determine your reaction to the editorial below. What does a car company need more: a strong lineup of volume offerings, or a few niche products that exist in this world, but will likely never cross your path?

If you chose the second answer, you may want to stop reading.

News of the indefinite delay of exciting products like the Nissan IDx concept and the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prompted the usual wailing/gnashing of teeth from Jalopnik.

In an editorial titled “Nissan Steps Back From IDx And Q50 Eau Rouge To Focus On Boring Junk”Patrick George suggests that Nissan’s decision to focus on the core products in their lineup is a bad one.

“Ugh. Basically, their plan is to shy away from compelling products and double-down on boring ones to chase volume. That’s awesome. That’s what the world needs. It’s worked so well for Volkswagen, hasn’t it?”

We can go right past the long-beaten dead horse of “enthusiast cars don’t make money, nobody buys them, boring sells”, pass go, collect $200 and hone in on the Volkswagen analogy. It is wildly inaccurate.

As it stands now, Nissan is on a tear. The Altima, Versa and Rogue are strong sellers, at or near the top of their respective segments. The Juke isn’t a particularly strong seller in the United States, but it’s a global success. Even the Sentra, which is a particularly dreadful car to drive, does well. Nissan has a large dealer network, a long, successful history of manufacturing cars in the United States and a full lineup of passenger cars, trucks, SUVs, CUVs, commercial vehicles and sports cars.

Volkswagen has…none of that. Its history in the United States consists of the Beetle, Microbus and then a long history of mis-steps and an utter failure to understand the American marketplace, let alone even market vehicles that Americans want. The prior generation of Euro-oriented Passats and Jettas didn’t move the needle with the American public. Neither did this generation of Americanized cars. That doesn’t mean that Nissan’s approach to future strategy is *anything* like VW.

Not that it’s even about America. Lost in all the pandering and faux indignation is the fact that this is a globally-focused move, one that will help Nissan (and Renault and Dacia and Samsung) compete with VW in world markets, where Volkswagen is supposedly hoarding its best products. While VW is stumbling in the dark, Nissan is busy working on their own modular platforms, and they’re not keeping them away from North America either. The new CMF platform that underpins the Rogue is the same as the European X-Trail. Expect more of that in the future.

Aside from the lore of the Z-Car, the SE-Rs and the 240SXs, Nissan had a tumultuous experience in the 1990s, prior to Carlos Ghosn’s ascension to the throne. Despite being one of the more interesting Japanese performance car manufacturers, the company was a mess financially and organizationally. Ghosn turned the company around, at the expense of a lot of the interesting product that we fetishize.  Not pursuing the I is a good move – one look at how well the Scion FR-S is selling and you’d have to be delusional (or willfully ignorant in the pursuit of pageview clicks) to suggest a similar model for Nissan. As for the Q50 Eau Rouge? The lack of Sebastian Vettel and any coherent direction for Infiniti likely had more to do with that decision than anything else.

By focusing on the volume product, Nissan is sticking with what works – and perhaps, it will get better in terms of driving dynamics, styling, interior quality and the other metrics we value. At least we’ll see a good mid-size truck out of it.

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Piston Slap: Justy-fied Freestylin’ over CVTs, Part IV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-justy-fied-freestylin-cvts-part-iv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-justy-fied-freestylin-cvts-part-iv/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 13:40:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=975865   Mark writes: Hello, I enjoy reading the piston slap series. I have a 2009 Altima with the 2.5 4 banger and the CVT transmission. I’m not a big fan of the CVT, but it works ok and gets decent mileage. I bought this car as it was the cheapest car I could find that […]

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NS-1 For the Win? (photo courtesy www.cockramnissan.co.nz)

Mark writes:

Hello,

I enjoy reading the piston slap series.

I have a 2009 Altima with the 2.5 4 banger and the CVT transmission. I’m not a big fan of the CVT, but it works ok and gets decent mileage. I bought this car as it was the cheapest car I could find that fits 4 adults and qualified me for the cash-for-clunkers handout. I didn’t expect to keep it long or pile the miles on it this quickly but now it has 90k on it. I mostly drive it without any passengers as we now have 3 kids and the minivan gets used for family duty (just had one kid when we bought the Altima). I’m trying to decide if I should hold onto it or sell it – it’s kind of at that point where if I keep much longer, I’ll probably end up driving it into the ground.

The transmission is the wildcard to me – is there a consensus whether these trannys can be expected to last for 150k or more miles? The trans warranty goes through 120k but by that point the vehicle probably won’t be worth a whole lot.

Sajeev answers:

That body style Altima was my favorite rental in its class for a while, its CVT was surprisingly on point. Compared to other manufacturer’s downright slothy 6-speed automatic transaxles, Nissan’s CVT (from 2007 and up?) was no slouch in any metric.

Even if the transmission fails right after the warranty expires, this isn’t an unobtainium gearbox like the Subaru Justy.  Nissan’s been in the CVT game for years now, odds are they’ve spent millions investing in this future (including warranties). There’s a learning curve in rebuilding/diagnosing them, but (in theory) CVTs are fairly straightforward.  This webinar brings a ton of valuable pros and cons of CVTs from the perspective of a local transmission rebuilder.

Click here to view the embedded video.

I know, I know…it’s a long video. But what we think is a black box full of magic and devilish thoughts, others have dug in there and know how to fix them. The more I watch, the more comfortable I feel in owning a CVT car to run cost effectively for 200,000+ miles.

If you need a new CVT and a rebuild is not ideal, finding a low mile replacement from the junkyard should be simple and somewhat affordable. But the best thing you can do is RTFM and change the fluid as needed.  And ONLY use fluid recommended by Nissan, or a fully compatible counterpart. Use regular ATF and you’ll probably grenade the gearbox in a few months.

More to the point: NS1-FTW SON!

 

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.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-nissan-titan-xd-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-nissan-titan-xd-revealed/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 14:30:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=977745 Nissan is going big with its new 2016 Titan, especially with the larger Titan XD. The larger of the Titan’s two fully boxed frames, the XD’s 151.6-inch wheelbase is 20 inches longer than the standard Titan. The truck is powered by a 5-liter Cummins V8 capable of 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque, and […]

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2016-Nissan-Titan-1

Nissan is going big with its new 2016 Titan, especially with the larger Titan XD.

The larger of the Titan’s two fully boxed frames, the XD’s 151.6-inch wheelbase is 20 inches longer than the standard Titan. The truck is powered by a 5-liter Cummins V8 capable of 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a six-speed Aisin automatic. The diesel option also helps the XD slot in between half-ton and three-quarter ton trucks, a category it will have all to itself for now. Gasoline-fueled V6 and V8 engines are on the cards for a later date.

Towing capacity is an SAE J2807-certified 12,000 lbs when properly equipped, while the max payload is 2,000 lbs. Towing is handled with an integrated brake controller, trailer sway and downhill speed controls, and a lighting system check. The XD can also be had with an electronic locking rear differential.

The Titan will come in three cab configurations, five trim levels, and the aforementioned two frames and three powertrain options. Other features include: 12-volt and 120-volt power outlets; blind-spot warning; front and rear sonar; fold-out rear floor; lockable storage under the rear seat; and a 7-inch touchscreen with NissanConnect. No price has been announced thus far.

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2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD 2016 Nissan Titan XD

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Chart Of The Day: 11 Years Of Nissan Titan Market Share http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-11-years-nissan-titan-market-share/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-11-years-nissan-titan-market-share/#comments Sat, 27 Dec 2014 13:01:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968138 Nissan USA announced on December 16, 2014, that the next Titan, the second Titan, the first all-new Titan since 2003, will be introduced at 2015’s NAIAS in Detroit on January 12, 2015. Hardly altered since the production truck arrived for the 2004 model year, the Titan is now somewhat embarrassing. Yet while the truck never […]

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nissan titan u.s. full-size trucksNissan USA announced on December 16, 2014, that the next Titan, the second Titan, the first all-new Titan since 2003, will be introduced at 2015’s NAIAS in Detroit on January 12, 2015.

Hardly altered since the production truck arrived for the 2004 model year, the Titan is now somewhat embarrassing. Yet while the truck never had the potential to tackle full-size pickup trucks from Ford, General Motors, and Ram – Toyota can’t either – in the same way Nissan’s Altima can outsell their midsize sedans and Nissan’s Versa their subcompacts, initial U.S. volume was respectable.

This chart shows the first-generation Nissan Titan’s market share in America’s full-size truck segment over the first eleven years of its tenure. Without heavy-duty versions, countless engine options, and myriad trim lines, the Titan was at a disadvantage before one even takes into consideration the loyalty engendered by Detroit’s massive truck lines. But when Nissan was grabbing 3% of the full-size truck market as recently as 2007, we would have guessed that they were primed to interpret that as either a reason to give up or a reason to put up a fight. They are putting up a fight, but not until next year, six years after their market share fell below 2%.

Another truck making its debut in Detroit? The Toyota Tacoma, which this year sells 12 times more often than the Titan.

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

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Canada Auto Sales Recap: November 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/canada-auto-sales-recap-november-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/canada-auto-sales-recap-november-2014/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 13:41:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963210 Canadians registered more new vehicles in 2013 than any year in the country’s auto-buying age. Yet in 2014, that record was very nearly broken in the first eleven months of the year. Auto sales in Canada through November 2014 rose 5.5%, a gain of 89,000 units compared with the first eleven months of 2013. Despite […]

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TTAC Chart Canada recapCanadians registered more new vehicles in 2013 than any year in the country’s auto-buying age. Yet in 2014, that record was very nearly broken in the first eleven months of the year.

Auto sales in Canada through November 2014 rose 5.5%, a gain of 89,000 units compared with the first eleven months of 2013.

Despite a sharp 3.4% decline in the number of passenger cars sold in November, the Canadian auto industry was up 3.6% last month thanks to strong pickup truck volume (up 15% to 25,811 units) and continued improvement in the SUV/crossover category.

The overall passenger car market was let down by sharp decreases from the most popular cars in the country last month. The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, and Volkswagen Jetta – Canada’s first, third, fourth, and sixth-best-selling cars – produced 3198 fewer sales this November than in November 2013, a 21% drop. The remainder of Canada’s available car nameplates, more than 130 vehicles, generated a 2.8% increase when those four top sellers are excluded.

The Civic’s 27% November drop presented an opportunity for the Honda CR-V to surge to the top of the Honda leaderboard. Indeed, the CR-V was Honda Canada’s best-selling model in November 2014; Canada’s top-selling SUV/crossover, as well. The Ford Escape was thus knocked into second spot on the SUV/crossover best seller list for the first time since December of last year. CR-V sales shot up 56% to 4461 units in November 2014. It ranks third among utility vehicles year-to-date, 15,803 sales back of the Ford Escape; 934 sales behind the Toyota RAV4. All three are primed to break the sales records they set one year ago, as is the fourth-ranked Nissan Rogue, sales of which doubled in November.

18.6% of the new vehicles sold in Canada last month were pickup trucks, up from 16.7% in November 2013. The four top-selling truck nameplates, full-size pickups from Ford, Ram, and General Motors, generated a combined 18.6% year-over-year volume increase to 23,580 units, equal to 91.4% of the overall pickup truck market.

In November and through the first eleven months of 2014, Jeep is Canada’s fastest-growing volume brand. Sales at the Chrysler Group’s SUV brand jumped 44% in November to 5887 units, 28% of the automaker’s total November sales during a month in which Chrysler Canada was the country’s largest manufacturer.

Through the end of November, the Chrysler Group (Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram) trails the Ford Motor Company (Ford and Lincoln) by a scant 0.3% difference. By a wide margin, FoMoCo’s namesake Ford brand is Canada’s best-selling auto brand. Toyota is 94,504 sales back through eleven months. Among premium brands, Mercedes-Benz outsold BMW by 447 units in November, enough to spread the year-to-date gap to 772 sales. Audi, which has reported an 18.5% year-to-date sales improvement and jumped 30.5% in November, is Canada’s third-ranked premium brand.

Audi is one of 16 brands which sold more vehicles in the first eleven months of 2014 than in all of 2013. Nissan and Ram are the biggest brands to shoot past their 2013 sales levels with at least one month remaining in 2014.

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

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