By on August 26, 2010

Nissan was the fifth best-selling brand in the first half of 2010, but with nine new model rollouts planned for the next two years it’s looking for something its marketing team calls “breaking the mold” improvement. To do that, Nissan is leading its product blitz with distinctive products like the Leaf EV and the Juke “sportcross,” but it’s also working to bring more attention to its brand as well as its vehicles. Marketing boss Jon Brancheau explains the problem to AdAge

If you look back over the course of the last 18 months at our creative, a lot of it has been focused on individual models and there hasn’t been an overarching idea that held everything together, laddering to Nissan. That’s what’s different about this work. It’s focused on the vehicle lines supporting the Nissan brand rather than just focusing on individual launch activity. The Leaf is the most recent example to believe that Nissan is an innovative company and that’s how we want to transmit our message to consumers, we want to turn it around a little bit — Nissan is the brand, and here’s the reason you should believe in it.

Unfortunately, the vehicle for Nissan’s latest bid at brand awareness is based on the tagline “Innovation For All,” a bon mot that is unfortunately reminiscent of the ill-fated Chevrolet tagline “Excellence For Everyone.” For a brand that is respected by many but loved by few, that’s a dangerously vague approach to a marketing push, and it hardly seems like the message to propel Nissan out of its perennial also-ran status. On the other hand, it’s tough to put a finger on what exactly Nissan should stand for because it’s brand has almost always been poorly differentiated in this market. So we’re curious: what does the Nissan brand mean to you, and what are the strengths it should build on as it seeks to improve brand awareness? Or are they on the right track already?

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60 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: What Does The Nissan Brand Mean To You?...”

  • avatar

    Poor differentiation of brand is the goal for Nissan. The reason they were worth rescuing for Renault was that they ride the coat tales of Toyota and Honda’s hard earned repations. Nissans and Datsun have never been as high quality as the above mentioned Japanese brands, so avoiding any real identity has been superior to being identified as the gotcha cars from Asia. Now they’re a way of providing Renault a major presence in the US while avoiding any long memories about just how badly Renault builds cars.

  • avatar

    When I think of Nissan, I think of z cars, freakishly colored trucks in the 90’s, and cheap interiors. I also think of one of the best V6’s ever made, a brand that seems less averse to manual transmissions compared to most other mainstream automakers (how many manual maxima’s vs. camry’s, G35’s vs IS’s, etc), great trucks (pathfinder, xterra), and one of the most surprisingly fun small sedans around in the altima. I suppose they are (or were) more conscious of the driving experience. I don’t know if this is what a brand is built upon, but it’s what has drawn me to them when I’ve owned Nissans.

    As was mentioned in the recent Juke review, they now seem to be leaning more toward style rather than substance. That to me is NOT the right track.

  • avatar

    What does Nissan mean to me? Not a doggone thing! Actually I used to think Toyota=GM, Nissan/Datsun=Ford and Honda=Chrysler in terms of my perception to the relative company size. Now, no more. I did like the 2008 Sentra my wife and I rented in Phoenix two years ago – a totally different experience than the Corolla in L.A. during that same vacation. Might have been the trim level, to be fair. Other than that, they did the job probably as good as the million or so Aveos that seem to populate L.A.

  • avatar

    To me Nissan is a bag of apples. Some apples are quite good, others have a worm in them and some others simply rotten.

    Ah. I guess all brands are all like this lately.

    So, Nissan is just one of them out there. Anyone who “buys a brand” rather then a model makes a big mistake.

    • 0 avatar

      Bag of apples – that’s a brilliant analogy. My family has owned several Datsuns, Nissans and Infinitis over the years, and some have been awful PsOS and others have been brilliant. Most recently, I had a Titan that was a great truck. Meanwhile, my brother had a G35x that was a disaster – amazing dynamically, but rife with problems. However, Infiniti promptly gave him a new G37x that has been great. That seems to be the tale of Nissan’s entire lineup; some immediate home runs and some immediate outs. However, they tend to correct on the outs in due time, but some of the home runs morph into singles or doubles (Maxima, SE-R).

  • avatar

    Nissan and Mazda seem to be the brands that enthusiasts/commentators point to when chastising Toyota’s perceived lack of angular excitement but fail to purchase (Nissan/Mazda) in proportionate numbers.

  • avatar

    What does Nissan mean to me? PL-510, original Z cars and the 620 pick-ups.

  • avatar

    To me Nissan is the Pontiac of Japanese cars. They always aim for “sporty” styling, and often deliver better “performance” vehicles than Honda and Toyota. But while better in that one area, those cars are usually inferior in every other respect. The floorboard on my friend’s early 2000s vintage Altima rusted out. Accord and Camry owners do not suffer those problems.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      +1 Our local Buick Pontiac GMC dealer lost it’s “Pontiac” when the brand died, and the first thing that came to mind was; “These guys could sell Nissans in there sleep.” I think to the same customers, no problem. The only “fly in the ointment” would be that ugly-arse Sentra.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve always seen Nissan as sort-of Pontiacish as well. They seem to have a sporty undertone in all of their ads, and of the big Japanese automakers they have the most involving vehicles, and they emphasize power while Mazda tends to emphasize handling.

      The innovation idea could work, Nissan has done a ton with CVT transmissions, and probably make the best in the industry, the VG and VQ V6 engines are all great, and Nissan was once of the first companies to start bringing techno-luxury things like keyless start into their mid-level mainstream models.

    • 0 avatar

      Perfect comparison.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed I’ve always gotten the impression that Nissan was about machismo over refinement, muscle over quality. Perhaps because their giant SUVs and sports coupes get more attention than their economy cars. The Maxima and Altima emphasize size and straight-line acceleration over agility and handling (one way they are different than Mazda and also more American than European). With the exception of the minivan, their marketing seems very male-focused. The Leaf on the other hand is a huge departure for them.

  • avatar

    For me, Nissan is “that other” Japanese company that build perfectly competent vehicles, but doesn’t have that one factor that makes them stand out. Toyota got where it is by touting reliability, and Honda erned its name based on its engineering. (although in recent years both companies seem to have fallen asleep at the wheel) With exception of the Z, Nissan’s line up seems average. Nothing more, nothing less. Then theres Infinity, nice cars to be sure, but then, almost any other new car in the same class can also be called “nice”

    You summed it up perfectly. I respect the brand, but I feel no love for it.

  • avatar

    An interesting question. After thinking about it for a few seconds, my answer is “nothing”. I can’t remember the last time a Nissan vehicle piqued my interest. The old Skylines maybe, but the current GT-R? Meh. Same for the Z cars. They do nothing for me. Never have.

  • avatar

    To me, Nissan/Datsun is (or was) that company that was the functional equivilent/alternative to Toyota. Z cars, a good small pickup and the old 510 and 810.
    Today, Nissan is the company that builds everything – big to small, quite good to ultra crap, quirky to conservative. Not really Japaneese, not really european, not really American. I am not sure what Nissan is, exactly.
    The last time I seriously shopped Nissan was when I bought our 07 Honda Fit. Sat in a Versa. Not as Versa-Tile, not as fun to drive. Bought the Honda. The Versa sells today on the basis of the cheap sedan, not the hatchback that costs more.

  • avatar

    If you include Infiniti, broad range of vehicles with something for just about any customer. Not as much of a transportation appliance as a Toyota/Lexus.

    Going overboard with electronics, especially stuff that tries to drive the car for you.

    Typical good Japanese build qualify and reliability. Moderate maintenance cost. Far less troublesome and cheaper to maintain than any European brand.

  • avatar

    Nissan is in my blood (although I currently do not own one). My parents have owned many Nissan’s in their lives – two 200SX, a Nissan Van, two Maximas, Three Altimas and a Rogue. In a previous career I worked for Nissan North America and they do make some great products – but yes it is a mixed bag based on models and where they are manufactured. I for one think they represent a fresh alternative to Toyota and Honda. They offer an edge of sport with a pinch of style mixed in. Reliability has never been an issue with the vehicles I have driven except for the Canton Mississippi products in the first couple years of operation (Titan, Armada and Quest). I question some styling directions they take, but in the end at least they have the balls to buck the trend and that says a lot to me.

    • 0 avatar

      I too am a big Nissan fan. If you’ve owned a Maxima in the last 20 years you understand…they make one fine V6. My ’03 Maxima, last Japan built, may not have been much to look at but the engine was silent, quick, and trouble free. Need to pass on the freeway? Merely tap the accelerator and off you go. And the torque off the line…a pleasure to drive, and park at the airport without concern.

      With regard to the ad campaign, I always thought they should play up performance and economy. We’ll see how this Innovation thing works for them.

  • avatar

    Nissan used to have a sporty image, and they do still make the Z, and the Maxima is supposed to handle pretty well, but the Sentra and Versa are major softies. The Sentra handles almost as badly as an Elantra, and both are worse than a Corolla. Nissan doesn’t have an identity anymore. Maybe that’s ok; they seem to be selling pretty well.

    Infiniti is easy: Japanese BMW

  • avatar

    The car company formerly known as Datsun. Close, but not quite there. Currently a few attractive and several hideous designs. Cup of Noodles…oh wait, that’s Nissen.

  • avatar

    First of all, for me Nissan is and will always be the crappiest car I ever owned. It needed more repairs, cost me more money and left me stranded more than all the other cars I’ve owned combined. I wouldn’t own another one on a bet.

    Beyond that, with the exception of the Z, Nissan represents the oddest, quirkiest styling this side of France. It apparently holds some appeal for others but it doesn’t work for me.

  • avatar

    It means the best in japanese performance. But, it also means a vehicle that may have quality problems almost as bad as a typical Ford or GM. Still, I think the GT-R is the most desirable car at any price. I would buy one, but I am afraid I would kill myself in a crash. So, I just watch them go by.

  • avatar

    1976 280Z POS but good looking.
    1980 Datsun 200SX: Ok car but woman’s voice very annoying.
    1982 280ZX: good looking (more or less) but ridiculous concept.
    1982 Datsun 810 (Maxima): average looking but good car.
    1987 Maxima, reasonably good looking and overall good car.

    That’s it for me.

  • avatar

    My first car was a Nissan – a 1991 2 door sentra. My dad bought it new and I was the sixth family member to drive it. Lots of stuff wrong with it, but you always have a warm place for your first car.
    One thing I do remember – the base model was so stripped, Nissan made a few more features standard after we had bought it and mailed them to us.

    We bought it because the Toyota dealership was out of Tercels.

  • avatar


    I find Nissan much more than the other 3 Japanese makes, will sacrifice comfort (NVH levels) in the pursuit of performance…

  • avatar

    ***re: unbreakable

    between the 1991 Nissan 240sx and the 1999 Maxima SE… both of which I have personally flogged mercilessly (although they belonged to friends of mine), they would not break… they would take it, and then ask for some more…. and both vehicles, although quite simple in many respects, had a very endearing quality to them…

  • avatar

    from (the japanese engrish website), in an ad presumably aimed at engrish speakers in japan

    “Forever and always, we can meet our best friend–nature! Take a grip of steering. Nissan”

    Seriously, nissan’s a pot pourri. decent quality cars, nice to drive in my limited experience, but the murano and its infiniti twin are some of the ugliest cars on the road. the Z–beautiful but porky.

  • avatar

    They try to have better styling than the bland Toyotas and overwrought and ugly Hondas. But are the cars sporty? I was in a Sentra and the CVT was not fit for this car. The engine wanted to rev but the CVT held it down.

    So I say that Nissan to me is an alternative to Toyota and Honda with better styling, but not much else.

  • avatar

    Cup O’Noodles

  • avatar

    I liked the Armada that I test drove, it seemed the best of the large truckish SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Too bad the Infiniti equivalent looks like a modern take on a 1957 Buick Caballero (even has “portholes”)

  • avatar

    I second Jeffer.
    PL510, 240Z. My first car was an early 70’s 510. Nissan needs to bring cars with the same spirits back. Something that is more affordable than the GT-R please.

  • avatar

    To me Nissan supports the design triangle “fast, cheap, good pick two” perfectly. My 2007 Xterra was indeed fast and relatively cheap but in no way good. It was in the shop for major, time consuming problems almost as much as it was on the road. The tires wore out after 20k miles of on-road driving, suspension bushings went at 25k, timing chain went at 27k, shocks blew at 28k, fuel delivery system was on it’s way out soon after. Fearing the end of my warranty I traded it in for a Mazda 3. Somehow I don’t think this would have been the case if I had bought an FJ Cruiser instead.

  • avatar

    I’d say, model for model, a Nissan is sportier than the equivalent Toyota and but a bit less sporty than the equivalent Honda. IE, a safe choice for people wanting to avoid the herd mentality which comes with selecting a Toyota or Honda. The Nissan dealers seem pretty aggressive, although not as aggressive as Hyundai’s.

  • avatar

    I’ve never owned a Nissan, though several of their models were second choices to the cars I did buy. I’ve always considered them a sporty brand, though not as much so as Mazda. Lots of racing heritage and some classics along the way (240Z, 510, original Maxima, original SE-R, 240SX, Skyline GTR’s, even the reborn Z). Their recent style (370Z excepted) and use of CVT’s leaves me cold, though.

    Oh, and shift_WTF?

  • avatar

    “Nissan (Japanese) A bit more room for a bit less money”.

  • avatar

    Not sure it says much about Nissan overall but I feel I should weigh in due to my extensive experience of Nissan ownership. I have been driving a 1997 Sentra since 2001. It was the California edition with no amenities. No A/C. No audio. No power steering. No doohickeys. No widgets. Instrument panel is a vast expanse of empty space. Side mirror only on the driver side (all my friends thought that was illegal but it keeps passing inspection). Etc. Etc. All this on a car made in the USA in 1997!! (OK, 1996)

    I got some obscure valve replaced one time for ~$200 P+L (needed to pass smog), otherwise just regular maintenance. No transmission issues either although various signs point to some on the horizon. (manual of course). Current odo ~140,000 miles.

    No features means light weight, which makes 115HP from the 1.6 more than adequate, handling great (at least in dry weather), and gas mileage approaching 40 highway.

    Overall, an amazingly low cost of ownership vehicle. (it must’ve retailed new for under $10K, so there was never much room for depreciation).

  • avatar

    “Innovation For All” is a perfectly reasonable aspiration for Nissan, though they are a fair distance from it.

    Nissan seems capable, but has had a lot more misses than hits over the years. For every great small pickup, 280Z, or Maxima, there are decades of Sentras of spotty reliability, goofy Stanza wagons and Quests, and uncompetitive big pickups.

  • avatar

    To me, they represent reasonably sporty cars for a reasonable price. This is something I think Nissan has marketed fairly well until recently. Of course, they always had their econoboxes (Sentra, here’s looking at you,) but that’s just smart on their part because they’ll be able to sell you a higher-margin Maxima, Z-car or trucky thing down the road when your needs and (hopefully) income status change. Or they will sell you another Sentra. Whatever.

    We’ve owned a 2004 Sentra 1.8S for nearly five years now. We bought it used with 50,000 miles on it. Must have been a fleet car of some kind to have that many miles on it when it was barely two years old. It has been a generally reliable ride, if not exactly sporty with its four-speed slushbox. Only problems we’ve had:

    1. CD player ate a CD and never spit it out. Removing the CD player is a major ordeal. Decent-priced aftermarket units don’t look right to me in this car, and factory units (expensive) are likely to do the same thing this one has in due time. We just plug a cheap MP3 player into the AUX jack to bypass the need for CDs.

    2. Interior stains easily and never seems to come all the way clean. This is a common complaint on Sentras, it seems. Not so much on the more upscale cars and even the newer econoboxes like the Cube, whose interior seems of much higher quality than our car’s.

    3. Brake rotors rusted badly. Good old Japanese steel, I guess. Aftermarket units fixed that problem.

    4. Fuel pump valve problem common to almost all Sentras, especially with the QG18DE engine– lets fuel drain out of the fuel rail and lines back into the tank when parked, causing a stumble on first start-up attempt. Fixed once for free by Nissan, but has come back lately after a few years of solid, mostly error-free operation. Always starts the second time, so no problem– we’ll just drive it this way.

    All in all, my image is of a reliable car company that isn’t afraid to take risks. The Cube, for example. It wasn’t in their “sporty” brand profile that was being marketed at the time the Cube was announced, but by golly if they haven’t got us considering it for our next car soon. The Sentra’s not getting any younger, and we’re trying to start a family. You want a car that’s easy to load a baby seat into? The Cube is your ride.

    I really don’t know any other direction Nissan can take. I’m pretty satisfied with them right where they’re at. They’re in a position where they’ve got to stay hungry, which I think is good for them in the long term. Unlike, say, Toyota, who mirrors GM so much now that it scares me to even consider buying a Toyota or Scion. They’re profitable and they haven’t had any major screw-ups in a long time. What else do you want from them?

    • 0 avatar

      For your #4 problem: What if you hold the key to ‘on’ for a few seconds before you turn to ‘start’? It should prime the fuel pump and bring the lines up to pressure. It works on my Intergra.

    • 0 avatar


      I have had a Nissan in the past (1994 Hardbody pickup truck) that required we do just such a thing, so it has always been standard operating procedure with our Sentra to do the same. Doesn’t work on this car. Someone told me that you can hold the key just past “ON” but not quite to “START,” and the pump will start running continuously instead of just doing the one-second prime that it does when switched to “ON.”

      I’m going to try that trick next time I drive it. The wife, who drives it 99 percent of the time, doesn’t care so much for fancy tricks. She just does the regular one-second prime– you can hear the fuel pump run, then shut off– and if it doesn’t fire the first time, she cycles back through the process. I can’t think of a single time it hasn’t worked on the second try.

  • avatar

    In my oh-so important opinion to oh-so few people (one) based mainly upon thoughts hearkening mainly back to the Datsuns/Nissans of the 70s to 80s (with lesser thoughts arising from later vehicles) I generally mainly broadly considered the brand to be a wee bit more of a “budget” brand willing to sacrifice a minor bit of quality to sell cheaper or to cut costs so as to maximize profit or whatever the case may be.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Skylines, Silvias, SE-Rs, and hardbodies.

  • avatar

    Since the Datsun 510, not much.

    I rode in an Altima a few months ago. Impressions: tinny. cheap and uninspiring interior. No personality. Unpleasant noises generated on the streets of Calgary.

    For some reason, most of the Nissans in my community are owned by Russian immigrants. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you have to admit it’s strange.

    Before I would consider a Nissan, my eleven year Crown Vic would have to disintegrate, and Volkswagen, Honda, Subaru, and Ford would have to self-destruct. Notice that I didn’t include Toyota. A guy has to have some class.

  • avatar

    This is the company famous for such taglines as “Datsun. We are driven.” and “Built for the Human Race.” So, frankly, I think they have a hard time coming up with a great tagline. (Okay, as this 1980 commercial suggests, the driven metaphor might be a bid overdone.)

    Nevertheless, after a “meh” experience with a 1983 Nissan Stanza that needed far more attention than it was worth, I’ve never found their models all that compelling. Yes, they build one heck of a V6 engine. And the Z cars were and are classics. But nothing they do really seems to be that much better (or worse, I guess) than any other generic car on the market.

  • avatar

    It’s a good question. They’re very obviously a child of two cultures: there’s a lot of French quirky-for-quirkiness’-sake design and product planning (and, unfortunately, the occasional French quality control), but it’s tempered with Japanese pragmatism.

    The Maxima (and to a lesser degree, the Altima) is the best example of this: the details are French, the core is Japanese.

    Sometimes, though, one culture sticks out a little more than the other. The Quest and Juke are plainly French efforts; the Altima, GT-R and Versa very much the product of Japanese ethos (as the Cube, though in a different way)

    It’s a synergy that gets you a lineup not quite like anyone else’s, save perhaps Mitsubishi’s, though they do a better job as they’re not played for quite that patsy that Mitsu is. It’s a merger of equals in the way that DaimlerChrysler was supposed to be. It’s also starting to produce some very good cars.

    Where Nissan goes awry is when they try and build something that’s patently out of the competency of those cultures. And here I’m talking about the Titan and it’s spawn. They could get there, but it will take some time and distract them from what they are good at in the process.

    • 0 avatar

      Hmmm. Very interesting. I remember the ’92 Wrangler I owned with the mish-mash of foreign and domestic parts. Whoever came up with the brilliant idea of housing the throwout bearing on the shaft so you have to remove/pull back the tranny to change it? About $600.00 to fix. Why did the tranny have difficulty when you shifted from first to second gear? The quirks are what caused me to sell it – too expensive for me to maintain, but the 4.0 was awesome!

      Do you suppose Ed can find an old Datsun Bluebird in Eugene to report on in CC? If one exists, it’s gotta be up there!

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I’ve read a few things which suggest that, after Prince was folded into Nissan in the late ’60s, it retained a fair amount of autonomy under the Nissan umbrella. Hence, the boring sedans and trucks came from the old Nissan side while the fun sporty stuff was developed by the Prince side. Supposedly, this internal division lasted in some form right up to the Renault/Ghosn reorganization.

  • avatar

    It means some idiot who couldn’t afford a real sportscar who got a deal on a lease for a Nissan sedan driving and beating the car too fast while leaning so far over on the console they’re a passenger in their own car.

    That and if you’re over 6′ your NOT fitting into any of their SUV’s, including the Morono, and especially the FX.

    • 0 avatar

      Sat in a Cube lately? Maybe not a real SUV, but I fit better in that little thing than just about any other vehicle I’ve sat in lately, including a Honda Accord sedan. It just feels so natural and relaxed.

      My problem with the Accord and to some extent, our Sentra: Support in the wrong places in the seats (need lumbar support and/or better adjustability of it) and lack of adjustable pedals/lack of adequate telescoping steering column (which leaves my arms too-outstretched for comfortable driving when the seat is adjusted to account for my long legs.) I’m 6’3″, all leg, so these matters of comfort are important to me.

  • avatar

    Nissan has made a few odd-looking vehicles, but then so have Honda & Toyota. I have owned or maintained some from all three makes and see very little quality difference. We currently own three vehicles with the Nissan VQ engine and they are all trouble-free. Nissan makes sportier vehicles and is a better value than Honda or Toyota.

  • avatar

    Nissan makes dependable vehicles that are tuned more to the sporty side compared to Honda and Toyota. The sound insulation is a little lacking and the interiors used to be cheap compared to the competition. Fuel economy is slightly lower than Honda/Toyota, and Nissan has been slow to adopt new standard safety features like side airbags and stability control over the past several years. Most studies of reliability will place them a slot lower than their Japanese brethren, but in my own experience, I have not been able to complain about their reliability, and indeed, the Nissans I’ve owned have compared favorably to Pontiac, VW, and BMW in the reliability department. I think they’re on par with Honda/Toyota even if the numbers are slightly worse.

    I’m squarely in Nissan’s stated target market for the Juke, and after reading a couple of reviews, I would probably love to have one, but I look back at all the money I’ve wasted on cars over the years and realize that the Altima I have now gets me where I’m going comfortably, and I really have little to complain about.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Nissan means: Japanese, not Toyota or Honda.

  • avatar

    Nissan to me is one of the most unfocused brands on the palette. OK their range can fit almost every one of your need. From the Micra runabout to the Nurburgring lap record busting GT-R. but would i buy one? no…

    plus they tend to uglify their cars as the years go by, Juke, Murano,Maxima,qashqai 370Z… seriously… plus these aforementioned models in no way look like the rest of the line-up. Patrol, Pathfinder,X-Terra, X trail Altima. oh don’t get me started on the Altima’s interior… it’s like they borrowed the steering wheel from the Murano of the time and went on a very long lunch break…

    another thing is the condecending way they were adressing their flagship’s customer. Buy a GT-R it has Launch Control and a guarantee, but if you use Launch Control we will find out thanks to the black box and will strip you of your guarantee, but that is after our dealer charges you a markup in the region of 100%.

    Oh yeah one more thing, when photos of the Patrol leaked into the press, Nissan issued a threat by email to a number of press outlets forbidding them to use these photos or else they will seize any type of support to that specific outlet… very classy

    Nissan Sucks…I love cars and have a soft spot or respect for almost all the brands, But Nissan???? no thank you… my first behind the wheel experience was in a Nissan, and my dream car as a child was the 80’s 300zx…

  • avatar

    To me, Nissan has always meant Japanese reliability without the boredom. As was stated above, a Japanese Pontiac of sorts. Their lineup has always leaned more towards the sporty side, and the cars and trucks are anything but boring with some unusual styling details, great engines, and good values.

    I’ve now owned 4 Nissans in the 17 years I’ve been driving. a 93 SE-V6 Hardbody, 95 XE 4cyl Hardbody, 93 Pathfinder SE-V6, and now an 08 Frontier SE V6 Crewcab. I guess you could say I like their trucks. They have all been tough, dead reliable (even the 93 truck which went 50k without an oil change, wash, or any maintenance at all while I was away at school and my father used it on the farm and to commute), and great values compared to the competition. The early ones had seriously inadequate rustproofing (that same 93 truck had so much rust that the frame sagged in the middle making the bed and cab touch), hopefully my 08 is better in that regard. When truck shopping I looked at all the small/midsize trucks, and there was no comparison. The Frontier is a (relatively) sporty drive compared to the Toyota, Chevy, and Dodge, got the same or better gas mileage, has more power on regular vs premium fuel that the Toyota takes, and has more stuff for a lower price than the Toyota. Plus, the Nissan V6 is and always has been a great engine, with the bonus of having a timing chain instead of a belt. I’ve always really liked Nissans, and even after cross shopping I still come back to them.

  • avatar

    While I’ve had a few Nissan/Datsuns over the years (including a 240Z) I fail to see a coherent brand strategy in their current lineup or any stand-out must-have vehicle. There is also no overall design language to bring the range together. The Versa is clearly a Renault product while the Altima is totally forgettable and the Juke is freaky – there really is no particular Nissan style.

  • avatar

    Having never owned one, my experience is through the eyes of my friends who have. My best friend bought a Micra back in 2001, and it was by far and away the most bullet-proof car I have ever seen. He tried his best to destroy it by driving at obscene speeds (for a 1.0L 16v engine) and brutalizing it in every possible way. When that didn’t work, he sold it to his sister. Last time I saw the thing it was still mechanically sound, however rust was overtaking most of the wheel arches.
    Another friend owns a 2000 Maxima and a 2003 Altima, and both are smooth and easy to drive cars, however both have been plagued by pretty much every sensor on the engine & exhaust system packing up one by one. Whether this was a particular fault of this generation of Nissans I don’t know, but it has put him off buying any more.
    Personally I have considered buying a Nissan before, but styling wise they just don’t do it for me. If I was to buy Japanese, my first port of call would be Mazda.

  • avatar

    When I think of Nissan, I think about my family first brand new car, 97 Forest Green Pathfinder LE, all other cars of ours were used. Over 310,000 miles and still going, got T-bone cause my dad thought it was smart to run a stop sign, and it kept on going. The interior quality was crap but that engine wow. Edit: I just remember the Pathfinder got rear ended too! We ended up fixing the body and the T-bone accident. Right now, the suv shake a bit when my dad go from a stand still but meh it ain’t dying.

    Nissan is the only brand that tries to add sportiness into their cars out of the 3 Japanese brand. Although there are some failure, they do make some great cars out there. Their Z, Altima, & Xterra are pretty good. Sentra fail hard so does the Versa but last time I check, they’ve manage to sell lots of Versa. Their 1st gen Murano was a risk taker and it was great. Their Juke will be the same. The GT-R is a technical marvel.

    What I will always remember is their VQ engine. Got Wards Top Ten engine streak for a long time, and oh how durable it is. I think it was the first V6 to hit the 300 hp. All I know is Nissan makes great V6 and they take risks. It’s great to have a company that is willing to take risk on technologies and style. Now bring back the Silvia/240sx and fix the Versa and Sentra style!

  • avatar

    A Nissan is a Japanese Pontiac. It is an overstyled OK car that a lot of folks like because of it’s style. It kinda looks sporty, and then takes that sporty look over the cliff.

    Forty years ago, it was just Nissan and Toyota, and they weren’t Toyota. Now, I’m not sure what they aren’t. The cars I’ve had that were Nissans weren’t as good as my Toyotas or Hondas. They were always sport-aspriring, but had really sad gas mileage and nothing to brag about interiors.

    Sporty Japanese? I think Mazda.
    Senior Japanese? I think Toyota and Honda
    Everyday Japanese? Well, maybe Nissan.

    Today, I prefer Ford over any of them.

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