Category Archives: Nissan

2012 Nissan Armada Platinum 4X4 (930)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Nissan Armada Platinum 4X4 SUV. I always think of the Spanish Navy of old when I think of the name given this SUV. Usually Armada refers to a large fleet of ships, so I’m guessing it was named that because it is in fact a very Large SUV.
It will seat 7 or 8 if needed, and comfortably I might add. The 3rd row seats are split and are put up and down flat at the push of a button. Real convenient at the market etc., when you need a little more cargo space.
I golf with a group of guys and although I rarely remember what happened yesterday, I recall vividly the last time I drove the Armada. It was shortly after it was introduced the North America in 2004. Four friends met in Charlotte, NC where we picked up the Armada, loaded our luggage and golf clubs and headed off to Pinehurst for a week playing 4 different courses at Pinehurst. It is rather elegant and the Armada fit right in especially to comfortably carry four big guys and all their stuff and look like we belonged at this prestigious club.
Nissan provides all the comforts of the estate I don’t live in. Thanks for the memories.

General Information:

Parts content – US/ Canadian / not available. It is assembled in Canton, Mississippi, USA; Classification is SUV. Cars from Nissan: Altima, Altima Hybrid, Armada, cube, Frontier, GT-R, JUKE, LEAF, Maxima, Murano, Murano CrossCabriolet NV Cargo, NV Passenger, Pathfinder, Quest, Rogue, Sentra, Titan, Versa and Xterra.

Opinion:

Hints for ‘stress free’ travel:

1.     Include Cruise Control when you buy your next car if you don’t already have it. It is surely one of the best travel companions you can have.

2.     Set your speed on cruise at a speed that equals the general flow of traffic – then sit back and relax.

3.     Adjust your travel times for “Off Peak” traffic. Many employers will welcome “Flex Time” so check it out.

4.     Consider moving closer to work.

5.     Avoid Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday since they are the heaviest traffic days. Monday and Friday are far more congested.

In short, be out of step with the rest of the world when it comes to travel in your car or any other method of transportation.

Handling & Performance:

It is a handful to handle a large SUV and reminds me that it is just slightly smaller than my Ford F350 crew cab pickup truck that is built to pull a house. I don’t need big in a passenger vehicle but I know there is a need out there for such large SUVs as this Armada.

And naturally as you’d expect the powerful V8 is equal to the heavy loads it’s made to carry or pull. Thus big V8s consume a lot of fuel to run them.

Styling:

The look and feel hasn’t changed a lot since it was introduced in 2004 and remains an elegant offering in this segment of the market. In fact one of the slogans Nissan marketing uses to describe the Armada is “Big on Adventure, Big on Space”

Fit and Finish:

Everything is big. Big door handles, big seats, big wheels and tires etc., etc. like the truck platform it sits on.

Cost:

Price realization is equal to price anticipation the moment you get aboard. You simply know it will cost a lot.

Conveniences and comfort:

The price is explained in the list of all the comforts you could ever want or need. The kids are going to love this addition to the family. Heated 2nd row seats, Bose audio system with 11 speakers, MP3 and CD ROM playback with rear audio controls, 3rd row audio performance auxiliary input jack, DVD player with remote control and ceiling mounted 8” color display, rear seat wireless headphones, rear air conditioner with rear controls, 3 row overhead consoles and 6 lights, 4 – 12 volt power outlets and 1 with direct battery access.

Consumer Recommendation:

There is a lot of SUV here if you have a need. Son Mike could really use this sled for his 5 kids and all the stuff they are into in this high tech world in which we live. If you can’t travel back in time to a more simple life, this is the next best vehicle for the world in which we’re forced to survive.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Armada $54,000, Land Rover LR4 $49,000, Lincoln Navigator $63,000,  BMW X5 $64,000, Buick Enclave $36,000, Ford Expedition $42,000, Toyota Sequoia $45,000, Acura MDX $55,000, Audi Q7 $46,000, Cadillac Escalade $82,000, Chevrolet Suburban $51,000, Ford Explorer $34,000, GMC Yukon $44,000, GMC Yukon XL $53,000, GMC Yukon Denali $81,000, Infiniti QX56 $62,000, Mercedes-Benz GL Class $63,000, Toyota Land Cruiser $78,000, Volvo XC90 $45,000.

Good News:

Big comfort for those who need to move several passengers and cargo in style.

Bad News:

It will consume lots of gas.

Standard Equipment:

5.6 liter 317 horsepower V8 engine, 5-speed auto transmission, 2-speed transfer case with 4 low and Auto 4X4, 4-wheel independent suspension, auto leveling rear suspension, 4-wheel ABS disc Brakes, 4-wheel limited slip, 20” chrome wheels, full size spare, trailer brake controller pre-wire, receiver hitch with 7 pin wiring harness, front, side and roof mounted curtain and rollover supplemental air bags, LATCH system, dynamic control system, tire pressure monitor, security system, with engine immobilizer, 8-way power driver seat with manual lumbar support, padded armrest, fold flat 2nd row seating, power 3rd row with 60/40 split seat, 4-way power passenger seat, power adjustable pedals, leather seats, heated front and 2nd row seats, memory settings for driver seat and pedals and side view mirrors, leather wrapped heated steering wheel, wood tone trim, HDD Navigation system, XM / Bose audio w/ CD/ MP3, rear audio, Aux input jack, Bluetooth phone, DVD player w/ remote control, 8” ceiling mounted color display, dual zone climate control, rear A/C with rear controls, intelligent key, power windows & locks, 7” color display with rear view camera, front and rear sonar system, power sliding moon roof, footwell lights, 4-12 V power outlets, 1 with direct batter access, fog lights, front tow hooks, power folding heated side view mirrors, chrome roof rack with cross bars and power rear liftgate.

Gas Stats:

$3.55/ Gal avg. July 6, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

12 City and Highway 18 MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $53,950.

2012 Nissan cube (918)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Nissan CUBE 1.8 S Small station wagon.

General Information: 

Parts from the US/ Canadian n/a; Classification is Small Station Wagon. Cars from Nissan:  Altima, Altima Hybrid, Armada, cube, Frontier, GT-R, JUKE, LEAF, Maxima, Murano, Murano CrossCabriolet, NV Cargo, NV Passenger, Pathfinder, Quest, Rogue, Sentra, Titan, Versa, XTerra and Z.

Opinion:

Fuel economy is really getting important now with prices sure to rise to $8-10 per gallon if the current trend continues. Change is needed to get back to policies that will not only develop alternative energy sources, but to realize oil is still needed until those other sources are developed. What will it take to for people to demand sensible and responsible oil consumption?  Will it be that you will pay $200 or more to fill your tank with gas. And that translates to as much as $10,000 per year before folks will be convinced radical policies are not in our best interest. If prices do go to those levels that will mean Obama has been re-elected and it will be too late to fix the problem.

Think about it. . . as you recall it was Henry Ford who said “Thinking is the hardest work, which is why so few people do it”.

Handling & Performance:

This is a nice handling little wagon with a good turning radius and generally an all around nice around town car. It is also pretty good on the highway except it is a little “light on its feet” which is good for dancing but not so good on the highway on a breezy day.

CVT – Continuously Variable Transmission. Today, several car manufacturers, including General Motors, Audi, Honda and Nissan are designing their drivetrains around CVTs to replace planetary conventional automatic transmissions. The concept is not new with the first patent filed in 1886 after it was conceptualized by Leonardo da Vinci about 500 years earlier.

Of course CVT technology has been refined and improved. CVT employs a pulley based system or are Toroidal (replace belts and pullys with discs and power rollers) or Hydrostatic in design (that usesvariable-displacement pumps to vary the fluid flow into hydrostatic motors).

The benefits are that CVTs have far fewer parts that deliver a smoother ride because it eliminates “shift shock”, improved fuel efficiency, better acceleration, better control over emissions as CVTs replace inefficient fluid torque converters used in current conventional automatic transmissions. Whichever version of the CVT works best, it would appear likely to be the choice of all car makers in the future.

Styling:

Of course, we know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Ugly Betty comes to mind. Cube is odd looking but such design has become acceptable in today’s world. The design is not aerodynamic, and that’s ok too because we’re not trying to break the ground speed record in our transportation vehicles. Surely it is spacious, especially in that it has headroom an NBA player would appreciate. Ultimately the consumer will decide if a car has to be pretty to make it. That fact of not being pretty was echoed by virtually everyone I talked with.

The first thing people noticed, with a curious look, is the “hairpiece” setting atop the dash. Or you may see it as piece of shag carpet left over from carpeting your house in the 1950s / 60s.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

Very good.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good. I especially appreciate the ease of Bluetooth connection and if you use Pandora on your iPhone it feeds right into the audio. On the other hand I don’t care for the visors that don’t extend to cover the side window.

I like the large swing out door to the Cargo area, which is very small, but the rear seat folds down that provides a larger area if you won’t need rear seating.

Consumer Recommendation:

Remember the Rotary engine introduced in the 1960s? Well my suggestion is that if the cube is your choice, be sure the warranty is bullet proof and covers the CVT transmission. If Consumer Guide is a credible source for you, they gave it the 2012 Best Buy Award.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan cube $15,000, Chevrolet  HHR $19,000, Ford Transit Connect $22,000, Jeep Compass $19,000,  Honda Element $21,000, Kia Soul $14,000, Scion xB $16,000, Toyota Matrix $19,000.

Good News:

Good fuel economy, well priced.

Bad News:

Some will say it is unattractive.

Standard Equipment:

1.8 Liter 4-cylinder engine, CVT continuous variable transmission, power assist ABS front disc and rear drum brakes, 15” steel wheels, front and side curtain airbags, LATCH system, traction control, dynamic control and brake force distribution, tire pressure monitor, security system with immobilizer, 6-way driver manual seat adjustment, cloth seats, 60/40 split fold down rear bench seat, leather wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, audio system with 6-speakers, iPod interface, Bluetooth hands free phone system, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows and auto locking feature, intermittent wipers front and rear, power mirrors, swing rear cargo door.

Gas Stats:

$4.09/ Gal avg. April 14, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

27 City and 31 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $17,420.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Nissan Murano LE FWD SUV/Crossover. (915)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Nissan Murano LE FWD SUV/ Crossover.

The Murano is Nissan’s midsize crossover that received its first redesign as an early 2009 model after skipping the 2008 model year. First introduced as a 2003 model, Murano is named after the elegant sculpted glass art that comes from the islands near Venice, as a tribute to the dramatic exterior and interior styling. It combines the desirable attributes of a truck-based SUV, such as cargo capacity, ride height and available all-wheel drive, with the refinement, handling, and ride comfort of a sedan.

Crash-test results are impressive, but you’ll notice a limited rear visibility which is a notable drawback.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian – n/a

Assembly – Japan

Class  – SUV / Crossover

Cars – Altima, Altima Hybrid, Armada, Cube, Frontier, GT-R, JUKE, LEAF, Maxima, Murano Cross Cabriolet, NV Cargo, Pathfinder, Quest, Rogue, Sentra, Titan, Versa & Xterra.

Handling & Performance:

The 3.5-liter 260 horsepower V6 engine is powerful and delivers a respectable 19 mpg overall. The CVT (Continuous Variable) Transmission is recognized as one of the best on the market. Handling remains responsive and gave me a secure feeling.

Styling:

The interior is stylish, functional and roomy with comfortable rear seats and easy access are pluses.

Fit and Finish:

Very good and typical for Nissan and Japanese cars generally.

Cost:

Ok, so it is a bit pricey at first blush, but the ‘quality’ is in there and Nissan is perhaps the oldest Japanese made US import that has enjoyed a great REPutation for quality and carefree operation. Further, the higher price is in part due to the very complete list of standard features.

Conveniences and comfort:

This model includes nearly everything that is offered by any luxury automobile, most of which are not needed – that is if you’d rather save about $10,000 by opting for one of the competitors listed.

Consumer Recommendation:

There is a broad array of players in this segment of the market because of the long running love affair the world has with SUV’s. Lot’s to choose from is good news except that it will be a daunting task for you in select the best for your need. I’m sorry to say although I have test driven all, I’m rather indifferent with the exception that I would urge you to include the lower priced in the list here.

Why, because the lower priced brands noted here are new kids on the block, as with the Korean brands (Hyundai and Kia), or American brands hungry for a larger share of the market. Those lower priced brands are, in my opinion, the best bang for the buck in an uncertain economic world.                                                                                                                                                                                      Recognized Competition:

Nissan Murano $39,000, Acura RDX $33,000, Audi Q5 $36,000, Buick Enclave $35,000, Cadillac SRX $42,000, Chevrolet Equinox $25,000, Chevrolet Traverse $30,000, Dodge Durango $38,000, Dodge Journey $26,000, Ford Edge $28,000, Ford Explorer $29,000, GMC Acadia $33,000, GMC Terrain $26,000, Honda Crosstour $28,000, Honda Pilot$39,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $25,000, Hyundai Veracruz $28,000, Infiniti EX $37,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $27,000, Kia Sedona $25,000, Kia Sorento $28,000, Lexus RX 350 $39,000, Lincoln MKX $40,000, Mazda CX-7 $34,000, Mazda CX-9 $34,000, Mercedes Benz GLK $36,000, Mitsubishi Endeavor $32,000, Nissan Cross Cabriolet $45,000, Subaru Tribeca $36,000, Toyota Highlander $29,000, Toyota Venza $29,000, Volkswagen Tiguan $32,000, Volvo XC60 $33,000.

Good News:

Powerful, smoothly quiet, roomy interior, nice fit and finish, easy entry / exit access and fair fuel economy given the power level. If price is not important to you, this car comes ‘loaded’ with conveniences.

Bad News:

Poor Rear visibility and with increased fuel prices many will reject it on that basis alone.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 260 hp V6 engine, CVT auto trans, front wheel drive, 20” aluminum alloy wheels, front side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child system, 4-wheel anti-lock power brake system, dynamic control, traction control, brake force distribution, tire pressure monitor, security system with engine immobilizer, 8-way power driver seat, 4-way power front passenger seat, heated front and rear seats, 60/40 fold flat split  seatback, leather, wood tone trim, leather wrapped heated steering wheel, cruise control, power tilt and telescopic leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise control switches, driver memory settings, 7” color display with rearview monitor, Bose audio system with CD and 9-speakers, auxiliary audio and video inputs, XM satellite radio, USB with iPod interface, Bluetooth, rain sensing wipers, climate control, intelligent key with push button ignition, keyless entry, power one touch windows and locks, dual panel moon roof, 3-power outlets, Xenon headlights, fog lights, heated power mirrors, power tailgate and roof rails.

Gas Stats:

$4.25/ Gal avg. March 23, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 24 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $38,300

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Nissan Versa (909)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL SDN. The following link will get you to more information. http://www.nissanusa.com/buildyournissan/?fromSav=true

The 2012 Versa sedan receives a ground-up redesign, while the 2012 Versa hatchback remains essentially unchanged after exterior and interior upgrades in 2010. The Versa sedan features an all-new, front-wheel drive, CVTC 16-valve 1.6-liter engine that weighs 150 pounds less than its predecessor, and delivers 109 horsepower for mileage estimated at 30 mpg city/38 mpg highway. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission (1.6 S model only) or a CVT automatic transmission. It’s longer wheelbase and redesigned interior makes it roomier with more rear-seat legroom. The Sedan is available in three trims: 1.6 S, 1.6 SV and 1.6 SL.

Opinion:

“Hath there been such a time I said it ‘twas so and then been proven otherwise” – Shakespeare / Hamlet act II scene II.

Handling & Performance:

The engine puts out only 109 horsepower but as you can see it does it very efficiently with up to 38 mpg. In part that is due to employing a continuously variable transmission (CVT). That is a trans that can change step-less-ly through an infinite number of gear ratios contrasted with other mechanical transmissions that offer a fixed number of gear ratios. The flexibility of a CVT allows the driving shaft to maintain a constant angular velocity over a range of output velocities, which enables the engine to run at its most efficient (RPM). And lastly a CVT does not strictly require the presence of a clutch.

Styling:

Nice job at looking good while delivering so much in space and efficiency of operation. Thanks Nissan.

Fit and Finish:

Very good, meaning all the parts fit together with just the right spacing but not too wide… just right.

Cost:

Justifiable for a great low cost family sedan.

Conveniences and comfort:

Back to basics – and that’s a good thing. Don’t you just love simplicity? I do, really I do. But I’m reminded weekly as I’m spoiled by advanced systems and wham… the following week it’s back to simple transportation and if I were spending your money it would be a Mercedes Benz or Ferrari – but then I’d be called a Politician.

In any case I’m just an average Joe spending my money so for the savings you get from basic, that’s just fine thanks. All the gadgets and goodies are convenient distractions and most are not necessary but rather ego boosters. Now the exceptions are things that make me and my family safer: Vehicle Dynamic Control, Traction Control, ABS with brake force distribution and LATCH systems make us safer. But when you figure what you pay for power heated seats, climate controlled air conditioning, power windows and locks and remote keyless entry and the like… well you get the picture. They don’t add to how safe we are and I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy a car to replace my family room with big screen TV and all the other luxury things. Better you spend less time on the highway and more with those you love. Now that’s comfort.

Consumer Recommendation:

Take my advice – Buy a car for transportation and with the difference between this and any luxury car take the wife and kids to Europe or go camping. Believe me you’ll all get something out of the money and remember more fondly that vacation than daddy impressing the neighbors with HIS BMW. Your neighbors probably know you can’t afford it anyway.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Versa $16,000, Chevrolet Aveo $12,000, Chevrolet Aveo 5 $12,000, Chevrolet HHR $19,000, Chevrolet Sonic $14,000, Dodge Nitro $22,000, Fiat 500 $16,000, Ford Fiesta $13,000, Honda Fit $15,000, Hyundai Accent $14,000, Hyundai Veloster $17,000, Kia Rio $13,000, Mazda 2 $15,000, Scion iQ $15,000, Scion tC $19,000, Scion xB $16,000, Scion xD $15,000, Suzuki  SX4 Crossover $17,000, Toyota Matrix $19,000, Toyota Yaris $14,000.

Good News:

Efficient and inexpensive transportation with great fuel economy and nice styling to boot.

Bad News:

You’ll have to think long and hard what to do with all the money you’ll save.

Standard Equipment:

1.6 liter 109 hp 4-cylinder engine, continuous variable transmission, power ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System) front disc and rear drum brakes with brake force distribution, 15” alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child safety system, traction control, dynamic control, tire pressure system, air conditioning, 6-way manual adjust driver seat, cloth seats, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, audio system with CD and 4 speakers, iPod Control, Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted audio controls, trip computer, power windows and locks and auto locking system, remote keyless entry, cruise control, fog lights, halogen lights, power side morrors.

Gas Stats:

$3.73/ Gal avg. Feb 18, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

30 City and 38 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $15,560.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SR (897)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SR. I’m always impressed with how much performance cars get in today’s world out of such small horsepower engines. That has always been a fact in European cars over the years as they routinely got 100 HP per liter while the Big Three US automakers responded to consumers demand for “muscle cars” that would burn the rubber off the tires with a lot of show with little real overall performance. But with ultra cheap gas in the US, in the 1950s and 1960s, relative to the rest of the world coupled with a vibrant hustle bustle economy there was little want in our society, so we got what we demanded.

Well the party is nearly over and we’re falling in line with the rest of the world with increasing poverty and a return to pre 1945 want just to survive. So many are demanding cost efficient transportation and the fun and games are over. Back to reality. . . and that is a good thing.

Opinion:

I’ve had some mail over the years on my editorial opinion which as readers know is all relative to the automotive industry. My opinion is based on my experience mostly and a little research to verify the facts. That experience includes heading the largest distributor of automotive brake parts, to owning an automotive repair facility in Southern California for 12 plus years, to owning newspapers in Colorado and Texas where I was also interested in the car portion of the news. And as a journalist much of that time I have followed stories and attended automaker events to learn about what’s new. I can surely relate to what is OLD, me included.

As a national platform speaker I expounded on the automotive market as I saw it and mostly I have been correct in by observations. I share my thoughts on the industry with you and I appreciate and respect you views as well. So keep those emails coming in.

Handling & Performance:

This Nissan Sentra is a welcomed return to sanity in simplicity for today with very acceptable fuel economy and the price is certainly right for a nice performing comfortable car. While many cars that have been around for a while they seek to satisfy everyone’s wants so there are Camry’s and other brands that had “Flag Ship” volume sellers that are now getting bigger in size. That gives performers like this Sentra a larger share of the market as they replace more expensive cars that do little more than this Sentra

Styling:

What’s not to like about the Sentra? It is simply a nice looking automobile reminiscent of the lines of much more expensive cars.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Really great price point. When the going gets tough the smart get going toward cost effective cars like this Sentra.

Conveniences and comfort:

Everything most of us want even if we don’t need it.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is a very competitive segment of the market as prices will tell… I’ve tested them all and although this Sentra is in the top of my list it is still a tough decision for anyone. But most important is that Toyota is no longer the king of the hill that it was 20 years ago. The world of car makers has simply found a level playing field and the winners – you guessed it – we the people because of a free competitive marketplace. Capitalism is finally catching on in other countries beside the US and Japan and Europe. The best example today of nearly over night ‘up-to-speed car makers is the newest entrant Hyundai and sister company Kia. Even the wealthy are beginning to buy them and replace the big expensive Lexus’, BMW’s and Mercedes Benz’s and Audi’s.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Sentra $18,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $18,000, Chevrolet Cruze $17,000, Dodge Caliber $17,000, Ford Focus $17,000, Honda Civic $22,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $24,000, Hyundai Elantra $20,000, Hyundai Elantra Touring $17,000, Kia Forte $19,000, Kia Forte Koup $19,000, Mazda 3 $22,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $19,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $20,000, Subaru Impreza $19,000, Toyota Corolla $18,000, Volkswagen Golf $20,000.

Good News:

Great performer for the money, low maintenance history, comfortable commuter. Simply worth your consideration.

Bad News:

Not much to complain about, so I won’t.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 140 HP 4-cylinder engine, CVT Continuously Variable Transmission, power vented front disc and rear drum ABS (Anti locking) brakes, Electronic brake force distribution, traction and vehicle dynamic controls, tire pressure monitor, 16” aluminum alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain air bags, LATCH child safety, immobilizer system with security system, air conditioning, power windows & locks, remote keyless entry, 6-speaker audio with CD & Auxiliary, interface system for iPod, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, 6-way driver adjustable seat, 60/40 rear split fold flat seat with armrest w/ cup holders, variable intermittent wipers, remote fuel filler door & trunk release, Trip computer.

Gas Stats:

$3.51/ Gal avg. December 3, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

27 City and 34 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $17,990.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Nissan Altima Coupe 2.5 S (843)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2011 Nissan Altima 2.5 S two door Coupe. The last Nissan I reviewed was the cube SUV that is somewhat of an ugly duckling. Amazing how one sibling can be unattractive and another can be GQ material. This Altima Coupe is really nice looking in my humble opinion, and I suspect I am not alone. I believe it will be a good selling model, which is a safe bet since the Altima is Nissan’s best selling car.

That is for good reason in my view since I’ve tested Nissan products for a long time and the below listed model years I’ve driven have remained in my mind as solid performers and worthy of a good review.

A little history: Altima was introduced in 1992 and the first year I reviewed the Altima was model year 1996, then again in 1997, and the third generation model in 2002 and 2005 received added interior and exterior upgrades. Those were all 4-door sedans and although the Coupe was added in 2008 I didn’t get around to driving it until now. I looks virtually the same as when introduced and I have really enjoyed the ride in this coupe.

Handling & Performance:

Fun to drive handling and generally an enjoyable comfortable ride. Altima makes good use of lower end horsepower for good performance coupled with very good fuel economy. I would have added a turbocharger for exceptional performance as well.

Styling:

Clean and classy lines which is consistent across most of all of this class of competitors. The Coupe is sporty and although the Z is my favorite sport model from Nissan this Altima Coupe has the advantage of being able to seat 5 if needed.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

In the hunt in the area of purchase price. All in this class grouping are very close in price to value.

Conveniences and comfort:

Includes all the necessary stuff. I think Nav would be an add on for me because I believe it affords a lot of safety. Nothing is more dangerous on the highway than a driver who doesn’t know where they are going. However I wasn’t sad this Altima was not equipped with one because I always carry a portable Navigation system. Those cost a few hundred bucks for very capable models.

Smart key with push button start and stop is fast becoming one of my must have features. It is just so convenient it ranks up at the top of my list of features along with Navigation, smart cruise and voice activated radio, heater and cruise etc. Don’t you just love this age of technology.

Consumer Recommendation:

I suspect buying decisions will have more to do with personal preference of make than anything else. Nissan has always been a consistently reliable performer, but quite frankly this is such a closely matched group I would have to flip a coin at some point. The 2010 Ford Fusion was Motor Trend’s car of the year, for example, and arguably it is at the top of the exceptional car list. Motor Trend car of the year for 2011 is the Chevy Volt. So there may be more politics and advertising influence in their selections than unbiased evaluation. And finally, a lot of folks will be impressed with Ford because it has taken top sales spot from Toyota.

As to Altima, it is surely close to the top of my list of cars to buy and there is a little bias since you may recall from prior Nissan reviews that my first of their product was a 1966 Datsun station wagon. I had no real problem with that early product and I’m always confident when I step into any Nissan product.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Altima Coupe $20-30,000, Buick LaCrosse $27-34,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22-27,000, Chrysler Sebring $20-33,000, Ford Fusion $20-29,000, Honda Accord $21-32,000, Hyundai Sonata $19-27,000, Kia Optima $19-22,000, Mazda 6 $19-29,000, Mercury Milan $22-28,000, Mitsubishi Galant $22-24,000, Subaru Legacy $20-31,000, Suzuki Kizashi $19-27,000, Toyota Camry $20-29,000, Volkswagen Jetta $15-24,000, Volkswagen Passat $27,915.

Good News:

Really nice styling, good fuel economy for a sporty performer.

Bad News:

Small back seat, entry and exit is difficult as with all low profile sport cars.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 175 hp inline 4-cylinder engine, CVT automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows & locks, smart key, audio with CD player, front and side airbags, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, traction control & stability control.

Gas Stats:

$3.09/ Gal avg. Dec 3, 2010

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

23 City and 32 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $23,440.

2012 Nissan Altima 2.5 S (889)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Nissan Altima 2.5 S. If you would like to look at all models for Nissan, take a look at the link noted below. The Altima is Nissan’s midsize sedan and coupe and Nissan’s best-selling car. The Nissan Altima was first introduced in 1992, replacing the Stanza for the 1993 model year. A totally redesigned, second-generation Altima was introduced for the 1998 model year. The larger third-generation Nissan Altima went on sale for the 2002 model year, and for 2005 the Altima received additional interior and exterior upgrades. For 2007 an all-new fourth-generation Altima arrived with distinctive styling and is built on the new Nissan “D” platform with improved body rigidity and a redesigned suspension. For 2008, a coupe version of the Altima was added to the lineup.

This link will take you to Nissan’s entire lineup of cars and SUV’s and Trucks.

http://www.nissanusa.com/buildyournissan/?fromSav=true

Opinion:

The epidemic is here. It is a growing wave on pain inflicted on all people who have and those who have not by those who believe it is their right to take what little you do have. Yes it is a growing epidemic of THEFT.

Some suggestions you will hear and must take heed of include:

  • ·       Never leave your car with anything in sight in the car. I don’t even suggest you leave stuff in the trunk. Take it with you or park your car in a protected area.

o   Thieves will brake your windows and be in and out in less than a minute. They avoid the alarm systems by not opening the doors.

  • ·       Park in well lighted and secure patrolled lots and garages.

o   When in Europe and particularly Eastern Europe it was a common understanding that you park your car in fenced, walled, locked and patrolled facilities. That fact is coming to America.

o   Remember when you didn’t lock your doors to the house and you didn’t have to look for your car keys because you’d leave them in the ignition.

  • ·       At the Supermarket be aware of people before walking to your car.

o   The word is that women exiting the market are being held up for purses and jewelry.

Perhaps the worst part of being violated is that you carry that with you for a very long time. Me, I think gun laws in California should be more like 39 of our other states where law abiding citizens have the right to carry a gun and protect themselves. You can bet your ass the bad guys have them.

You may not agree but when (not if) you are facing danger you’ll have a change of mind. I have a police officer retired friend who always had his wife carry a small caliber hand gun in her purse. Cops know the dangers out there and use ‘common sense’ to protect themselves here in the Golden State of California.

Handling & Performance:

No complaints with the power or handling. And the fuel economy will be an important factor today and in the future. We can only expect increased cost of gasoline.

Styling:

Most of today’s cars are middle of the road. But Nissan has a flair for odd like the cube and its exciting Z coupe and Roadster, which is one of the more memorable sport cars you will have the pleasure of driving.

Fit and Finish:

Nissan quality is standard equipment.

Cost:

Excellent pricing. Nissan has average prices of $15,000 to $35,000 and a top priced GT-R Coupe at $90,000 and low of $10,000. Literally there is a car for every need.

Conveniences and comfort:

Perhaps the convenience I think of most these days is the intelligent key and push button ignition feature that is getting more common. I recommend including that on your next car. Of course there are expected things like 2-DC outlets, sun visors with mirrors, map lights, cup holders, arm rests front and rear and bottle holders and storage pockets, etc.

Consumer Recommendation:

Take a look and you’ll see Nissan covers most all needs in automotive transportation –http://www.nissanusa.com/buildyournissan/?fromSav=true

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Altima $23,000, Buick LaCrosse $30,000, Buick Verano $23,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22,000, Chrysler 200 $27,000, Chrysler Sebring $20,000, Dodge Avenger $19,000, Dodge Charger $26,000, Ford Fusion $20,000, Honda Accord $21,000,  Hyundai Sonata $19,000, Kia Optima $19,000, Mazda 6 $20,000, Mitsubishi Galant $22,000, Subaru Legacy $20,000, Suzuki Kizashi $19,000, Toyota Camry $20,000, Volkswagen Jetta $15,000, Volkswagen Passat $19,000.

Good News:

Well priced, great fuel economy, perfect family / commuter.

Bad News:

Nothing worth mentioning.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 175 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, independent front & rear suspension, power 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, 16 inch steel wheels, front, side and roof mounted air bags, LATCH child anchors, & safety rear locks & electronic brake force distribution, traction and vehicle dynamic controls, tire pressure monitor, security system with immobilizer system, cloth seating, 60/40 split folding rear seat, tilt & telescopic steering column, cruise control, speed sensitive intermittent wipers, audio with 6 speakers, trip computer, air conditioning, intelligent key and push button ignition, power windows and locks, power mirrors and solar glass.

Gas Stats:

$3.65/ Gal avg. November 21, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

23 City and 32 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,570.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Frontier 4X4 Pro4X King Cab (847)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2011 Nissan Frontier 4X4 Pro4X Small Pickup truck with a King Cab (secret code for no room for the Queen). Other than the unimpressive fuel economy it is a very nice truck to drive. It is very comfortable and although it only has small jump seats in the rear of the King Cab model I tested, it IS after all classed as a small truck. You can move up to a 4-door for about $4,000 more if you need 4 real seats.

But if you intend to use it for off road-ing the V6 with 261 horsepower may appeal to most as more capable. I guess there is no substitute for more power and the 4 cylinder 152 hp engine will leave you wanting in some situations. However, serious off roaders will tell you more power is not necessary but rather nimble attributes are more important. The off road courses I have experienced, small Jeeps are the most effective climbers over and around and under obstacles.

 Opinion:

Posted speed limits of 65 mph are archaic and should be changed. What’s your opinion?

Roads in today’s world are designed for a comfy ride at speeds far greater than the posted 65 MPH. With such well designed roads coupled with the evolving design and safety features of the cars that travel them, it is high time we increased the posted limits to 75 mph. That is the average speed anyway in America, unless of course, there is a California Cowboy lurking around the next corner or hiding behind the proverbial ‘billboard’. Why do we all do it…. BECAUSE IT IS SAFE. Sorry I didn’t mean to yell. But I have driven the Autobahn’s in Europe where cars travel at speeds well over 100 mph on a normal day, particularly in Germany, and I have personally driven for long stretches at over 125 mph.

I will remind you that these speed limits in America were made for cars with mechanical brakes and suspension systems that were very unsophisticated and dangerous at any speed. That simply is no longer the case, but the signs persist in telling us that the maximum speed that is safe is 65. I say BS and it is just a way to generate revenue.

Hell, a little over 100 years ago the ‘so called’ experts thought you would surely die if you traveled over 50 mph because the body couldn’t take such speed. Reminiscent today of such expert morons like that bozo Al Gore who conned folks into believing they were the cause of global warming and thus he bilked them out of a lot of money to grow his personal wealth by over $100 million in just a few years after leaving the VP spot. Yet, the polar ice caps on Mars have also been melting and there are no SUV’s on Mars that we know of.

Handling & Performance:

It’s a truck but the lousy turning radius is not common to all small trucks. Not a bad thing, I suppose, but a nuisance none-the-less. It is plenty powerful which explains the lousy fuel consumption. A friend’s very large Ford one ton pickup with 4 wheel drive gets about the same fuel economy, but I expected better from this ‘Small’ size Nissan Frontier pickup.

Styling:

My first truck was a 1955 Ford ½ ton pickup and that style is classic. Designers gave up classic, unique and different styling long ago. Cars are far more aerodynamic than they ever were, but what can you do with a truck to make it streamlined when it is designed for work and not beauty. But still most trucks are darn nice looking outside and carlike inside. My ’55 Ford had no carpet and cardboard like panels on the doors and hand crank windows. 4 Wheel Drive was not practical until the 1970’s although it had been invented as early as 1893. It began to take off in the 1980’s and today is commonplace of course.

Fit and Finish:

Trucks have come a long way from the early days when close tolerances were not tolerated. These were work vehicles and needed lots of space between component parts as they would need to twist and give with loads. Today close fitting joints are nearly as much a part of the truck as they are in passenger cars.

Cost:

Most of the competition is closely priced and cost more than they need to. As we’ve said before, truck based chassis vehicles are more profitable than passenger cars. Demand has pushed sales of trucks and SUV’s to about 40% of the vehicles you see on the highway, and thus the price has followed demand.

Conveniences and comfort:

This truck is loaded with not only creature comforts, it is well equipped with all the high tech safety features for vehicle control in the 21st century.

Consumer Recommendation:

Don’t ya just love a small menu with few choices from which to select – so you can apply the KISS principal.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Frontier $18-32,000, Chevrolet Colorado $17-29,000, Ford Ranger $18-26,000, GMC Canyon $17-30,000, Honda Ridgeline $29-37,000, Ram Dakota $23-34,000, Suzuki Equator $18-31,000, Toyota Tacoma $16-28,000.

Good News:

Perfect size truck for most non-commercial jobs, and thus car like comfort and powerful as well.

Bad News:

Only fair mileage, tiny rear jump seats, so you’ll need to move up to the Crew Cab if you want 4 doors, and that’s a few grand more.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter 261 horsepower V6 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, shift on the fly 4-wheel drive, 2-speed transfer case with 4 high and 4 low, electronic locking rear differential, power assisted steering, independent front suspension and multi-leaf rear suspension with solid axle, Bilstein off road high pressure shocks, 4-wheel ABS vented disc brakes, 4-wheel active brake limited slip, and electronic brake force distribution, dynamic vehicle control, tire pressure monitoring, security system with immobilizer, hill start assist and hill descent control,16” off road machine finish alloy wheels, front and side and roof mounted side curtain airbags, LATCH tether system for children, reclining front bucket seats, 8-way manual driver seat with lumbar support and fold flat passenger seat, tilt column with leather wrapped steering wheel with red stitching and cruise and radio controls, cruise control, audio with CD, MP3 and XM Satellite radio, Bluetooth phone, trip computer, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows and auto locking locks, cargo light, fog lights, power mirrors, fuel tank and transfer case skid plates, sliding rear window with lock, utility track channel system with 4 adjustable tie down cleats, bed rail caps, detachable tailgate with lock, front and rear splash guards and front tow hook.

Gas Stats:

$3.29/ Gal avg. Jan 4, 2010

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

14 City and 19 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $28,870.

2010 Nissan cube (828)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Nissan cube SUV. Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo would approve of this cube. The windows reminded me of port holes (windows to you landlubbers) that could have inspired some of the look of this cube. Nissan refers to the look of the cube as ‘a unique asymmetrical exterior design’. Which means it is irregular, lop-sided, uneven and unbalanced, and that is spot on. Ugly is not one of those descriptive words but some might characterize the styling that way. Me… I’m indifferent primarily because there are so many oddly shaped cars these days, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Although this model has been on the Japanese market for 10 years this 3rd generation cube is the first available in the U.S. market. The original cube was referred to as a box-on-wheels and the second generation added more glass, additional power and more angles and curves to the exterior design. It instantly reminds me of the Element with a wraparound window at the right rear that also improves visibility for the driver. Inside, the cube is also roomy as is the Element.

Ok, so aside from being a little odd or as some say ugly looking it is cool in other ways. It is comfy cozy and roomy and has great visibility.

Opinion:

Helpful hint #1 – if you can read the license plate in front of you on the highway you might be following too closely.

Hint #2 – continue to be diligent every minute behind the wheel, avoid putting yourself in other drivers blind spots.

Hint #3 – be watchful of your speed. Keep it under the radar because the cost of being careless is extreme and excessive taxation – compliments of our friendly and courteous highway men, reminiscent of the ‘merry men’ of old in the Sherwood Forest.

Handling & Performance:

Great general all around stability, but you’ll have to be more attentive and watchful at speeds over 70 mph.

Styling:

Unique is a correct explanation of an odd looking exterior and I suspect many of us like to be different in all we do so this will go well with our purple or multi colored hair styling. In fact the interior variable lighting provides a rainbow of great colors to coordinate with your clothes and hair style. You’re going to love the colors.

Designers have provided a roomy feel and the NBA would approve of the headroom. But there is an odd round piece of carpet on the dash that is reminiscent of ‘Shag Carpet’ of the 1970s culture in America. Me… the first thing that came to mind was a vision of a designer setting his toupee down on the dash and forgot it. Then he wrapped what hair was left on his head around to cover up the bald spots and that inspired him to wrap the window around the right rear of the car. What’s that all about? It simply distorts the balance of the car and it is annoying to my senses. I’d rather he just shaved his head to offer some aesthetic balance.

Fit and Finish:

Not the best, but Good.

Cost:

Outstanding.
Conveniences and comfort:

Very good at this price point. If you read my column you know that I get picky when it comes to the little things that are annoying. How, for example, can they put sun visors on a car that do NOT block the sun on the side window? When they skimp on good sun visors I’m not happy and I expect most would think it is a no brain-er to make visors that actually extend to cover the entire window. This one is bad.
Consumer Recommendation:

A notch below the Element to fill that slot and it does it well. Pretty impressive pricing and it is no wonder you see so many on the roads. You will love this little transport vehicle. It will do it without a lot of pomp and ceremony and it will do it with a long earned reputation of being a quality automobile. I’m not crazy with the styling but once you get past that you too will like the car.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan cube $14-20,000, Chevrolet HHR $19-21,000, Chrysler PT Cruiser $18,275, Ford Transit Connect $21-23,000, Honda Element $21-26,000, Jeep Compass $15-25,000, Pontiac Vibe $16-21,000, Scion xB $16-19,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $16-20,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000, Volkswagen GTI $23-24,000.

Good News:

Affordable, comfortable ride, good fuel economy, roomy and good array of standard equipment.

Bad News:

Questionable odd styling and arguable ugly duckling and inadequate sun visor coverage.

Standard Equipment:

1.8 liter 122 horsepower inline 4-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission, front wheel drive, power steering, strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, front disc and rear drum power assist ABS brakes with brake force distribution, 15” wheels, front and side air bags, lower anchors and tether LATCH system and rear child door locks, traction control and vehicle dynamic control, tire pressure monitor, security system with immobilizer, 6-way driver and 4-way passenger manual seat adjustment, 60/40 split sliding and reclining rear seat, leather wrapped wheel with cruise and audio controls, 6-speaker audio system with CD and MP3, speed sensitive volume control, interface for iPod, Bluetooth hands free system, multi function trip computer, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows and auto locks, halogen headlight, variable intermittent front wipers and rear defroster and wiper.

Gas Stats:

$2.95/ Gal avg. August 31, 2010
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

27 City and 31 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $16,030.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2010 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4X4 (821)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4X4. I have liked this SUV from the earliest models to hit the US Market. All of my experiences have been good over the years so the consistency speaks to the value. I’ve literally been driving Datsun (since owning one in 1966) and the name change to Nissan’s – well, was just that, in name only. It has been a consistent quality product and much of the product is made right in the USA. Those early models had a shorter wheel base and an accompanying rougher ride than today’s more comfort oriented, made for the highway offerings.

This model is more refined and has more sophisticated gadgets and goodies as you’d expect but it is almost too comfortable for an off road capable SUV. The first models I tested I took off road to the back country because ‘off road’ and 4X4’ing was relatively new and exciting and interesting to a growing number of pioneer spirited Americans. It’s still exciting but not as wildly popular.

I particularly have enjoyed the Jeep Jamboree’s and Camp Jeep events I have attended to experience  ‘real’ off road-ing venues from 1-10 difficulty levels. Today I sense 4X4 is almost like an unneeded appendage and its perceived utility is less important for the average SUV consumer. We continue to see two wheel drive versions make more sense to more consumers. I think people are reevaluating the cost of the 4-wheel drive system for the limited to zero number of times they actually get off road. Using it to climb the speed bumps on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills hardly justifies the added cost in purchase price and higher fuel and maintenance costs.

Opinion:

When we drive we all have pet peeves and you’ve read some of mine I suspect. Let me read some of yours. Email them to me at joe@atthewheel.com and we’ll run those.

One particularly important one I will repeat here is that Distracted drivers are a real danger to others. At the very least they back up traffic for miles behind them and at the worst they cause accidents. Please be mindful and attentive and concentrate when you drive. My life may be in YOUR hands.

Handling & Performance:

Good handling with even more comfort. 4.0 liter 266 horsepower is excellent but at a cost in fuel economy, or you can even opt for the LE V8 for 310 hp if you must and that too comes at a cost moving up by about $9,000.

Styling:

Cookie cutter standard look and that is a good thing. There is some pretty ugly stuff out there as designers seem to think “Wild and Crazy” is better. Not to me!

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Pricing is fiercely competitive and too close to draw major distinction but Pathfinder is definitely in the hunt.

Conveniences and comfort:

Seats fold neatly and easily and the standard equipment is all good. The SE Journey Package is just over $3,000 and I can live without most of it for that kind of money.

Consumer Recommendation:

Wow. There is a lot of real close competition price wise. You have a lot to choose from and I suspect your personal loyalties to brand will weigh large on your buying decision.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Pathfinder $28-42,000, Acura MDX $42-54,000, Chevrolet Trailblazer $29-39,000, Dodge Durango $28-40,000, Ford Explorer $29-39,000, GMC Envoy $31-39,000, Honda Pilot $28-40,000, Hummer H3 $33-43,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $31-43,000, Kia Borrego $26-39,000, Land Rover LR2  $35,500, Land Rover LR4  $47,250, Subaru Tribeca $30-36,000, Suzuki XL7 $26-30,000, Toyota 4Runner $28-40,000, Volvo XC90 $38-48,000.

Good News:

Responsive power, comfortable & roomy ride, long history of quality products and it’s made in the USA.

Bad News:

Fuel consumption is equally as bad as all others. This will matter as gas prices soar over the next few years.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter 266 horsepower V6 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, independent suspension with stabilizer bars, 6,000 lb tow capacity with tow hitch receiver, 4-wheel power ABS brake system  with brake force distribution, switch operated shift on the fly 4-wheel drive system, 17” alloy wheels, front air bag system with roof mounted curtain side supplemental bags and front seat mounted side air bags, vehicle dynamic control, vehicle immobilizer  system, tire pressure monitor, Child LATCH system, 8-way power driver seat with lumbar, 4-way manual passenger seat, 40/20/40 split fold flat & reclining second row seats, 50/50 split third row seat, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, tilt wheel with cruise and audio controls, 6- speaker audio system with 6-in-dash CD changer & MP3, trip computer, dual zone climate control & rear AC controls,  power windows & locks, rear lift gate with opening rear glass hatch, fog lights, power mirrors, rear privacy glass, roof rails, lower radiator skid plate and side running boards.

Gas Stats:

$2.99/ Gal avg. July 17, 2010

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

14 City and 20 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $32,610.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair