Up until the early-1970s the Detroit-based automakers absolutely dominated the American market. However, ever since then they have progressively lost share to brands from Asia and Europe in virtually every segment of the market, save one. Somehow Detroit has managed to maintain a near stranglehold on the full-size pickup truck. After what can only described as a swing and whiff with its original Titan pickup, Nissan is back to try again and this time they have really stepped up their game. But is it enough?
The 2016 Nissan Maxima may have the long-running 4DSC badge molded into the rear turn signal lenses but I’m not going to classify this as a sports car. There, I said it, now let’s move on and talk about what this car actually is and what it’s about. The all-new eighth-generation of the flagship of Nissan’s car line launched a few months ago with a dramatic new design and a host of technical upgrades. After a preview drive last June, I finally got to spend some extended time with the Maxima just before Christmas.
While auto industry observers seem to be fixated on the idea that crossover utility vehicles are taking over the entire market, the reality is that in America, the midsize sedan segment is still huge and vitally important to mainstream brands. For Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Kia and Hyundai, midsize sedans are their top sellers and even at Ford and Fiat Chrysler, they trail only full-size pickup trucks. With so many sales on the line, no one can afford to stand still and Nissan is launching a major refresh of the Altima for 2016 that brings new style, technology and efficiency.
OK, let’s just deal with the elephant in the room right up front. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sadly, when I look at the Nissan Juke, I don’t behold any beauty. In fact, it kind of repulses me. Fortunately, I didn’t let my judgement of this little book’s cover stop me from driving the Juke because it actually has a lot to recommend it.
Yet another automotive proving ground opened in Ann Arbor, Mich. today, but the Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) is quite different from existing tracks. There is no shortage of automotive test tracks scattered around southeast Michigan mostly operated by automakers and larger suppliers that do everything from salt baths to high-speed stability to running over pounding potholes. These facilities tend to be highly secured facilities where outsiders are rarely welcome. Ford engineers don’t get to hang out at GM’s Milford Proving Ground and GM people are persona non-grata in Dearborn. At MTC Mcity course, all of these engineers will have a place where they can come together and collaborate along with researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).
This week, the eighth-generation of Nissan’s so-called “4-Door Sports Car,” the Maxima goes on sale at dealerships across North America. Having originally debuted as a 1981 model, the Maxima is Nissan’s longest running continuous nameplate, the Z having gone away for several years in the 1990s. I got a chance to take a quick spin in the all-new sedan recently and came away fairly impressed, but does it really deserve the sports car nomenclature? Read on to find out.
“Deceptively quick.” That’s a phrase often used to describe cars so quiet and refined that you find yourself self going faster than you planned sooner than anticipated. There is absolutely nothing nothing deceptive about the Nissan GT-R. In fact, aside from the Lotus Exige, this may be the most brutally honest car I’ve ever driven.
Brutality is utterly fitting for a car known to its fans around the world as Godzilla. Like the Exige, the GT-R offers exceptionally rapid acceleration and amazing handling. Yet despite certain similarities in character that I’ll come back to, these two sports cars couldn’t be more different in execution.
Somehow in the eight years since I started writing about cars I’ve driven lots of electric vehicles but have never managed to spend an extended period with one until now. Having now spent a week with a 2014 Nissan Leaf SV, I can say that it’s a very good car regardless of how its propelled. That doesn’t mean it’s the best car for everyone in search of a compact hatchback, but for those whose lifestyles overlap with the limitations of today’s battery technology it’s a great choice.
Back in the mid-1990s when Toyota kicked off the modern compact crossover utility segment with the original two-door Rav4, these machines really were compact. But as with most vehicle segments, every succeeding generation seems to get bigger until a hole is created that enables yet another smaller segment to emerge. At first glance this seems to be the case with the redesigned second-generation Nissan Rogue that debuted last year as a 2014 model.