Channaka. Powered by Blogger.

2011 Nissan Quest

Nissan has not had an easy time of it in the U.S. minivan market. The original Quest, codeveloped with Ford and sold also as the Mercury Villager, was undersized. Nissan's next Quest was a solo effort that featured avant-garde design -- too avant-garde, as it turned out -- and which was built at the company's brand-new U.S. factory in Mississippi. That Quest was dogged by quality problems, and sales were disappointing. Nissan has now given up engineering a minivan specifically for the American market, and its latest Quest is instead an adaptation of the Japanese-market Elgrand minivan, and is imported from Japan.
The styling of the new Quest is 180-degrees out from the previous one. Where the last Quest was all wavy and swoopy, the new one flaunts its slab-sided boxyness. The oddball interior of the previous Quest is only a fading memory, as the new model is conventionally configured. My test example was leather-lined and nicely padded just about everywhere -- as well it might be for $43,750. That's for the top-spec LE, optioned up with dual, opening sunroofs (the kids can control their own). Otherwise, the LE comes with pretty much everything, including navigation, a backup camera, the aforementioned leather, and a rear-seat DVD player. Kids loved the wide (11-inch diagonal) flip-down video screen, which powers open at a touch of the button on the remote. It's standard on the LE and optional on the SL. In addition to DVDs, the system can play movies or other media contained on a flash drive, which you can plug into a USB port.
This big box feels huge from the inside. The second row has plenty of space, but accommodations in the third row are somewhat dependent on the generosity of those in the second-row seats, which can slide fore and aft and which also recline. If spiteful older siblings are in row two, the third row can be tight; with more magnanimous passengers in the middle seats, the third row can be fine, even for adults. Cargo space behind the third seat -- in important measure for families that often travel full-up -- is 37 cubic feet, including the extra-large well beneath the two removable floor panels.
From the driver's seat, the Quest feels dead conventional. The ride is fairly comfortable, and the chassis does nothing to encourage high-speed cornering through the subdivision. The steering earns points for being reasonably direct and not overboosted. Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 has been much maligned for its coarse nature, but it's barely audible here, and it's certainly powerful enough to get the team to soccer practice on time. It plays well with the continuously variable automatic transmission, as it's torque arrives low enough in the rev range that there's none of the rubber-band throttle response you get when a CVT is paired with the small four-cylinder engines more typically used with this type of transmission. Fuel economy is quite good in the city (19 mpg) but the highway figure (24 mpg) can't match the class-leading Honda Odyssey. [A side thought: Shouldn't the EPA come up with a new test cycle, suburb, for minivans?]
So, the grown-ups' verdict is that the Quest has finally achieved the normalcy that should enable it to grab a decent slice of the minivan market. But what's the kids' point of view? Well, we asked one young lad who is a keen -- bordering on obsessive -- observer of cars. His parents just bought a Toyota Sienna minivan, but upon seeing the Quest, young Johnny was smitten. "I love your Quest," said the boy, who is 5. "I'm going to buy one tomorrow.

Standard Equipment
- 3.5-liter V-6
- CVT automatic transmission
- Front seat active head restraints
- 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and panic brake assist
- 18-inch aluminum wheels
- Automatic climate control with air purifier and auto recirc
- First- and second-row power windows
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror w/Homelink
- Blind-spot warning system
- 8-way power driver's seat w/memory
- 4-way power passenger's seat
- 2nd-row sliding and reclining captain's chairs w/removable center console
- 60/40 split-folding and reclining 3rd-row seats
- Quick release 3rd-row folding seatbacks with power return
- Leather seating and door trim
- Heated front seats
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
- Wood-tone trim accents
- Tilt and telescoping steering column
- Illuminated steering-wheel-mounted controls for cruise control, audio, and navigation
- 13-speaker Bose audio system with AM/FM/XM/CD, USB and aux. inputs, and 9.3GB hard drive
- Navigation w/XM traffic and weather, and Zagat survey results
- Rear-view monitor and 8-inch color display
- 2nd-row 11-inch DVD screen with remote and two headphones
- Power sliding doors
- Power liftgate
- Xenon headlights
- Power mirrors w/turn signals, memory, heating, and auto-tilt in reverse
- Keyless ignition
- Bluetooth connectivity
- 2nd- and 3rd-row sun shades
- Roof rails
- Chrome-accented side sill spoilers, door handles, and license plate finisher

2012 Nissan Altima 2.5S

The Nissan Altima is a quietly competent vehicle. There's no flashy design, no fancy dual-clutch automatic transmission, and no high-performance pretensions here. But there's also nothing really wrong with the Altima, which is why it's always near the top of the all-important mid-size-sedan sales charts.
I've consistently found Nissan's continuously variable transmissions to be well suited to torquey V-6 engines but significantly less enjoyable when paired with a modest four-cylinder. This four-cylinder Altima proves the exception to that rule. The 2.5-liter engine is powerful enough that the car can move quickly without requiring stratospheric revs. Running between 1000 and 4000 rpm keeps the engine from feeling strained or bellowing like Chewbacca while squirting through traffic. The CVT also brings the benefit of supreme powertrain smoothness -- no surprise since there aren't any gear changes. In terms of handling, ride quality, and noise, the Altima drives quite well.

However, the Nissan Altima lacks character, which I consider synonymous with a reason to buy. The majority of mid-size sedans possess the same qualifications as the Altima with more compelling reasons to own them. The Volkswagen Passat has a massive rear seat and the option for an efficient, entertaining diesel engine. The Ford Fusion is actually quite entertaining to drive with great connectivity inside. The Kia Optima is the style leader in the segment with impressive fuel economy from the base engine. All three of these boast reasons to own that are more than rational justifications. They have character that reflects the lifestyles and personalities of the people that buy them.

Traction control
Stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
60/40 split folding rear seat
Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
Cruise control
Air conditioning
Rear floor vents
Keyless entry and ignition
Two 12V DC power outlets
Center console w/three cup holders and sliding armrest
Rear armrest
Dual power mirrors

2.5 S premium audio package
Bose audio w/nine speakers
4.3-inch display w/rearview camera
USB port w/iPod integration
Satellite radio
Splash guard
Convenience package

16-inch aluminum wheels
Eight-way power driver's seat
Automatic headlights
Leather-wrapped steering wheel w/audio controls

2012 Nissan NV200

2012 Nissan NV200 dashboard

2012 Nissan NV200 side review

2012 Nissan NV200 inside

The announcement shouldn't exactly come as a surprise. Nissan first started rolling out its commercial vehicle aspirations in 2009. While most media outlets were fixated on the big, Titan-based full-size product developed explicitly for North America, officials were indicating there was a possibility the small NV200/Vanette, which was concurrently launching in overseas markets, could find its way stateside in the future. That possibility grew even stronger last year, when a modified version of the NV200 was selected by New York City as its chosen successor to the venerable Ford Crown Victoria taxi.
Unlike its larger siblings, the NV200 lives up to the compact van moniker Nissan uses within its press materials. In fact, it's actually built upon a modified version of Nissan's B-segment architecture, which underpins other Nissan small cars like the Juke, Cube, and Versa hatchback. NV200s still utilize MacPherson-type struts up front, although the torsion beam rear suspension is ditched in favor of leaf springs in order to boost payload to an estimated 1500 pounds.
North American NV200s are relatively compact, but they will be slightly larger than those sold in other corners of the globe. For instance, the 115.2-inch wheelbase is about 2.6 inches longer than in other markets. Overall length, which measures in at 186.2 inches, is about 7.9 inches longer than before. That stretch pays dividends not only for the NV200's livery aspirations, but also for commercial clients. Nissan says there's roughly 123 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats; though exact cargo dimensions have yet to be announced, the automaker says there's enough space between the wheel wells to lay a standardized 40-by-48-inch cargo pallet.
Although NV200s are offered with a wide variety of engine choices (including a few frugal diesel options), those sold in our market will be locked down to a single powerplant and transmission. Power comes courtesy of a sixteen-valve, DOHC 2.0-liter I-4, similar to that offered in most Sentra models. Nissan's preliminary specifications suggest the engine may be slightly detuned to about 135 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. As is the case in so many of Nissan's B-segment offerings, that power is sent to the front wheels by way of a continuously-variable transmission.
Nissan's larger NV vans drew praise for a functional cargo area and a renewed focus on the driver, and it appears the NV200 may follow in their footsteps. Dual sliding side doors are standard, as are 40/60 split-opening rear doors that open as far as 180 degrees. Integrated mounting points in the body structure facilitate installing shelves and racks, while floor-mounted tie-downs provide anchor points for securing cargo. Nissan touts the functionality of a low load floor; if similar to European-spec NV200 models, expect liftover to be around 20 inches.
Up front, the driver is treated to an upright seating position, along with a six-way, manually adjustable bucket seat (the passenger seat is only adjustable in four ways). A tall center console provides two cup holders, storage for a laptop and hanging file folders, a pen/pencil tray, and -- if so equipped -- a second 12-volt power outlet. The passenger seat can fold flat to serve as a work surface, and also hides a pull-out storage bin beneath its cushion. Power windows; anti-lock brakes; and front, side, and side curtain airbags are standard on all models. The upgraded SV trim adds niceties like keyless entry, cruise control, a rear cargo floor mat, and wheelcovers. Depending on the trim level, buyers can add optional extras including body-colored bumpers, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, a navigation system, XM satellite ratio, and a back-up camera.
Nissan's correct in suggesting the compact cargo van market -- in North America, at least -- is a relatively new segment that's growing fairly quickly, but it's far from the lone contender in the market. Ford's Transit Connect, which arrived on our shores in 2009, is currently one of the only players in the segment, but Chrysler's Ram brand did recently announce it would sell a version of the Fiat Doblo -- a similar-sized commercial vanlet -- by 2013 at the very latest.
Though the NV200 may soon be afloat in a sea of similar competitors, expect what you see here to remain but the tip of the iceberg. The taxi-ready variant is expected to hit city streets by 2014, and Nissan's also hinted that an electric version, powered by the same driveline used in the electric Leaf hatchback, could likely go into production in the near future. For now, the cargo van is just the first step in Nissan's big plan for small vans. Expect production to begin in Cuernavaca, Mexico, later this year with deliveries beginning in early 2013.

Nissan eNV200 Concept

To covert the NV200 van, Nissan borrowed heavily from its groundbreaking Leaf. The eNV200 uses the Leaf's 24-kW-h battery pack and 80-kW, 107-horsepower, 207-lb-ft AC synchronous electric motor and single-speed reduction gearbox to drive the front wheels. Nissan claims it will have a driving range similar to the Leaf's, though given the van's larger size and weight and less aerodynamic form, that will be difficult.
That's not to say that Nissan has fitted a new drivetrain and called it a day. The company has also modified the front end of the standard NV200 with a covered charging port similar to the Leaf's, and dressed it up with the Leaf's blue Nissan badge and Leaf-like headlights. Inside, the eNV200 features a new dash with an EV-specific gauge cluster with features like remaining range and other telematics. The center stack features a large touch-screen display designed to mimic a tablet computer such as the iPad.

The eNV200 Concept is, for now, a "potential mass production vehicle." Nissan's already begun real-world testing with a prototype, placing it in the hands of the Japan Post Service and FedEx's London operations to gain feedback. While the van hasn't been confirmed for production, Nissan has made a strong commitment to increasing its EV portfolio, and with competition from Ford's Transit Connect EV prototype, we expect the eNV200 to find its way to the market in the near future.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...