Car Review: 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

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The Nissan Versa has been on a sales bonanza, delivering big sales for their company, and with the all-new 2014 Versa Note, things can only get better. The second-generation hatchback went on sale at Nissan’s U.S. dealers in June 2013 and gives notice that in an era of changing consumer needs and expectations, Versa clearly want to be a leader of the entry-level pack. After spending a week driving this hip compact, we also found some pleasant surprises in the Versa.

EXTERIOR

The new sleek exterior of the 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV really elevates this car into new heights regarding design and appeal. The Versa Note’s sculpted modern styling accomplishes things like providing enhanced aerodynamics to help improve fuel economy and make it stand out from the crowd of entry-level competitors. Its dramatic shape and proportions provide an energetic look that reflects the active lives of its target buyers. Attention to aerodynamic detail helps the Versa Note achieve a coefficient of drag of 0.298 (CVT-equipped models) – a nine percent decrease over the 2012 Versa hatchback’s 0.31 Cd. The large front spoiler combines with a “kick up” roof shape and low aero-drag floor structure (including front and rear tire deflectors, rear suspension beam mounted flush with floor and fuel tank deflectors) to direct airflow over, under and around the body.

CVT-equipped Versa Note models include Nissan’s first-ever Active Grille Shutter, which limits the amount of air entering the engine compartment, reducing drag force by 0.01. The Active Grille Shutter is generally closed at speeds above 20 miles per hour. The iconic front grille and large multi-reflector headlights are paired with Note’s “boomerang” rear taillights, which are similar to those found on the Nissan 370Z and Nissan JUKE. The special “vented” taillight design includes special outlets and lip to help guide air away from the body for reduced air turbulence and improved rear lamp visibility in bad weather. Fog lights and heated sideview mirrors are also available. The Versa Note’s dynamic design also takes full advantage of Nissan’s global “V” platform. It features a long, 102.4-inch wheelbase that helps maximize interior roominess, while the six-inch shorter front and rear overhangs than the previous Versa hatchback help provide a sporty stance and parking maneuverability.

INTERIOR

This is where the biggest surprise hit us with much more room than expected; the rear seating alone blew us away with crazy leg room. The roomy five-passenger Versa Note interior provides a spacious total interior volume of 112.9 cubic feet and ample cargo space of 18.8 cubic feet. Cargo area liftover height has been reduced by 1.7 inches (over previous generation Versa hatchback) for easier loading and unloading of heavy or bulky objects. Also leading the conversation is Note’s front headroom of 40.8 inches and rear legroom of 38.3 inches – which is nearly 3.7 inches longer than the nearest competitor (38.3 inches versus 34.6 inches) – making the Versa Note both kid-friendly and adult comfortable.

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Car Review: 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker

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Dodge is really serious about steering the Challenger into the front row of the muscle car race in North America with the 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker. You have to give it to Dodge, as they really know how to connect with their customers, and the new R/T Shaker is a perfect example of that connection. We drove a brand new model for a week and were blown away by so many aspects of this sweet American dream car.

EXTERIOR

The header orange clear coat exterior paint, Shaker graphics and racing stripes are electric attention grabbers wherever you drive this car! For a dynamically striking look, the new Shaker-style Satin Black hood, roof and deck-lid stripe graphics visually translate this Dodge Challenger model’s name, while a Satin Black deck-lid spoiler provides the added downforce needed for 155 mph max-speed runs. For contrast, a body-color grille surround and Gloss Black fuel-filler door were added, while all-new 20 x 8-inch polished-face aluminum wheels with black pockets and a satin matte clear coat feature a sculptured five-spoke design. For added detail, “Shaker” badges flank both sides of the hood scoop, while “HEMI” fender badges and a new “Challenger” grille badge in classic script completes the iconic exterior. Those 20 x 8 inch wheels give an already confident car about as much attitude as you can fit into one car. From just about every angle, the 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker will draw you in with throwback design that has longevity.

INTERIOR

You can feel your adrenaline pumping from the time you enter the cabin, and with the added Shaker touches, there is no doubt that this car is special. The new Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker features a unique three-spoke, flat-bottom, leather-wrapped performance steering wheel with black accent finish and integrated vehicle controls. Corresponding with the steering wheel is a unique “K-Black” painted instrument panel and center-console bezel for a discrete look. Matching the “Shaker” numbered dash plaque are door bolsters with graduated accent stitching that mirrors the logo’s artistic reverberation.

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Car Review: 2014 Dodge Charger SXT Blacktop

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Even though the Dodge Charger is possibly the only true four-door muscle car, the folks at Dodge are continually striving to build Chargers for every taste imaginable in the car market. We tested the 2014 Dodge Charger SXT Blacktop and were blown away by the appearance and performance of this beast of a ride!

EXTERIOR

This is one badass car from top to bottom, and there are no excuses along the way. Our TorRed exterior paint just popped off this car, and when you add in the gloss black aluminum wheels, there is no doubt that the 2014 Dodge Charger SXT Blacktop demands attention. The Blacktop package also included gloss black grille with black honeycomb inserts, black roof, power sunroof and rear body color spoiler. What is so exclusive about the Charger is the sheer size of the car, but then again, it’s a classic muscle car.

INTERIOR

The cabin of the 2014 Dodge Charger SXT Blacktop doesn’t get the attention that the muscular commands, but this is one sweet interior space. The black sport perforated leather seats were as comfortable as one could imagine with so much room to get really comfortable. The sport steering wheel with mounted paddle shifters, Parkview rear back up camera, parks sense rear park assist system, rain sensitive windshield wipers and heated and cooled front console cupholders were all great options.

Beats by Dr. Dre audio technology available in the 2014 Dodge Charger includes a powerful 552-watt 12-channel amplifier that integrates the heart of the Beats proprietary equalizer algorithm, creating the high-definition sound required in professional recording studios. Delivering the mid- to high-range needed for studio-quality sound are three 3.5-inch speakers located in the instrument panel and two 3.5-inch speakers located in the rear doors. Two 6 x 9-inch front-door woofers deliver bass, while two 6 x 9-inch speakers and a center-mounted 8-inch speaker located in the rear-shelf area provide full-range audio. Maximizing how music genres from hip hop to Motown should sound and feel, an 8-inch Beats Audio trunk-mounted dual-voice coil subwoofer with sealed enclosure delivers tight, powerful, punchy bass. The 2014 Dodge Charger sedan’s Uconnect 8.4N system integrates award-winning Garmin navigation, voice recognition and SiriusXM Traffic with an intuitive user interface to make operating simple. With natural voice commands, the Uconnect 8.4N enables passengers to input street addresses and navigate to points of interest. And with the integrated SiriusXM Traffic, real-time traffic monitoring notifies the driver or enables the Garmin navigation to reroute due to congested throughways.

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Car Review: 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth

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You know very quickly when you are driving something special, and the 500 Abarth is special. We drove the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth for a week and had about as much fun as any car we tested in recent months. There is no doubt that the Fiat 500 Abarth brought world-class performance and precision, purposeful and aggressive styling, high power-to-weight ratio and limited-production volume to the small-car segment in North America.

EXTERIOR

The Abarth badging on the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth has a tint of dare we say a Ferrari in just the slightest but most impressive way. The aggressive styling of the Fiat 500 Abarth embodies the Abarth brand tradition in full — purposeful and intentional details, all designed to improve the car’s performance, while enhancing the clean and simple design language of the Cinquecento. Our test model proudly boasted rosso (red) paint and sweet 17-inch x 7-inch forged aluminum hyper black wheels, which set the tone for this confident compact.

To improve aerodynamics and the necessary engine compartment space for the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine, the Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio feature a more pronounced front fascia. For additional air intake, the signature “Abarth” shield floats on a finned surface and a larger intake below consists of three inlets with broader openings than the standard Cinquecento models. For a more aggressive look, twin “nostrils” are precisely positioned on the front fascia to maximize airflow in and out of the two engine intercoolers (both intercoolers are visible through the “nostril” inlets).

Abarth-designed side skirts give an athletic profile, while 16-inch or optional 17-inch (as tested) lightweight forged-aluminum wheels fill the flared wheel arches and provide ventilation for the performance brake system. From the rear, an aggressively-styled, Abarth-specific, cloth top-mounted spoiler extends the roofline and improves the Abarth Cabrio’s aerodynamic behavior by creating additional downforce. Below, the two-piece Abarth-styled rear fascia accentuates the road-holding stance and optimizes airflow with its rear diffuser. Integrated behind the diffuser, the low-restriction Abarth-tuned exhaust system features concentric “double tips” and the signature Abarth-tuned sound.

INTERIOR

Quality, style and fun all come together to invigorate you in the cabin of the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth. The interior design theme of the Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio is an artistic blend of clean lines and functional performance appointments. An Abarth-designed steering wheel features a thick rim, perforated leather and flat bottom to provide the look, feel and increased roominess desired during at-the-limit driving. A large concentric instrument cluster with 160-mph speedometer, tachometer and trip computer sits behind the steering wheel and features a leather-wrapped cluster brow wrapped in Nero leather with Rosso accent stitching. To the left, an analog turbo-boost gauge has an integrated LED shift light in the center that illuminates an instant before redline to optimize gear changes. Below the instrument panel, Abarth-designed aluminum pedal covers feature Nero rubber trim for a decidedly racing look, while the Nero leather shift knob with Rosso accent stitching provides a precise feel of the shifter.

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Nissan Rogue and Amazon team up for #GiantLocker

For Nissan, “Innovation that excites” is not just a tag line; they really, truly, categorically mean it. From their cars to their brand experiences, Nissan innovation is about bringing excitement to your everyday. One way they do this is by creating communications that spill from the printed page, or viewers’ screens, into the real world. Like teaming with Amazon to showcase a car on its website and bringing the experience to them in a way that captures people’s interest and imagination.

Last year, when they needed a big introduction for the Versa Note, they placed it on Amazon.com and changed the way consumers could shop for a car. And when a photo of them delivering one Versa Note in a giant Amazon box was posted to reddit, the story spread around the world to 38 countries across five continents, all asking the question, “What’s in the box?”

This spring, when they put the all-new Nissan Rogue on Amazon.com, they knew that they had to not only innovate once again, but also get people wondering how they would capture their interest and imaginations this time. So they teamed up with Amazon once again to create a giant Amazon locker, one large enough to hold a Nissan Rogue!

That’s why today, they’ve put this giant locker in the heart of San Francisco. As people pass by and tweet, comment, or post photos about the locker using the hashtag #GiantLocker, they’ll earn a code to open one of the doors on the locker to win one of a variety of prizes. One lucky participant will get the surprise of a lifetime when his/her code opens the giant door, and they win a new Nissan Rogue.

You can follow the giant locker on Facebook, and by searching the hashtag #GiantLocker on Twitter and Instagram.

  

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