First Drive: 2016 Nissan Maxima

I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Several decades ago the Nissan Maxima was one of the few sedans you would think of apart from the German cars when someone mentioned they really wanted a sport sedan. Fortunately for other car brands that has changed in the years since, but for Nissan it puts more pressure to get the new Maxima right in today’s more competitive environment.

The most recent generation Maximas weren’t bad but there wasn’t much that made the vehicles stand out. With the all-new 2016 Maxima we now have the eighth generation and Nissan appears to have another winner on its hands.

Exterior

It all starts with the exterior design, which you can see from the photos is impressive from all angles. I was curious as to what Nissan would do with the front grille of the Maxima after seeing the more cautious designs for the front of the Altima and the Sentra. Instead we see a more distinctive, unique and ambitious “V-Motion” front grille that’s similar to what we saw with the Rogue. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but as our day went on it started to grow on me. It works with the rest of the vehicle which is beautifully designed and it fits the more aggressive image of the Maxima.

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First Drive: 2015 Nissan Murano

If you’re looking for beauty and comfort in a vehicle, the Nissan Murano was created with you in mind. Nissan created a distinctive vehicle with the first Murano in 2003 and they’ve aimed high for the all-new, third generation Murano that enters a much more crowded and competitive market for 2015.

Nissan has a very specific demographic in mind for its flagship crossover, targeting empty nesters who will often go out on the town with another couple. The car is designed for adult passengers to interact with one another in a “social lounge” kind of setting, so attention was paid to the experience in the rear seats.

Exterior

Take a look at the slideshow above and you’ll see that this third-generation Murano looks like another design home run worthy of Nissan’s original model. We drove the Murano from the heart of Sonoma wine country out to stunning Goat Rock Park on the Pacific Ocean. You can see the use of glass and the flowing lines of the compelling new design.

Nissan stressed three key elements from the Murano that will show up in future designs – the V-Motion front end, signature lighting and the ‘floating’ roofline.” The roofline in particular stands out along with the boomerang-style headlights and taillights which were originally introduced on the Nissan 370Z. It all comes together beautifully in a package that will certainly appeal to the target demo. The new model also sports a 16 percent improvement in overall aerodynamics versus the previous generation design.

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Car Review: 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

nissan_versa_note_1

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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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?”

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15 Cars to look for at Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show for consumers, even if most manufacturers don’t use it to unveil their most important new cars and concepts. Still, it’s located in the massive and beautifully designed McCormick Place in downtown Chicago and it has many of the new cars you’ll want to see.

I spent Thursday and Friday walking the show with other members of the media before the show opens to the public today, and a number of cars caught my eye. I’ve listed a number of them below though it’s by no means an exhaustive list of the show’s highlights. Most were not introduced at this show, but you’ll want to look for these cars and see them up close.

2015 Ford Mustang

The 50th Anniversary Mustang was completely redesigned for 2015 and was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show. This was my first opportunity to see it up close, and I have to admit I liked it more after seeing it in person. I’m still not thrilled with the dramatic change with the styling of the front headlights, but they do fit the new design. The more dramatic fastback is easier to appreciate when you see this car in person, and overall it’s an impressive design. Ford only has one at this show so make sure to look for it. You can see more photos of the Mustang from the show here along with official photos here.

2015 Ford Mustang at Chicago Auto Show 1

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