First Drive: 2014 Nissan Rogue

I was on hand on a beautiful fall day in Nashville to drive the all-new 2014 Nissan Rogue. The Rogue is the latest in a series of redesigns from Nissan as the entire lineup has been revamped. With the Rogue we see many of the exterior and interior design improvements we’ve seen in other Nissan models we’ve tested.

Exterior

The new Rogue has been completely redesigned with a more muscular look. The new vehicle is taller and wider than its predecessor with a longer wheelbase. All new headlamps and front grille replace the harder edges of the front facia of the current model. The high, muscular ridges along the wheel wells also enhance the styling of this compact CUV. The new model also incorporates new design elements like available LED headlights and standard LED signature daytime running lights. Check out the slideshow above and you’ll see how the vehicle looks great from every angle.

Interior

The Rogue interior was impressive and comfortable. Soft touch materials and premium trim accents were added in all the right places, and I liked the oversized center console that has room for a 10” tablet computer. Nissan emphasized the “Zero Gravity” seats developed from NASA research on natural-stress-free postures measured in zero gravity. They are designed to optimize comfort and reduce fatigue. I spent the good part of the day in the Rogue and can attest to the seat comfort.

For the first time, Rogue will offer optional 3-row/7-passenger seating. This isn’t intended to have this compact CUV compete with larger models, but it offers younger families some flexibility when needed. The cargo area was well put together with the Rogue’s Divide-‘N-Hide cargo system which helps keep wet/dirty items like muddy soccer gear separate from clean dry items with an easily cleaned lower level. The two-piece cargo organizer has 18 possible configurations, and combined with the back seat folding options offers plenty of flexibility.

I particularly liked the class-exclusive Around View Monitor available in the SL model. The ability to have a 360-view of the space around the vehicle along with the rear-view camera makes maneuvering in tight spaces a breeze. Other available features include Moving Object Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning.

Performance

The Rogue features a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that is rated at 170-horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque along with the Xtronic CVT transmission with a sport mode option. The power was adequate for this class of vehicles though acceleration sometimes lagged. But drivers will get a best-in-class highway fuel economy of 33 MPG. The handling was more impressive as the Rogue easily zips around corners. Also, Nissan has added technology features which help to stabilize the vehicle around corners in slippery conditions. The Active Trace Control technology can automatically engage the inner and outer brakes to optimize the line through turns and I was impressed as we tested this on wet surfaces. Drivers can also decide to turn this off.

Overview

The compact CUV segment is growing but it’s also very competitive. With this redesign the Rogue will likely remain a popular choice among consumers and should be on consumers’ test drive list. Pricing for the 2014 Rogue starts out at $22,490 for the base S model with front-wheel drive, and then can go over $32,000 for the SL AWD with the premium option package. However, in order to attract buyers looking at lower pricing options, Nissan will continue to build the 2013 version of the Rogue as a 2014 model called Rogue Select. This vehicle will start at an MSRP below $20,000 and offers an option for customers who want a compact CUV at the lower price point.

Rogue in Nashville

  

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Car Review: 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

nissan_altima_1

We’ve heard so much about the new 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV from press reports and even from some of our staff who already had the chance to drive this sleek offering from Nissan. So naturally, the rest of us wanted to see what all the hype was about, because you normally don’t get to drive that many cars that get 38mpg and rave reviews on looks both inside and out. When it comes to the innovations and advanced technology behind the ground-up, totally new 2013 Nissan Altima design, some things might be considered evolutionary.

EXTERIOR

The design of the 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV is both clean and compelling, which from some angles can rival luxury sedans and stand tall. Proving that premium doesn’t have to be pricey, the new Altima body takes a big step forward in creating a quiet, comfortable foundation for a new benchmark mid-size sedan. While keeping the same basic dimensions as the previous generation with new attention to aerodynamic design, Nissan helps give the totally restyled body a more premium appearance. The front fascia is outright brilliant, conveying confidence and style that will grab the attention of customers.

INTERIOR

When it comes to the new 2013 Altima, revolution also lives in the details. The interior’s premium look and feel comes from a combination of fresh design and quality appointments. Nissan has taken comfort to the next level with seating technology that we could only just imagine a few years back. While the new Altima likes to keep its wheels and tires firmly planted on the road, the standard front bucket seats have a less earthly design. In the desire to help reduce the fatigue experienced during long commutes or extended road trips, Nissan turned to seating and posture research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Nissan unveils all-new X-Trail and Rogue

I was on hand with Nissan at the 2014 Frankfurt Motor Show as CEO Carlos Ghosn unveiled the all-new 2014 Nissan X-Trail that will be sold in Europe. Shortly after in the U.S., Nissan unveiled the 2014 Nissan Rogue that will be sold in the United States.

The Rogue and X-Trail have been completely redesigned as you can see from the photos above with a more muscular look that incorporates new design elements like available LED headlights and standard LED signature daytime running lights. All new headlamps and front grille replace the harder edges of the front facia of the current model. The high, muscular ridges along the wheel wells also enhance the styling of this compact CUV.

The Rogue is the second-largest seller in Nissan’s U.S. lineup and the 2014 model will be in showrooms in November. Here are some notable features on the new model:

- For the first time, Rogue will offer optional 3-row/7-passenger seating;

- The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is rated at 170-horsepower and a best-in-class 175 lb-ft of torque;

- Xtronic CVT transmission with sport mode switch;

- Fuel economy is projected to be best-in-class 33 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models, representing an 18 percent improvement in highway fuel economy versus the 2013 model; and

- A number of Nissan technology features are available to aid the driver, including Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning.

Seeing this new model up close I was impressed with how it looks from every angle. The compact CUV market is large and growing but it’s also very competitive, so the redesigned Rogue and X-Trail will be critical for Nissan to keep and grow its market position. Check back later this year as we’ll share our driving impressions once we get the chance to try out the Rogue on the road.

  

First Drive: 2014 Nissan Versa Note

After updating the 4-door Versa sedan, Nissan has now turned to the 5-door hatchback with the all-new 2014 Versa Note. While they share the Versa name, the vehicles hardly look like siblings, with the 4-door Versa having the new Nissan grille across their sedan lineup while the Versa Note has a completely different front fascia that’s much more appropriate for the hatchback design. Buyers in this segment thus have two options from Nissan depending on their style tastes and practical needs.

Exterior

Nissan is the leader in this segment with both versions of the Versa offering designs that appeal to a wider demographic. They aren’t going with “quirky” design concepts in an attempt to woe younger buyers. The target market includes practical buyers in their 30s, particularly couples without children, looking for “functionality, versatility and value” but still wanting a stylish vehicle. You can see from the photos that the design should appeal to this target market along with a wider demographic without turning anyone off with design elements that are too aggressive.

Interior

Nissan is emphasizing the roominess of the interior, and I was impressed when I sat in the back seat. There’s plenty of legroom and you don’t feel like you’re in a compact vehicle. The Versa Note offers a segment-leading 38.3 inches of back row legroom and 21.4 cubic feet of cargo space. The Versa Note also offers a Drive-N-Hide adjustable floor in the back so drivers can tuck away items like computers. The front seats also offered plenty of room so I never felt cramped in the Note.

They’re targeting buyers with an active lifestyle, so the functionality provided by the back hatch and fold-down back seats will be emphasized in their marketing plan, and you can see in the slideshow above a Versa Note that was loaded up with surfing gear for all of us to check out.

The interior design is more understated than what you’ll see in other vehicles in this segment, which is consistent with Nissan’s goals with the Versa. Nissan is offering a robust technology package with a 5.8” touch-screen. I particularly like the Google Send-to-Car feature that lets drivers send an address from Google Maps directly to the navigation system of the vehicle. The Around View Monitor is particularly impressive and makes parking much easier. Just recently a feature like this was a selling point for higher end luxury cars, and now buyers can get it in a much less expensive vehicle.

Performance

Fuel efficiency is another priority with the Versa Note, with 40 miles per gallon on the highway and a best-in-class 31 MPG city and 35 MPG combined. All the automakers are laser-focused on weight reduction, and Nissan was able to reduce the weight of the Note by over 300 pounds when compared to the previous hatchback model. Improvements to the CVT engine also helped to achieve these numbers.

With the emphasis on fuel economy, it’s no surprise that the Versa Note didn’t blow me away with its performance. Still, the Note handles very well and I did enjoy our test drive along the San Diego coastline. The vehicle does not have a Sport or Eco drive mode option which is becoming more popular in small and larger vehicles.

Overview

I like what Nissan has done with the new Versa and Versa Note, and they obviously know this segment as they’ve been the sales leader since 2008. They have two options with the four and five-dour versions that appeal to a wide variety of buyers. The vehicles are practical but stylish, and they’re not trying to be too cute with the designs. I’ll be surprised if this strategy doesn’t lead to continued success.

  

Interview with Nissan Senior Vice President José Muñoz

Bullz-Eye had the opportunity to pose questions to Nissan Senior Vice President José Muñoz from our editors and readers at the New York Auto Show. WE got a great response, and Nissan Product Specialist Caroline Oberst was on hand to relay the questions submitted on this blog and by Twitter to Mr. Muñoz. The questions covered a wide variety of vehicles and topics, including new hybrids like the 2014 Pathfinder pictured in the first photo above and sales of the Nissan Leaf.

We’ve been very impressed with Nissan’s new vehicles, so if you’re in the market or want to learn more about upcoming models, check out the interview below.

  

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