Car Review: 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

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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).

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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.

  

Questions for Nissan

We’ve had the opportunity to test drive many of the new Nissan’s over the past year, and you can see some of the photos from the drive events above, with the Altima, Sentra, Versa and Pathfinder as recent examples. Follow the links for our reviews and you’ll see we’ve been very impressed with what Nissan has been doing. Also, with the Nissan sedans, we’ve seen them completely redesigned with a distinctive new front grille.

With the New York International Auto Show coming up, Nissan has invited Bullz-Eye.com and our readers to ask some questions to Nissan’s new Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, José Muñoz. He’ll answer them at NYIAS and then we’ll post the video here on Bullz-Eye. So give us your questions here in the comments or on the Bullz-Eye Twitter account.

  

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