Archive for the ‘cuv’ Tag

Chrysler 300 Interior Bowls Over Competition

Is it any wonder American consumers ignore large cars and instead shop the abundant crop of functional, sometimes sporty CUVs?

WardsAuto’s Large Car segment is a lonely place, with only four entries, and sales through March are down 14% while the car market overall is flat, according to WardsAuto data.

Two years ago, the newest entry was the Chevrolet Impala, which is very sharp, but it didn’t win a Ward’s 10 Best Interiors trophy because the interior is less compelling than the beautifully sculpted sheet metal.

The same cannot be said of the refreshed Chrysler 300, which carries over many of the styling cues, inside and out, that have made it a perennial contender, while integrating a number of meaningful improvements.

The Chrysler 300 makes big sedans relevant once again and even tips its hat, by way of a nearly identical color scheme, to a high-end interior that dazzled us last year: the $122,895 Mercedes S-Class sedan.

The 300C Platinum rolled into our garage with a more palatable $51,175 price tag and, like the S-Class, parlays gorgeous satin metallic trim, quilted leather, excellent fit-and-finish and a first-rate human-machine interface that is easy to learn and simple to use.

With its latest Uconnect system, Fiat Chrysler makes what appears to be simple work of the HMI, which can be daunting because automakers need to incorporate so many functions within the central display screen to eliminate buttons from the instrument panel and center console.

But the 300 is much more than cool electronics. From the white-faced analog clock to the heated rear seats, the cabin is roomy, welcoming and luxurious.

“In a world overpopulated with giant SUVs, the Chrysler 300C Platinum reminds us how glorious big sedans can be,” writes WardsAuto editor Drew Winter.

“The ’15 model takes the award-winning interior of the previous version up another notch with even more features, comfort and sumptuous materials. It also has wonderfully practical details, such as stout grab handles and a truly sturdy sunglass holder,” Winter says.

For what it’s worth, Fiat Chrysler kinda owns the big-car segment. The 300’s platform mate, the refreshed Dodge Charger, is the only entry in the sector posting gains through the first three months, up 5% to 26,218 units, according to WardsAuto data.

The Charger is duking it out with the Impala for the No.1 sales slot, while deliveries of the 300 are flat. The Ford Taurus, overdue for redesign, brings up the rear; its sales are down 27.6% for the quarter.

Yes, the Charger also was in the competition this year, but we opted instead for the 300’s soothing, upscale persona.

“I could live in this car,” says one judge. And live well.

Read more at: http://wardsauto.com/vehicles-technology/chrysler-300-interior-bowls-over-competition

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SUV Review: 2015 Nissan Juke SL

The crossover, or CUV, is the evolution of large utility platforms to the compact runabouts we see everywhere today.

These small SUV and hatchback designs represent the current trend in automotive design due to their compact size, nimble handling, and relatively good fuel economy.

Nissan should be given credit for initiating this movement, as when the Juke first arrived in 2011, it became the cornerstone for this niche market.

The Nissan Juke is a diminutive vehicle with a big personality, and has been a real success in Europe. However, it has taken a while for the unique-looking runabout to establish a solid fan base here in North America.

One such Juke-ite is my good friend Joanna Dougan, who purchased a second-hand 2011 demo unit with 4,000 kilometres on the clock back in 2012. I turned to Joanna to point out what had been changed for the 2015 model year, as the Juke has undergone a mid-cycle refresh to help maintain sales momentum.

“I didn’t buy the Juke for mileage, as I have a Nissan Versa for that purpose and I don’t drive all that much, as my daily commute is quite short,” Dougan said. “I bought it for the all-wheel-drive as I live in a rather remote area and the roads can be a challenge at the best of times. It handles these roads with ease, and has proven to be a lot of fun to drive.”

After slipping behind the new Juke’s wheel she was quick to point out that very little, if anything has been changed with regards to the car’s interior.

“I don’t see any real changes on the inside, but I must say that I am not thrilled with the white trim on this vehicle.”

The trim in question is part of a new optional styling package called Colour Studio. Buyers can order up to 12 different accessory pieces in one of eight different colours to add some extra flair to the vehicle and help enhance its unique appearance. These pieces can be ordered piecemeal and added on to the vehicle after purchase at the dealership, or you can order them with the car prior to delivery. Our test car featured this package in bright white, and the contrast seemed to detract from the Juke’s visual appeal.

“I like that you have the ability to raise the seat with ease, as visibility can be an issue. The oversized side mirrors also help. My car doesn’t have the rear-view camera like this one, but I am quite tall so I can see out better than shorter drivers,” Joanna said.

The 360-degree camera system is really neat however, and I like how the indicators follow the direction of travel when I put it in reverse.

“The controls are all the same, although I don’t have the navigation unit, just a CD audio system. I see these tech devices as a distraction. I use a navigation application on my phone instead.”

The car itself has a revised front fascia that incorporates a new grille design, complete with a larger and much more prominent chrome nose piece. Advanced projector headlamps are also new, as are the boomerang shaped LED signature lamps. The latter derive their shape from the lighting featured on Nissan’s iconic 370Z sports car.

At the rear of the Juke the vehicle now sports a more aggressive bumper design and fascia, and the high intensity tail lights are also sculpted in the boomerang shape. Further accessory elements can be added to either fascia as part of the Colour Studio option program.

Surprisingly the 17-inch light alloy wheels are a carryover design identical to those on Joanna’s 2011 model.

Under the hood resides the second generation of Nissan’s 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This peppy little powerplant features direct injection and Nissan’s engineers have incorporated some changes to help reduce internal mechanical friction to help enhance fuel economy.

The engine now has a broader torque curve due to a higher compression ratio and some modifications made to the turbo. This has made the Juke’s driving experience more spirited, lowered emissions, and improved overall fuel economy.

The engine produces 188 horsepower and 177 foot-pounds of torque, and power delivery is very consistent. The unit tested was the top-of-the-line SL model with all-wheel-drive. Base models are front-wheel-drive and fitted with a six-speed manual transmission.

Our test vehicle featured the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This is the choice for the majority of units sold in Canada. Initial acceleration can be a chore as the CVT hunts a bit at first, but once the car gets up to speed, it will inspire confidence.

The Nissan Juke is most in its element when the road gets twisty and you operate it in Sport mode. At about 3,000 rpm, the car comes to life and is very adept at getting power smoothly to the ground.

“Handling feels the same, and the turning radius is unmatched. It feels very composed on the highway despite its short wheelbase, and holds the line I choose with ease when I am cornering at speed.”

“It is so easy to get around in and very comfortable to drive. The Juke has more than enough power, especially when you roar around in Sport mode. My husband loves the power.”

“I really like having the ability to shift gears on my own and to select a drive mode at the touch of a button. I use the Sport mode when we go to the mountains to shoot up the hills and zoom through corners. It is great to have the extra power!” Joanna said.

The Juke is a rather odd vehicle, as it appears to have been designed more for form than actual function. As a result, you either like the look or are quick to dismiss it. This is unfortunate, as the car really reveals its true self when you get behind the wheel. It is a lot of fun to drive.

Joanna has her own unique sense of style, so the Juke seems like a natural fit for the active career woman. “I get a lot of weird looks from people due to the Juke’s odd styling, but I like to be a little different.”

If she had one complaint it is a common one with critics of the Juke’s design.

“The rear seats aren’t overly comfortable and the rear cabin is lacking legroom. However, as it is just me and my husband most of the time, this isn’t a huge issue,” she says.

“It has enough utility for my needs and it has just enough room for what I need to carry. The Versa had more room, especially in the rear compartment, but this works for our current situation.”

Joanna’s experience with her own Juke has had its hiccups, but she still seems to feel that she made the right choice for her needs.

“I have has a few problems, especially with windshield wipers. It seems like the motor is too weak to propel the extra-large wiper blade. I also had to have the transmission replaced. It was a warranty repair, and the technicians said it was the first one they ever had to do. Despite these problems, the car runs great and I really like how it drives.”

In fact, Joanna is so smitten with her Juke that she says that if she ever decides to get rid of it, she would consider buying another one.

The Juke was made to navigate through the tight confines of the urban environment, but wants a little more utility and the availability of all-wheel-drive.  The car’s funky look continues to evolve and will appeal to those individuals who like to stand out for having their own unique style.

Read more at: http://driving.ca/nissan/juke/reviews/road-test/suv-review-2015-nissan-juke-sl