Archive for the ‘cvt’ Tag

Nissan Juke Vs. Jeep Renegade: Compare Cars

Believe it or not, the Jeep Renegade and Nissan Juke are in the same category of small SUVs. But they could hardly be more different. The Renegade is Jeep’s littlest SUV, with square-cut styling and genuine off-road prowess. The Juke, on the other hand, is a style-first urban warrior whose all-wheel-drive option is more for on-road traction than anything even in the neighborhood of rocky trails or mountain climbing.

New in 2015, the Renegade is the first vehicle developed from the ground up for global sale by the combined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. While it’ll likely sell well in North America, its minimal dimensions make it best-suited to bring the Jeep brand to more crowded and less affluent markets in Europe, Asia, and South America. Its design is every inch classic SUV, with oversize lights and other details for visual interest.
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The interior is straightforward, modern, and contains a number of Jeep-brand reminders in the form of “Easter Egg” design elements. The Renegade’s front seats are comfortable, but there’s not that much room in the rear unless rear-seat riders bargain aggressively with those in the front. The seats are comfortable and nicely bolstered, and the Renegade is clearly wider than other AWD entries, meaning the shoulders of the two front-seat riders are suitably separated.

The Juke, on the other hand, has been with us since the 2011 model year. Its wild-style design is polarizing: You either love for it for its in-your-face, tall, haunched, bug-eyed appearance or hate it for the same reasons. A light restyle for 2015 has made it, if anything, even more mean-looking. The Juke’s layout and switchgear are straightforward even if the motorcycle-inspired gauges, shiny nylon upholstery, and colorful inserts give it far more design edge.

Interior space is adequate in the front, with a somewhat upright seating position, but quite cramped in the rear–and the Juke has less cargo space to boot, just 36 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down (which is how we expect most Jukes will be driven), against 51 cubic feet for the Renegade. In the end, the Jeep is simply far better at the utility jobs that many people need: hauling people and stuff.

The Jeep Renegade comes with two powertrain options. The base model is propelled by a 160-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. If you don’t want to shift for yourself, you’ll move up to the 180-hp 2.4-liter four, which uses the new nine-speed automatic transmission that’s increasingly common in new Chrysler, Jeep, and Fiat products. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional for both engines.

The Nissan Juke is powered by a 188-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with either front- or all-wheel drive, and a continuously variable (CVT) transmission. The CVT makes it somewhat sluggish around town unless you drive it hard, when it tightens up and offers more fun. Performance fans, however, will go for the Juke NISMO or NISMO RS—both offering a manual gearbox. The NISMO RS gets a top-performance version of the same engine, boosted to 215 hp. The NISMO versions also get more than 100 upgrades to suit their hot-hatch personae.

While the NISMOs are in a separate category–they’re smaller competitors to cars like the Subaru WRX and VW Golf GTI–the conventional Juke powertrain just isn’t as direct or enjoyable to drive as the Jeep’s pair. Not to mention that the AWD Juke gave us truly atrocious fuel economy during a test several years ago–only slightly more than 20 mpg.

The Juke’s safety ratings are mixed–not unexpected for an older design–while the Renegade hasn’t yet been rated for crash safety by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The 2015 Renegade comes in four trim levels: the base Sport (starting at $18,990 for the base 2WD version), the mid-level Latitude ($22,290), and the top-of-the-line Limited ($25,790). All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option. Then there’s the Trailhawk model ($26,990) with its greater off-road capability, which only comes with all-wheel drive and the larger 2.4-liter engine with the nine-speed automatic. All prices above include the mandatory $995 delivery fee.

The 2015 Juke starts at $21,705 and rises to more than $30,000 for a top-spec NISMO model. Even the base Juke S includes Intelligent Key with push-button start, a backup camera, and the NissanConnect system with Mobile Apps and a text message assistant. The mid-range Juke SV adds a moonroof; a rearview camera system; push-button start; satellite radio; the I-CON system; automatic temperature control; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The top-trim Juke (other than NISMO models) is the SL, which layers on navigation; leather-trimmed seats; and an 8-inch Rockford Fosgate subwoofer with six upgraded speakers.

Overall, the Jeep Renegade easily gets the nod here. When the Juke was the sole hot-hatch SUV on the market, it was a new and interesting way to get that capability in a smaller size than the usual compact crossover. But now that we have entries from not only Jeep but also Chevy, Fiat, and even Buick, the Juke comes up short: It’s too small and cramped, and doesn’t offer the sturdy off-roading ability of the littlest Jeep.

Read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1098188_nissan-juke-vs-jeep-renegade-compare-cars?fbfanpage

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2016 Nissan Maxima First Test Review

The 2016 Nissan Maxima is NOT a four-door Miata, so join me in ignoring the car’s 4DSC (four-door sports car) marketing references straight away. Once you do, you’re left with a damned good SPMS—a semi-premium midsize sedan. For a front-drive car with a $30,000-$40,000 price range, the quick 2016 Maxima is a high-quality package that should find favor with drivers who prioritize fun over the superior rear-seat and trunk space of Nissan’s competitors. The CVT helps the Maxima stand out in a good way, an interesting turnaround considering we deemed the CVT in our long-term 2009 Maxima a “major killjoy.”

So what’s changed? Perhaps even more than our readiness to accept CVTs is the tuning of the 2016 Maxima’s transmission. It’s responsive in Normal and Sport modes (the latter of which ramps up steering weight a lot), and as we found in our First Drive review, getting the car to emit that dreaded CVT whine isn’t easy to do. The CVT is ready for your inputs at least as often as conventional six-speed automatics. The standard-in-every-Maxima Active Sound Enhancement system also adds to the experience by enhancing the strong engine note heard inside the cabin and increasing the driver’s subjective sense of speed.

The 2016 Maxima is objectively quick, too. Every 2016 Maxima is powered by a 300-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 with 261 lb-ft of torque, and on the track, the sportier SR and upscale Platinum models both hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Six-cylinder versions of the Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon can keep up with the 2016 Maximas to 50 mph, but those semi-premium midsize/full-size sedans fall back by 60, at 6.2 and 6.3 seconds, respectively. We’ve tested a 2013 Altima 3.5 SL that kept pace with the two 2016 Maximas, clocking a 5.9-second 0-60 time. Although most Maxima buyers won’t seriously consider the BMW 3 Series, those few who do should know they’ll lose streetlight drag races in the Nissan: A 2015 328i Sport Line model we recently tested with an eight-speed automatic accelerated to 60 in 5.4 seconds. Yes, the Maxima exhibits a little torque steer, but only if you’re really looking for it — for example, simultaneously changing lanes and stabbing the throttle from a stop. Whether or not the car is in motion, you’ll turn heads. Nissan has dressed the new Maxima with styling that’s as bold as the car is quick. The Maxima shares a 109.3-inch wheelbase with the Altima, but the flagship sedan is just a bit longer, wider, and lower than the more mainstream four-door. We’d suggest avoiding black or other dark exterior colors to make the most of the Maxima’s wild-for-a-sedan C-pillar design. After all, if you’re going to go Maxima over an Impala, Avalon, Charger, or even Altima, why not maximize the black line that slices through the C-pillar?

That design feature distinguishes every 2016 Maxima, but only the sporty SR trim will add 19-inch wheels with 245/40R19 all-season tires (summer tires are available on the SR), an upgraded suspension, and technology that aims to make the suspension more compliant than you’d expect for the Maxima’s sportiest trim. The SR also eschews the dual panel moonroof on the SL and Platinum trims to lower the center of gravity and increase torsional rigidity. On the highway, associate online editor Stefan Ogbac and I each found that although the Maxima SR does have more tire noise, it’s not so bad that you’d want to take a different car on a road trip. On the track, the Maxima SR’s more sporting credentials helped it turn in a figure-eight performance of 26.0 seconds at 0.72g average, better than the 2014 Chevrolet Impala (27.1 seconds at 0.68g average), the 2013 Toyota Avalon (27.2 seconds at 0.66g average), and 2013 Altima 3.5 SL (27.1 seconds at 0.66g average). The 2016 Maxima SR proved an even match for the lighter but less powerful 2015 BMW 328i we recently tested that completed the figure-eight course in 26.0 seconds at 0.73g average. The more luxury-focused 2016 Maxima Platinum model, which is still fun to drive, was good for a respectable time of 27.0 seconds at 0.69g average. We Real MPG tested the 2016 Maxima SR at 22.4/30.2 R-MPG city/highway, just about even with its 22/30 mpg EPA ratings.

Although testing director Kim Reynolds wasn’t a fan of the Maxima SR’s long steering-column-mounted paddle shifters, overall, he appreciated its track performance. “The car has nice grip, a good turn-in when the transmission is behaving, and solid power,” Reynolds said. “[This is] a well-developed platform that ought to be attractive to buyers who’d prefer German sedan driving attributes.” So the 2016 Maxima is entertaining, but it’s not as capacious inside as you might think. The car is definitely comfortable if you consider it as a midsize sedan, but similarly priced but less sporty cars such as the Impala and Avalon have it beat in terms of rear-seat space and trunk capacity.

Then there’s the potential issue of insurance costs. IntelliChoice says the last-generation Maxima had higher-than-average insurance costs, and although the new 2016 Maxima could eliminate this problem, it’s too early to tell one way or the other. Still, the 2016 Maxima offers a great mix of style and driving fun not found on too many four-doors less than $40,000, other than the comparison-test-winning Mazda6. Unless you’re absolutely set on the sportier SR trim, consider the mid-level $37,715 SL. The 2016 Maxima SL lacks the quilted seat inserts of the SR and Platinum (finished in Alcantara on the SR) and the Platinum’s power-operated steering column and Around View Monitor multi-camera parking system, but you still get plenty of content. The Maxima SL features include navigation on an 8-inch touchscreen, hands-free keyless access, leather seats, an 11-speaker Bose sound system, front and rear sonar sensors, the dual-panel moonroof, and Nissan’s suite of active safety tech. It includes an adaptive cruise control system that works well but deactivates when you come to a stop. Buyers who want more than the average midsize sedan can offer but know how quickly the MSRP adds up on German luxury sport sedans should definitely add the 2016 Nissan Maxima to their shopping list. As long as expectations are kept in check in terms of interior and cargo space, the Maxima is one of the better semi-premium midsize sedans around.

Read more: http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1507_2016_nissan_maxima_first_test_review/viewall.html#ixzz3fESzOTyj

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

The 2015 Nissan Murano goes head-to-head with the Ford Edge

If you decide that you want a stylish, roomy mid-size utility vehicle—one that drives like a car—and you don’t need a third row, or any rugged pretense, then the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano are two of the better picks on the market. And if you narrow your priorities to vehicles that look conceived for adults—not just as rolling cribs and diaper bins—then the Murano and Edge stand atop an even smaller list.

Both models are indeed stylish, mature, and sophisticated, but in very different ways. The Murano wears an especially bold face, with the new corporate ‘V-motion’ grille and boomerang headlights and taillights that frame some especially handsome contouring. Inside, the Murano has a swoopy, V-shaped design that’s equally radical, and distinct trims verge away from the woodgrain, piano-black plastic, and excessive brightwork that’s so common in premium interiors. The Edge, on the other side, looks sporty and athletic, with its contours and details feeling carefully calculated to fit right in with Ford’s existing lineup. On the inside, the Ford hits all the right cues for sporty and premium, although we think the Murano’s distinct look inside and out gives it a solid advantage in styling.

Performance-wise, these two models are polar opposites as well. While the Ford Edge now relies mostly on turbocharged, so-called EcoBoost engines and six-speed automatic transmissions—a non-turbo V-6 is there as more of a token offering—the Murano goes a more traditional route underhood, with a naturally aspirated V-6 the sole engine for the lineup. In the Murano, it’s paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that does its job in keeping engine revs under control while all you notice is plenty of acceleration on tap when you need it—with little of the rubber-band responses that plagued former CVTs. On the other hand, you’re much more aware of the powertrain in the Edge, as it has crisp, well-coordinated shifts. And hold on before you think you’re getting a much more fuel-efficient vehicle with the EcoBoost Edge; it’s a virtual tie against the V-6 Murano.

Ride and handling is very different between these two, with the Edge offering a rather firm but muted feel—more in line with German luxury crossovers, really—while the Murano has an equally quiet yet more plush ride that makes it a closer counterpoint to the Lexus RX. The Edge has a serious edge in handling, we think, as its precise steering and well-tuned suspension allow it to feel like a lower vehicle than it is when the road gets twisty. But considering the Murano’s strong, unobtrusive powertrain, we give the Edge only a slight edge here.

One note: The Ford Edge is offered in a performance-oriented Edge Sport model, which adds a twin-turbo, 2.7-liter V-6, making 315 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. With suspension and steering changes that bring a firmer, more communicated, plus serious appearance changes on the outside—most notably, brightwork replaced with a blacked-out look.

Inside is where the Edge and Murano compare most easily in an A-to-B sense. While the two feel (and are) a virtual tie when it comes to cargo space, versatility, and general usability, we have to give the Edge demerits here for its flat, unsupportive seats. The Murano’s back seats especially shame those in the Edge, with their excellent contouring in outboard positions, while in the Ford the frame of the Vista Roof can interfere with headroom for taller occupants.

Full crash-test results aren’t yet available for either of these recently redesigned models. Both of these models save some of their best active-safety technology—like Predictive Forward Collision Warning on the Pathfinder, or Lane Keep Assist and inflatable rear seatbelts on the Edge—for option packages on top-of-the-line models.

Feature-wise, both of these models are presented with a sort of two-pronged approach: with tantalizing value-oriented base models that offer an interesting alternative to smaller, more mass-market models, as well as fully-kitted-out top-trim models that match up against luxury-brand models in all but the badge. At the base level, the base Murano S comes with a bit more than the Edge—with dual-zone climate control and a decent apps-compatible infotainment system standard—but at the top end we’ll call the Edge the winner in the features race by a slight bit, as it can be equipped with things like an Active Park Assist system that will let the Edge park itself, even into a perpendicular spot, as you manage the accelerator and brake pedals.

Who’s the winner here? The Edge only has it if you place more weight on handling, and a more European feel (especially with the Edge Sport), or if you really must have the edge on technology features. Otherwise it’s the Murano, as its like-no-other styling, plush ride, confident performance, and very comfortable seating add up to something that’s quite compelling.

As read on: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1097256_nissan-murano-vs-ford-edge-compare-cars

2015 Nissan Versa Note SR – Driven

When Nissan brought me its cheapest hatchback, the 2014 Versa Note, earlier this year I found myself impressed with its nimbleness, abundant interior space great features despite its bargain price. I did wish it was a little faster, and the CVT isn’t the best, but in general I recommended it as a great bargain runabout. For 2015, Nissan has the new sportier looking Versa Note SR, and the automaker sent it my way for a week of testing (read: flogging). The new car has revised visual cues inside and out, and the equipment list is a little different than my last Versa. Best yet, it’s even a little cheaper than the last one I tested as well.

Does the new looks and revised interior make this car even better than the old model? Does the lowered price and reduced equipment options make it a better deal or a drearier place to spend time? Did that CVT magically get any better?

Exterior

The 2014 Versa Note wasn’t attractive in the general sense, but it did at least look interesting. The soft curves and sculpted shapes made it look far more handsome than a tall hatch with flat-sides should be allowed. With the new SR, Nissan Nissan added a lot of small changes to the outside that combine to make a huge difference. The grille is a dark diamond mesh pattern that looks a lot classier than the long horizontal stripes of my last tester, and the headlamps have been modified ever so slightly. The outside amber reflector on the headlamp has been moved down and widened slightly. It is a tiny change, but it more closely follows the angles and lines of the car to make the front end look a little more aggressive.

The SR features a whole new front bumper that sees the flat and boring horizontal body line shaped into a “vee” that mirrors the angles of the upper grille. The lower grill has a more three-dimensional look with a new front lip and lateral cuts that frame the revised fog light housings. There is more black diamond mesh in the lower grille, and the fog lights now have black surrounds with sharp chrome trim highlighting the top and outer edges.

Down the side of the Versa you can see the new side-view mirrors that are one of my favorite changes to the exterior. The old models were large and bulbous round units, but the 2015 SR arrives with squared units that look more aerodynamic and interesting. There is a large and thin LED strake that runs through the front of the top-third of the mirror to act as an indicator light and it really shows of the new sculpting and shape of the mirror housing. To match the new nose there is also an aggressive side skirt that runs the profile of the Versa SR. The alloy wheels of the SR are also new with an exclusive and stunning two-tone silver and black color scheme coupled to a split-spoke design. They are 16 inches in diameter, same as the last model.

The tail of the Versa Note SR gets the same level of attention that the rest of the exterior does. The new rear bumper is wider at the bottom, giving the car a more square and planted visual stance, and there is a plethora of new cuts, sculpting details and trim changes. The bottom of the bumper tucks up into a visual representation of a diffuser that is made from a carbon-look plastic of surprising quality. TO the outer edges of that trim, there are sculpted cuts that mirror the new shape of the fog light housings in the nose. To finish the new go-faster styling, there is a spoiler mounted to the top of the hatch. It’s not as large as the one you will find on the Fiesta ST, but its dual hump design is attractive.

Interior

The inside of the Versa range has always been its strongest selling point. It may be a hatch, but the Versa Note is designed to provide passenger space and comfort more than cargo room. While it didn’t get any more space for 2015, the SR trim does add some cool visual upgrades, as well as some improved trim and ergonomics.

The seats of the SR are built to match the sporty exterior and feature a cloth that is similar to suede in the way it feels. It is much stickier than the standard cloth and does a pretty good job of trying to hold you in the seats. It also just plain feels nicer. Along with the new cloth material, the seats of the SR get a new design that features a cool orange stripe and orange dimpled inserts. Even on a car wearing Metallic Blue paint like mine, the orange just seems to work. The seats are also held together with orange contrast stitching, and you will find the same dimpled cloth on the doors.

Front and center there is an SR-special leather-wrapped steering wheel. Directly behind that is what Nissan calls Fine Vision Vision gauges and they are gorgeous in all the right ways. The cluster is filled with three large black circles, and they are backlit by brilliant white light. Even in direct bright sunlight all the gauges are incredible crisp and clear. Despite this, they are not glaringly bright at night. Regardless of conditions or light, they just always seem to be at the perfect brightness. If Nissan told me these gauges were powered by unicorn magic I would believe them.

In the center of the speedo there is a small LCD that seems to float in a bowl black inky nothingness. It serves multiple functions that you can scroll through with a single button mounted to the steering wheel that include mpg measurements, remaining range and more. To the right is a more traditional LCD display that notifies you of selected gear, outside temp and odometer readings.

The center stack should look much nicer and classier to anyone who owns a current Versa Note. The black plastic from the old car has been banished and replaced by glossy piano-black trim. The stereo in our car doesn’t have the Navigation system and tech package upgrades, so it lacks some of the buttons and features of my old tester, but it does have nice orange light rings around the main control knobs; a feature the old car lacked. There is also a dedicated display button that allows you to turn the screen off with the push of a single button. When going on long night trips, being able to quickly deactivate the bright screen is a welcome touch.

Move a little south from the stereo unit and you are greeted by revised climate controls. The cheap and chunky gray plastic knobs have been ditched for black units, and the fan control knob now has a nice chrome trim ring. The large circular cut in the plastic to make room for these controls is also gone, and it makes the center stack look much nicer and higher quality. Again, these are all subtle touches, but together they add up to make the cabin a much nicer place to be.

Drivetrain

While the 2015 Versa Note SR got a whole pile of visual goodies added to its repertoire, the greasy bits that keep it moving haven’t changed at all. That means you still get a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine with 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. Despite its sporting disposition and looks, the SR is still only sold with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT. If you want to row your own gears in the Versa you are stuck with the base S model.

Performance is only adequate with the 0-to-60-mph sprint coming around in the high nine-second range, and while I didn’t test it, I wouldn’t expect the Versa to manage more than 125 mph on the top end. Since the running gear hasn’t changed, the fuel economy ratings haven’t either. The sticker still proudly claims 40 mpg on the highway with 31 in the city and a combined rating overall of 35.

With my last Versa I only managed to clear about 30 mpg which was more than disappointing. I am not 100-percent sure of what has changed between now and then, but I managed a healthy 36-plus mpg on this go around with the Versa Note, despite the fact that I pushed this model even harder than I did the last one. The CVT even seemed to behave better for me this go around when I was traversing the rapid elevation changes in the area. Nissan hasn’t said anything about changing the tuning of the CVT for the SR, so I am not entirely sure what prompted such an improvement in fuel economy or driveability.

Price

The SR sits in the middle of the Versa lineup between the value priced SV and the top-trim SL. The lowest price you can pay for a Versa Note SR is $17,530, but with some options you can push that higher. Our car came with the SR Convenience Package that added the 5-inch display in the dash, SiriusXM satellite radio and backup camera all for the sum of $660. Add in $180 for the carpeted floor and cargo mats, plus the $810 destination fee, to brings the grand total up to $19,180.

That is almost $500 cheaper than the last Versa I drove, but that $500 secured Navigation, a trick AroundView monitor setup and keyless entry with a push-button start. The body kit and revised interior trim is nice, but I expected the SR to be just a touch cheaper, or maybe a tad better equipped.

Driving Impressions

Driving the 2015 Versa Note SR, unsurprisingly, was just like driving the 2015 model. That isn’t a bad thing though. The car isn’t equipped with a set of race-spec coilovers, but its lower ride height and stretched wheelbase do create a platform that is more fun than you would likely give it credit for. There is a fair bit of body roll, but once the weight transitions, the car will stick and sling your through a corner. If you are good with some late left-foot braking you can even get the tail to step just slightly.

Understeer can be an issue at the absolute limit but during normal brisk driving, it isn’t a problem in most situations. The engine is small, and mounted fairly far back in the nose between the wheels so the amount of weight on the nose is reduced, thereby reducing its tendency to understeer you straight into a tree around that one banked hairpin you love so much.

When you aren’t trying to set a new back-road record, the Versa Note SR settles into a competent commuter machine. NVH inside the cabin is more hushed than you would expect from a car in this price range and the seats are plenty supportive for longer drives. The stereo is not the greatest-sounding thing in the world, but it serves its purpose well and smartly placed controls make it easy to operate when on the move without taking your eyes off the road. Nissan was even kind enough to include a text-messaging assistant that is designed to read incoming texts aloud to help curb the pandemic problem of texting while driving.

When driving around in tighter urban areas, the large windows, upright seating position and tight turning circle are huge bonuses. The steering is also better in the city than out on the great wilds of rural America with its quick action and light weighting…

Conclusion

The Nissan Versa SR builds on the already great new Versa with revised designs inside and out that add up to make the car look faster, classier and more expensive. Despite the new looks, price has stayed the same, and that is great for potential buyers. I wish that Nissan would have added just a touch more power to match the more aggressive looks. Still the Versa Note SR still offers a great option for buyers looking to get lots of space and practicality in a smaller size with a cheaper price tag.

Read the full article on: http://www.topspeed.com/cars/nissan/2015-nissan-versa-note-srdriven-ar166668.html#main

2015 Nissan Juke

I didn’t always like the Nissan Juke. When it launched in 2010, I just couldn’t get over the way it looked – it came across as super weird, and kind of hideous at first blush. But I slowly warmed up to the funky little crossover/hatchback/thing, and after spending some time behind the wheel, I really learned to love Nissan’s small wonder. It’s a genuine hoot to drive, offering hot hatch-like thrills in a package that doesn’t look like anything else on the road. The Nismo and RS models that followed only increased my ardor for the turbocharged Juke, and now, I find myself smiling whenever I see one of these little guys bombing down the road.

Going into 2015, Nissan hasn’t really made major changes, but there are a host of smaller improvements on hand to make it a more well-rounded vehicle than ever before. And to up the funk factor for the new year, there are a slew of customization options now available to customers through the Juke Color Studio – for better or worse

Following my first drive of the third-generation Nissan Murano in Napa Valley, I took the refreshed Juke for a spin to see if the 2015 model year improvements still make for a car that’s good to drive and easy to use, while bursting with the same personality that slowly won me over in the first place.

Drive Notes
– Powering the Juke is the same turbocharged, 1.6-liter inline-four as last year, with 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque on tap. I’ve always liked this engine – it’s punchy and feels good when being worked via the 2014 model’s six-speed manual transmission. There’s lots of power down low, with a nice bit of boost mid-range through each gear. Altering the drive modes between Normal and Sport heighten this, and honestly, the turbo/manual setup in this front-wheel-drive Juke was kind of hilarious – a real treat.

– Sadly, Nissan will no longer offer the manual transmission on non-Nismo Juke models for 2015, so you’re stuck with the continuously variable transmission. Bummer. In sport mode, the usually good Xtronic CVT tends to rev high and hold itself there – a tendency of older such transmissions that’s seriously off-putting, especially for enthusiasts.

– Still, the Juke is available with a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. The FWD Juke is fun, offering decent amounts of grip with a hint of predictable understeer. But I’ve always liked the four-season factor of the AWD Juke. I’ve never driven the high-riding hatch in the snow, but I imagine with the proper tires, this thing would be excellent.

– The rest of the driving aspects haven’t changed since the last time I left the Juke. The steering is nicely weighted and direct, the brakes feel a little mushy on first application but offer plenty of pedal feel after that, and the whole thing blasts down the road with a sort of fun that not many other small crossovers can match.

– What has changed about the Juke for 2015 is its styling, though I won’t fault you for not being able to immediately spot the differences. Up front, the already busy schnoz has been slightly redesigned, with reshaped turn signals (the top tier of lights), and new projector-beam headlamps worked into their middle-tier housings. The side indicators have moved to the mirrors, where they have an angular shape to mimic the lamps out front and the swoopy taillamps around back. And finally, some new colors are available, including the Solar Yellow you see here, not to mention all of the odd choices on tap in the aforementioned Color Studio.

– Inside, it’s more of the same – no big change here, aside from the addition of some NissanConnect tech and the inclusion of the company’s excellent Around View Monitor. Cloth and leather seating surfaces are available, with glossy silver or red trim on the doors and transmission tunnel. (Side note: the red gloss on this test car matched with the yellow exterior paint created a sort of ketchup and mustard theme that I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re a hot dog enthusiast.)

Nissan’s pricing for the 2015 Juke remains competitive, with the front-wheel-drive S starting at $20,250, not including $825 for destination. This represents an increase of $1,080 versus the 2014 model (the destination charge has increased by $15, too), but Nissan points out that the ’15 Juke comes standard with a lot more kit, including a backup camera, Intelligent Key with pushbutton start, Bluetooth and more. Given its tiny size, the Juke has never felt inexpensive, but the price increase for such popular equipment seems fair to me, and with the new customization options on deck for 2015, it feels like Nissan’s funky hatch is getting even more so – and judging by the model’s continued strong sales, that’s no bad thing.

As read on: http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/10/2015-nissan-juke-quick-spin-review/?ncid=edlinkusauto00000016

First look: 2015 Nissan Murano keeps concept car lines

Third-gen crossover will have 20 percent better mpg, tuned CVT, lower drag

When Nissan introduced the production version of the third-generation Murano at the New York auto show this year, the crowds were somewhere between surprised and shocked that the undulatory exterior and wacky roof pillars of the concept hadn’t been dulled down in production trim the way most concepts are. The wavy forms down the side and the sloping roof were still there, no doubt terrifying the metal stamping machines at the beast’s Canton, Miss. production plant.

But that exterior contributes as much to the vehicle’s significant improvements as anything else. When it arrives in showrooms in December the Murano will be 130 pounds lighter, 20 percent more fuel efficient and its cd will have dropped by .06 to 0.31. All of those improvements are interrelated.

Nissan said it was able to lower the curb weight through design efficiencies and with the selective use of high-strength steel, particularly in areas beefed up for better side-impact protection. While no 2015 specifictions were released, if you knock off 130 pounds from the current Murano’s heft you get curb weights for the 2015 model that will range from 3693 to 4025 pounds. That’s less than V6-powered competitors like the Ford Edge and Toyota Venza but a little more than four-cylinder competitors like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Escape.

Turns out that sculpted exterior is functional, too. While the basic shape and proportions haven’t changed compared to the Resonance concept that debuted at the 2013 Detroit show, the surface of it has, up to an inch and a half here and there as needed for better laminar airflow. The new head- and taillights, as extreme as the rest of the shapes, help reduce drag, as well. The production model spent three times the number of hours in the wind tunnel compared to the 2014 Murano. That’s what it takes to get from 0.37 to 0.31 cd.

The standard Xtronic CVT transmission – the only one that will be offered – is more efficient, with reduced internal friction, Nissan says. As with the four-cylinder Altima and Rogue, the 2015 Murano CVT will get D-Step Shift logic to provide the illusion that it is a traditional automatic transmission. Faking shifts appears to reassure customers that there is nothing wrong with their trannies, and gives enthusiast drivers something to do going around corners. The D-Step shift algorithms come next to the Versa, Versa Note, Sentra, Altima V6, Pathfinder and Quest. It seems like there’s no going away from CVTs at Nissan.

All the above increases the 2015 Murano’s fuel economy from 20 EPA combined in the current vehicle to an estimated 24 in the coming ride.

That will be with virtually the same 260-hp, 240-lb-ft 3.5-liter V6 engine as before. That front- or all wheel-drive powertrain will provide 0-60 acceleration “in the sixes,” according to Nissan, though specific times have not been released.

Product planners described the new Murano’s interior as “premium social lounge” meant to “enhance the togetherness of front and rear passengers.”

“This is for the older empty nester couple and their friends,” explained senior product planning manager Scott Pak.

The Rogue is for young couples with one kid, the Pathfinder’s for families with two children, and when the kids finally leave the parents get a Murano.  The lounge aspect of that interior will be centered on what Nissan calls its “zero-gravity” seats. These feature three layers of urethane, grippy side bolsters and three (as opposed to the normal two) points of contact and support for your kiester. The front seats can be ordered as climate controlled meaning heating and cooling is available.

What used to be known as the instrument cluster but which is now known as the “drive assist display” is a seven-inch reconfigurable full-color screen. Over on the center console is an eight-inch capacity touch NAV display that helps reduce the number of so-called hard buttons from 25 to 10. It includes the popular pinch and swipe gestures that the kids love so much on their phones.

Safety features include: blind spot warning, cross-traffic alert, moving object detection, forward emergency braking and forward collision warning. Lane departure warning was not included in the new Murano’s options because Nissan said customers were not wanting it as much. (That’s corporatespeak for, “It drove people crazy!”)

Behind the second row of seats there is 7.8 more cubic feet of cargo space, a huge leap in capacity, especially considering that the new Murano is only 2.5 inches longer than the current one.

So that’s what we learned after we spent a day at Nissan’s Arizona proving grounds with a production prototype. Okay, we learned more than that but we can’t tell you. Driving impressions are under embargo till sometime around December. So despite having negotiated the high-speed oval, various rough-road surfaces and the really fun road course with whoop-dee-doos, expansion joints, frost heaves and manhole covers scattered at all the apexes, we can’t tell you whether the coming Murano crossover is really fun to drive or whether it blows. Sorry.

Look for more info in a few months.

– See more at: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/2015-nissan-murano-updates#sthash.MeXpVZsF.dpuf