Archive for the ‘fuel effecient’ Tag

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

Advertisements

2014 Dodge Journey – Review

The 2014 Dodge Journey is a much better car than its original version, introduced into the heat of the 2009 recession by a soon-to-be-bankrupt Chrysler, and consequently ignored by at least some of the buyers who should have considered it. The Journey, which has the lines of a tall wagon, offers some of the more engaging handling and roadholding in the segment. And its optional third-row seat is one of its greatest advantages, along with smart packaging and a high level of features.

The Journey faces off against the better-known Chevy Equinox, Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Toyota Venza (and perhaps Toyota’s RAV4 as well). It’s larger than a compact crossover, though on the small end of the mid-size utility segment–smaller than Toyota’s now-very-large Highlander, for instance. Its third row offers occasional seating when you need it, without the substantially larger size of a Nissan Pathfinder, for instance.

A couple of years ago, Chrysler gave the Journey a completely new interior, with a more elegant instrument panel, better trim, and soft-touch materials. Under the hood, it got the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, along with a large number of improvements that reduced noise, made the ride smoother, and generally upped the quality level substantially. The original Journey just didn’t have the refinement it should have; today’s Journey is one of the better picks among crossovers, even if that remains largely unknown.

The design of the 2014 Journey walks the line between boxy sport-utility vehicles and tall wagons. We appreciate that Dodge has shaken off the same-as-the-other-guy sheetmetal that clothes other crossovers, giving the Journey lines that are refreshingly different, even if they’re no longer necessarily fresh. The look isn’t so different that it’s wacky, but different enough to avoid that same-old-family-vehicle styling rut. Inside, the Journey follows a smooth, swoopy look and simple layout, with large dials and knobs and an LCD touchscreen framed by high-quality materials.

There’s a lot for busy parents to like about the 2014 Journey. Dodge and Chrysler clearly applied some of its long-honed expertise with minivans to this interior, as people and cargo really fit well and there are plenty of smaller spaces for personal items, toys, and accessories. Front seats are what we’d best describe as ‘American-sized’—think wider than some other seats. Back-seat accommodations are among the best you’ll find in any vehicle this size, and the seats are contoured to fit adults; the seatback is adjustable for rake, and the whole bench slides fore and aft a few inches, so it’s easy to get comfortable back there. The rear seat folds fully flat, and under the rearward portion of the cargo floor there’s a huge space vast enough for a couple of laptop bags.

The Journey is offered in an extensive lineup, with AVP (American Value Package), SE, SXT, Limited, and R/T models. Several of the models (the Limited and R/T) get more features for the money in 2014. You’ll need to step up to SXT models to get either the V-6 engine or all-wheel drive. But even with the base model you get power windows, locks and mirrors; air conditioning; cruise control; pushbutton start; a cooled glove box; a telescoping steering wheel; and an AM/FM/CD player. Bluetooth isn’t included on the base model, but it is a $395 option. Seven-passenger seating is available even on the base model, while you’ll also need to get the SXT to get the UConnect media center option. That includes an 8.4-inch touch-screen that at the top of the lineup can combine with a Garmin navigation system that isn’t all that intuitive. Sirius Satellite Radio and TravelLink features are available, along with a premium audio system.

Forget about the Journey if you’re set on the idea of a four-cylinder or top-drawer fuel economy. Their loud, coarse 173-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic are dawdling and disappointing in nearly every respect. Otherwise you should head straight to one of the V-6 versions, as they’re excellent and refined. Chrysler’s 3.6-liter ‘Pentastar’ V-6 makes 283 horsepower and is hooked up to a six-speed automatic for much better responsiveness. The six-speed automatic can take some of the polish off the package, though: in some versions we’ve driven, the automatic juddered and hesitated before it downshifted.

The Journey’s handling is reasonably responsive. Chrysler recently reworked the suspension to include stiffer, better-responding shocks and a lower ride height in front, and it’s honed some of the duller responses the Journey had in its initial model years. The ride quality remains a strong point, with the proper damping and roll control for a family vehicle, but the rather quick steering ratio feels a little out of place.

Safety has been another strong point. The NHTSA awards the Journey four stars overall, while the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick.

On Styling
We’re still bullish on the Journey’s stance and details–especially its recently redone cabin.

We like the styling on the 2014 Dodge Journey, and that’s because it finds a balance between tall wagons and boxy family SUVs, without looking like every other crossover on the market. It’s different enough to look unique, but it’s mainstream enough to not look out of place in the segment.

Its square shoulders, crosshair grille and smartly embossed fenders make it look at least a little athletic, especially considering its compact size. While its profile may look a slab-sided, the chiseled sheetmetal and  lipped wheelwells feel refreshing and different in an era of crossovers that typically skew to either the very boxy or incredibly curvaceous ends of the spectrum.

Inside, the Journey follows a smooth, swoopy look and simple layout, with large dials and knobs and an LCD touchscreen framed by high-quality materials. Open the Journey’s door, and a bolt of metallic trim directs you quickly across a more softly sculpted dash, with suave finishes and tight fits. The contoured center stack gets mixed in with round cut-tube gauges and a blocky steering wheel, and it all hangs together, along with a big LCD screen (on some versions) and no-fuss climate controls that ride sidesaddle on that strip of bright trim.

On Performance
The V-6 Journey offers good acceleration and reasonably good handling; we’d skip the four-cylinder entirely.

The Journey isn’t the right answer if you’re looking for top-shelf fuel economy or a four-cylinder engine. It’s a rough, 173-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder with a four-speed automatic that disappoints in virtually every way possible.

With that in mind the V-6 model is both refined and powerful, with the 3.6-liter ‘Pentastar’ V-6 producing 283 hp pushed through a six-speed automatic transmission. That six-speed works well when you’re really pushing the Journey, but we’ve experienced some shuddering in stop-and-go traffic.

The steering is very quick for a family vehicle, and doesn’t deliver the feedback it needs. Ride quality remains a strong point, however, with the proper damping and roll control for a family vehicle; although keep in mind that wheel sizes now range from 17-inch to 19-inchers and those largest wheels don’t soak up the impacts quite as well. In any case, braking is strong, though.

The Journey’s handling is reasonably responsive. The Journey’s suspension loads and unloads confidently, like a lower and leaner vehicle than it is, and there’s none of the excessive bounding or wallowing when you hit a bump mid-corner with some taller crossovers. The ride quality remains a strong point, with the proper damping and roll control for a family vehicle. And while the hydraulic-assist steering system gets it right with weighting, the rather quick steering ratio feels a little out of place.

On Quality
Passengers and cargo will have ample space in the Journey, but it’s the little storage touches that impress us.

Parents will find a lot to like in the 2014 Dodge Journey. There are some obvious minivan-like qualities to the interior–likely pulled from Chrysler’s experience with family hauling vans–and there’s a lot of room for people and cargo. In general, you’ll find the Journey to be an easy-to-drive option for a full-size family.

The cargo hold specs out at a swell 37 cubic feet behind the second row, and a tight 10.7 cubic feet behind the raised third-row seat. Flip everything down behind the front seats, and you can fit a half-dozen flat-screen TVs in the Journey’s 67.6 cubic feet of space.

Front seats are what we’d best describe as ‘American-sized’—think wider than some other seats. Back-seat accommodations are among the best you’ll find in any vehicle this size, and the seats are contoured to fit adults (two of them, or three kids); the seatback is adjustable for rake, and the whole bench slides fore and aft a few inches, so it’s easy to get comfortable back there.

In back, folding the seats forward takes an extra step—you slide the middle portion of the outboard cushions up and forward first—but the reward is that you get a lower, flatter load floor as well as that better contouring. There are also many thoughtful solutions for storing odds and ends, and keeping some of them out of sight. For instance, the cushion of the passenger seat flips up to reveal a bin underneath, while below the rearward portion of the cargo floor there’s a huge space vast enough for a couple of laptop bags.

On Safety
The Journey’s crash-test scores have been good, and it offers a few safety options we like to see.

Every Journey comes standard with dual front, side, and curtain airbags; stability and traction control; active head restraints; and four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock control. Integrated child booster seats are also offered for the second row. And we recommend the optional rearview camera and parking sensors.

It rates well with both of the agency that crash test cars rate their safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the Journey a Top Safety Pick in previous model years, as it’s earned top ‘good’ ratings for frontal, side, and rear impacts as well as roof strength. That designation will likely carry over for the 2014 model year. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Journey an overall rating of four stars, with a five-star individual score for side-impact protection.

On Features
With excellent entertainment and connectivity features, the Journey outpoints some of its newer competition.

There are currently six Journey models available–the American Value Package (AVP), SE, SXT, Crew, RT, and Limited–but you’ll have to look at the SXT or higher if you want all-wheel drive or the V-6.

You’ll also need to get the SXT, at minimum, to get the UConnect media center, an option that we appreciated for its ability to easily control a wide range of devices ranging from iPhones to SD cards (it even quickly indexed one with 16 GB of music). The system includes an 8.4-inch touch-screen that at the top of the lineup can combine with a Garmin navigation system that isn’t all that intuitive. Sirius Satellite Radio and TravelLink features are available, along with the premium audio system, and a DVD entertainment system for backseat passengers is also optional.

Crew and R/T models added features last year, for better value, while prices on the R/T actually dropped by $1,000. The Limited model is new for 2014, and slotted just below the R/T, with standard UConnect, leather, and the 19-inch wheels. But even with the base model you get power windows, locks and mirrors; air conditioning; cruise control; pushbutton start; a cooled glove box; a telescoping steering wheel; and an AM/FM/CD player. A USB port is also included, although it’s tucked away in the center console. Bluetooth isn’t included on the base model, but it is a $395 option. Seven-passenger seating is available on any of the models.

Step into higher-trim Journeys and you’ll add features like premium sound; keyless entry; leather seating; and hide-away cargo bins under the seats. SXT models can be optioned with UConnect and a power sunroof for 2013, but with the Journey Crew you get remote start, automatic climate control, leather steering-wheel trim, and in-seat storage. At the top R/T level you add appearance upgrades like red accent stitching, satin-carbon aluminum wheels, and a six-speaker, 368-watt premium audio system.

On Green
Average fuel economy is understandable with the V-6 Journey–but less forgivable with the four-cylinder version.

The 2014 Dodge Journey isn’t the most fuel-efficient way to get into a crossover. However, it lands pretty squarely around average for the segment, and its V-6 option does reasonably well on the highway.

The V-6 versions have somewhat lower numbers, but they’re directly competitive with other V-6 crossovers, and we’ve seen good numbers in real-world driving, with results that meet or beat the Journey’s 17-mpg city, 25 highway EPA ratings. Over about 700 miles of driving—across Michigan, and including a mix of freeway driving, family-hauling, and suburban side trips—we averaged 24 mpg. That’s not far from what we’ve seen in four-cylinder crossovers this size in that kind of driving, and those models’ powertrains aren’t as satisfying as this V-6.

Technically, the base four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic transmission produce the best mileage ratings in the lineup–an EPA-rated 19/26 mpg. That’s lower than most other four-cylinder crossovers, and not at all impressive.

As read on: http://www.thecarconnection.com/overview/dodge_journey_2014?fbfanpage