Archive for the ‘nissan’ Tag

2015 Nissan Murano Test Drive

I’m technically old enough to be an empty nester, but I got started with the family thing a little late in life and still have a good 12 years to go before I officially qualify.

Nevertheless, I’ve got plenty of physical ailments, I wake up in the middle of every night and I love few things more than whining about how hard easy chairs are these days. So I think I’m more than qualified to evaluate the 2015 Nissan Murano.

I’m serious. Nissan has gone out of its way to point out that its all-new midsize crossover is a semi-premium play for folks who are dancing into their golden years footloose and kid-free, who don’t need a big SUV anymore but just can’t give up the comfort and commanding view that one provides.

As far as views are concerned, the Murano delivers them inside and out. Its body is abstract art, and as polarizing as that usually is. It’s a collection of voluptuous curves, origami creases, boomerang-shaped lights and a grille that appears to be a doorway to infinity (the unattainable destination, not Nissan’s upscale brand.)

An optical illusion makes it appear that its roof is supported by the blackness of space, but there’s more chrome than you’ve seen since the 1950s, too. If you showed up at an auto show in this thing, I’m pretty sure they’d let you drive right through the front door and onto the stand.

Slip through the Murano’s door and you’re surrounded by a paradise of plushness not typically available for a starting price of $30,455. If this actually were an Infiniti, you’d never be the wiser. It’s lavished in soft touch surfaces and modern lines, and it’s trimmed with a material called Jasper Pearlescent, which I’m pretty sure is named after the stone, not Abe Simpson’s best friend at the Springfield Retirement Castle.

So, what about the chairs? No complaints here. The Murano’s “zero gravity” seats are constructed using a NASA-inspired design and purport to promote a neutral posture while reducing pressure points and complaints. As much as I’d like to discount that backstory as marketing mumbo jumbo, they feel … different, and a painless five-hour drive into the frozen wasteland that is upstate New York circa 2015 proved their worth. Adaptive radar cruise control, collision avoidance and lane departure warning systems also helped reduce stress along the way.

The rear seats are similarly comfy, and there’s so much legroom back there that your friends might think they’re in a limo the next time you all go to a nostalgia rock concert at the local outdoor performing arts center. The cargo bay floor is a little high, but a week’s worth of luggage for four fits fine. The only thing missing is a pass-through down the center for skis, but there’s space for those newfangled snowboards. Better still, if you’re lazy like me, the rear seatbacks can be folded and restored to their upright position remotely.

The Murano shares its platform and drivetrain with the larger but less expensive and less impressive Pathfinder. Nissan’s familiar 260 hp 3.5-liter V6 moves things along through a continuously variable transmission and a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. Both versions have a highway fuel economy rating of 28 mpg, which is stellar for the class and achievable in the real world, even in the loaded, all-wheel-drive Platinum model I tested that was fitted with mud and snow tires and priced at $43,955.

The Murano isn’t a sporty car, but it feels strong when you stomp on the throttle. It sounds good, too. There’s a nice growl from the engine bay that’s missing in many cars today. It gets along fine on a twisty road, but the steering is a little limp and the suspension is too soft to encourage you to push it.

It’s a champ on snow, however. I spent a week driving around the very white roads of Lake Placid in stormy, sub-zero temps, and it never put a foot wrong, despite my best attempt to do a four-wheel Eric Heiden impression in an empty, icy parking lot.

One feature that should satisfy children of all ages is the available NissanConnect infotainment system, which represents the company’s latest tech and is a snap to use. It has large icons, a quick-reacting touchscreen and plenty of redundant buttons and knobs if you prefer old-school inputs. An expanding collection of web-enabled apps will eventually offer Facebook and Twitter. For now, it includes Google search, which can be used to find destinations, among other things, using voice commands.

With its original style and move in an upmarket direction, the Murano now honestly competes against both the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKZ, and it even makes a strong run at the Lexus RX — the reigning king of luxury crossovers. It’s working so far, with sales up over the last-generation model.

Those darn whippersnappers may think they’re all that, but sometimes they are.

As read on: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2015/03/06/2015-nissan-murano-test-drive/

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Everything You Want To Know About The 2016 Nissan Titan XD

It’s not easy to classify the all-new ’16 Nissan Titan XD, but that could end up being its best selling point. Technically, it’s a ¾-ton truck (if you go by the expected GVWR), but Nissan is positioning it in the ½-ton space. With a 5.0L V-8 Cummins engine making 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque and a frame that’s stronger than the conventional ½-ton Titan models, the XD seems to straddle the ½-ton and ¾-ton designations. With the power to tow more than 12,000 pounds along with the efficiency of a diesel engine, this could end up being the ’tweener model that customers who are torn between a V-8 gas-powered ½-ton or a diesel-powered ¾-ton have been waiting for. Nissan says it noticed a hole in the market with 150,000 truck buyers each year who are forced to decide between one or the other.

Back in the mid-’00s when the first-generation Titan came out, ½-ton crew cab 4×4 trucks had maximum tow ratings of less than 10,000 pounds, while the tow rating for ¾-ton diesel trucks could start as low as 12,000 pounds. In 2015, it’s not uncommon for ½-ton gasoline-powered trucks to tow a lot more than 10,000 pounds and ¾-ton diesel trucks to have ratings that start around 16,000 pounds. That leaves a lot of room for the Nissan Titan XD to play the spoiler and disrupt the new pickup market by providing a “just right” diesel powered option for customers who want to tow more than 10,000 pounds with confidence but don’t need 16,000-plus pounds of towing capability.

The long-awaited 5.0L V-8 Cummins engine is finally here, and it arrives with 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque. It’s hooked to a heavy-duty Aisin AS69RC six-speed automatic (similar to the one used behind the high-output version of the Cummins 6.7L). The powerplant has roots that trace back to a Department of Energy project with Cummins that started in 1998, and it debuts exclusively in the brand-new ’16 Nissan Titan XD (plans with Ram fell through after the acquisition by Fiat). The new 5.0L features 70 percent parts compatibility with the Cummins ISV5.0 commercial diesel engine, and Nissan says this unique version for the XD is designed to be “fuel-efficient while capable of doing ‘real work.’”

One of the main differences between the ISV5.0 and this engine is the new Holset M2 Two-Stage Turbo system by Cummins Turbo Technologies, which was developed in the U.S. and U.K. specifically for Titan XD. The compound turbocharger setup is mounted in the valley of the engine and utilizes one small turbo and another larger unit in series. Helping them work in tandem is a wastegate system with a patented “Rotary Turbine Control” valve that operates the opening of ports during four main operating modes:

1. Low-Pressure Single-Stage Turbo Mode

2. High-Pressure Two-Stage Turbo Mode

3. Wastegate Mode (maximum engine power output)

4. Regeneration Mode

This system is designed to provide minimal turbo lag in all driving situations while maximizing the effectiveness of the emissions controls for clean operation along with good fuel economy.

As for construction, the Nissan Cummins 5.0L V-8 uses a block made from compacted graphite iron (CGI) with a forged-steel crankshaft and aluminum pistons. The heads are made from aluminum alloy and have composite valve covers to keep weight low and reduce noise. The dual overhead camshafts that rest inside the covers actuate four valves per cylinder. Ceramic glow plugs by Bosch are designed for quick start times and to last the lifetime of the engine without any maintenance. Bosch also provides the CP4.2 high-pressure common-rail fuel system with piezo-controlled injectors. A two-stage fuel flter system uses NanoNet media by Cummins Filtration to provide high fow rates while filtering out 99 percent of particles 4 microns and larger. All of this technology, along with the M2 turbo system, combines to give the diesel-powered Nissan Titan XD a towing capacity of more than 12,000 pounds and a maximum payload rating of greater than 2,000 pounds.

All New Chassis

The original Nissan Titan debuted way back in 2004; it was always gas-powered, and it has never been fully redesigned—until now. The second-generation Titan XD is a completely different creature with a uniquely beefed-up chassis with components based on the proven NV2500 HD cargo van that was introduced for the ’12 model year. The XD crew cab frame is a fully boxed, 151.6-inch wheelbase full-length ladder design that’s heavily reinforced for added stiffness and torsional rigidity to handle the towing and payload power of the diesel V-8.

Suspension, Axles, Wheels, Tires, and Brakes

The Titan XD’s front suspension is fully independent, with upper and lower A-arms, coilover shocks, and a large stabilizer bar for a controlled ride. The truck’s rear suspension uses leaf springs with leaf bushings and shock absorbers over a solid live axle by American Axle Manufacturing (AAM). Its rear end has a 10.5-inch differential, 3.5-inch axle tubes, and an optional rear electronic locker by Nissan (4×4 models have a 9.5-inch AAM differential in the front.) The XD uses four-wheel ventilated disc brakes measuring 14.2×1.5 inches in front and 14.4×1.2 inches in the rear, which are hydraulically assisted and designed to reduce shudder and improve braking feel. Available wheel sizes include 17, 18, or 20 inches with LT245/75R17, LT275/65R18, or LT265/60R20 tires. The high-capacity steering system is a recirculating ball design with parallel rod steering links optimized for when the truck is fully loaded or towing.

Truck Tech

The Titan XD’s all-new body sits on top of hydraulic cab mounts to isolate it from vibrations and road noise. It also features a flush-mounted front bumper, spoilers integrated into the roof and tailgate, a seal between the cab and bed, laminated front and rear side glass, and hidden windshield washer arms and spray nozzles to help aid in aerodynamics and noise reduction. The Titan XD’s rear doors have a wide-opening design and the tailgate is lightweight for easy lifting and damped for smooth lowering. The bed features a fully integrated frame-mounted gooseneck hitch, LED bedrail lights, a 120-volt outlet, a sprayed-on bedliner, Nissan’s Utili-track Bed Channel system, and optional dual waterproof lockable storage boxes that can be used with a camper shell or tonneau cover. The headlamps and taillights use LEDs (except on the base S and SL trim levels), side mirrors with turn signal indicators, puddle lamps, and an available Blind Spot Warning system; and there are available front and rear parking sensors. A class-frst Around View Monitor provides a bird’s-eye view using front, rear, and side cameras and has Moving Object Detection, which alerts drivers to obstacles via on-screen notifications and warning chimes. Towing aids include an integrated trailer brake controller, Trailer Sway Control, tow/haul mode, manual gear shifting, Downhill SpeedControl, and a Trailer Light Check system that allows drivers to check turn signals, brake lights, and running lights from inside the cab.

Modern Interior

Interior features include a bench or bucket front seats with Nissan’s Zero Gravity technology for comfort during long-distance driving, with available heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats. A heated steering wheel is also optional. Incorporating the shifter in the tilt/telescopic steering column makes room for a center console that’s designed to accommodate a 15-inch laptop, while the rear underseat storage uses a locking lid and includes a fold-out floor. There are seven assist grips around the cabin, and all the control switches are grouped by function types, with locations based on their frequency of use. The instrument panel includes a 5-inch display and an optional 7-inch NissanConnect system with navigation and mobile apps that’s connected to a 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system. There is also an optional remote-start system with a climate-control function and 12-volt USB, and 120-volt outlets inside the cabin.

Coming Soon

The ’16 Nissan Titan XD is made in the U.S.A., with a design from La Jolla, California, engineering in Michigan and Tennessee, validation in Arizona, truck assembly in Canton, Mississippi, and a 5.0L Cummins V-8 engine built in Columbus, Indiana. The XD will be the first version of the Titan at dealerships, and it will eventually be available in standard cab, King Cab, and crew cab configurations with 6.5- or 8-foot bed lengths, with S (base), SV, SL, PRO4X, and Platinum Reserve trim levels. The final payload and tow ratings (currently described by Nissan as 2,000-plus pounds and an SAE J2807-compliant 12,000-plus pounds), fuel economy figures, and pricing will be announced later this year.

The Cummins V-8 shares 70 percent parts compatibility with the single-turbo ISV5.0 commercial version of the engine that’s installed in medium-duty trucks and school buses.Along with a unique compound-turbocharger system designed specifically for the Titan XD, the engine features dual overhead cams and 32 valves under composite valve covers.Cylinder heads and pistons are made from aluminum alloy, and the block is made from compacted graphite iron (CGI). The exhaust manifolds and up-pipes feature heat shielding to maximize the turbo system’s efficiency and response. A Bosch CP4.2 high-pressure common-rail fuel system feeds piezo-actuated injectors, and ceramic glow plugs are used for quick startup and are designed to last the lifetime of the engine.

Our First Look

Nissan Delivered a PRO4X edition of the Titan XD to our office in Los Angeles, California, for an up-close first look (and listen). We invited the entire company to come and inspect the truck and take photos and videos. At one time during the visit, the entire editorial staffs of Diesel Power, Truck Trend, Work Truck Review, 8-Lug, Hot Rod, and Motor Trend could be found underneath the truck after it was lifted into the air by the manager of our tech center, Calin Head. Tape measures and calipers were busted out as eager editors tried to reverse engineer the truck and determine exactly which parts are being used (such as the 10.5-inch AAM rear ring gear that was confirmed by Nissan just minutes after our measurements). An informal poll of our office-mates revealed that only a couple of folks disliked the exterior styling, but everyone raved about the design and quality of the interior inside the pre-production truck. The Titan XD was barely above idle while it was with us but seemed quiet for a large-displacement diesel V-8.

Read more at: http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/autos-trucks/everything-you-want-to-know-about-the-2016-nissan-titan-xd/ar-AA9zuPB#page=1

Nissan Leaf Vs. Ford Focus Electric: Compare Cars

Suppose you want to enjoy all the benefits of a battery-electric car–the smooth, quiet ride, the strong torque from a stop, and the very low cost per mile–but don’t necessarily want people to point at your car because it’s unusual looking.

That might be enough reason to consider the Ford Focus Electric rather than the Nissan Leaf, which is by far the best-selling battery-electric car sold in North America.

The two cars offer somewhat different answers to the same question: What should a compact electric hatchback look like?

The Ford Focus Electric is all but identical to the conventional Focus five-door hatchback. Even the different frontal appearance it pioneered was adopted for the gasoline models this year, so now you really have to look carefully to tell an electric Focus from the regular one. Exterior differences amount only to a couple of door badges, and a charge-port door on the left-front fender.

The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, is a dedicated design with distinctive styling–no grille up front and lengthy clear headlight units that stretch far back along the fender line and are are topped with aerodynamic fins. It’s an unusual and, to many, polarizing look.

One is a car whose design says, “Hey, I’m electric!” The other hides its plug-in running gear in an utterly conventional body shared with a gasoline compact.

The Leaf was designed from the start as a battery electric car, with its lithium-ion battery designed into the floorpan and the area under the rear seat. The Focus design was retrofitted for battery power, and so it’s heavier and less optimized than the Leaf.

Still, the two cars are fairly close EPA ratings for range and efficiency. The Nissan Leaf has been boosted to 84 miles of range, with a rating of 99 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent). Based on the distance it will travel electrically on the amount of energy contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.

The Focus Electric does just slightly better on both counts, with a rated 76 miles of range and a 105 MPGe rating. It also retains the good roadholding and fun driving experience of the stock Focus, and its 107-kilowatt (143-horsepower) motor is more powerful than the Leaf’s 80-kW (107-hp)–though the Focus Electric is also heavier. Both cars fit 6.6-kilowatt chargers (the very lowest-end model of the Leaf makes do with a slower 3.3-kW charger).

Ford’s electric Focus has a couple of drawbacks compared to the Leaf. First, it has no DC quick-charging ability, unlike the Leaf. At specially equipped charging sites, quick charging brings the battery pack to 80 percent of capacity in about half an hour–against four or five hours on a standard 240-Volt Level 2 charger for each car.

Second, the Focus Electric’s battery, charger, and onboard electronics greatly reduce available load space. The first 2011 and 2012 Leafs had chargers that stretched across the cargo bay between the strut towers, but the car was re-engineered for 2013 and ever since, Leafs have had cargo space roughly similar to that of conventional hatchbacks.

The Ford Focus Electric is built in Wayne, Michigan, on the same assembly lines as gasoline Focus models. U.S. Leaf models are produced in Smyrna, Tennessee, and powered by U.S.-fabricated lithium-ion cells as well.

If you’re considering either car, there’s another factor you should know: Nissan sells the Leaf throughout the country, and it has now sold roughly 75,000 of them in the U.S. Ford only sells the Focus Electric in selected states, and anecdotal reports indicate that in some of those locations, buyers will have to work hard even to get one that’s theoretically available. Over the last three years, Ford has sold no more than 4,500 Focus Electrics–not even a tenth of the Leaf’s total sales.

The base-level Nissan Leaf S model now starts at $29,860, with fully equipped models reaching toward the $40,000 mark. The Focus Electric has had its price cut twice, and now starts at $29,995. Both of those numbers are before any Federal, state, or local incentives, and both cars qualify for a $7,500 Federal income-tax credit and a $2,500 California state purchase rebate. Both Ford and Nissan have also offered $199-a-month lease deals for these models, which take advantage of the Federal credit to lower the monthly payments.

In the end, buyers need to decide if they want a low-volume, pretty-much invisible electric car, or a more distinctive design that’s sold in much higher numbers. Thus far, the market seems to prefer the latter–but if Ford ever decides to get serious about battery-powered cars, it’s cut its teeth on the Focus Electric and produced a perfectly good electric car in the process.

As Read on: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1075247_nissan-leaf-vs-ford-focus-electric-compare-cars?fbfanpage

The dual-minivan plan, revisited

Rumors from Windsor suggested first that the current “RT” minivan body would continue for some years alongside the new “RU,” and then that it would be dropped as soon as the new designs came out — in Chrysler form only.

Where is Reid [Bigland]? If it was up to Reid, we’d be manufacturing up until 2250. There are technical reasons why that car cannot be sold for a much longer period of time than the current time. There are regulations that are coming into effect in 2017 that are going to restrict or are going to require a substantial amount of investment into the old architecture to make the problem go away. Or they’re just not assailable.

That, plus the combination of some of the inherent inefficiency of the architecture and the powertrain, will make the car just not square, to square the numbers. We’ll try to keep it alive as long as we can.

As for the next generation minivans:

Oh it’s done, yes. We’re tuning up now . . . there are bodies that are meandering around Auburn Hills out of the pilot plant. The parts are visible….You’ll see it at the show on January ’16.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2015/01/the-dual-minivan-plan-revisited

2016 Nissan Titan XD makes world debut at North American International Auto Show

– Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn unveils 2016 TITAN-XD, marking Nissan’s aggressive return to the full-size pickup battlefield

– All-new TITAN-XD design, anchored by powerful Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel, carves out “new class” of full-size truck between current heavy-duty and light-duty offerings

– Bold TITAN-XD exterior and interior designs follow “powerful precision tool” theme – topped with new Warrior-inspired TITAN badging

– Created for American buyers – with core planning, design and engineering conducted in Tennessee, California, Michigan and Arizona – new Nissan TITAN will be assembled in Mississippi, with engines from Tennessee and Indiana

DETROIT – Nissan today debuted the all-new Nissan TITAN full-size pickup to a standing room-only crowd of international media at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. Presiding over the dramatic reveal was Nissan President and Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn, who stated, “With the 2016 Nissan TITAN-XD, we weren’t just going for ‘best-in-class.’ Instead, we are offering the ‘Best New Class.'”

The new TITAN-XD, the first of the new generation of Nissan TITAN models, creates a new segment of the American market. It offers the effortless towing and hauling of the larger, more expensive heavy-duty trucks – yet has the fuel-efficiency and affordability of half-ton pickups. It is projected to go on sale at Nissan dealers nationwide in late 2015.

Powered by a new Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel rated at 310 horsepower and hefty 555 lb-ft of torque, the 2016 TITAN-XD will offer an available maximum towing capacity of more than 12,000 pounds (when properly equipped), along with available cutting-edge towing features such as an integrated gooseneck hitch engineered into the frame.

Additional available TITAN-XD utility features and convenience aids include RearView Monitor with Trailer Guides, Around View® Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD) and a Trailer Light Check system that allows one-person hook-up operation – including checking turn signals, brake lights and running/clearance lights from outside the vehicle. Also available are Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and a Front and Rear Sonar System.

The wide range of available interior features includes front and rear NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats and a large center console designed to serve as a mobile workstation.

“The new TITAN will deliver toughness, capability and quality,” added Ghosn. “In addition to a range of cab configurations, the TITAN lineup will ultimately encompass multiple powertrain choices. These include an all-new workhorse gasoline V8, as well as our first V6 offering in this class.”

More details on the full Nissan TITAN lineup will be announced at a later date.

The all-new TITAN, like the first-generation Titan, was developed with core Nissan planning, design, engineering and manufacturing teams contributing from Tennessee, California, Michigan, Arizona and Mississippi.

The all-new TITAN also underscores Nissan’s commitment to localized production. Nissan has invested more than $5 billion in the United States in the past five years and has moved manufacturing for several models from overseas to its North American plants.

“Our growing U.S. presence is bolstering our performance and helped to make 2014 a year of significant growth for Nissan in the U.S.,” said Ghosn. “Our operations, our network of partners, and – most importantly – our products are stronger than ever. Nissan is targeting 10 percent market share in the U.S. And the all-new TITAN is a key part of our growth strategy.”

The new TITAN-XD Crew Cab is the first of three cab configurations, two frame sizes, three powertrain offerings and five grade levels to be available later in the Nissan TITAN lineup. More information on the full lineup will be available at a later date.

For photography and additional information about the 2016 Nissan TITAN-XD, along with the complete lineup of 2015 Nissan vehicles, please visit NissanNews.com.

Read the complete article at: http://nissannews.com/en-US/nissan/usa/releases/2016-nissan-titan-xd-makes-world-debut-at-north-american-international-auto-show

2015 North American International Auto Show

The 2014 Show

NAIAS 2014 featured 50 vehicle debuts with the majority being worldwide. Over 5,000 journalists attended from 60 countries. Over 30 percent of the journalists were international, thus helping to spread automotive news made at NAIAS 2014 to the world. NAIAS is uniquely positioned to be four shows in one – a media preview, an industry preview, a charity preview and a public show with a 9-day run.

2015 Show Dates:

Press Preview – January 12-13, 2015

The North American International Auto Show 2015 is where the global automotive community comes together to catch up on the latest news and events. Join your peers from around the world at the industry’s most substantive annual event. In addition to some of the automotive world’s most eagerly anticipated new vehicle premieres, you’ll gain unprecedented access to more of the industry’s top leaders and thinkers than anywhere else in the hemisphere.

NAIAS issued media credentials are required to attend.

Industry Preview – January 14-15, 2015

Connect with automotive professionals representing almost 2,000 companies and share insights with over 28,000 of your peers. Make new connections. Forge new alliances. Be inspired to lead and succeed. This unique networking opportunity brings together the latest automotive products and services with the key minds behind them all under one roof.

Charity Preview – January 16, 2015

Enjoy the first views of the spectacular North American International Auto Show 2015. Charity Preview is your opportunity to be a part of one of the most exclusive, high profile events in the nation.

Proceeds directly benefit a wide range of children’s charities. Funds raised will support services for children of all ages from birth to 18. Since 1976, the Charity Preview has raised more than $91 million for southeastern Michigan children’s charities – over $47 million of which was raised in the last 10 years alone.

Public Show – January 17-25, 2015

Experience the next generation of transportation at the North American International Auto Show 2015. See more than 500 vehicles on display, representing the most innovative designs in the world and experience North America’s largest and most prestigious automotive showcase.

As read on: http://www.naias.com/2015-show/overview.aspx

Ram top growth brand in changing van market

The upheaval in the commercial van market continued in 2014 as the Ram ProMaster hit its stride, Ford introduced the Transit and GM added a small van, courtesy of Nissan.

In November, Eurovans (ProMaster, Transit, Sprinter) outsold traditional American vans from Ford, GM and Nissan by 187 units. The gap will only grow going forward as the ProMaster gains ground and the Ford E-Series van, long the major player in the full-size van market, is relegated to chassis-cabs and similar applications. This leaves GM as the only one still making a traditional van and the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savanna are nearly two decades old and don’t offer the space or fuel economy of the newer vans.

Thanks to an unusually strong month for the Ram Cargo Van, Ram brand beat Chevrolet brand van sales in November and was just 219 behind the combined total of Chevy and GMC.

Ram brand took a 19.1% share of the commercial van market in November, up 12 percentage points from its 7.1% share in November 2013. Year-to-date share for the Ram brand rose 4.5 percentage points, to 8.2% of the market.

Both Ford and Chevrolet have lost market share this year.

While they account for only about two percent of total U.S. light vehicle sales, growth in the segment has been strong this year. Sales of full-size vans are up 16.2% as of the end of November; sales of compact vans, including the Ram Cargo Van, have grown 25.3%. Both figures are well above the 5.5% year-to-date growth of the light vehicle market.

The growth in sales of compact vans bodes well for the rollout of the Ram ProMaster City that’s currently underway. While it’s more expensive than the Nissan NV, Chevy City Express and base Transit Connect, the ProMaster City beats all of them when it comes to capacity, power and configurations.

As Read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/12/ram-top-growth-brand-in-changing-van-market

New York City sets start date of April 20 for Taxi of Tomorrow with Nissan

NEW YORK – New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) has set April 20, 2015, as the program start date for the Taxi of Tomorrow program, which calls for most retiring taxis to be replaced with the Nissan NV200 and will significantly increase the number of wheelchair-accessible taxis in the fleet.

Based on the TLC Taxi of Tomorrow guidelines, Nissan NV200 Taxi will be the sole option for Manhattan yellow taxis not being replaced by a hybrid or an alternate wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) where additional choice among competitors is maintained. Nissan is working with BraunAbility, the global leader in automotive mobility, to provide WAV Nissan NV200 Taxis, which now are available for purchase.

More than 500 Nissan NV200 Taxis already are in service in New York City. The Nissan NV200 Taxi has more content specifically tailored to use as a New York City cab than any vehicle prior to it including important safety features.

The Nissan NV200 taxi is the only taxi that leaves the factory with the installed partition, which has been specifically designed to ensure that no safety features are compromised by after-market installations. In fact, the Nissan NV200 Taxi was crash-tested with the partition and meets Federal safety standards, an attribute no other automaker provides for taxis. After-market installations in some taxis can render safety features such as airbags non-functional.

The Nissan NV200 also meets global pedestrian-protection standards aimed at softening the impact to a pedestrian if struck by a vehicle.

Following its selection as the exclusive Taxi of Tomorrow provider, Nissan engaged with organizations long at the forefront of the Taxi of Tomorrow program, including the Design Trust for Public Space, Smart Design and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Nissan created its own “New York Ave.” at its Arizona proving grounds to replicate harsh conditions of NYC streets to rigorously test the Nissan NV200 taxi to tune the suspension specifically to NYC road conditions. Additionally, Nissan hired New York City cab drivers to test vehicles around the city, collecting data that was used to refine the vehicle. In total, these drivers logged enough miles to cover every street in Manhattan more than 300 times.

The Nissan NV200 taxi also offers passengers a variety of amenities to make their trip more pleasant, including ample cargo room for transporting luggage and USB charging ports in addition to a 12-volt electrical outlet.

The Nissan NV200 Taxi offers a functional and spacious interior housed in a compact exterior footprint; in fact, when the Nissan NV200 Taxi is deployed across the entire taxi fleet, the equivalent of five square-acres of space will be freed up on city streets.

Key safety features include:

– Front and rear-seat occupant curtain airbags specifically designed to deploy around the integrated partition and seat-mounted airbags for the front row

– Standard traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control

– Sliding doors to lessen risk of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists getting struck by doors opening unexpectedly

– Lights that alert other road users that taxi doors are opening

About Nissan NV200 Taxi

Drawing on insight from New York taxi drivers, medallion holders, fleets and passengers, the Nissan NV200 taxi features more content tailored specifically to the unique needs of metropolitan cab service than ever before. In addition to stunning views of the city, other new features include:

– Ample room for four passengers and their luggage, offering substantial improvements over current and recently-unveiled taxi models

– Breathable, antimicrobial, environment-friendly, durable and easy-to-clean seat fabric

– Sliding doors with entry step and grab handles, providing easy entry and exit

– Mobile charging ports for passengers, including a 12-volt electrical outlet and two USB ports

– Flat “no hump” passenger floor area for more comfortable ride and easy entry and exit

– Independently-controlled, rear air conditioning

– Active carbon-lined headliner to help neutralize interior odors

– Overhead reading lights for passengers and floor lighting to help locate belongings

– Opening side windows

Other notable NV200 taxi features focus on driver comfort, customer satisfaction and the environment:

– A low-annoyance horn with exterior lights that indicate when the vehicle is honking, so the horn is used less frequently

– Hearing Loop System for the hearing impaired

– Driver and passenger intercom system

– A 6-way adjustable driver’s seat featuring both recline and lumbar adjustments, even with a partition installed

– Proven 2.0L 4-cylinder powertrain, engineered to enhance the emission performance and fuel efficiency of the taxi fleet

– 150,000-mile powertrain warranty

– Unique driver’s seat material and stitching to promote improved airflow

– USB auxiliary audio input and charge port for driver

– Standard navigation system with integrated rearview backup monitor

– All necessary wiring and installation provisions

The NV200 taxi is now on sale at select Nissan dealerships in the greater New York City area. Total manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of the vehicle is approximately $29,700.

As read on: http://nissannews.com/en-US/nissan/usa/releases/new-york-city-sets-start-date-of-april-20-for-taxi-of-tomorrow-with-nissan

Ram ProMaster City: First Drive of the Small Commercial Van

The ProMaster City is derived from the Fiat Doblò, but it isn’t just a clone of the Fiat. Different powertrains and suspension changes are among the modifications made to adapt the small van to the preferences and needs of North American buyers. At a recent event in Texas, Bob Hegbloom, Ram CEO, Joe Benson, head of Ram Commercial, and Mike Cairns, Ram Chief Engineer, presented some of the differences and were on hand to answer questions.

First, contrary to what we have seen, the ProMaster City will have the new styling recently unveiled for the Doblò. This improves the appearance, especially from the front.

As Allpar has reported previously, the ProMaster City is not a direct competitor to the Nissan NV200, base-model Ford Transit Connect, or the Chevrolet City Express (which is just an NV200 with a higher price tag). It also doesn’t compete with the base Ford Transit Connect. Based on size, capacity, and capability, the ProMaster’s direct competition is the long wheelbase version of the Transit Connect, which retails for almost the same amount as the ProMaster City.

The ProMaster City has best-in-class cargo capability with a 1,883-pound maximum payload, a new 9-speed transmission, and best-in-class horsepower and torque. It can tow up to 2,000 pounds. It also has a bi-link coil rear suspension, giving the ProMaster City the only true independent rear in its class.

All of these add up to a pretty nice little van.

The ProMaster City is sold in both cargo and passenger (wagon) forms; Nissan and Chevy don’t have a passenger configuration, although Nissan does have a special taxi version. The Transit Connect is available in both van and wagon styles, but there’s a big difference: Ford is marketing the wagon as a family passenger vehicle, a mini-minivan that Ford calls a crossover to avoid the minivan stigma. The ProMaster City passenger van is not marketed to minivan customers, but is intended for commercial use as a shuttle or crew vehicle.

Early the following morning, it was time to take the ProMaster City out for a spin. Ram had provided both cargo and passenger versions and Allpar got a little red wagon to play with.
Starting at the W Hotel in downtown Austin, we went out into the morning commuter traffic and immediately got a lot more experience than we wanted in driving the ProMaster in stop-and-go traffic. The small size and nimble handling were a real benefit when it came to changing lanes and the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine and 9-speed transmission worked well together, providing ample power to adjust to traffic and take advantage of opportunities to get around bottlenecks, something that’s important to van drivers with schedules to keep and deliveries to make – and I speak from experience.

Our route took us over city streets, suburban boulevards, county roads and even highways. The ProMaster City was comfortable and easy to drive the entire way.

At one point on our route, I was stopped next to a couple of fellow auto writers in another ProMaster City, and the passenger rolled down his window and challenged me to beat them to the next traffic light. Putting the shifter into manual mode, I am happy to say I shut them down.

The ProMaster City doesn’t provide the press-your-back-into-the-seat acceleration of a Challenger, or even a properly equipped Dart, but it does get up and go. I can think of a couple of medical labs and at least one blood bank that would appreciate that.

The rear suspension is a treat. Unloaded vans have light rear ends and they do tend to hop on poor pavement, but the ProMaster City was surefooted, even on a gravel road.
A couple of the vans had 600-pound payloads on pallets in the back, and they were also well controlled and responsive. I took one of those through an obstacle course set up at our destination, the Troublemaker Studios in East Austin.

Cab comfort and convenience are important to a driver who might spend hours each day behind the wheel, and the ProMaster City doesn’t disappoint.

Entry and exit from the cabin is easy and effortless: no climbing involved. The seat is comfortable and the controls are intelligently laid out. There are also plenty of spaces for paperwork and small items that might be needed during the day.

As commercial vehicles, both the ProMaster City van and wagon aren’t long on frills; their target market doesn’t want them and isn’t going to pay for them. But the basics are covered: A/C is standard, the front seats have adjustable backs, the steering wheel is adjustable, and there’s an AM/FM radio. Uconnect (cellphone control) is an option, as is cruise control, though there’s really no reason for standard cruise control on this type of vehicle; the driver would almost never use it. One option that might get some traction is a rearview camera, but the mirrors on the ProMaster City do a pretty good job in aiding backing up the van.

The one area that may be an issue is the rear seating in the wagon: Unless the driver is fairly short, rear seat passengers are going to be a bit cramped and the seat back angle isn’t quite as comfortable as it should be. The seat really needs to be about three inches farther back if a driver wants his passengers to think kindly of him at the end of the trip.

According to Ram, the seat positioning enables the ProMaster City wagon to offer gobs of luggage, tool or cargo space, but the small amount of additional room a more comfortable rear seat would require wouldn’t have that much impact on the load space.

It’s my belief that no Chrysler (FCA US LLC) vehicle should ever be released unless Klaus Busse can sit comfortably in the back seat. At 6’7”, Busse is the ideal template for passenger space.

As mentioned earlier, Ram had set up an obstacle course at Troublemaker Studios. There were tight curves, a skid pad and other challenges. The ProMaster City had no trouble with any of these, including a panic stop on the skid pad.

Sales of small commercial vans are a niche. Through the end of November, total sales within the segment came to 50,071, with the well-established Ford Transit Connect taking the lion’s share of the action. It remains to be seen whether strong entries like the ProMaster City can grow the market by persuading van buyers to downsize, especially at today’s gas prices.

Ram has done its homework. The ProMaster City is a very good base and Ram has been working with aftermarket suppliers to develop commercial interiors with shelves, bins and other vocational necessities for a variety of applications.

After all was said and done, our day with the Ram ProMaster City was a day well spent with a dandy little van.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/reviews/15/pre-pmc.html

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