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2016 Nissan GT-R Premium review

12/11/2015

You ever get the feeling you're overthinking something? Chewing on an experience or chunk of information for so long it's lost all its flavor? Analysis paralysis, the boss calls it, and that's sort of where I am with the Nissan GT-R.

It's taken me a long time to warm up to Godzilla -- three stints behind the wheel, including a recent long weekend. It's a geek's exotic (I'm more of a nerd), a performance car for those who prize high-tech methods of going forward fast. It's fair to say Tesla's ludicrous mode has eclipsed the GT-R's wizardry, but the number of processors involved in effectively planting the Nissan's 545 hp are still impressive. 

So's the horsepower number, though even that is mid-pack in these Hellcat days. Half-throttle stabs around traffic yield a, "yeah, pretty fast" response, but it's difficult to tell just how quick this car is without instrumentation. Flip all three dash switches to R mode and stab it from a stoplight (even eschewing the hilariously fun Launch Control) and the effect is JEeee-zus…and there's 75 mph. It happens just like that -- no fanfare, no screeching tires or fishtailing backend. The GT-R is kind of like a time machine -- you visualize the place you want to be -- say, two blocks away, press a button (with your right foot, in this case) and suddenly you're there. The whole process basically just involves holding the steering wheel, and even that feels computer-stabilized.  

2016 Nissan Titan XD first drive

A true 5/8-ton pickup

12/10/2015

What is it? The American pickup truck market is such a Goliath of a segment that hacking off even 1 extra percent for your brand can be an important shift ... as long as your brand isn’t Ford or Chevrolet, which control about two-thirds of the market. Look no further than Nissan for an example -- the company spent six years designing and testing its new Titan XD, aiming to grab a bigger slice of that massive pickup pie for itself.

The Titan XD, Nissan says, is a pickup truck for those who need something a little more powerful than the standard 1500/150-grade trucks, but where a 2500/250 might be overkill. We finally have the true 5/8-ton hauler that we never knew we needed. We spent a full day in the dusty Arizona desert testing the new truck on and off the road, driving with a payload and towing 9,600 pounds or so (about ¾ of its max) up and down the mountains.

2015 Nissan Sentra SV review notes

Underwhelming family sedan

10/08/2015

DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: The Sentra and I didn't get off on the right foot.

I was supposed to pick the car up at the airport -- at 6 a.m. after a redeye from Portland to Detroit. I got in on time and the car was sitting in the off-airport lot, but the keys were nowhere to be found. An hour later (which feels like about 10 hours when you're standing in the predawn light after 90 minutes of restless, upright dozing on a 737) we had things sorted and I was on my way, but it's fair to say my mindset wasn't predisposed toward the Sentra at that point.

Thing is, after two full days of driving the Sentra SV, I never grew to like the little sedan. At an MSRP under $20K, one can't expect miracles, but one can get a fun-to-drive vehicle -- spoiler alert: this isn't one of them. Just when I finally decide CVTs have gotten good enough to live with, Nissan throws us one that truly sucks; it's droning at best and flat-out weird at worst, like when it completely cuts power while the driver is feathering back on the accelerator, forcing him or her to stomp on the gas again just to maintian momentum.

2016 Nissan 370Z coupe review notes

No Nismo? No problem

09/02/2015

ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I came back from Pebble Beach to this car sitting in the airport lot -- normally a good thing, but I had two stuffed suitcases to throw in there and I was nervous. Color me surprised: They both fit, though one was sort of in the passenger compartment. Still, a victory.

This Nissan 370Z seemed much more restrained than the Nismo version we had a few months ago, and I guess it’s supposed to. The suspension was way more livable, with only the harshest bumps throwing it off course. The Nismo banged over any imperfections. Likewise, the steering was easier than the Nismo, too. This ratio seemed the same, or at least close to it, but the effort was way down. I said I liked that Nismo but couldn’t live with it every day. I could see someone living with this one; still not me, but I like it.

2016 Nissan 370Z Nismo Tech review notes

The Mini-Me GT-R

07/15/2015

ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: So this is the 2016 model. I think Nissan retuned the exhaust to sound less metallic and more race car. The company must have heard all my complaining. With the windows up or down, it sound much better than the last one.

Looking back at my last review, I do like most of the same things in this car. From the outside, it’s a “Fast and Furious” car. Super low, wide, big wing and giant black-rimmed tires all fit the part. The dual exhuausts in the back, especially with the new sound, complete the package.

Inside, we get suede and leather seats with suede on the steering wheel and a stripe at top dead center, all of which I like. The seats are tight, even for my small frame, but the bottom front and back both adjust, making for a good fit and driving angle. They’re a bit uncomfortable to get into though, so keep that in mind.

It doesn’t ride as hard over Detroit roads as you might think. It bounces some, but doesn’t seem to bang, even over the bigger bumps. At speed it sticks like glue. It’s fun to take turns harder and harder, to find where the limit is actually at. Under normal street driving conditions, it’s nearly unreachable.

The 2016 Nissan Maxima goes on sale in June, with 300 hp on tap.

2016 Nissan Maxima first drive

Return of the four-door sports car?

06/03/2015

What is it?

The Nissan Maxima is easing into its eighth generation with a complete redesign, one that seeks to recapture the "4 Door Sports Car" character of previous models. The nameplate has been around since the last days of Datsun, and as it has grown over the years, it has taken on a wider range of competitors.

Design is one area that the new Maxima wants to be known for, and the eighth-generation sedan has stayed remarkably close to the Nissan Sport Sedan Concept car that previewed the production version, appearing at the 2014 Detroit auto show. Aside from adopting the new V-Motion corporate grille, seen on the redesigned Rogue and Murano, the Maxima sports flowing yet angular character lines leading from the nose to the very back of the car, topped with a floating roof that was previewed on the concept car. V-shaped headlights have become longer and sharper since the last time we saw them on the outgoing model, with the new sedan sticking with the boomerang shape for its taillights as well. Both headlights and taillights incorporate LED elements, with the former serving as daytime running lights.

The Rogue is the company's second best-selling model in the United States.

Long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD third-quarter update

05/19/2015

While the miles have slowed in the third quarter, enjoyment of our long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue has all but. With its handsome looks, ultra-flexible interior, just-right size and generous suite of amenities and safety features, staffers have called on the Rogue for all sorts of duties. It’s served as date-night chariot and kiddie shuttle, work truck and Ikea goodies transport extraordinaire (with the rear seats folded, there’s 70 cubic feet of cargo volume; that’s a lot of flat-packs). While we didn’t venture far afield, as the miles can attest, it was a rare night that the Rogue sat unused.

It actually did better than most in our long-term fleet at managing an extra-cold winter, the four-banger and heated seats warming up quickly and the all-wheel drive and stock 18-inch all-seasons doing a decent job of carving a path through the slick and slushy stuff. The Rogue can feel somewhat crashy over the post-winter broken pavement, with bump stiffness a bit higher than similar vehicles. It’s especially jumpy over ruts that come in close succession, but cornering ability remains good and the steering is responsive, direct and stays true even as lightly weighted as it is, without requiring a whole lot of rowing. Brakes still feel strong, too, with a fairly responsive brake pedal.

The all-new third-generation Nissan Murano features modern styling, premium interior and advanced, purposeful technology.

Good, bad and ugly

2015 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD review notes

05/13/2015

ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: Yikes. This thing has a face only a Nissan mother could love. It’s very…concept looking. I guess the ¾ view isn’t too bad because you can’t see all the busyness in front, but I really dislike the floating rear roof. The wheels are cool, and I don’t even mind the orange metallic paint. That grille is wild, though.

It feels relatively quick with that CVT and V6. You put your foot down and the speed just keeps climbing. I’m not sure how I feel about the faux shifts. I liked it in the Subaru, so I guess it’s fine. It does take away that Jet-Ski feel, which is sometimes enjoyable.

Cars with CVTs are always louder than their regular-transmission counterparts. On a traditional ride, the revs rarely go above 3,000 rpm in regular driving. With this Murano, you need to put the pedal down a decent amount to get the speed you want, which puts the revs up above 4,000, and it gets a little loud.

Our example, in SV trim optioned with all-wheel drive, started at $26,700 and was optioned to $28,290.

2015 Nissan Rogue SV AWD snowpocalypse drive review

03/25/2015

What is it?

Completely redesigned for 2014 and now in its second generation, the Nissan Rogue is the company's compact SUV offering. Positioned below the Murano, the Rogue is designed to combine a spacious and useful interior with soft-touch materials and an affordable starting price that is meant to let it take on longer-serving offerings from other automakers in this segment.

Power in the Rogue comes courtesy of a 2.5-liter inline-four connected to an Xtronic continuously variable transmission sending power to the front or to all four wheels. This engine produces 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque -- a carryover from the outgoing model -- with the latest version of the CVT achieving a 40 percent reduction in friction loss, as well as gaining a wider gear ratio and greater efficiency compared to earlier units. In front wheel drive form, the Rogue returns fuel economy of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 28 mpg. In all-wheel drive form, the small SUV is rated at 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, for an identical combined rating of 28 mpg.

Our long-term Nissan Rogue continues to get the job done.

Long-term 2015 Nissan Rogue SL second quarter update

03/05/2015

Another quarter with our long-term Nissan Rogue SL is in the books, and we’re happy to report it continued to dutifully transport us on commutes and trips both long and short. While the Rogue hasn’t elicited any strong feelings either for or against it, this Nissan remains a reliable soldier. Nobody minds driving it, but nobody’s fighting for the keys, either. We appreciate the Rogue’s right-sized flexible interior, its all-weather all-wheel drive and, maybe most of all, its blue-collar workhorse nature.

The second-gen’s new exterior design is sleeker and more stylish than the bland blob it replaces. Our loaded SL’s healthy features list includes an intuitive nav system, Bose audio, Bluetooth, satellite radio, panoramic moonroof, LED headlights … you get the idea.

As for those aforementioned trips, the Rogue journeyed from Detroit to upstate New York and back with one editor who had his parents and dog in tow. The editor returned from his extended stint proclaiming the Rogue “a solid entrant into a crowded field of competent contenders.” The comfortable ride made covering the miles easy, and the uncomplicated infotainment stack received high marks.

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The image the company sent to future owners who have made deposits is a lightly photoshopped sketch that Britain's Autocar magazine published in March of this year.

TVR makes progress on new Cosworth V8, teases owners with Autocar's sketch

12/29/2015

TVR, the boutique British automaker run aground in 2006 after purchase by a Russian oligarch, is back with plenty of deposits on an undisclosed coupe and a teaser image photoshopped from an Autocar magazine sketch. The fledgeling car company is at work on a new coupe powered by a Cosworth V8 with an expected output of 450 to 500 hp, though it won't be until 2018 that customers will be able to take delivery of the cars. The factory has to be built first, even though the first year's allocation is already sold out.

TVR Chairman Les Edgar gave the future owners of the new coupe a progress report, stating that the company is running at least one engineering mule that has been operating on roads, and that they've recently fired up one of the Cosworth V8s.

Watch F1 cars rip up a mountain in Japan

12/29/2015

Two ex-Formula One cars plus one mountain road equals an epic video shot in Japan by Motor Head Magazine.

It's not too often you see open-wheel cars on public roads -- the Stallone vehicle "Driven" notwithstanding -- but something about it makes the cars look even better than when they're on the racetrack. After the F1 cars have a go, they're followed by some drifters who are nearly as impressive.

The camerawork is also great, so check out more of Motor Head's stuff here.

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