With the recent and not surprising news of the Nissan Maxima’s planned demise in 2023, it’s time for a Rare Rides retrospective on a nameplate that was once lauded as one of the best sporty sedans on the market. From its origins as a rear-drive Datsun to the eighth generation that’s a shadow of its former self, the Maxima persisted with its unique value proposition: That it was a step up from the standard Japanese family sedan. Our story begins in Japan, with the Bluebird range.
Surprising exactly no one, Nissan has confirmed to a California-based automotive outlet that the Nissan Maxima will shuffle off this mortal coil in about a year’s time in mid-2023. While this news isn’t unexpected, it is still a bit sad for those of us who remember when the Maxima lived up to its name as a Four-Door Sports Car.
In 2010, Nissan launched the first globally-marketed electric vehicle in history. Known as the Leaf, the model offered a paltry 73 miles between charges when it was introduced. But deserves loads of credit for being a useful, friendly runabout that avoided many of the strange design choices other manufacturers leveraged to set their EVs apart. Reviewers frequently praised the Nissan Leaf as a great second car for running errands, noting that it was both comfortable and had enough space to swallow up most items you’d want to snag on a trip into town.
While I’m nobody’s idea of an environmentalist, I do my best to make an effort here and there to reduce my impact on the world at large. I recycle what I can. I try to choose products that are reusable where possible. I try to leave my thermostat reasonably cool during the winter and encourage my kids to follow President Carter’s advice to put on a damned sweater.
I live, however, almost exactly two hundred miles from Detroit – the font from which all of my media loan vehicles spew forth. Until quite recently, I was thus unable to sample electric cars such as this 2022 Nissan Leaf, since the advertised range wasn’t quite enough to get such a car to me. As such, the following shall be both an assessment of Nissan’s EV and of the state of charging infrastructure in non-coastal areas.
Lawyers are the fun police, aren’t they? Always getting in the way of you doing something interesting and/or stupid, right? Every week when I get a new vehicle to test, it’s prefaced by a few pages of legalese to be electronically signed, with a number of restrictions and prohibitions on what you can and cannot do with the vehicle.
Upon scheduling the delivery of this 2022 Nissan Kicks, I spoke with a Nissan representative, thinking I might be able to weasel my way past one of those lawyerly lines keeping my teenage daughter, turning 16 the day the Kicks arrived, from driving the smallest Nissan. No dice, I’m afraid, so I had to put myself (figuratively, of course) into her shoes, imagining what the Kicks might be like for a new driver.
The last few years have certainly been interesting for Nissan. After clawing its way back from financial disaster in the early 2000s, the company endured one of the most high-profile and scandal-ridden management shakeups in automotive history by 2018. It also became desperately unprofitable while incurring negative growth, with the remaining leadership deploying an aggressive restructuring plan designed to help get the business back on track.
Those efforts appear to have been successful.
Nissan has coyly been suggesting that it might someday furnish electrified performance models ever since it released Nismo-badged examples of the humble Leaf for the Japanese market. This was followed by the 2020 Leaf Nismo RC, which served as an experiment to see what would happen if you added a bunch of electric motors in a bid to make the model genuinely fast on a race track.
With the automaker set to deliver 15 new EVs by 2030, there’s been some speculation about how many will boast sporting aspirations. But it looks as though a few might know that Nissan has confirmed its developing Nismo-branded performance electrics for the global market.
In Part I of our Abandoned History coverage of GM’s Turbo-Hydramatic transmission line, your author made reference to a very exclusive Nissan that made use of the hefty THM400. That extremely formal Rare Ride has been on my mind since then, so here we are. If it pleases your majesty: The 1966 Nissan Prince Royal.
The PU11 Nissan Maxima was among the Japanese sedans to experience a complete identity shift in the mid-Eighties. Nissan was rebranding itself from a discount Datsun identity and took Maxima upmarket. Packed with technology and on its way to the 4DSC identity that defined the model, the Maxima deserves a place at the table with the V20 Camry and CA Accord. Let’s get technical.
Last week, Nissan – as part of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance – announced an ambitious plan to invest 23 billion Euros in new products, starting with the all-electric Nissan Ariya crossover and compact Nissan Micra, as well as a commitment to developing a new type of solid-state battery that could rocket the company back to the forefront of the electric car market in a way that it hasn’t been since the original Nissan LEAF went into production all the way back in 2010. It was a bold statement of intent, but one that begs the question: Can Nissan pull it off?
While alchemy has famously spent the better part of recorded history trying to transmute lead into gold, the automotive industry has repeatedly managed to achieve the lesser-known act of sorcery where water is converted into fire. This usually occurs when humidity ends up corroding an essential electrical component, resulting in fire risk that becomes the deciding factor in a recall campaign.
This week’s corporate conjurer is Nissan, which has decided to call back 793,000 Rogue SUVs in the United States and Canada.
Nissan sold the 280ZX version of the famed Z-Car here for the 1979 through 1983 model years, right up to the end of the Datsun era and the start of the “Name Is Nissan” period we’re in today. These cars don’t have the maniacal following of their 240Z/ 260Z/ 280Z predecessors but sold well when new, so I find the 280ZX to be reasonably easy to find in the big California car graveyards I frequent. Here’s a well-equipped ’80 in Alpine White paint, showing off its T-tops in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a few years back.
Sort of like the Cimarron we covered in our last edition of Abandoned History a couple of months ago, today’s vehicle is pretending to be more than it is. It’s the luxury X-Class truck Mercedes-Benz sold in markets outside the USA. Can you tell what it actually is?
Continuously-variable automatic transmissions (CVTs) are often criticized – and that criticism is often well deserved. Some CVTs, however, operate seamlessly and smoothly, and Nissan makes more than a few of those.
Unfortunately, the CVT in the 2021 Nissan Sentra SR I tested earlier this year does the opposite. Its unrelenting whine and drone spoil an otherwise surprisingly good time.
Nissan Motor Co. has confirmed plans to invest 2 trillion yen ($17.65 billion USD) over the next five years to accelerate its electric vehicle development program. Like most major manufacturers, the automaker wants to launch a bevy of electrified products over the next decade and derive a relevant portion of its income from EVs.
As explained by CEO Makoto Uchida on Monday as part of the “Nissan Ambition 2030,” the plan is to launch 23 new vehicles with some amount of electrification while it attempts to implement solid-state batteries into three concept vehicles that supposedly foreshadow future lineups. These include the battery-electric “Surf-Out” lifestyle pickup, “Max-Out” sports convertible, “Chill-Out” regular car, and “Hang-Out” adventure crossover. Though all three appear to be little more than drafts of vehicles Nissan would eventually like to build, boasting technologies that we’re not sure are feasible. For example, the Hang-Out is featured with a polygonal purple awning that oozes impossibly out of the vehicle’s roof. It lacks realism, which ended up being a central theme of the Nissan Ambition 2030 presentation that was broadcast on Monday.
The Los Angeles Auto Show is upon us once again, and once again automakers hosted events the night before the media day. Some things don’t change, even if this time we had to wear masks indoors and fill out a form saying we didn’t have COVID, as far as we knew.
This is how I found myself standing in a rented mansion in the Hollywood Hills — one that had a stunning view of L.A. — clutching a plastic glass of wine and listening to actor Jay Ellis extol the virtues of the Nissan Ariya EV. All because reservations for the Ariya opened up officially on Tuesday night.
Our Buy/Drive/Burn today is yet another reader suggested trio, this time from SoCalMikester. Mike wants to take a look a three quite affordable compact hatchbacks from 2007. Honda, Nissan, and Scion are all on offer today, but which one’s worth your limited number of 2007 dollars?
Since last night’s unveiling of the 2023 Nissan Z, I’ve been chewing over my thoughts on the car. Is it good, or is it another misfire from a brand that’s struggling to recapture glory days?
After exerting far too much brainpower on the question — I’d rather ponder what’s for lunch — I’ve arrived at my answer.
As I’m sure you’ve seen elsewhere on these pages, the 2023 Nissan Z has broken cover in Brooklyn. And as much as I, TTAC’s professed Z fanatic, would love to be there, I simply can’t get away from the desk this week. Tim’s there, but I suspect he’s spending most of his time geeking out over Seinfeld filming sites.*
*Ed. note: Chris knows me too well. But Seinfeld was mostly filmed across the river in Manhattan and I’ve been to the diner that served as the coffee shop. It wasn’t that good.
Yes, we saw the reveal of the Z Proto last summer, and this production version isn’t changed all that much. Most notably, beneath the sculpted sheetmetal lies a platform that isn’t all that different than the outgoing 370Z, with a 400hp V6 that, while stout, isn’t all that new either. The journalists are surely agog with the reveal of the new car, but almost none of them will buy it. And, when you break down the likely sales figures, the new Z will likely sell in a year what a Ford F-150 sells in a day or two.
The sports car market in general is irrelevant. So why does a new Z matter? Let’s wander a bit into the history of the Z for a moment.
On paper, the 2021 Nissan Kicks doesn’t seem all that different.
And really, it isn’t – most changes involve the addition of new features, though the exterior is also refreshed, getting a new grille and available LED headlights.
The only real mechanical change is the addition of rear disc brakes for the SV and SR trims.
Yet when Nissan loaned me a Kicks some months back (the snow in some of these pics is a giveaway), I immediately noticed a difference, in terms of ride and handling, between the 2021 model and previous versions I’ve piloted.
The difference was slight but nonetheless noticeable.
Late last year I put forth some thoughts about the future direction of Infiniti, largely about how the company was on a downward trajectory. Looking forward, the brand needs a major change in direction – not much has changed since December when I wrote that piece.
But one might then logically ask “Where did the company first lose its way?” I’m going to answer that question right now. Let’s take a little trip to the Before Times, in 1990.
Today’s Rare Ride is the more streamlined successor to the dorky Stanza Wagon, or Multi if you’re Canadian. I mentioned Axxess as a Rare Ride back in 2017 with the Stanza article, and today’s the day we present it properly.
Come along for some versatile Sport Wagon goodness.
The word “rogue” has several meanings, and one of those meanings relates to someone who goes their own way – someone who has “gone rogue.” This is why it’s long been ironic that Nissan slaps the moniker on a conformist crossover.
I am sure I am not the first to point this out, but it bears repeating, especially as the 2021 Nissan Rogue conforms to Nissan’s newest design identity.
The last-generation Nissan Pathfinder became the forgotten three-row crossover, in part because it went from a rugged-looking rig to a soft-roading crossover. Nissan is apparently quite well aware of why the Pathfinder moved to the back of mind for a lot of shoppers, and the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is meant to, if not be actually rugged, to project a rugged image.
So, for 2022, you get what the brand calls “bold, rugged design”. And it is bolder than before, with a bit more masculinity to its style, but it’s still blandly conservative enough to fit fine in the PTA line. As if Nissan’s designers felt they could only go so far in terms of being “rugged.”
Breathtaking, isn’t it? Just the right size, its lovely proportions carry off a premium look well. It was always a cut above the Camry and Accord with its superior drive and buttery smooth VG30 V6 as standard. Four-door Sports Car it was called, 4DSC stickers proudly on display. Nissan had a winner with that Maxima. But that Maxima was three decades ago, and after an experience with a 2020 Maxima, I’m here to tell you Nissan most definitely gives no more shits about its most expensive sedan.
Last week we challenged you to pick a Buy from V6 versions of the 2007 Toyota Camry, Nissan Maxima, and Honda Accord. The overwhelming feeling in the comments was in favor of an Accord purchase (and I agree with you). Today though, we step back a decade to the 1997 model year.
Does the Accord still win your vote in the Nineties?
In contrast to the Try Very Hard Japanese sedans of the Nineties, the early and mid-2000s period was a time for Japanese manufacturers to rest upon their laurels. It was a time to save some cash, and put in a bit less effort than in the tiring decade prior.
And lucky you, today you get to pick one to buy.
Today’s Rare Ride is kind of like a more modern and luxurious version of the Honda Civic Wagovan sold in North America in the Eighties. Offered by Nissan only in the Japanese domestic market, a case for the Rasheen in North America could’ve been made. Let’s check it out.
We continue the Cheapest Of series today on Buy/Drive/Burn, and check out the least expensive full-size truck-based SUVs on sale in America in 2021. And we’ve been generous today and equipped each of them with four-wheel drive to avoid any usability concerns. Today’s trio is very close in price but diverges elsewhere. Let’s go.
Today’s Rare Ride is the last entrant in a set of four cars introduced to the series back in November 2018. Tiny, retro, and a convertible, Nissan’s Figaro is by far the most popular of the four Pike cars. It’s also the one you can always find for sale in the United States.
Let’s take a look.
On the face of it, the redesigned 2020 Nissan Titan is a fine truck.
The 5.6-liter V8 packs enough punch for around-town driving – and presumably for hauling and towing, though I had no chance to do either during my time behind the wheel – and the all-new nine-speed automatic helps bring the aging Titan in line with the modern truck world.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue has bombed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s front passenger-side crash test with a score of two stars. Since we’re not using the Michelin Guide, this is a stain on the freshly pressed slacks Nissan has put on as part of its all-important restructuring strategy.
The automaker has been shedding weight, dropping products, and losing employees in the name of profit. But it also has to restore public faith in a brand that has been caught in numerous quality control scandals and some ugly corporate infighting over the last few years. A crummy score on a crash test isn’t going to help, even if it does help spice up an otherwise bland vehicle segment. But let’s not overcook the eggs. There is a lot to unpack here before we jump on the bandwagon of calling it a cursed model.
Imagine for a moment you’re not a well-heeled connoisseur of expensive cars and high finance, and there’s not a Bentley Mulsanne and a Land Cruiser in your garage. Instead, imagine you have to buy one of the three cheapest sedans on sale in America in 2021.
Just then, they came in sight of thirty or forty sporty crossovers that rise from that plain. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them.
Such is the life of the sports-sedan enthusiast these days, tilting at the hulking windmills as we pray for a low, lithe vehicle with handling and power aplenty – matched with a real trunk. We ask for these things from automakers who have proven that once upon a time, such mythical creatures did indeed exist and did indeed move from showroom floors in appreciable numbers.
I’d hoped beyond hope that the 2021 Nissan Altima SR on these pages might have rekindled the old four-door sportscar soul deep within Nissan. See those “SR” letters? They look awfully close to the “SE-R” trim that graced generations of sporty Sentras and even an Altima way back when. “VC-Turbo,” too, hints at performance potential. Can this turbocharged sedan meet the increasingly quixotic and depressingly small market for three-box motors with verve?
This one has little, if anything, to do with politics, so you can relax and cancel out that angry email you were about to send me.
Nope, this one has to do with the misinformation circulating about autonomous cars.
Let me start this out with an auto-writer pet peeve of mine: I hate the phrase “design language.” I have since I started working in automotive media in 2007. I am not sure why — it’s probably just too much PR/corporate speak for me.
I’ve banned that phrase from this site via our internal style guide (although I am sure it slips through sometimes. Please don’t play “gotcha” and @ me with examples), and constantly avoided using it for over 13 years, even if that’s lead to some awkward phrasing in its stead.
Thing is, there’s a reason why just about every OEM uses it.
Mitsubishi has an important product debut coming up: the all-new 2022 Outlander three-row crossover. In what will be the fourth-generation Outlander since 2001, the 2022 model ditches Mitsubishi’s ancient GS platform the Outlander has used since 2007 and sees a migration over to the same platform as the Nissan Rogue.
I think this is the beginning of the end for Mitsubishi in North America.
Even as Toyota kept the Cressida a rear-wheel-drive first cousin to the sporty Supra (sales of that car continued here well into the 1990s), Nissan moved the formerly-Z-based Maxima to a front-wheel-drive platform for the 1985 model year. The new, roomier Maxima continued to be loaded with futuristic electronic gadgetry and a Z-Car engine, and sales of the wagon version continued all the way through the 1988 model year. Here’s a well-traveled ’86 Maxima wagon in a Denver-area car graveyard.
Released in tandem with a series of meaningful updates to the gargantuan Armada, Nissan has decided to give the subcompact Kicks a few embellishments of its own for the 2021 model year. While not nearly as comprehensive as its three-row sibling, the updates similarly build upon the existing platform by making small changes customers were undoubtedly harping upon.
Outside, the refreshed Kicks gets a new grille, fog lamps, tail lamps, updated bumpers, and some optional LED headlights. The combination makes the model look like a baby Rogue and brings it in line with Nissan’s current design language. There are also some novel paint options with the manufacturer likewise allowing customers to order two-tone schemes with a black roof.
Japan’s most downtrodden legacy automaker that isn’t Mitsubishi appears ready to take the fight to its global rivals, at least as far as the full-sized sport-utility segment is concerned. Nissan has refreshed its colossus from tip to tail for the 2021 model year, resulting in an SUV that’s decidedly more modern (and hopefully competitive) than most people probably thought possible.
Nissan’s Armada is an interesting car often that’s difficult to recommend. While truly massive and incredibly comfortable, it’s hard to suggest over any of its full-size opponents — most of which are substantially more compliant at cruising speeds. The Armada may have the best-in-class standard towing and horsepower, thanks largely to its obligatory 5.6-liter V8, but the overall experience is a mixed bag. Fortunately, Nissan is issuing updates specifically designed to smooth its rough edges for 2021.
After teasing, promises, and COVID-related delays, the Infiniti QX55 debuted a few weeks ago, as Infiniti eagerly drew direct comparisons between their new “classy” successor and the departed FX35/45. You might remember that shapely SUV headed to its demise in 2017 after it was left to rot for a few years, then renamed QX70. Infiniti chose to ignore its final QX70 name in the press materials and call it FX instead, which says something about their branding strategy, doesn’t it?
Today I’m here to tell you this “new car” is a perfect example of exactly what’s wrong at Infiniti, and the changes needed years ago, not sometime in the future.
There were precisely two generations of the Nissan Pulsar sold on North American shores, and we’ve covered the latter previously in an absolutely excellent NX Sportbak from 1988. Today’s Rare Ride is a final-year 1986 example of the first generation Pulsar, which wasn’t quite as versatile as its replacement in 1987.
This one’s as clean as they come.
Nissan unveiled a substantially updated version of the Navara pickup truck sold overseas on Thursday, foreshadowing what we might be seeing with the next incarnation of the mid-sized Frontier.
The model shares DNA with many vehicles around the world, including the Renault Alaskan, Dongfeng Ruiqi 6, and the failed X-Class from Mercedes-Benz. While they all have unique touches to distinguish themselves from each other, the platform is fairly consistent and should offer us a glimpse into the future of our Nissan Frontier. But that won’t be because it’s using the same platform as the new Navara.
After enduring a series of rough years resulting in some unsettling financial reports, Nissan is doing its utmost to turn things around. Following its first annual loss in 11 years, the company announced a plan that would include cutting 20 percent of its global lineup to make way for newer models, eliminating unnecessary production capacity, and cutting corners (and jobs) just about everywhere in order to save $2.8 billion off of fixed costs. This is also being done to make way for a leaner, meaner Nissan, and make room for newer vehicles it believes will be essential to remain competitive.
It’s also hoping to spruce up dealerships to make them more desirable locales for customers ready to do their business. That includes an increased number of factory audits moving into 2021 — partly as a way to make up for the limited number that were conducted this year thanks to the pandemic and partly as a way to make sure nobody is doing anything financially untoward. But there are some concerns among owners that Nissan may end up bullying shops unnecessarily.
Many automotive enthusiasts are excited about new luxury wagons or high powered sports cars. In TTAC’s case, many of our Best and Brightest are excited about H-Body Oldsmobiles. While I too share your excitement for the Olds Eighty Eight, the average new car buyer does not. They care about the crossovers. The compact crossover has become this generation’s Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, or Ford Taurus. The best-selling cars of yesteryear have been increasingly replaced in American garages by the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, or Nissan Rogue.
Because of their popularity, whenever an auto manufacturer releases a new high-volume crossover, it’s a big deal. Last year, full-sized trucks from the Detroit Three were the best selling vehicles in America. However, the next three best-selling vehicles were the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. Manufacturers have been hyper-focused on making these vehicles the first choice for American families. Last year, the Nissan Rogue was America’s sixth-most purchased vehicle, despite the fact that it is seven years old. So when Nissan invited TTAC to drive the all-new 2021 Nissan Rogue, we were happy to attend.
The New York Times, or one writer paid by the New York Times (one journalist’s take or analysis or opinion doesn’t represent the entire paper, you know), had a piece out a couple days ago claiming the dawn of the EV age is now.
Somehow, I missed this article until now. But let’s a look at its assertions, shall we, and see what is and is not accurate?
Nissan’s Maxima turns 40 this year.
“This year” is a tricky statement, of course, since the year of production isn’t necessarily the same as the model year, but whether you mark it from the beginning of production in 1980 or the first model year in 1981, either way you slice it, the Maxima is hitting the big 4-0.
And Nissan is marking the milestone with a special edition package. Naturally.