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First Drive: 2015 Nissan Murano

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Designers are an optimistic bunch. They are asked to create a vision that is then whittled down, distilled, and changed. What starts as a concept, moves to a drawing, then clay, and finally scale models before it is adjusted to fit the needs of marketing, engineering, and those sitting at the top of the automakers food chain. Occasionally, a designer gets to see his or her work stay a bit more true to an original concept, but that’s rare these days.

Today is a rare day, because this is the 2015 Nissan Murano and it is a mixture of everything Senior Designer Ken Lee envisioned when he set out to craft the brands latest flagship crossover. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate…

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Nissan NV Taxi: Angeles Crest Confessions

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What do you do when you’re given a Taxi to drive for the week? Well, normally people might pick up friends and family, and then shuttle them around town.

…I’m not normal.

I decided to hustle the Nissan NV Taxi over Angeles Crest highway on my way to Willow Springs. No, the taxi didn’t get track time, but it did get “exercised” along the way to the track.

Also… RIP little birdie.

[Disclaimer: Nissan lent me the NV Taxi for a week and included a tank of gas. I earned zero dollars from zero passengers. I should’ve trolled the airports…]

Quick Spin: 2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi

Nissan NYC taxi (16)
Sometime ago New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission solicited bids for the Taxi of Tomorrow. Four companies were finally selected with Nissan ending up with the winning bid. Unfortunately the bidding process and vehicle development took some time. There were also court hearings regarding Nissan being the only choice. In the end, the replacement for the venerable Crown Victoria has been opened to many automotive makes and models, and the NV200-based cab has become just another choice for the independent cabbies and taxi companies in New York City.

When hailing a cab in New York City today, one may end up with anything from a dying Crown Vic to a diesel Volkswagen Jetta. There are also Altimas, Camrys, Sonatas, Priuses, Escapes, Malibus, Highlanders, Transit Connects, even a Lexus RX. There are a slew of minivans, too. The really lucky riders can end up in one of several Mercedes E or ML diesels. Never before has NYC seen this much variety in its choices for a cab. The bad news is that you still can’t get a cab when you really need one.

Of all the above mentioned vehicles, only the NV200 is developed for taxi duty from the factory. The other ones, even if they are commonly seen as taxis, have been modified with aftermarket taxi equipment. The NV200 is not limited to New York City and can be purchased by anyone at their local Nissan dealership for around $29,000 and it comes with a 150,000 mile warranty. Hit the jump to see more details of the Nissan NV-200 taxi.

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Review: 2013 Nissan Sentra SV

2013 Nissan Sentra SV

Being a car enthusiast, chances are that even you did not know about an all-new Nissan Sentra was introduced for 2013. I certainly had no idea until Nissan lent me this little car for a review. And that’s a good thing, judging by how much negative press Toyota has received about its new 2014 Corolla. Since an overwhelming majority of people who write about cars are car enthusiasts, they cannot possibly comprehend the idea of a new, reasonably priced, fuel efficient, and affordable compact sedan – their answer is always Miata, and hence the bad press for the Corolla.

I have put all of my preconceived notions aside when I got into this car. I did not go to Nissan’s website, I did not read any press releases, and I did not look at any pictures. I had no idea how much power it has, what the brake set-up was, what kind of steering it has, or from where the chassis originates. I put myself into the shoes of the typical potential buyer of this car, and I just did not care about those things.

I just got into it and started driving.

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Review: 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo
The funky freaky fun flagship

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I have a thing for ugly cars. Their unloved lines appeal to me. A battle-scarred 1967 Ford wagon is a beautiful piece of machinery in my eyes. I was one of the few who admired the bulbous behind of the Porsche Panamera right from the get go. The Nissan GT-R is ugly science pushed to the limit. All of those vehicles are certainly not beauty queens, but I’m a big fan of each of them.

There’s another Nissan product besides the GT-R that can also be considered to have a style that’s… different. It’s the Nissan Juke, and you can probably guess that I like the way it looks. If you did guess that, congratulations and you’re correct. There’s a new version out now, however, that attempts to inject a sporting edge to the eyeball affair. Does it work?

To find out, I spent a week with the 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo. 

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Review: 2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster

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In these days of Nürburgring times, imaginary performance figures, and spec-sheet competitions, it is easy to forget what a sports car is, or should be, all about. While car manufacturers try to sell us horsepower, acceleration times, and laps times, we should remember that driving a sports car should be about having fun. Unfortunately there is no measurement for fun, and that’s why some fast cars (BMW M6) aren’t necessarily fun, and some slow cars (Subaru BRZ) are a whole lot of fun.

Nissan’s Z cars were never the fastest or the best handling, but despite that they were very popular. Perhaps it was the strong six-cylinder engine, or the rear-wheel drive setup, or the just-right dimensions, or the just-right price that made them so popular. More likely it was the sum of all those things, with the just-right amount of fun and good looks sprinkled on top that made everyone want one.

The 2013 (2014 is pretty much identical) Nissan 370Z (Z34) continues on the path set by its ancestors. Its 3.7 liter V6 engine makes 332-hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It can be matched up to either a six-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic transmission. That power can then be put to the ground via an optional limited-slip rear differential. The chassis features double wish-bone suspension in the front and multi-link rear suspension in the back, and big disc brakes with available multi-piston calipers. This is Sports Car 101 type of stuff and the Z gets it just right, as it always did.

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Quick Spin: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder – In defense of the CUV

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For 2013, Nissan introduced the Pathfinder, a vehicle designed along with the Infiniti JX, which I liked a lot. Surprisingly, Jeff liked the Pathfinder, yet he wasn’t too crazy about the JX35, which confused me. Hooniverse readers complained that Nissan turned a proper body-on-frame 4×4 into vehicle for someone who does not want a minivan, or a CUV. Yes, they did and they did that because that is what sells – body-on-frame SUVs and minivans simply do not sell as well as the Highlanders, MDXs, X5s, and Pilots.

For those that do want an off-road capable body-on-frame SUV, Nissan has the Xterra. They offer a minivan too, in form of the Nissan Quest. They have the big Armada too, in case you need to tow a house, so they got all the bases covered.

Let’s start off with the fact that Hooniverse readers are right; many people, including me, won’t buy a minivan even if they are more practical and less expensive. That’s because suburban moms drive minivans and no one wants to be a suburban mom. SUVs, in theory, are driven by hip adventure-loving people – and that’s a fact! Every SUV buyer wants to be a hip adventure person, which is why they buy SUVs. This is the same reason why people buy the Nissan GT-R – they want to be that guy with the GT-R, even if their driving limits don’t exceed the capabilities of the Nissan Cube.

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Video Review: 2014 Nissan GT-R
It’s amazing, yeah it’s all that…

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Cars and music go hand in hand for me. When I’m driving a car, I like to have certain songs queued up that serve to enhance the experience. Sometimes when I’m sitting at my desk, a certain song might remind me of a machine that I’ve recently spent time enjoying. From classic rock to hip-hop to jazz to metal, the right song evokes extra emotion and helps plant a vehicle deeper into my memory banks.

Like music, cars can exhibit what many refer to as a soul. The problem is that one of my favorite cars on the planet constantly gets derided for a lack of a soul. I’m talking about the Nissan GT-R, more specifically in this case it’s the 2014 example that I just spent a weekend getting to know better. Did I find the soul of the car? Once I thought about it musically, of course I did…

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First Drive Review: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder
A CUV that you should see

[Editor’s Note – My apologies to Nissan, this was originally supposed to run months ago but got lost in the shuffle. It was a First Drive, but we’ve decided to just call it a review, hence the strike-through above. — JG]

I hate oysters.

They’re a poor representation of what’s possible in the world of seafood. These lame mud scallops are slimy, sandy, salty, and the least inviting thing that can be plucked from the ocean and plopped onto a plate in front of my waiting maw. In the same vein (I guess?), I hate the Infiniti JX35. It’s the anti-Infiniti, as it’s not fun to drive, underpowered,  packs a CVT, and is only reminiscent of being of the same family thanks to a few swooping lines.

It’s odd then, that I find myself at the Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay, California. A plate of the freshest batch of slimy mud critters are staring me in the face… and I’m on thirds. These damn things are delicious. Fresh, clean, and, with a dash of the supplied minuet, they’re simply divine.

The vehicle that brought me here, well, I expected to hate that too. It’s the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, which means it’s essentially a JX35 wearing slightly less swooptastic clothing and a smaller price tag. I wanted to hate the new Pathfinder for not being what I feel it should be; a rugged, body-on-frame, V8-optional sport utility vehicle. Instead, it’s a unibody powered by a V6 that’s mated to a CVT…

…and it’s nearly as tasty as the oysters.

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Review: 2013 Nissan Altima – Keeping up with the Camcordsontibusion

The US Midsize Sedan is the most competitive market segment, with an ever growing list of competitors from almost all the automotive brands. There are entry level models, mid-priced entries, and even entry-level luxury options. There are some very good models vying for your hard earned dollars, as well as some also-ran entries that are more at home in the daily rental fleet. There are the cars that dominate the sales charts month after month (only full-sized Pickup Trucks, and some mid-sized SUVs sell more) and have become very important to the manufacturers bottom line.

So why should we even care about these yawn inducing vehicles when you really want to read about the latest 2-seat sportscar, or that hot Italian or German exotic? Because folks, without a top selling Midsize Sedan that generates enough profit for the parent company, there would be little development dollars available to produce said sportscar or exotic.

With that thought in mind, we flew to Tennessee to have a look at the redesigned 2013 Nissan Altima.

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