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Nissan Quest Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Minivan Segment



Nissan Quest Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Minivans:
“Perhaps the most controversial entry in the conservative Minivan market, Quest is a love-it or hate-it affair. Clearly, Quest owners love it,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. Quest owners find their vehicles to be Fun-to-Drive (at least relative to the other vehicles in the segment), and they rate Power/Acceleration highly. Quest ratings for Entry and Exit are excellent. Showing that they were looking for something different, owners rate Image higher than other vehicles in the Minivan segment”.

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Nissan Altima Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Premium Mid-Size Car



Nissan Altima Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Premium Mid-Size Car:
“The Premium Mid-Size Car segment is one of the toughest in the market. There are strong contenders like the all-new Toyota Camry, evergreen (and soon to be replaced) Honda Accord, all-new Nissan Altima and Chevrolet Impala battling for first place,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Owners of the all-new Nissan Altima rated their vehicle significantly higher than the segment average for both Performance and Economy (most unusual), Passenger and Luggage Room and Innovative Technology. Instrument Layout and Audio Controls were also well received. Based on owner satisfaction ratings, Altima is an easy car to live with”.

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Nissan Maxima Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Luxury Mid-Size Car



Nissan Maxima Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Luxury Mid-Size Car
“The Nissan Maxima is the top of the sedan lineup for Nissan providing Nissan buyers with high value, high feature, luxury transportation,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “As a car from a mainstream brand, it does battle with entries from luxury car divisions. The Nissan Maxima is highly rated for Power/Acceleration with Nissan’s outstanding VQ V6 engine. Passenger and Cargo Capacity, Instrument Layout/Ease of Use, Wheel and Tire Size and Appearance also received high scores”.

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2007 Nissan Z – Driver's Car


What a difference a top can make.
Last summer, I drove the Nissan Z roadster, and while it was a nice car it wasn’t the type of bat I’d like to swing at a fast ball. The soft top looked terrible when up, the body wasn’t stiff enough (due to the chopped top), and there were other niggly-bits that made me fee this wasn’t a great driver’s car. I’d pass.
This week, I spent several hundred miles with a hardtop Nissan 350 Z and, um, WOW! I can’t believe these two vehicles came from the same mold. This is an absolute driver’s car and Nissan has done a remarkable job packing a 3.5 liter V6 (306-hp and 268-lb-ft of torque) into this delightful chassis. There are several versions of the Z available, all of them related to features packages. I was in the “enthusiast” model, which is priced under $30,000. You can read all of the techno-speak on the Nissan website, but what you can’t get there is the driver’s point of view, so let’s hit the road.


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2007 Nissan Xterra – Plastic Makes it Possible


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Everything You Need?
The Nissan Xterra slogan “Everything you need and nothing you don’t” has always made me wonder… What exactly do I need? I’d like to think that I could probably survive without many frills, but it almost begs the question… “What about some of the things I really want?” Is the Xterra a knock down, drag out, take no prisoners SUV that needs no further trimmings, which might detract from its purpose driven nature, or is it a bare bones box on wheels relying on it’s motto as an excuse to cut costs? AutoPacific and Vehicle Voice staff wanted to know the answer. We may have all agreed that the Xterra fulfilled all of our SUV requirments but with so many options out there would we want one?

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VehicleVoice Panelists' Opinion of Manufacturers


During the last week of March 2007, 1,254 VehicleVoice panelists responded to an Internet survey concerning their opinion of major automakers in the USA. VehicleVoice asked these questions because the opinion of buyers and their attitudes towards various aspects of a manufacturer’s image are critically important. Managing image and opinion plus understanding what is driving that opinion can influence whether a person will positively consider or reject a brand next time they are in the market.
The key question in the VehicleVoice survey was whether the respondent’s opinion of a manufacturer had changed since this time last year. If their opinion had changed, the panel member was given the chance to explain why their opinion had changed. We received over 5,000 comments concerning these manufacturers. Some were as short one word. Some were as long as a page of 10-point type. Folks really had a lot to say and their comments were fascinating.

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Discussion for each of the brands is below the fold.

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2007 Nissan NISMO 350Z: New York Auto Show


NISMO Creates Ultimate Enthusiast Z
Among the special editions and sporting models being introduced this week at the 2007 New York auto show is an addition to Nissan’s 2007 350Z lineup, the NISMO 350Z. Though the 350Z doesn’t yet move to the 330HP 3.7L V6 being introduced in the Infiniti G37 at the same auto show, the NISMO package includes updates to the suspension to improve handling as well as the look-at-me bodykit. According to Nissan’s vice president and general manager Bill Bosley, “The NISMO 350Z is geared towards enthusiasts who want the ultimate 350Z straight from the factory performance experts. They also want a Z that makes a statement and is a testament to their love of driving.” The NISMO 350Z certainly looks the part.


NISMO started in 1984 in Japan, offering high-performance aftermarket parts and accessories for the Nissan lineup, but this is the first factory-offered NISMO for the Z lineup. (NISMO parts are available through several aftermarket parts suppliers, as a quick Internet search will tell you.) This is only the second NISMO-branded product for the U.S. market (after the 2005 NISMO Frontier off-roader). The NISMO package gets aerodynamics meant to resemble Super GT championship Z racers, including a huge chin spoiler on an aggressive front fascia, side skirts, an extended rear fascia with underbody diffuser, and (of course) a large rear wing. This model also sports as standard HID headlights and LED taillights.

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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Nissan Bevel Proves Not All Tools are Cool


Nissan‘s 2007 North American International Auto Show concept, the Bevel, offered a well-thought-out interior intended to appeal to 45-to-60-year-old guys looking to be the neighborhood hero, who have the tools on hand to get you into your unlocked house, or who may step in to help get home that unexpected large purchase, or who have a doggie kennel for saving lost dogs.


Or, more realistically, a vehicle for guys whose leisure activities tend toward working with their hands or outside, or whose primary job requires a vehicle that holds more stuff than people. These buyers travel solo most often, but can use a tailgate that lifts high enough to provide cover in the rain, unique storage areas in an easy-to-clean cargo zone, or a pair of 110v power-tool-recharging outlets. Instead of roof racks, six “pucks” popped up to reveal tie-down hooks, creating a system would carry a load of up to 250 pounds. To assuage the contradictory appeal of V6 torque and green powerplants, the Bevel was designed to accommodate a V6-hybrid powertrain that Nissan has under development.

According to Nissan, there are men in the empty-nest age group that need a multi-purpose vehicle configured for cargo and work rather than people hauling. SUVs and minivans are all geared toward moving people. The research may be onto something. But these buyers could just as easily convert a Scion xB; they exist, but the slice is so narrow they may exist in the thousands rather than tens of thousands. It might be tough to justify a whole new vehicle around this group. But should Nissan bring the next home-market Cube to the States as is often rumored, incorporating some of these interior solutions as options could enhance overall marketability of the box.


In any event, we can’t imagine many who would want the utility badly enough to be wrapped in Bevel’s sheetmetal. As clever as the interior might be, the exterior is not. The Ford Airstream concept offered asymmetric doors and windows, too, but Ford’s arrangement was pleasing to the eye. Bevel’s unusual cargo hatch made for a sharp look to the rear three-quarter, but in profile and front views it just didn’t work. Bevel’s nose and tail look too abruptly chopped off. The nicest thing that has been said so far about the Bevel’s grille shape is that it looks like a dustbuster snout.

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2007 Detroit Auto Show: QX56 Goes to Doctor 90210


My family is sort of schizophrenic when it comes to vehicles. Among others, our garage includes a MINI Cooper S and a Ford Expedition. As the primary driver of the Cooper, you can easily guess how I feel about the Expedition. While I sometimes appreciate it’s utility, vehicles this big should be used for hauling vegetables, not people. When I drive it, I often gaze in wonder at its expanse of empty seats, ready to reduce my passenger miles per gallon. Yet I understand that I am clearly (still) in the minority. The US has a lot of full size SUVs with happy drivers on the road.


…Of course I’m excited about the assignment of covering the 2008 refresh of the gargantuan QX56 for VehicleVoice.

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Economy Compacts Fare Poorly in Crash Tests

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just released their first crash ratings for Economy Compact Cars. They call them “minicars”. The IIHS often releases results like this to pressure car makers to achieve higher safety results than are required by the Federal Government (NHTSA). Being part of the insurance industry, the IIHS charter is to provide information that consumers can use to select a safer car or light truck – and hence a car that might generate lower personal injury claims in an accident.
Force Still Equals Mass X Acceleration… F=MA
The first thing you learn in Physics 101 is F=MA. Basically, this equation means that something bigger is going to win if it hits something smaller. People have historically bought Lincoln Town Cars partly because they were so big that they were guaranteed a “win” in an accident. The same thinking goes with Large Sport Utility Vehicles like the Chevrolet Suburban.
A very small car is going to lose in an accident with a much larger vehicle. There will be much more physical damage to the small car than to the big one. And all things being equal, people riding in the small car are more at risk. The IIHS and Federal Government have noted that as fuel economy goes up (through vehicles getting lighter and smaller), damage and injuries also go up. In this case, bigger and heavier is better. But with skyrocketing gas prices folks rightly want more fuel efficient cars and trucks.

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With that in mind, Economy Compacts have been introduced… Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa are the three that were launched in 2006 as 2007 model year cars. Only the larger Versa aced the crash tests… Versa includes side curtain air bags as standard equipment. Yaris, where side curtain air bags are optional, fails if it is not equipped with these safety enhancements.
The IIHS press release is included below the fold if you want to read the whole thing. But just remember, when it comes to safety, and all other things are equal, the bigger vehicle will win. F will always equal MA.

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