The Ford Transit Connect has been a sales success for Ford. Based on a Focus platform from many years ago, the Transit Connect was added to the U.S. lineup and was quickly showing signs of age. It had a four-speed automatic that made it wheeze and moan. The infotainment system was clunky, slow, and unusable. Nevertheless, Ford held a unique position by being the only automaker to offer a car-based commercial vehicle that was solely offered as a commercial vehicle.
AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand. Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.
Leaf Edges Chevrolet Volt for IVA Win: The 2012 Nissan Leaf comes closest to the ideal of any Alternative Fuel Car. The all-electric Leaf edges out the second place Chevrolet Volt by 4 rating points to win in this class that is getting more and more competitive. Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding. Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive. The one attribute that over 90% of Leaf owners rate as ideal is ease of getting in and out. Eighty-percent or more of Leaf owners find these additional characteristics ideal: exterior size, interior lighting, passenger roominess, wheels, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling, power and acceleration, tires and safety features.
A Few Shortfalls – Some Minor, Some Basic: About 38% of Leaf owners want better driver’s seat visibility. About 32% want more cargo space. About 31% of Leaf owners want more infotainment technology. About 24% of Leaf owners want more daring exterior styling. About 34% want more interior storage compartments.
You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/consumer-s-ideal-cars-revealed-in-2012-iva-awards-112116/
For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact email@example.com and title your email “IVA Results”. A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.
The demise of the personal use pickup has been well documented, what with fuel prices making the urban cowboy think twice about driving a gas swilling truck to get himself (and just himself) to and from the office. And with that, the compact pickup segment has taken a dive as well, since most of those vehicles appealed to the personal use, rather than commercial, user.
Going on sale in July 2012, the new Nissan Altima joins the most competitive car class in the market. Representing the second largest car segment (after small cars), the mid-size car class is critically important to each manufacturer in the class; volume, profits and image are on the line.
It is hard to believe that the AutoPacific 2010 President’s Award Winner, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, is about to be the oldest major competitor in the class. The 2013 Nissan Altima joins the new Toyota Camry (new for the 2012MY) and Chevrolet Malibu (2013 Eco model is on the market now) and awaits the launches of the upcoming 2013 heavyweights – Honda Accord and Ford Fusion in Fall 2012.
First seen at the 2012 New York International Auto Show in April, the Altima drew “WOWs” from the media at its unveiling. The management of some competitors gulped and looked a bit nervous. Most were very complimentary; the new Altima has gone upscale in a big way without adding much to its price tag.
Traditionally, the mid-size car class has been noted for its relatively bland styling. That changed with the launch of the 2011 Sonata in early 2010 where over half of the buyers indicated that exterior styling was extremely important in their selection of the car. Sonata’s swoopy styling broke the mid-size car mold. The 2011 Kia Optima that followed the Sonata is strikingly handsome in its own Euro-Korean way. Toyota stayed very conservative with its new 2012 entry and Honda is rumored to have continued its very conservative streak with the next generation Accord coming this fall. The 2013 Ford Fusion is another game changer in the mold of Sonata and Optima, but even with Fusion’s advanced styling, Altima may have pushed the envelope the farthest. Nissan calls it “Altimaness”.
Without question, one of the most buzzworthy topics surrounding automobiles this year has been plug-in cars. Issues like fuel price instability, dependence on foreign oil (or oil of any sort!), and the environment have stirred the imaginations of many people. Could we really rid ourselves of oil-powered transportation? Could America really free itself of its addiction? At the very end of last year, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf went on sale (retailing at $41,000 and $32,780, respectively, minus a $7,500 Federal tax credit), finally bringing plug-in transportation to the masses and, plug-in fans hope, heralding a new era in automotive history.
There are no bad cars. It’s been years since I’ve seen a really bad car to be sold as new in the USA. Maybe the not lamented Chrysler Sebring came close before it evolved into the Chrysler 200 for 2011. So, as the new V-Platform Nissan Versa is poised to be launched for the 2012 model year as the lowest price new car available in the USA you wonder if a new car priced so low is a bad car? The answer is a resounding no. But with the Versa and new Hyundai Accent arriving almost concurrently on the market it begs brief comparison.
2012 Nissan Versa Sedan
2012 Hyundai Accent Sedan
The fourth generation Nissan Quest launched for the 2011 model year, marking a dramatic departure from the prior model. The last Quest was developed and conceived specifically for North America (and built here too), riding on a version of the Altima sedan’s platform. While a very able minivan, it never truly caught on. Perhaps its was styling, both inside and out, that was too aggressive or avant garde for traditional minivan customers.
With the latest Quest, Nissan stepped away from the traditional American minivan template and moved production back to Japan, commonizing it with the Japanese-market Elgrand people mover, albeit with revised front and rear styling more in line with American tastes.
As the owner of a 2011 Murano, I was very skeptical of the Murano CrossCabriolet and the ability to deliver on the ‘cross’ bit of the name with only two doors and four seats. After a brief test drive in Del Mar, CA, I realized that the word crossover was being redefined right before my very eyes.
Long ago, back in 1991, Nissan launched what many thought of as the spiritual successor to the BMW 2002: the Nissan Sentra SE-R. It was a lightweight and tossable compact car that was inexpensive and an absolute blast to drive. Since then, Nissan has kept the SE-R name alive in subsequent generations of Sentra, but each one has gotten less and less thrilling.
Fast forward to 2011. Around the world, automakers are bringing small and sporty crossovers to the marketplace, addressing younger and more style-conscious consumers’ need for entry level vehicles with space and standout style. Nissan has jumped into the fray with the Juke, a product designed first and foremost for the European market. The U.S., which seems to prefer its crossover products big and bulky, is a secondary market. However, given that today’s younger Americans are expressive, enjoy technology, often accept miniaturized products, and value standout design, Juke has found its way across the pond nonetheless.
Crossovers are all the rage these days. What’s not to like? Car-like handling, decent fuel economy, room for the kids? One trend I’ve noticed in crossovers is the move towards limited visibility. Beltlines have gotten so high that kids have trouble seeing out of the windows and backing up requires an extensive use of all three mirrors and a NASA satellite to see what lurks behind you. And if you don’t have a back-up camera you can pretty much count on hitting something at some point in time. Well, how refreshing the 2011 QX56 was to drive. The QX56 isn’t a car-based crossover. It is Infiniti’s truck-based answer to the Escalade. Based on the Nissan Patrol, which has been a huge sales hit in the Middle East because of its rugged construction and reliability, the QX56 can shuttle you around in the same comforts as a cash-stuffed Saudi oil mogul. With 20 MPG on the highway, you won’t need to personally know a sheik either.