California Autos Examiner

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Nissan future cars and product plans: What is ahead for the brand?

2010 Nissan Rogue

I have already covered the future plans of Toyota, Scion, Honda, Buick, Ford and Lincoln. Now, let's take a look at what is up Nissan's sleeve for the next few years.

Click to view a gallery of current Nissans.

The 2010 Cube is a spunky new entry for Nissan and I was quite impressed with it at the LA Auto Show. To date I have only seen one Cube on the road, but it sure stood out!

The 2010 Nissan 370 is a beautiful, reasonably affordable sports coupe. If your looking for this type of a car, you won't be disappointed. For 2010 the 370Z gains standard heated outside mirrors and in-cabin microfilter and Black Cherry replaces Chican Yellow (pity, I really liked that yellow).

The 2010 Nissan Altima will get refinements for the 2010 model year which will include tweaks to the exterior, interior and option packages. We'll get more info when the refreshed model is launched.

The 2010 Nissan Sentra get a host of changes. The 2.0 S model loses its 6 speed manual, so you'll have to downgrade to the 2.0 or step up to the SE-R to skip the CVT. Stability control ( VDC) is now standard or available on all models. Revised instrument panel with new accent trims and new reddish orange illumination color (changed from orange), chrome accents added to HVAC knobs, new instrument panel coin holder. A new Sentra should show up in 2011 or 2012 for those curious about such things.

The 2010 Nissan Versa, which goes on sale in September, features a number of goodies, including a new grille design, new sport front and rear fascias, body side sills, fog lights and rear spoiler for Versa Hatchback SL models, new wheel treatments and revised interior fabrics and finishers. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is now standard for 1.8 S models, along with standard ABS and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) for 1.8 SL models. The current Versa should be swapped out for a fresh one in 2012.

For 2011 we get a new Quest (covered previously in greater detail) and the all-electric Nissan Leaf. Lots has been written about the Leaf, but many questions remain. How will Nissan handle the cost of the battery pack, will it be a monthly lease? Will the range truly be 100 miles, or only when part of the trip is downhill? Will buyers flock to a "reasonably priced" car that won't go anywhere until it sees an electrical outlet after its charge has run out? Still the Leaf promises to be an interesting car that could move us forward on the road to energy independence. Or, it could flop.

The Maxima was supposed to be getting a diesel engine, but when it comes to diesels everybody seems to be getting cold feet except the Germans. I've thought a lot about the current Maxima and I can't quite wrap my head around it. When I see it coming down the street, it catches my eye, but then I remember that it is FWD and has wicked torque steer. Pity. Opt for the Infiniti G for only a few dollars more, I think you'll be glad that you did or save a few dollars and go with the Altima.

The Nissan Rogue is stand pat with its current configuration and 2010 Nissan Rogue pricing was recently announced.. While I take exception with the grille, overall I like the spunky little crossover quite a bit. Some friends recently considered the Rogue, but opted for a Honda CR-V because the Rogue did not offer a navigation system or backup camera. Nissan has been quite generous with equipment, it it baffles me why it does not offer such features on high end models: This was a profitable sale that the company lost. Could it be a vehicle architecture limitation similar to the one the current Chevrolet Malibu has that prevents in-dash navigation?

After its successor was dumped by Chrysler, the Nissan Titan soldiers on with an uncertain future. Given the murky future for pickup sales in general, I'm beginning to be of the mind that Nissan should simply leave the segment. Between GM, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota it's a real knife fight for every sale and every scrap of profit. Why bother with it? If Nissan's expansion in the commercial truck field is successful, then Nissan might be well advised to leave large pickups alone.

The Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Xterra and Nissan Frontier all soldier on until 2012 without major changes. The next generation Pathfinder will probably merge with the Nissan Patrol to keep development costs down. That's a great move in my opinion as the Patrol is one tough mother of a truck!

The Nissan GT-R and Nissan Murano will likely receive minor tweaks here and there but nothing major for the foreseeable future.

The Nissan Armada will soon be taken out behind the barn and shot. Good riddance!

Source: Information for this report comes from previous reports by this author and information from Automotive News.
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