Sporty Juke leads diverse lineup of Nissan vehicles












Hot news for 2011: New electric model called the Leaf will being trickling out in select markets. • If you think the Cube is a little off the wall, just check out the new Juke. • Quest minivan charts its own style course. • mid-cycle updates to Murano. • Rogue facelift takes out some of the roundness. • Silver edition appearance package for Pathfinder’s 25th birthday.

Carryover: 370Z; Altima; Armada; Cube; Frontier; GT-R; Maxima; Pathfinder; Sentra; Titan; Versa; Xterra

Gone: None

Starting line

•  There are few, if any automakers that offer as many models with such diversity as Nissan, from small cars and small sport utility vehicles, to the tarmac-shredding $85,000 GT-R sports car, to a vehicle with the foreboding Armada name. For the 2011 model year, the lineup grows and becomes even more diverse and even a bit quirky. The really big news is Nissan’s first electric car. The Leaf four-door hatchback is big enough to comfortably transport up to five people and/or carry a respectable amount of cargo. The inside is pleasing and the control panel provides some unique operating functions, including connection to a “global data center” that allows drivers to receive assistance that ranges from technical support to entertainment selections. A dash-mounted display shows the level of battery power (or range) remaining and also indicates the location of the closest charging stations. Yet another system can remotely switch on the air conditioning through a cell phone command and a remote-controlled timer can be preset to begin recharging the 192 battery cells located beneath the passenger compartment. The Leaf’s 80-kilowatt electric motor produces the equivalent of 107 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. With the lithium-ion batteries fully charged, the anticipated range is 100 miles. Using a standard 110-volt outlet, a full recharge takes 16 hours, while a 220-volt outlet cuts the time in half (a home charging station is optional). However, quick refills using a special high-voltage charger will restore the batteries to 80 percent of capacity in about 30 minutes. Pricing has been pegged at $32,800 ($25,300 after a federal government rebate, while additional state rebates could lower the net price even further) for well-equipped base SV model. Just as interesting, at least from a “what-is-it?” point of view, is the new Juke small tall wagon with its audaciously shaped fenders that dominate the overall look. The five-passenger cabin confirms the free-form sculpting theme, especially the center console that’s supposed to resemble a motorcycle fuel tank. The compact Juke is nearly two feet shorter than Nissan’s mid-size Rogue, however, the Juke’s generous width provides sufficient shoulder room for adults. The powertrain is comprised of a 188-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual transmission (front-wheel-drive models only), or optional continuously variable (CVT) unit. The available all-wheel-drive splits the torque up to 50 percent between the front and rear wheels when called upon and can also direct available rear-axle torque to the outside wheel in a turn for greater cornering stability. The third vehicle in Nissan’s triumvirate of diversity is the Quest minivan, a vehicle that really thumbs its nose at tradition. The vehicle is not expected to be out until then end of the year, so there are few details, but the high belt line gives the Quest an artificially hunkered-down look, while the conjoined door latches are similar to that of the new Honda Odyssey. As for power, it would make sense that the 3.7-liter V6 (with about 300 horses) would finally make an appearance, ousting the older 3.5. Regardless, expect a very unique and even artful take on the minivan.

370Z: Coupe/convertible; $31,200 (2010, coupe)

Altima: Mid-sized sedan; $20,600

Altima coupe: Mid-sized coupe; $23,600

Armada: Full-size SUV; $39,000

Cube: Subcompact van/wagon $14,750 (2010)

Frontier: Compact pickup; $22,400

GT-R: Two-door coupe; $85,000

Juke: Four-door compact wagon; $19,700

Leaf: Electric four-door hatchback; $32,800

Maxima: Mid-sized sedan; $31,500

Murano: Mid-sized SUV; $28,900

Pathfinder: Mid-sized SUV; $26,600

Quest: Minivan; $29,000 (est.)

Rogue: Compact wagon; $21,600

Sentra: Compact sedan; $16,300

Titan: Full-size pickup; $27,700

Versa: Compact hatchback/sedan; $10,800

Xterra: Mid-sized SUV; $24,600

Nissan is introducing the Juke in 2011, a turbocharged, all-wheel drive, crossover sport utility vehicle that’s sure to get noticed, admired and taken for a spin.

“Nissan didn’t have a small SUV,” said Keven Christensen, sales manager at Fuoco Nissan. “This is for fun. It goes fast and it’s all-wheel drive. It’s going to have its own little niche.”

The Juke has a look that’s immediately recognizable. It’s squat and sturdy, like a rambunctious bulldog that’s ready to rumble. The turbocharged engine delivers a serious boost, with 188-horsepower. The vehicle offers three modes of operation; normal mode offers the best combination of performance and efficiency, Sport mode accentuates steering response, transmission gearing and throttle response and the Eco mode gives the best fuel efficiency.

Juke offers the Nissan Navigation System, a rear view monitor, the Nissan Intelligent Key, Bluetooth hands-free phone system and an available USB port for an iPod or MP3s. Starting at just $18,960; the Juke brings fun to the streets at an affordable price.

“We already have a list of six people who want one,” Christensen said, “without seeing it in person.”

Nissan will be introducing the NV lineup of commercial vehicles in 2011, with a 1500 Series, a 2500 HD Series and a 3500 HD series. The half-ton, three-quarter ton and one-ton models cater to a variety of commercial needs, from the florist who needs a light duty van for deliveries to the contractor who needs to cart tools and equipment across the county.

“There’s not a van like it on the market,” said Christensen. “Nissan’s been working on this for years.”

Some of the anticipated features for the van include an engine that’s been pushed out of the cab, a high roof that allows a man to stand upright anywhere in the back of the vehicle and cargo-maximizing flat-wall design for shelving.

“When we order one, we should be able to deliver faster,” Christensen said, adding that the dealership hasn’t begun taking orders yet. Nissan hopes to have models available for ordering in the first part of 2011 and hasn’t yet released pricing information for the vans.

Although it hasn’t been redesigned, Christensen said sales have been brisk for the Nissan Frontier, Nissan’s compact pick-up truck.

“People have been coming in to look out of curiosity,” he said. Once they see it, many lookers become buyers. “I think it’s coming into its own.”

Nissan is making no significant price increases in 2011 and has interest rates of 0 percent for up to 60 months, with customer cash incentives up to $5,000.

“We have seen an upward trend in 2010,” Christensen said. “Nissan has good lease terms, good rates. It allows someone to buy more car for less money.”

Be sure to keep your eye out for the 2012 Nissan Leaf, Nissan’s 100 percent electric, zero emission car, which already has more than 20,000 reservations, according to the Nissan website.

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