We’ve had enough of the Nissan/Infiniti tease. At times, Nissan seems close to breaking through with cutting-edge designs and technology, only to fall back to uninspired sales results. Sure, both Nissan and Infiniti boast excellent resale values, largely a reflection of the company’s financial discipline. But there remains something lacking – a buzz, a sexiness, that triggers a wave of excitement among buyers.
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2013 Nissan Sentra: ($14,848 base) There was a time when the Sentra was a true head-to-head rival of Toyota’s Corolla, Honda’s Civic and more. But while Hyundai’s Elantra has shot to the top of the sales charts and the Mazda3 remains there despite aging, the Sentra is nowhere to be found among Canada’s top-selling cars. Nissan hopes to change that with the redesigned Sentra.
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2013 Nissan Sentra: The Sentra might have a crack at the Top 10 with its low stance, headlights with LED accents, and an interesting character line that runs down the length of the car at the side. Even the silver door handles look good. The slick design (drag coefficient of 0.29) helps with fuel economy, too. Meanwhile, the Sentra’s cabin looks and feels refined, and it’s roomy – with more back seat legroom than a Corolla, Civic, Mazda3, Cruze, Focus and Elantra.
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2013 Nissan Sentra: Power comes from a 1.8-litre four-cylinder rated at 130 horsepower. It’s available with a six-speed manual or the fuel-thrifty CVT. Nissan says combined fuel economy comes in at 5.8 litres/100 km, which is best in class.
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2013 Pathfinder ($29,998 base) The big takeaway is that the Pathfinder is a minivan alternative with a strong V-6 engine and three rows of seats – standard. Using the mechanical basics of the Murano SUV, Quest minivan and Infiniti JX SUV, the all-new Pathfinder is being sold in two- and four-wheel drive versions. Pricing tops out at $42,098. This Pathfinder is nothing like its truck-ish predecessor. The car-like construction is relatively light. Handling and fuel economy are a claimed best-in-class at 7.7 litres/100 km, for an increase of more than 25 per cent versus the old Pathfinder. The 260-horsepower 3.5-litre V-6 engine mated to a CVT delivers solid performance.
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2013/2014 Versa hatchback We can look for this subcompact hatch next year. It will complement the current Versa sedan that went on sale in the spring.
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2014 Rogue: This compact crossover wagon competes in a wickedly tough segment of the Canadian market. Already this year, we’ve seen a new Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe, to name three. Honda has also re-done the CR-V for the 2013 model year. To stay competitive, Nissan can be expected to move to a sleeker design while improving fuel economy and performance. (2013 Nissan Rogue pictured)
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2013 Nissan Titan: Nissan had hoped to replace the current Titan with a pickup supplied by Chrysler – a version of the Ram, in other words. That plan was scrapped with Chrysler’s bankruptcy. Now Nissan is expected to introduce a reinvented Titan for the 2014 model year.
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2013 Nissan LEAF: Nissan’s all-electric Leaf is refined and Consumer Reports has found it reliable. But like all EVs, its appeal is limited by range per charge and its nearly $40,000 price tag.
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2013 Nissan GT-R: Automotive News says Nissan’s high-end GT-R sports car “is not dead or scheduled to die.” Nissan apparently plans to keep producing this street-legal race car.
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2013 Nissan Cube: Cube This boxy econocar has been a massive sales disappointment in Canada. Apparently a practical but homely small car has limited appeal here. It may be discontinued.
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2013 Nissan Armada: This big SUV is starting to look the part of an anachronism in this age of fuel-economy-obsessed car companies, customers and regulators. Future: unknown.
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2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe: We can expect to see a new version of the Z as a 2015 model, says Automotive News. Look for Nissan to consider what Suburu and Toyota have done with the BR-Z and Scion FR-S, respectively.
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2013 Nissan Murano: A fuel-thrifty and immensely comfortable crossover, the Murano should be more successful than it is. Nissan devotes little in the way of marketing resources, but that may change with the redesigned version. Look for it in 2014.
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2013 Nissan Maxima: The Maxima is an excellent premium sedan but it’s lost in the marketplace. The styling is balanced, handsome and well-proportioned and the performance is strong. Why doesn’t the Maxima resonate?
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2013 Nissan Frontier: Nissan’s mid-size pickup seems lost in the marketplace. While highly functional and reasonably priced, the Frontier does not perform nearly as well as the rival Toyota Tacoma. Now that Ford has killed the Ranger, there’s an opportunity for Nissan here. Perhaps a 2014 re-skin will help.
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2013 Nissan Xterra: The appeal of hard-core, truck-based SUVs is on the wane, which begs the question: will Nissan keep the Xterra in its lineup? Automotive News says yes. A re-skinned Xterra SUV is scheduled for 2014.
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2013 Nissan JUKE: The Juke is fun, functional and fast in the turbo model. But like others in Nissan’s lineup, it does not fit easily into any particular market segment, thus buyers aren’t really sure what it is. Nissan is sure to keep this one around in Canada, though. Look for significant updates in late 2013.
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Infiniti LE Concept: The Infiniti version of the Leaf all-electric car is coming in 2014.
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Infiniti Etherea Concept: Here we have a hybrid from Europe, a small one expected for 2015.
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Infiniti EMERG-E design sketch: We’ve seen the concept version of this hybrid sports car at auto shows. A real version is coming, though who knows when.
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2012 Infiniti G Coupe: The most important car in Infiniti’s lineup is the G, which competes against BMW’s 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. A reinvented version is expected for 2014.
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2012 Infiniti M: The Infiniti flagship is gorgeous and fast and there’s even a hybrid version. We can expect modest updates in the next year to 18 months.
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2013 Infiniti FX (Vettel Edition pictured): For 2013, the FX37 crossover gets a 3.7-litre V-6, an upgrade over the old 3.5-litre V-6.
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2012 Infiniti EX: The compact crossover also gets the 3.7-litre V-6. It is due for a major update in the next 12-18 months.
Guy Spangenberg/Spangenberg Phot/Nissan
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2013 Infiniti JX: The newest Infiniti is a big crossover with the road manners of a car. Infiniti has high hopes for it.