• Sign in to follow this  
    Followers 0

    First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Sonata


    • Hyundai's Midsize Becomes More Mature


    Let us go back in time to October 2013 and my review of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T. This is how I ended the review,

    “The current Sonata started a revolution in the midsize sedan and the fact it's still selling so well means the next-generation model has a tough act to follow.”

    Well the Korean automaker revealed the next act of the Sonata at the New York Auto Show back in April and it seemed that something was amiss. It was named Sonata, had the Hyundai badges, and was powered by a selection of four-cylinder engines. But it didn’t look like a Sonata. The new model had lost that stylistic edge that the previous one had. Not a good sign considering that most people correlate the Sonata with the Hyundai brand. Was Hyundai going backwards? This past week, I had the chance to check out the 2015 Sonata lineup to see if any of those fears I had were true.

    The 2015 Sonata features Hyundai’s latest design language called Fludic Sculpture 2.0. The new language is an evolution and provides a more mature look for Hyundai’s midsize model. The front end features a wider grille, reshaped headlights, and a new bumper. The side profile features a toned-down version of the coupe roofline and distinctive character line running from the front fender to the rear. Hyundai designers also increased the window space along the side to improve the feeling of interior space. The back has a reshaped trunk lid and taillights. New for this generation is the introduction of a Sport model which adds a more aggressive front grille and bumper; side skirts, eighteen-inch alloys, and quad exhaust pipes.

    I’m not sure toning down the Sonata’s look is a good decision. When the last-generation Sonata debuted, it stood out in the plain and bland midsize class. Now with the new one, it kind of blends in with everyone else. Sure, you can tell there are design cues that come from the previous model and the Sport models does add some aggression. I just think Hyundai is going a little bit backwards here.

    Moving inside, the 2015 Sonata feels much more spacious and high-quality than the last-generation. The waterfall center stack and dual-cockpit front seat layout has been put out to pasture. In its place is a wider center stack which not only improves the feeling of spaciousness, it also improves the control layout. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with the lineup getting soft-touch materials and different trim pieces dependent on the model (Limited: Wood trim, Sport: Aluminum and faux Carbon Fiber). Back-seat passengers will see and feel a noticeable improvement in head and legroom.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 10

    Equipment is generous across the lineup with all Sonatas getting alloy wheels ranging from sixteen to eighteen-inches, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, premium cloth upholstery, and 60/40 split-fold rear seats. For your entrainment needs, the base Sonata gets a standard radio with iPod/USB/AUX inputs, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth. Next up is a five-inch touchscreen radio, followed by an eight-inch touchscreen with the latest version of the automaker’s infotainment system. Coming soon to the Sonata will be Apple CarPlay and Android Car integration.

    On the powertrain front, the 2015 Sonata has three different engines to choose from. The base is the 2.4L Theta II GDI four-cylinder engine. Standard on the SE, Limited, and Sport models, the 2.4 makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque (slightly down from the 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet from the previous model). Next is the turbocharged 2.0L Theta II GDI four-cylinder with (down from 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque). The reason for the decrease in power is due to both engines getting Electronic Intake Continuously Variable Valve Timing (E-CVVT) and the turbo engine getting a smaller turbocharger to improve responsiveness and drivability. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

    New for the 2015 Sonata is the turbocharged 1.6L inline-four which is standard on the new Eco model. The 1.6L makes 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. To get all of the power to the road, Hyundai fitted a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

    The suspension setup is mainly the same with MacPherson struts up front and a multilink system in the rear. Sport models gain aggressively tuned dampers and springs. For steering, Hyundai employs two different steering systems. Most Sonatas use a column-mounted electric power-assist system, while the Sport 2.0T gets a rack-mounted setup which is said to improve responsiveness.

    Alright, enough information about the 2015 Sonata. Time to take it for a spin.

    See The Next Page For Drive Impressions.


    Before I dive into my impressions, I should say I didn’t get the chance to take a spin in the Sonata Eco. I hope to rectify that when I get a Sonata in for review in the coming months.

    First up was the Sonata Limited with the 2.4L engine. The 2.4L gets up to speed quickly when driving in the city limits, but begins to lose some steam as you climb higher in speed. I wasn’t sure if the power band dropped off at a certain point or if the gearing was tuned more for economy. As for the engine itself, it was very refined with minimal NVH levels. The automatic transmission goes about its business without making itself noticed at all. Ride quality is improved with a smooth ride and making imperfections seem like they don’t exist. Body monitions are kept in check when taken around corners. Steering is somewhat numb, but provides good weight. In other words, its pretty much par for the course in the midsize sedan class.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 8

    Then I hopped into the Sonata Sport 2.0T. The 2.0T in the 2015 Sonata doesn’t quite feel as fast as the one in 2013 Sonata I drove last year. What has been improved is acceleration when leaving a stop. In the old Sonata, it felt like the turbocharger took a few seconds to spool up before delivering that punch. In the 2015 model with the smaller turbocharger, the response is improved and makes it feel a bit more punchy. Like in the standard Sonata, the automatic transmission does a fine job without bringing any attention to itself. Ride and handling is pretty much the same as the standard model which is surprising considering this is the Sport model. Steering oddly feels the same as the standard Sonata, despite a different steering system. Something tells me that I need to spend some more time with the Sport to see if there is really a difference,

    As for pricing, the 2015 Sonata lineup starts at $21,150 for the base SE model. Compared to the outgoing Sonata, the new model costs about $300 less. But don’t expect the removal of features. The base SE gets such items as LED daytime running lights, a driver knee airbag, blind spot mirror for the driver, and a rear lip spoiler as standard equipment. From there, the Sonata lineup climbs to $33,525 for the Sport 2.0T with the Ultimate Package.

    While the 2015 Hyundai Sonata has lost some of the edginess that made the previous-generation a standout in the midsize class, the 2015 model shows that Hyundai wants to move up and provide a vehicle that is seemingly well-rounded. The 2015 Sonata should be able to do something that the last-generation model started, bringing more buyers into Hyundai showrooms.

    Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Refreshments, and Lunch For This First Drive Event

    Year: 2015

    Make: Hyundai

    Model: Sonata

    Engines:

    • 2.4L DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (SE, Sport, Limited)
    • 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (Sport 2.0T)
    • 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (Eco)

    Driveline:

    • Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic (2.4 and 2.0T)
    • Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic (Eco)

    Horsepower @ RPM:

    • 185 @ 6,000 (2.4)
    • 245 @ 6,000 (2.0T)
    • 177 @ 5,500 (Eco)

    Torque @ RPM:

    • 178 @ 4,000 (2.4)
    • 260 @ 1,350 – 4,000 (2.0T)
    • 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 (Eco)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined

    • 25/37/29 (SE 2.4)
    • 24/35/28 (Sport and Limited 2.4)
    • 23/32/26 (Sport 2.0T)
    • 28/38/32 (Eco)

    Curb Weight:

    • 3,252 – 3,466 lbs (Models equipped with the 2.4)
    • 3,505 – 3,616 lbs (Sport 2.0T)
    • 3,270 – 3,298 lbs (Eco)

    Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama

    Pricing:

    • SE: $21,960 - $23,160
    • Sport: $23,985 - $27,435
    • Eco: $24,085 - $28,185
    • Limited: $27,335 - $32,385
    • Sport 2.0T: $29,385 - $34,355

    (Note: All prices include $810 destination charge.)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

    0


      Report Article
    Sign in to follow this  
    Followers 0


    User Feedback


    FAILURE, That is my initial response to seeing this car. They blanded it up on the design front and so nothing to catch my eye and say wow that stands out compared to Camry. Inside might have nicer materials, but WOW, BLAND UGLY!

     

    Again, the inside and outside both screamed Camry Bland. I have to say that with the engine changes and this blandness to blend in this car will sell to the Hyundia repeat customer, but they have failed for conquest customers.

     

    Nice write up, informed me enough and showed why this car will not surpass the ugly bland Camry.

    -2

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    nice impression.

     

    My review is in the reader review in the forums.  This car did nothing for me.  Its mid to bottom of pack.  I'd tell anyone to skip over this turd.  I didn't drive the turbo though.  This weekend I am going to try to get into a 15 Legacy, they are on the lots now.  If i wanted a Hyundai I would skip to the Azera, which Hyundai is considering killing in the US market.  If i were them, i would push the snot out of them now, but incentivize them heavily.  

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    So, basically Hyundai decided to make it just another conservative midsize car. The car is not for enthusiasts but, it will do just fine in Middle America. 

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    For family sedans, it's all about form following function and pricing.  Bland has not held back the market leaders in this segment. If the new roofline improves room in back and the feeling of spaciousness, it's a good move.  I like the cleaned up front end more than the last one.  The Kia Optima is supposed to be redone for 2016, and it will probably remain the more stylish, sportier offering.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Optima would have already been my choice over the Sonata.  This redo just confirms it for me.  Hopefully they don't kill the looks of the Optima for its refresh.  I'd take a Mazda6 or 200 over either of them but I prefer not to drive what everybody else is driving (says the guy with the Cruze).

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    This may be Hyundai's "new Malibu". The last gen made such a mark, and so popular, with looks and numbers to match, but not perfect...then the new one comes out and is more refined under the skin, but looks and has retrograde touches.

     

    Will not be as big of an "uh oh" hit as the 2013+ Malibu, because it is a Hyundai, but interesting to see. Bland and drab mixed with "eh" Hyundai driving dynamics won't win as many fans, as easily.

    1

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    This may be Hyundai's "new Malibu". The last gen made such a mark, and so popular, with looks and numbers to match, but not perfect...then the new one comes out and is more refined under the skin, but looks and has retrograde touches.

     

    Will not be as big of an "uh oh" hit as the 2013+ Malibu, because it is a Hyundai, but interesting to see. Bland and drab mixed with "eh" Hyundai driving dynamics won't win as many fans, as easily.

     

     

    Pardon me while I slip into negative mode.  I really do not mean to sound negative.  But Americans have been addicted to mediocrity so long this thing ought to be winning the sales staff record bonuses on the sales floor. 

    Edited by A Horse With No Name
    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Blander styling aside this is one very nice driving car that is improved in most ways. My close friend just purchased a new 2015 red Limited with tan leather and the 185 Hp 2.4. It is a solid improvement in most ways to the previous model starting with NVH which are all improved noticeably. The 2.4 is more polished and the reduction of 5 Hp is not at all noticed in the 0-60 dash which takes 7.8 seconds and if anything this improved engine feels a touch more responsive than before. Real world mileage is also better. Rated for 24/35 this car actually easily achieves it's 35 highway rating and we have seen 36-36.5 many times on the open road going 75 MPH! The interior see's more rear seat legroom and interior ambiance and quality are much better than the dull monotone look of the 2011-2014 models. The dash and layout are also much improved. You also get a ton of equipment for the coin unlike in a Camry LE or SE and the radio, touch screen and bluetooth paring are far superior compared to the rental Camry SE 2014.5 we had several months back. We just wish they didn't tone down the exterior as much but if the 2015 mediocre Camry is anything to go by this car should win against it in most ways.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Liked the looks of the last one better....

     

     

    Have to drive it to see if they softened it a bit though.....I did like the handling of the old one!

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I really wish some one could point to marketing that says these bland boring lemming cars sell because of  X, Y and Z reasons. I just do not see why someone would want to buy such a boring auto.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I really wish some one could point to marketing that says these bland boring lemming cars sell because of  X, Y and Z reasons. I just do not see why someone would want to buy such a boring auto.

    99% of drivers just want something cheap, economical and reliable..they don't care about styling.   

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

    I really wish some one could point to marketing that says these bland boring lemming cars sell because of  X, Y and Z reasons. I just do not see why someone would want to buy such a boring auto.

    99% of drivers just want something cheap, economical and reliable..they don't care about styling.   

     

     

    Definition of a Lemming. So Sad So Bad.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

     

    I really wish some one could point to marketing that says these bland boring lemming cars sell because of  X, Y and Z reasons. I just do not see why someone would want to buy such a boring auto.

    99% of drivers just want something cheap, economical and reliable..they don't care about styling.   

     

     

    Definition of a Lemming. So Sad So Bad.

     

    Just because someone doesn't care about cars doesn't mean that their a mindless lemming, it just means they have different priorities in life.

    3

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Almost all mid-size sedans are boring-looking.  I like the new Sonata exterior styling better than the slightly overdone last model.  The interior looks exceptionally dull, but I have yet to sit in one.

    2

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Almost all mid-size sedans are boring-looking.  I like the new Sonata exterior styling better than the slightly overdone last model.  The interior looks exceptionally dull, but I have yet to sit in one.

     

    Its a little boring, but I found it to be easier to understand when looking for a control and nicely built.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

    Guest
    You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
    Add a comment...

    ×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    Loading...



  • Popular Stories

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. BowTieFarmer
      BowTieFarmer
      (57 years old)
    2. will75
      will75
      (41 years old)
  • Similar Content

    • By William Maley
      Hyundai Motor America Reports August Sales

      FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Sept. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Riding the wave of hot CUV sales, Hyundai Motor America delivered its best August ever with sales up fractionally over one year ago while the company's luxury division kicked off sales of its new Genesis G80 mid-luxury sedan.
      Hyundai Division posts sales of 70,518 units
      "Strong performances by our family of CUVs led us to our best August ever," said Derrick Hatami, vice president of national sales for Hyundai Motor America.  "It's a similar story to the past couple of months we see continuing as the summer draws to a close."
      Santa Fe (up 69 percent), Santa Fe Sport (up 21 percent), and Tucson (up 15 percent) led the way.
      Genesis Division posts sales of 1,497 units
      For the first time, the company is reporting sales of the new Genesis luxury brand. As such, sales of the G80 mid-luxury sedan and, shortly, the all-new G90 luxury sedan, will be reported individually. "It's exciting to see our first G80s being delivered to customers and we're very happy with the reception it's receiving," said Erwin Raphael, general manager of Genesis in the U.S. market. "And I expect we'll see the first G90s getting to our dealers later this month, another milestone moment for our nascent brand."
      SALES BY BRAND
        AUG/2016
      AUG/2015
      CY/2016
      CY/2015
      HYUNDAI    
      70,518
      72,012
      519,581
      514,175
      GENESIS
      1,497
      0
      1,497
      0
      TOTAL
      72,015
      72,012
      521,078
      514,175
      MODELS
      CARLINE
      AUG/2016
      AUG/2015
      CY/2016
      CY/2015
      ACCENT      
      8,329
      4,733
      54,705
      44,985
      SONATA
      14,888
      21,818
      139,932
      141,556
      ELANTRA   
      20,733
      22,405
      137,668
      173,238
      SANTA FE
      15,176
      11,255
      86,948
      77,648
      AZERA
      398
      291
      3,356
      4,358
      TUCSON
      7,608
      6,609
      58,000
      33,151
      VELOSTER
      1,986
      2,276
      16,917
      15,537
      GENESIS
      1,317
      2,440
      20,818
      22,184
      EQUUS
      83
      185
      1,237
      1,518
      G80
      1,497
      0
      1,497
      0
    • By William Maley
      Last week, I spent the morning with Nissan to check out the redesigned Armada SUV, refreshed Pathfinder crossover, and the all-new Titan half-ton pickup. Nissan says this year is the year of the truck. Considering last year was the year of the sedan and the mixed reaction we had to it, we’re somewhat worried how this ‘year of the truck’ would land.
      A brief note before we dive into our impressions of the three vehicles. I only got about 30 minutes with each vehicle, so I can’t give you a definitive opinion. What I can do is give my first thoughts on them. Let’s dive in.
      2017 Nissan Pathfinder
      Nissan worked on making the 2017 Pathfinder look a bit more SUV-like. The front end gets a new hood and bumper to make it look somewhat wider. Around back, the tailgate and taillights have been reshaped. Here is the thing, you’ll have to look closely to spot the changes. If you were to park a 2016 and 2017 Pathfinder next to each other and ask someone to point out the differences, the only thing they would likely spot is the new grille. The Pathfinder’s interior hasn’t changed much and that isn’t a bad thing. Materials used in the Platinum are for the most part very good for the class. There is plenty of soft-touch materials on the door panels and console.  But Nissan loses some points for the materials used for the dashboard and the surround for center stack. It might look like something soft. But it is hard when pressed. This would be ok if it was the SL and lower trims, not in the top Platinum trim. The center stack is very easy to understand thanks to a simple layout and the use of buttons and knobs. Glad to see Nissan has added their latest version of NissanConnect to the Pathfinder. I really liked this system when I drove the Murano and Maxima last year with a modern interface and being very easy to use. Second-row seating is towards the top of the class with a large amount of head and legroom. Also, the second-row seat is very flexible. The seat can tip forward to allow for easy access to the third row. If you’re wondering, the third row is best reserved for small kids. The 3.5L V6 has been tweaked to produce 284 horsepower (up 24) and 259 pound-feet of torque (up 19). The improvements in power do make a big difference. Compared to the last Pathfinder I drove back in 2013, the updated V6 feels a bit more energetic to get up to speed. Although, the V6 does sound somewhat unrefined when you step on it. Nissan made some changes to the chassis to improve body control and ride. Such changes include revised spring rates, stiffer shocks, and improved steering system. The changes make the Pathfinder feel more stable on stable on the road, especially in corners. At the event, Nissan announced pricing for the 2017 Pathfinder. The base S two-wheel drive begins at $30,890 and climbs to $44,460 for the Platinum 4WD. (Prices include a $900 destination charge) Nissan has made some noticeable improvements for the Pathfinder. But even with these improvements, I can’t think of a reason of why I would pick the Pathfinder over the Kia Sorento, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9. The Pathfinder is good, but competitors at the moment do it better. 2017 Nissan Armada
      There isn’t really much difference between the new Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX80 aside from different front ends. Both are very polarizing in terms of their overall looks, but I would say the Armada is slightly more tasteful. The interior is a huge improvement over the old Armada. A new dashboard, noticeable improvements in terms of materials, and bits of style strewed about make for a pleasant experience. Yes, there are a fair amount of interior bits from the QX80 in the Armada’s interior, but it doesn’t feel out of place. Most Armadas will feature seating for eight people. The Platinum which was the model I drove features seating for seven (captain chairs in the second row). Sitting in the second row is quite comfortable with a large amount of head and legroom. The Platinum’s second row also features a removable center console that adds more storage. The third-row seat is best left for small kids. Adults will complain that they don’t have any legroom. The standard equipment list is quite generous with all models featuring push-button start, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and navigation.  Speaking about the navigation, I think Nissan made a massive oversight. Unlike the Pathfinder which boasts the latest generation of Nissan Connect, the Armada features a system from the late-oughts. The graphics look quite dated and it doesn’t feature any of Nissan’s latest technologies such as the NissanConnect telematic services. Power comes from a new 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The V8 has more than enough grunt to leave a stop light in decent time and makes a passing a breeze. It doesn’t hurt the V8 has a nice growl during acceleration. The automatic seems quite smart with shift points and gear changes are very smooth. One item we’ll be looking at closely whenever we get in an Armada for testing is fuel economy. The Armada Platinum AWD is rated at 13 City/18 Highway/15 Combined. The last Armada we drove in 2014 only got an average of 12 mpg. The ride is very pleasant with bumps being smothered. This is impressive when you consider the Platinum is riding on 20-inch wheels. Nissan also worked on the Armada very quiet. On the freeway, barely any wind noise came in. Some road noise made its way inside, but that is likely due to the large wheels. Somewhat surprising is how the Armada felt in the corners. There was little body roll which is impressive for a seven-seat SUV. Not so impressive is the steering; it feels quite light when turning and there isn’t any feel.  The Armada starts at $45,395 for the base SV 2WD and climbs to $60,985 for the Platinum AWD Think of the 2017 Nissan Armada as an Infiniti QX80 with a significant price cut. There are a lot of improvements for this SUV that might make it an interesting alternative to the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition. 2017 Nissan Titan
      Finally! Nissan has brought out the half-ton Titan. There isn’t any difference in terms of looks between the standard Titan and the Titan XD. The only real difference comes in size: Titan is about 14.7 inches shorter in terms of overall length and its wheelbase is about a foot shorter. Still looks like an older F-150 to me in the front. Everywhere else, the Titan does have some unique touches such black and silver wheels for the Pro-4X, and a large chrome bar on the tailgate of the top Platinum Reserve. The Titan will be offered in regular and king (Nissan-speak for extended) cabs. Sadly, Nissan didn’t have a regular cab Titan to look at in person. The interior might not be anything special in terms of looks, but build and material quality are excellent. Dash layout is a bit button-heavy, but most controls are arranged in a logical fashion. All Titans feature a touchscreen infotainment system, either 5 or 7-inches. The trucks available for us to drive came with a larger 7-inch screen. I’m not a fan of the NissanConnect system used in the Titan and Titan XD for a number of reasons: the interface is looking somewhat old despite being one of the newer systems on the market and having issues with devices plugged in via USB. One area that the Titan shares with the XD is comfort. The front bucket seats provide excellent levels of comfort and support. The backseat is quite spacious with plenty of head and legroom for most passengers.  A storage bin under the back seats provides a handy space for storing tool and other random bits. A clever trick that the bins offer is the ability for the lid to flip out and provide a flat surface for carrying large items in the back. Powering the Titan for the time-being is a 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. A V6 is coming, but Nissan isn’t talking details about it at the moment. The V8 moves the Titan with authority, although it takes a moment for the throttle to realize that your foot is on the gas before anything happens. Provides a nice growl during acceleration and doesn’t show any signs of harshness. The seven-speed automatic provides smooth gear changes, although it does take its sweet time to downshift in certain maneuvers such as passing. During the short drive loop, the Titan provided a smooth and relaxing ride. One area that Nissan might want to do some more work is in noise isolation. I found a fair amount of road noise coming into the cabin. Handling is quite surprising for a truck. The Titan felt planted around corners and showed no sign of body roll. Steering is where the Titan really shined as it felt connected to the road and had the right amount of heft. This is due to Nissan using a rack-and-pinion setup, not a recirculating ball steering system in the XD. Pricing for the Titan starts at $35,975 for the base S 2WD Crew to $56,595 for the Platinum Reserve 4WD. Prices for the crew cabs are on the high side and that is making us wonder how much the regular and king cabs will start at. Nissan is making progress with the 2017 Titan in a number of key areas. But we have to wonder if the slow rollout that Nissan is doing with the Titan is actually hurting them. Consider that when other truck manufacturers launch a pickup, they have a number of cab and bed variants ready to go, along with a range of engines. The Titan only has one cab, bed, and engine at the moment. The regular cab goes on sale this fall, but the King Cab and V6 aren’t due till later. This could put Nissan and the Titan in a difficult spot. Author's Note: Cheers & Gears would like to thank Nissan for inviting us to this first drive event. 

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Last week, I spent the morning with Nissan to check out the redesigned Armada SUV, refreshed Pathfinder crossover, and the all-new Titan half-ton pickup. Nissan says this year is the year of the truck. Considering last year was the year of the sedan and the mixed reaction we had to it, we’re somewhat worried how this ‘year of the truck’ would land.
      A brief note before we dive into our impressions of the three vehicles. I only got about 30 minutes with each vehicle, so I can’t give you a definitive opinion. What I can do is give my first thoughts on them. Let’s dive in.
      2017 Nissan Pathfinder
      Nissan worked on making the 2017 Pathfinder look a bit more SUV-like. The front end gets a new hood and bumper to make it look somewhat wider. Around back, the tailgate and taillights have been reshaped. Here is the thing, you’ll have to look closely to spot the changes. If you were to park a 2016 and 2017 Pathfinder next to each other and ask someone to point out the differences, the only thing they would likely spot is the new grille. The Pathfinder’s interior hasn’t changed much and that isn’t a bad thing. Materials used in the Platinum are for the most part very good for the class. There is plenty of soft-touch materials on the door panels and console.  But Nissan loses some points for the materials used for the dashboard and the surround for center stack. It might look like something soft. But it is hard when pressed. This would be ok if it was the SL and lower trims, not in the top Platinum trim. The center stack is very easy to understand thanks to a simple layout and the use of buttons and knobs. Glad to see Nissan has added their latest version of NissanConnect to the Pathfinder. I really liked this system when I drove the Murano and Maxima last year with a modern interface and being very easy to use. Second-row seating is towards the top of the class with a large amount of head and legroom. Also, the second-row seat is very flexible. The seat can tip forward to allow for easy access to the third row. If you’re wondering, the third row is best reserved for small kids. The 3.5L V6 has been tweaked to produce 284 horsepower (up 24) and 259 pound-feet of torque (up 19). The improvements in power do make a big difference. Compared to the last Pathfinder I drove back in 2013, the updated V6 feels a bit more energetic to get up to speed. Although, the V6 does sound somewhat unrefined when you step on it. Nissan made some changes to the chassis to improve body control and ride. Such changes include revised spring rates, stiffer shocks, and improved steering system. The changes make the Pathfinder feel more stable on stable on the road, especially in corners. At the event, Nissan announced pricing for the 2017 Pathfinder. The base S two-wheel drive begins at $30,890 and climbs to $44,460 for the Platinum 4WD. (Prices include a $900 destination charge) Nissan has made some noticeable improvements for the Pathfinder. But even with these improvements, I can’t think of a reason of why I would pick the Pathfinder over the Kia Sorento, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9. The Pathfinder is good, but competitors at the moment do it better. 2017 Nissan Armada
      There isn’t really much difference between the new Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX80 aside from different front ends. Both are very polarizing in terms of their overall looks, but I would say the Armada is slightly more tasteful. The interior is a huge improvement over the old Armada. A new dashboard, noticeable improvements in terms of materials, and bits of style strewed about make for a pleasant experience. Yes, there are a fair amount of interior bits from the QX80 in the Armada’s interior, but it doesn’t feel out of place. Most Armadas will feature seating for eight people. The Platinum which was the model I drove features seating for seven (captain chairs in the second row). Sitting in the second row is quite comfortable with a large amount of head and legroom. The Platinum’s second row also features a removable center console that adds more storage. The third-row seat is best left for small kids. Adults will complain that they don’t have any legroom. The standard equipment list is quite generous with all models featuring push-button start, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and navigation.  Speaking about the navigation, I think Nissan made a massive oversight. Unlike the Pathfinder which boasts the latest generation of Nissan Connect, the Armada features a system from the late-oughts. The graphics look quite dated and it doesn’t feature any of Nissan’s latest technologies such as the NissanConnect telematic services. Power comes from a new 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The V8 has more than enough grunt to leave a stop light in decent time and makes a passing a breeze. It doesn’t hurt the V8 has a nice growl during acceleration. The automatic seems quite smart with shift points and gear changes are very smooth. One item we’ll be looking at closely whenever we get in an Armada for testing is fuel economy. The Armada Platinum AWD is rated at 13 City/18 Highway/15 Combined. The last Armada we drove in 2014 only got an average of 12 mpg. The ride is very pleasant with bumps being smothered. This is impressive when you consider the Platinum is riding on 20-inch wheels. Nissan also worked on the Armada very quiet. On the freeway, barely any wind noise came in. Some road noise made its way inside, but that is likely due to the large wheels. Somewhat surprising is how the Armada felt in the corners. There was little body roll which is impressive for a seven-seat SUV. Not so impressive is the steering; it feels quite light when turning and there isn’t any feel.  The Armada starts at $45,395 for the base SV 2WD and climbs to $60,985 for the Platinum AWD Think of the 2017 Nissan Armada as an Infiniti QX80 with a significant price cut. There are a lot of improvements for this SUV that might make it an interesting alternative to the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition. 2017 Nissan Titan
      Finally! Nissan has brought out the half-ton Titan. There isn’t any difference in terms of looks between the standard Titan and the Titan XD. The only real difference comes in size: Titan is about 14.7 inches shorter in terms of overall length and its wheelbase is about a foot shorter. Still looks like an older F-150 to me in the front. Everywhere else, the Titan does have some unique touches such black and silver wheels for the Pro-4X, and a large chrome bar on the tailgate of the top Platinum Reserve. The Titan will be offered in regular and king (Nissan-speak for extended) cabs. Sadly, Nissan didn’t have a regular cab Titan to look at in person. The interior might not be anything special in terms of looks, but build and material quality are excellent. Dash layout is a bit button-heavy, but most controls are arranged in a logical fashion. All Titans feature a touchscreen infotainment system, either 5 or 7-inches. The trucks available for us to drive came with a larger 7-inch screen. I’m not a fan of the NissanConnect system used in the Titan and Titan XD for a number of reasons: the interface is looking somewhat old despite being one of the newer systems on the market and having issues with devices plugged in via USB. One area that the Titan shares with the XD is comfort. The front bucket seats provide excellent levels of comfort and support. The backseat is quite spacious with plenty of head and legroom for most passengers.  A storage bin under the back seats provides a handy space for storing tool and other random bits. A clever trick that the bins offer is the ability for the lid to flip out and provide a flat surface for carrying large items in the back. Powering the Titan for the time-being is a 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. A V6 is coming, but Nissan isn’t talking details about it at the moment. The V8 moves the Titan with authority, although it takes a moment for the throttle to realize that your foot is on the gas before anything happens. Provides a nice growl during acceleration and doesn’t show any signs of harshness. The seven-speed automatic provides smooth gear changes, although it does take its sweet time to downshift in certain maneuvers such as passing. During the short drive loop, the Titan provided a smooth and relaxing ride. One area that Nissan might want to do some more work is in noise isolation. I found a fair amount of road noise coming into the cabin. Handling is quite surprising for a truck. The Titan felt planted around corners and showed no sign of body roll. Steering is where the Titan really shined as it felt connected to the road and had the right amount of heft. This is due to Nissan using a rack-and-pinion setup, not a recirculating ball steering system in the XD. Pricing for the Titan starts at $35,975 for the base S 2WD Crew to $56,595 for the Platinum Reserve 4WD. Prices for the crew cabs are on the high side and that is making us wonder how much the regular and king cabs will start at. Nissan is making progress with the 2017 Titan in a number of key areas. But we have to wonder if the slow rollout that Nissan is doing with the Titan is actually hurting them. Consider that when other truck manufacturers launch a pickup, they have a number of cab and bed variants ready to go, along with a range of engines. The Titan only has one cab, bed, and engine at the moment. The regular cab goes on sale this fall, but the King Cab and V6 aren’t due till later. This could put Nissan and the Titan in a difficult spot. Author's Note: Cheers & Gears would like to thank Nissan for inviting us to this first drive event. 
    • By William Maley
      The Hyundai Santa Cruz has been a source of wonder - will they put into production or not? For the longest time, Hyundai's U.S. office say they wanted to do it, but it was the home office that had to make the final call. It seems we have a final decision.
       
      “We have made the decision. We have not made the announcement,” said Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America to Motor Trend.
       
      That decision is a yes.
       
      Zuchowski said they are busy at work on a production version. The Santa Cruz's design went in for a review earlier this month and they are close to finalizing it. The production model is expected to use the same platform as the Tucson and could use either a gas or diesel engine. Hyundai is working on a new four-cylinder diesel for the Genesis brand in Europe. Zuchowski said the diesel is possible for both the Santa Cruze and Santa Fe.
       
      But can Hyundai succeed with a car-based pickup? Subaru failed with the Baja from mid-2000s, while Honda is giving it another try with the second-generation Ridgeline. Zuchowski believes they can if they execute it and price it right.
       
      Motor Trend says to expect the Santa Cruz in 2018 as a 2019 model.
       
      Source: Motor Trend


      Click here to view the article
    • By William Maley
      The Hyundai Santa Cruz has been a source of wonder - will they put into production or not? For the longest time, Hyundai's U.S. office say they wanted to do it, but it was the home office that had to make the final call. It seems we have a final decision.
       
      “We have made the decision. We have not made the announcement,” said Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America to Motor Trend.
       
      That decision is a yes.
       
      Zuchowski said they are busy at work on a production version. The Santa Cruz's design went in for a review earlier this month and they are close to finalizing it. The production model is expected to use the same platform as the Tucson and could use either a gas or diesel engine. Hyundai is working on a new four-cylinder diesel for the Genesis brand in Europe. Zuchowski said the diesel is possible for both the Santa Cruze and Santa Fe.
       
      But can Hyundai succeed with a car-based pickup? Subaru failed with the Baja from mid-2000s, while Honda is giving it another try with the second-generation Ridgeline. Zuchowski believes they can if they execute it and price it right.
       
      Motor Trend says to expect the Santa Cruz in 2018 as a 2019 model.
       
      Source: Motor Trend
  • Recent Status Updates

  • Who's Online (See full list)