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Auto blogTue, 15 Jul 2014 09:30:00 EST
Among automotive enthusiasts, no one seems to hold a neutral opinion when it comes to continuously variable transmissions. CVTs are either praised for their ability to boost fuel economy or chided for their occasionally poor driving dynamics. Nissan is among the masters of these un-shifting gearboxes in the US, and it uses them in many vehicles in its lineup. However, for the 2015 model year, several models are getting a software update to make their CVTs a bit more like a conventional automatic.
To give drivers the option of feeling gearshifts while on the road, Nissan is adding its D-Step Shift Logic feature to the CVTs in multiple vehicles. Steve Powers, Nissan's senior manager of powertrain performance, told Autoblog the system forces the transmission to "hold a ratio and then shift" to simulate the way that a traditional automatic would. It's simply a change in software, but the company "can't do it to older CVTs," he said, because it would require changes to transmission logic, as well. According to Automotive News, the upgrade is coming to the 2015 Versa, Versa Note (pictured above), Sentra, V6-equipped Altima, Pathfinder and Quest. "We're rolling it out to all programs," said Powers.
Interestingly, buyer perception appears to be pushing the upgrade. John Curl, a Nissan North America regional product manager, told Automotive News that the decision to add the tech partially comes because some owners are bothered that the CVTs aren't changing gears. According to Powers, D-Step "avoids the rubber band feel," that many drivers didn't like. The different sensation of these transmissions seems like something consumers would notice during the test drive, or that the salesperson would inform them about. The same issue cropped up last year when the company was facing customer satisfaction problems among new buyers customers' unfamiliarity with the gearboxes.
Not much has changed with the Nissan Titan in the decade that it's been on the market, but the 2015 model year could move the needle enough to turn the truck from an "also ran" in the fullsize truck market to more of a contender. Edmunds had the chance to sit down with Pierre Loing, vice president of product and advanced planning and strategy for Nissan North America, who indicated that not only will a new truck be coming for 2015, it is also expected to take a bigger chunk of the truck market currently dominated by Ford and General Motors.
For starters, the article quotes Loing saying that the next-gen Titan could sell 100,000 units, which is almost five times the number of Titans and the same number of Toyota Tundra trucks sold last year. To accomplish this, Nissan is planning to offer a wider number of models (including a regular cab version) and more powertrain options; we're sure this means Nissan is considering offering a V6. The addition of a regular-cab, V6 Titan would also allow this truck to be more competitively priced.
Will that be enough to attract buyers away from the Big Three domestic trucks? We'll just have to wait and see...
Your eyes do not deceive you - that is, in fact, a Nissan NV200 work van with Chevrolet badging. General Motors and Nissan today announced a partnership where the Japanese automaker will build Bowtie-badged vans for Chevy dealers to sell throughout the United States and Canada. The new van, called the City Express, is expected to go on sale in the fall of 2014.
"Our fleet customers have asked us for an entry in the commercial small van segment, so this addition to the Chevrolet portfolio will strengthen our position with fleets and our commercial customers," Ed Peper, US vice president of GM fleet and commercial sales, said in a press release.
No details have been released regarding specific changes for the new City Express, though from the images released today, it's clear that the vehicle's front fascia has been reworked, and some super-sexy new wheel covers have been added. If we're honest, the NV200 wasn't all that pretty to begin with, and this, well, isn't any better. Not that looks are of primary concern in the commercial truck business, of course.