Nissan Ultimate Lineup

We’ve gone a few months with out an Ultimate Lineup post, but today I’ll be fixing that.  Nissan currently has somewhere between 13 and 16 vehicles in it’s lineup, depending on where you draw the lines.  Either way, it’s an awfully big lineup and could use a closer look.  That’s where I come in – wielding a big machete.  I’m ruthless and uncaring – but I will trim down this too-large lineup of cars.  When I’m done, the result will be a slim, trim lineup of cars that make sense.  Enough chatter – let’s see the ones that make the cut:

Versa Hatchback – Sure, it’s ugly.  In fact, it’s extremely ugly.  But once you get past the ugliness, you find a reasonably priced, fuel-efficient subcompact with a best-in-class interior.  The seats are comfortable, and the materials are high quality.  The hatch area is small, but with folding seats there is room for plenty. 

The combination of all that makes Versa a good buy, and a smart vehicle to have in the Nissan Ultimate Lineup.

Sentra – Though it’s far from a class leader, it’s hard for me to give the Sentra the boot.  It’s decently attractive and has plenty of equipment for the price.  The blind spots are horrific though, and something that needs to be addressed in the next redesign.  Overall the Sentra compares well to the vehicles in it’s class, and is a good step up from the Versa.

Altima – This is Nissan’s bread and butter, as well as one of the best midsize sedans on the road.  Of course it stays.  In fact, if Nissan can find a way to make all of their models a little more like the Altima in spirit, if not in design, then they will be near unstoppable. 

Why the Altima still gets more horsepower than the Maxima, I’ll never know.  But more power for less money is a winning combination any day in my book.

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe code redAltima Coupe – The 2 door Altima is new, but seems to be holding it’s own.  Nissan is wisely controlling production to avoid creating an inventory glut. 

The limited production may prove key to maintaining the Altima Coupe’s desirability.  After all, people always want what they can’t get.

Altima Hybrid – Nissan needs to bring this vehicle to the entire US market.  Coupling Toyota’s fantastic HSD with the Altima style is brilliant.

I fully believe that Nissan could outsell the Camry Hybrid if only the Altima Hybrid were widely available.  It’s that good. Maxima – The Maxima is thoroughly outclassed by its younger brother, the Altima, and undercut on price.  I would vote to axe the Max, but an all-new one is due out mid 2008.  I’ve seen some pics, and it looks fantastic.

Fortunately the 2009 model is due out in summer of 2008, so we don’t have to wait very long.  If the wait was longer, I would reconsider losing the Maxima.

2008-nissan-350z-nismo 350Z – A redesign and a $2k price cut would do the Z a lot of good.  As it sits though, the Z remains a decently hot seller, and belongs on the Nissan dealers’ lots.

The price of a loaded-out 350Z comes so close to a G37 coupe that it often doesn’t make sense.  Losing a couple grand off the sticker would do wonders for that difference, and would keep some buyers on Nissan lots rather than Infiniti’s.

xterra Xterra – The Xterra is much larger than the original, and that’s not necessarily a good thing in today’s market.  Currently it sells pretty well, but the gas mileage is atrocious and sales are started to dip. 

Nissan should either redesign the Xterra much smaller – think Wrangler, or else let it run it’s course and then axe it.  As far as cutting it today, I can’t recommend it.

2008 Nissan ArmadaArmada – It’s huge, and it’s fuel consumption should probably be measured in gallons per mile rather than miles per gallon.  It’s also one of the best full-size SUV’s on the road today.  Even at it’s ( somewhat inflated ) price, the Armada makes sense. 

Advertising a full-size SUV can be tricky in today’s market, but carefully done, Nissan could win over quite a few domestic buyers.

2008-nissan-rogueRogue – The newest Nissan is a smash hit, and has a very bright future.  Great gas mileage, great looks, tons of great features, and room for plenty of people and gear are each good by themselves.  Add them together, as the Rogue does quite well, and you have a winner on your hands.

The mini CUV market is booming, and I think this is only the beginning.  More and more buyers will be switching from compact and midsize body-on-frame SUV’s over to this segment.  The Rogue has the potential to be absolutely huge.

Nissan Murano, 2009Murano – Though long in the tooth and saddled with a below-class interior, the Murano remains a reasonably strong seller.  The new Murano due in January 2008 holds a lot of promise.  We’ll never see huge volume from this spot, but it’s a great entry into the upscale “premium” ( sub – luxury ) CUV market.  The fresh look for the 2009 MY will simply build on the great reputation that the Murano already has.

2007-Nissan-Frontier-i126 Frontier – Either the best, or the second best midsize pickup on the market.  The Tacoma and Frontier have long battled to take home this title, and it still isn’t clear to this day.  None of the domestic offerings even come close – they’re not even in the same ballpark. 

If Nissan can find a way to squeeze a few extra MPG from the Frontier without compromising it’s abilities ( small diesel? ), then amazing things could happen.

The ones that didn’t make it

Versa Sedan – It’s ugly, and isn’t needed with the presence of the Versa hatch and Sentra.  Simply a redundent model, and there’s no room for it here.

Pathfinder – Stuck between the ever-so-slightly smaller Xterra and Big Daddy Armada, there really isn’t much room for the Pathfinder.  The third row is useless for anyone with legs, and the V8 option is ridiculous.  To top it all off, the Pathfinder runs as high as $44k – yikes.

Quest – A failure, plain and simply.  Early quality problems and a wierd design helped ensure that the Quest never really took off. The absurdly high pricing doesn’t help either.

Titan – A tough choice.  The Titan does well on paper, but the market isn’t convinced.  Big rebates haven’t really helped the Titan stay with the pack.  People just don’t think “full-size truck” when they hear Nissan.   There’s really no need to compete in each and every market segment.

Final Words

Depending on how you break it down, I’m keeping 12 models and axing 4, or keeping 10 and axing 4.  That all depends on whether you count the Altima family as one model or 3 ( like Nissan does ).  Twelve models is an awful lot for one brand’s lineup, and I was surprised to see the number come out so high.  However, I think that each model I kept has a solid place in the lineup and belongs.  Plus, Nissan isn’t saddled with the task of providing models for 2, 3, or 4 competing brands like the domestics are.

So there you have it – the Ultimate Nissan Lineup.

Published on January 2, 2008 in Ultimate Lineup

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