By Kristin Shaw
I purchased a brand-new Nissan Altima in 2004 in Sonoma Sunset Metallic, a jaunty spoiler saluting motorists behind me. We had a love affair for several years until a teenage driver backed into me in the Babies R Us parking lot when I was six months pregnant. The crash totaled my sweet car, to my great sadness, but I walked away without a scratch. My father-in-law, coincidentally, bought a first-issue Nissan Titan pickup that same model year – the year I met my husband-to-be and my in-laws.
So I kind of feel like we have some Nissan in our blood.
The company produced its first cars at in Japan 1935 and launched its first Datsun vehicles at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1958. This hard-working brand sold 5.52 million vehicles globally in 2018, and more than 60 models are sold under the Nissan, INFINITI and Datsun brands.
Nissan seems to be on its way up: in 2016, the company acquired a 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors, and Mitsubishi’s recent announcement of a move to Franklin, Tennessee to be near the Nissan USA HQ will surely mean an even tighter connection between the brands.
If you’ve never had a Nissan, take a second look. Here are a few reasons why:
1) The Calling All Titans Community
A truck can’t change the world, but a Titan can, Nissan says.
The company knows that a vehicle is more than a means of transporting people – it has the potential to provide essential support to helpers in the community. Think neighbors who come to the aid of family, friends, and strangers with their Nissan trucks in the event of floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other catastrophes that require human and mechanical power.
In the last couple of years, Nissan has collaborated with the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the National Park Foundation to develop the Ultimate Service TITAN, a custom-built mobile command center with a ton of features designed to suit each organization.
Take a look at these beasts of burden; Nissan is giving these non-profits not just a vehicle, but a vehicle that is made expressly for them.
2) Commitment to Adventure
A couple of months ago, I had a chance to test out the towing capacity several Nissan vehicles at Yosemite park, and I was impressed. In the towing clinic, I learned that it’s a lot less intimidating than I thought. Especially when you have a wealth of technology and smart features to help.
Backing a trailer can seem daunting, but technologies like rear view cameras and Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor give drivers a better view of obstacles around them to make trailer towing easier.
With summer in full swing, it’s not too late to hook up your Nissan to a camper (like a gorgeous Airstream!) and take a trip. Want to learn more about towing? We guest-starred in this video:
3) They’re Not Afraid to Get Creative
In 2017, Nissan created the “Rogue Dogue” project for the car show season to showcase the kinds of custom options that could be available with a little ingenuity. Based on the popular Rogue model, the Rogue Dogue featured concealed, spill-proof dog bowls for food and water; removable, plush, washable cushions; a water system for pet washing; a collapsible, stowable ramp; and more. Pet lovers everywhere were crazy about the options.
Nissan also partnered with Disney for the Star Wars franchise during the Rogue One launch, building cars on display in the Star Wars theme. According to Ad Age, that campaign drew 1.8 billion impressions and boosted sales; Nissan reported selling more than 300,000 Rogues in the first 10 months of that year.
Another innovative project was the Nissan Altimat-te AWD, a one-off vehicle based on the all-new 2019 Nissan Altima AWD, and it’s fitted with a heavy-duty track system. The Altima-te AWD was modified by Quebec-based Motorsports in Action (MIA), using a track system from American Track Truck.
Wendy Orthman, Kevin Raftery, and their teams aren’t afraid to try new things, which is a refreshing way to present vehicles to catch the attention of the market in ways buyers might not have considered.
4) Smart Sedans
Nissan gave the 2019 Altima an improved chassis, upgraded powertrain, better noise dampening, and more comfortable seats (Zero Gravity seats now standard – more on that below). It’s a full inch wider in its stance than the previous model year, and includes the first rack-mount electric power steering, which gives the 2019 Altima better fuel economy and control. Nissan told us it’s the most fuel-efficient AWD sedan in its class.
For the new Altima, Nissan’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system is paired with the 2.5L engine for continuous road conditions monitoring. The system automatically sends power to the wheels with the best traction, which results in more driver confidence. What you might not know is that an AWD system isn’t just for snow and ice; it’s also helpful in heavy rain, which means no matter where you live, AWD makes sense. For an additional $1350 for AWD, it’s a good buy.
5) Zero Gravity Seats
What makes Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats special? For starters, they’re inspired by NASA and zero-gravity space travel. Do you think astronauts want to travel far outside of the Earth’s orbit without comfortable seats? Nope.
What Nissan found is that the weightlessness of space puts the spine of the human body in a neutral position, which takes the stress off of our bones and joints. Stress causes fatigue, which affects our driving. Nissan’s commitment to safer driving and reducing fatigue spans all across their line of vehicles, including these supremely comfortable seats. For longer drives and road trips, especially, this can impact not only the driver but motorists all around them.
When your spine is not in an optimal position, pressure on the low back causes both distraction and fatigue, both mental and physical. Zero Gravity seats offer 14 different pressure points and continuous support from your hips to your shoulders, cradling all of the bones, tendons, and muscles within that zone and beyond. As a result, your blood flow is less hindered and your energy levels maximized.
6) ProPilot Assist
Nissan released ProPilot Assist in 2017, which was designed to be a stress reducer and fatigue reliever, and could help teen drivers prevent accidents. Nissan calls ProPilot Assist “hands-on-wheel” technology: it senses if the driver is not engaged appropriately and emits visual and then audible warning alerts.
If, at that time, the driver still does not place his or her hands on the wheel, the brakes will gently tap to get their attention. As a last resort, if all of the alerts have been ignored, the brakes will engage, the vehicle will slow down within its lane, and the hazard lights will be turned on as the car comes to a complete stop.
Other Nissan features include Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, which warns drivers of an imminent collision and will automatically slow down the car to prevent or reduce impact. Blind Spot Warning technology tells you if there is a vehicle in your blind spot, which also helps avoid unnecessary collisions. And Intelligent Driver Alertness is a smart function that notes typical driving patterns and alerts the driver if it senses unusual activity at the wheel. This technology can help reduce the number of accidents caused under fatigue and stress.
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