There’s more to reliable Japanese brands than just Honda and Toyota. For a little more excitement, Nissan has rockin’ vehicles in nearly every category. Here’s why you should consider these Nissans for your shopping list.
The most affordable car in America is a subcompact, but delivers full-size value. The Versa sedan and hatchback Versa Note come with a 109 horsepower 1.6L four cylinder engine. That’s not a ton, but at just 2,600 pounds, it’s more than enough for street traffic. The base S trim offers a lot of standard features, but you’ll have to know how to drive stick. The S Plus adds a CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission) for increased efficiency, and the SV adds tech like keyless entry, lighted USB ports, and convenience features. Package doesn’t really matter, as you can’t go wrong with any of the second generation cars built since 2013.
Admit it: back in 2003, you thought the Altima was the bomb. It was an affordable sedan with a strong V6 and those sweet clear taillights. This is the car that put Nissan on the map for many Americans. The current 2013+ model years are the fifth generation Altima, a good looking car that borrows styling cues like the headlight and taillight appearance from the more upscale Maxima. The performance is more than you expect too, with a solid 2.5L four cylinder, or the powerful 3.5L V6. That’s one of Nissans famed VQ engines, borrowed from the 350Z sports car, lending some real sport sedan cred in the form of 270 horsepower. With the V6, the Altima becomes the sport sedan of the mid-size category. Or, stick with the four and get an impressive 38 MPG highway.
The seconnd best-selling crossover in the U.S. offers safety, value, and utility at a price that’s hard to beat. Think “crossover” and the Rogue is probably what you’re picturing, with its car like ride but upright seating position and capable ground clearance. The Rogue is similar to the compact Sentra sedan, with a 2.5L four cylinder engine sending 170 horsepower to the front wheels. It differs from the Sentra with the obvious extra cargo capacity (70 cubic feet with the rear seats down), but also offers all-wheel drive. Keep your foot out of it and you will be rewarded with 32 MPG highway. The Rogue has something like a billion airbags in that slick interior, so it understandably earns a five-star safety rating from NHTSA.
Need more room than the Rogue can offer? Get more seating (or cup holders), solid gas mileage, and look like a boss with the Pathfinder. Starting on the inside, the Pathfinder seats seven adults, and offers nearly double the cargo volume of the Rogue behind its rear seats. Under the hood, you’re looking at Nissan’s VQ 3.5L V6, making 260 to 284 horsepower, depending on the year. CVT is the only transmission choice, but it rocks at its job and helps the Pathfinder score a decent 25 MPG highway, which is impressive for such a large vehicle. Styling looks thoroughly modern, as Nissan seemed to allow a lot of Infiniti touches to show through.
There’s a reason (actually several) why the GT-R is nicknamed Godzilla. With a twin turbo 3.8L V6 generating up to 600 horsepower and driving all four wheels through a quick shifting dual clutch transmission, the GT-R’s performance is understandably stellar. Zero to sixty gets crushed in a painful sounding 2.7 seconds, and the big coupe passes the quarter mile in 11 seconds flat. While it’s a legit supercar, the GT-R isn’t the greatest daily driver due to cramped rear seats and only 22 MPG highway. The market doesn’t seem to care, so high mileage examples are selling for nearly $50,000. If that’s out of budget, consider the sporty and much more affordable 370Z.
Japan challenged the American full size truck market a decade ago with the brand new Nissan Titan. You could say the first generation was successful, with production spanning 2003 to 2015, which is oddly the same run as CBS’s Two and a Half Men. You could call the Titan “Two and a Half Trucks,” as there are so many trim levels. The S was the base work truck (think ugly steel wheels and crank windows). SV trim adds bits of tech, luxury, and improved looks. PRO-4X trim is equivalent to Chevy’s Z71 or Toyota’s TRD package, built for off-roading. Topping the lineup is the SL, with leather seating, LED bed lighting, and radar parking assist. No matter which way you go, under the hood lurks a 5.6L V8 making anywhere from 305 to 390 horsepower and a max towing capacity of 9,740 lbs. The new second generation 2016+ trucks offer an optional diesel and manual transmission, a combo never before seen from a Japanese manufacturer.