Posts Tagged ‘awards’

Nissan Maxima Makes 10 Best Engines List for 2016

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Editors at vehicle authority WardsAuto has awarded the new Nissan Maxima engine – the one is supposed to go in the 2016 Nissan Maxima – a listing on the top 10 Best Engines list for the coming new year. It’s a prestigious honor that began in 1994. Nissan has made the list 17 times – their VQ-series V6 engine making the list 15 times.

Nissan Maxima engine

It’s a Big Deal

WardsAuto spent two months evaluating 31 different engines with the base price of under $61,000 to create this list. This list is unique because of the way each of the vehicles is tested. They’re not tested using specialized instruments that could easily place an unfair bias toward one of the vehicles. Instead, the testers test the vehicle the way an owner would use the vehicle – they would take the vehicle to and from work, school and other everyday activities. The general feel the vehicle including torque noise attenuation, fuel economy, and application of new technology are all measured and scrutinized.

2016 Maxima Hit Dealerships in May 2015

The new vehicle is hit Nissan dealerships in May 2015. The 3.5 L, V-6 engine was completely redesigned for Nissan the flagship vehicle. The car manufacturer is proud to be a part of this award as it stands as a testament “to the outstanding design, performance and value” of the vehicle, says Pierre Loing, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc.

Guiding Principles of the Award

Other than the general feel, there’s a couple guiding principle that can that tip the scales of the award. They ask themselves questions such as, “Does the engine or electric propulsion system truly sell the car or raise the bar for its competitive set?” The Nissan Maxima clearly raises the bar. 61 percent of its engine uses newly designed parts resulting in an engine that has reduced the weight and friction, a new intake manifold and more.

Nissan Maxima Is in Its Eighth Generation

The new 2016 Nissan Maxima is the vehicles eighth generation of the vehicle. Since its inception, Nissan has led the way and cutting edge design, innovation and performance. It features an Xtronic transmission to go along with this completely revised 300-horsepower engine.

External Features

The vehicle outputs a grand total of 85.7 horsepower per liter and a 15 percent increase in fuel economy which brings it up to 30 miles per gallon. Their new Xtronic is a performance-oriented transmission with a wider ratio range. This allows the new vehicle to have a stronger acceleration from a standstill and incorporates all-new D-step shifting logic.

Nissan identifies the new look of the Nissan Maxima as an upscale look with a lower profile, wide stance and a bold front with its signature V-Motion grille.

Internal Features

The interior has been crafted after a command central, fighter jet-inspired cockpit. It features a standard NissanConnect navigation system and 11-speaker Bose sound system. NissanConnect is powered by SiriusXM satellite radio and Around View® Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD).

The car comes with optional packages such as:

Predictive Forward Collision Warning
Forward Emergency Braking
Intelligent Cruise Control
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Driver Attention Alert System
Blind Spot Warning

The vehicle is assembled in Decherd, Tennessee and comes in five distinct models: Maxima S, SV, SL, SR and Platinum.

Modestly Priced, Too

The new Maxima starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $32,410 for Maxima S. The Maxima SV is $34,390, while the Maxima SL is $36,890. The sporty Maxima SR is priced at $37,670 and the top-of-the-line Maxima Platinum is $39,860.

A Bit about WardsAuto

WardsAuto has covered the auto industry for more than 80 years, serving those within automakers, dealerships, suppliers and others serving or observing the industry with a wide range of information products. WardsAuto’s flagship product is WardsAuto.com, a comprehensive online resource and community filled with unique news, data and analysis, with full access available as a premium subscription. Other services include online data products, magazines, print and digital newsletters, and more. Plus, WardsAuto operates the WardsAuto Interiors Conference, North America’s only event focused on the automotive interior.


Acura RDX Wins Ward’s 10 Best Interiors

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The interior has always been among the most important aspects of a car to the average driver. Oddly enough, automakers didn’t recognize the interior’s importance until the decline of TV ads forced them to start listening to their customers more closely.

Ward’s Auto Editor-in-Chief, Drew Winter, made this clear when he said, “This year’s batch of winners really drives home the point that interiors are a vital part of the battle for consumers’ hearts and minds. It wasn’t uncommon all that long ago for auto makers to view interiors as the best place to take cost out of a vehicle. They eventually figured out [that people] spend a lot more time looking at the inside of their car than the outside.”

These days, it’s a well understood fact that for a car to succeed, it needs to feel good… from the inside. After all, this is the part of the car you spend 99% of your time in contact with. Which is exactly why Ward’s 10 Best Interiors award is so important. Even though the award is only three years old, it serves as a unique benchmark against which both manufacturers and drivers can measure their cars’ interiors.

The winner of this year’s Ward’s 10 Best Interiors award is the 2013 Acura RDX. Japanese brands dominate by making up 5 of the 10 best interiors. You can see below where the Japanese cars ranked on the list:

1. Acura RDX
6. Lexus GS
7. Mazda6
8. Nissan Pathfinder
10. Toyota Avalon

Of course, Ward’s analysis is based on the US market and US market preferences. One wonders how many Japanese car interiors would have made the cut in Europe, for example, where tastes range from the dour solidity of Volkswagen to the leather-and-wood opulence of Jaguar or Bentley.

For those of you interested in the process behind Ward’s 10 Best Interiors, it’s very similar to the process behind Ward’s other well-known award, Ward’s 10 Best Engines. Basically, a panel of editors spent the past two months putting each of 46 new or revised models through a ringer of regular use. Then, they evaluated each vehicle based on a number of different criteria.

The different criteria that Ward’s Auto chose to focus on this year were as follows: interior design and aesthetic appeal, user interface and smart phone integration, safety, space, comfort and quality of materials. As the title of this article says, the Acura RDX was the best of the best.

For those of you interested in data analysis:

* The average price of a car on Ward’s 10 Best Interiors was $42,410
* The most economical car on the list was the Chevrolet Spark at $15,795
* The most expensive car on the list was the Lexus GS 450h at $68,139
* Toyota has the best representation with two vehicles on the list
* 7 of 10 cars were manufactured by Asian brands (one Kia and one Hyundai in addition to the Japanese brands)

It would be interesting to see what the list would look like if Ward’s Auto were to do a low-budget list restricted to vehicles at or under $25K. Only 2 vehicles on the current list fit that criteria. Either way, the irrefutable lesson to be taken from this award is that if you want a quality interior, buy a Japanese car.

Oh, and for those of you who would like to see the full list, you can find it here. Are there any cars, Japanese made or otherwise, that you think deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments below.


2013 Toyota Camry Claims Korea Car Of The Year in Huge Upset

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

For the first time ever, a non-Korean-made vehicle has claimed Korea’s Car Of The Year Award. Which vehicle is the usurper? The 2013 Toyota Camry sedan, of course, which launched just a year ago in the newly opened South Korean market. Maybe this doesn’t seem like a huge surprise since the Toyota Camry has dominated just about every other market. You may think, why should Korea be any different?

How about because Korean and Japanese automakers have had a fierce rivalry extending decades beyond the first KCOTY award in 2010? (Not to mention … the War as well!)

With that in mind, it makes sense that Korean automakers would be outraged that a Japanese car was able to take the traditionally patriotic Korea Car Of The Year Award. Since 2010, the KCOTY has gone to Hyundai twice and Kia once, and now it goes to Toyota. Blasphemy!

More seriously, the KCOTY Award is good news for more than just the massive Japanese automaker. After all, most of us don’t need the Koreans to tell us that the 2013 Toyota Camry sedan is one of the best automobiles ever made. This award is bigger than that – it marks a shift in the Korean market for all international manufacturers. American, European and Japanese car makers should all be happy for Toyota’s win.

2013 Toyota Camry

Consider that according to The Detroit News, 99% of vehicles sold in Korea were locally made even as recently as the early 2000s. In fact I can remember traveling in Korea in the mid 90s and seeing nothing but Korean cars, often built on the plans of superseded GM models. In a short 10 year time period, new trade regulations have made South Korea much friendlier to foreign manufacturers. American manufacturers in particular have enjoyed the benefits of a free trade pact; same for Japanese brands who have factories in America, like Toyota. In fact, Toyota’s American presence was pivotal in introducing the Camry to Korea thanks to a highly favorable won-dollar exchange rate, compared to an unfavorable rate for the yen.

As you might expect, Korean automakers were none too pleased by the Korea Automobile Journalist Association’s choice of the Toyota Camry. In fact, Hyundai apparently got a tip-off that Toyota would win and decided to boycott the event. An anonymous Hyundai executive was reported saying, “We are perplexed. It would have been a lot better if a Korean brand won the top prize.” A perfect example of an unbiased opinion, I’m sure.

Now that it’s clear international brands can be competitive in the Korean market, both Hyundai and Kia have already reduced prices on many of their most popular vehicles. They will devote more attention to domestic marketing from here on out.

It’s important to note that in 2012 the Camry was actually the SECOND best-selling vehicle in South Korea, lagging just behind the BMW 520d. So, it wasn’t sales alone that determined the prize. Koreans just love their new Camry’s more than any other car.

You do have to feel a little bad for these Korean automakers, though. They lived the dream for so long, able to focus exclusively on international markets while their cars virtually sold themselves in Korea. Now they have to compete on their home-turf, just like the rest of us. It will certainly be interesting to see which vehicle takes the 2013 Korea Car Of The Year Award. Fingers crossed that it’s another Japanese car.

Source: Detroit News


JD Power’s 2013 Dependability Study Rates Toyota at the Top

Posted by Stephen On Friday, February 15th, 2013

For 24 years J.D. Power and Associates have carried out a long-term Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) by assessing the number of problems exhibited by each nameplate’s vehicle lineup. Although they don’t publish their exact methodology, the general idea is that the VDS “measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles”.

So, for each brand they average the number of reported problems per 100 vehicles from the 2010 model year, and use that data to determine a brand’s PP100 dependability score. A lower score is better, and only models that were significantly refreshed three years ago are counted in the study.

As you know from the title, Toyota Corp. was rated with the least problems per 100 vehicles. In fact, Lexus was rated as the least problematic nameplate with a PP100 score of just 71. The Toyota nameplate managed a score of 112, while Scion performed poorly with a score of 135. For reference, the industry average PP100 score for this year’s study was 126, which is the lowest it’s ever been.

Toyota also managed to claim seven category awards compared to General Motor’s four. For your information, the categories where Toyota came out on top were:

* Sub-Compact Car – Scion xD
* Compact Car – Toyota Prius
* Entry Premium Car – Lexus ES 350
* Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle – Scion xB
* Midsize Premium Crossover – Lexus RX (lowest PP100 score of any vehicle at 57)
* Compact Crossover – Toyota RAV4
* Minivan – Toyota Sienna

Considering that there were only 18 categories total, this is quite an impressive performance from Toyota. Other Japanese cars that claimed category awards were:

* Compact Sporty Car; Mazda MX-5 Miata
* Compact Premium Sporty Car; Nissan Z
* Midsize Crossover; Honda Crosstour
* Entry Premium Crossover; Acura RDX

2013 was a very good year for the entire automotive industry, but Japanese brands in particular did well. Lexus, Toyota, Honda, Acura, Suzuki and Mazda all ranked above average, and Subaru was just 2 points away. Surprisingly, Nissan did quite poorly with a score of 137 while their luxury brand, Infiniti, did one worse at 138. Mitsubishi was in the bottom three with an astonishingly terrible score of 178.

Keep in mind that J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study is at least somewhat flawed… For example, it doesn’t take into account a car’s mileage, and a “problem” can be anything from faulty Bluetooth to engine failure. Still, J.D. Power and Associates made the point that buying used cars is becoming safer and safer as the industry average PP100 score continues to decline year after year. Now is a better time than ever to buy a used Japanese car – literally!

Source: JD Power


Lexus and Mazda Win US Kelley Blue Book’s Cost to Own Award

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

High-impact car awards don’t come very often. The last one we covered was the Japan Car of the Year Award in December, which went to the Mazda CX-5. Then there was last month’s Green Car Technology Award given to (again) Mazda for their SkyActiv technologies. However, the GCTOY award is very narrow in its scope, so it doesn’t have the same significance as one with industry-wide competition.

However, this week we get another high-impact, industry-defining award in the form of the US Kelley Blue Book’s 5-Year Cost to Own Award.

The winner?

Mazda logo

You guessed it – Mazda. They took home the overall 2013 5-Year Cost to Own Award, while Lexus claimed the same award for the luxury class.

KBB also does segment-by-segment awards, and you’ll find several other Japanese cars among those winners. Let’s take a look:

  • Scion (Toyota) iQ won the Subcompact Car segment.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander won the Mid-Size SUV segment.
  • Acura RDX took home the Luxury Compact segment.
  • Lexus GS won the Luxury Car category.
  • Toyota Tacoma won the Mid-Size Pickup segment.
  • Mazda5 won the Minivan segment.
  • Toyota Highlander (Kluger) Hybrid won the Hybrid SUV segment.
  • Honda Insight won the overall Alternative Energy segment.

Aside from the overall award, you can see that Mazda actually only won one segment. So why did they end up on top? To understand the answer to that question, you need to know what KBB looks at when determining the 5-Year Cost to Own Award.

You might assume that KBB’s cost-analysis is primarily based on value-depreciation. While this is certainly a factor, it is only one of many. According to the press release, KBB also looks at “expected fuel costs, finance and insurance fees, maintenance and repair costs, and state fees for new models.” In other words, they’re taking into consideration any and every cost associated with a given vehicle over the first five years of ownership.

KBB elaborates on Mazda’s victory by pointing out that “despite an average Fair Purchase Price higher than several of its competitors, Mazda offers the lowest 5-Year Cost to Own because of its low depreciation, fuel costs, and maintenance and repair costs across its full model lineup.” A pretty impressive judgment coming from the most prominent automotive financial experts in the world.

With this award I think it’s safe to say that Mazda is on an undeniable hot-streak. Thanks to their newly-integrated SkyActiv technologies it’s no surprise that they came out on top. While the rest of the industry thumbs their nose at Mazda’s simple-minded goals – I mean, they don’t even have a luxury brand! – this same simple-minded dedication to reliable and efficient cars is continuing to pay off in spades. Japanese cars did very well in this year’s Cost to Own Award, but there is no doubt that 2013 is the year of Mazda – mark my words!

Source: Autoblog