Next-gen Murano, Maxima, pickups are due

Nissan tackles its larger models now

Next-gen Murano, Maxima, pickups are due

Nissan is considering a lower-end sports car based on the IDx compact sports sedan concept.
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Future Product Pipeline

With most of its small and high-volume models redesigned, Nissan will begin rolling out freshened and re-engineered versions of its larger models and trucks.

In addition, over the next two years, Nissan will bring its lower-volume products up to date and take another step into hybrid-electric models.

Nissan will deliver a new-generation Murano crossover, Maxima sedan and Titan and Frontier pickups. It will also offer a hybrid version of the Rogue crossover for the first time.

Nissan faces decisions on whether to bring a trio of proposed vehicles to market. The company remains uncertain about whether its long-discussed e-NV200 electric compact commercial van, on sale in Europe, makes sense for U.S. dealerships.

Also far from certain is the future of the IDx concept small car, unveiled in late 2013 with assurances that it will be commercialized. And Nissan has vowed to bring its BladeGlider electric sports car concept to market, with a nontraditional arrow shape that features a narrower front end than rear.

Nissan's 2012-14 wave of redesigns covered 75 percent of its U.S. sales volume. The next two years will focus on reshaping the remaining 25 percent, and on keeping the larger-volume products fresh.

Murano: The redesigned third-generation Murano will reach showrooms at the end of this year as a 2015 model. In a bid to give the new version the same visual impact it had when it debuted in 2002, Nissan's San Diego design studio emphasized the crossover's curvaceous body lines with pronounced creases and created a sharper, floating roofline over concealed D-pillars.

The model also gets a touch more interior elegance and technology in a bid for more high-end buyers, including turn-by-turn navigation. Its new predictive forward-collision system, previously available only in Infiniti models, reacts to traffic activity two cars ahead by automatically braking when necessary. The crossover will receive a panoramic moonroof, customizable lighting, climate-controlled seats and enlarged instrument gauges and center stack. It will be available in S, SV, SL and Platinum trim levels, with each available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Murano CrossCabriolet: Nissan will drop the high-end convertible Murano at the end of the 2014 model year, with no plan to resurrect it.

The redesigned Maxima’s styling will adhere to that of the Sport Sedan Concept, shown.

Maxima: The redesigned Nissan flagship will arrive in the second half of 2016. Its "show car" styling will closely adhere to the Sport Sedan Concept that was unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January, featuring a low, sloping roof and downward curving hood line. Nissan executives say the 2016 Maxima will retain the concept car's long curving body side creases, in addition to picking up 5 mpg.

Titan: The next Titan pickup will be unveiled at next year's Detroit auto show and go on sale later next year as a 2016. Nissan has lavished attention on improving the styling, configuration and performance of the underperforming pickup in hopes of making it a more serious full-sized segment contender.

The key change for 2016 will be its variation. The new model will come in three cab configurations -- crew cab, extended cab and, for the first time, a regular cab -- with both gasoline and diesel engine options. In addition to its usual V-8 gasoline engine, Nissan will offer a Cummins-branded turbo-charged 5.0-liter V-8 diesel. The Cummins package will put the Titan for the first time into what Nissan is calling internally the "1500-plus" segment, the economy-oriented pickup segment that serves customers who need the hauling power of a 2500-class pickup but not that size gasoline engine. 

Armada: Changes in door trim will be the only notable difference on the 2015 Armada when it arrives in September. But a new generation of the full-sized SUV will follow the Titan's redesign next year. The 2016 will see fuel economy improvements and reduced body weight, without surrendering towing strength, a key selling point.

Rogue: Nissan's fast-rising cross-over was redesigned for an early 2014 market launch and continues as a 2015 in September with no significant change. Rogue Select, the nameplate for the previous-generation Rogue, will continue selling as a 2015 model starting next January. A hybrid-electric version of the Rogue will appear in late 2015 or early 2016. 

Frontier: The Frontier's overseas twin -- the mid-sized Navara pickup -- already has been revealed in Thailand and South American markets. The Navara indicates that the next Frontier will be redesigned with a new body, altered roofline, higher ground clearance, enlarged cargo space, improved fuel efficiency, and styling that links it to Nissan's brand look. 

Nissan is also testing a Cummins diesel engine to offer in the United States. Now that the Frontier has fewer mid-sized segment competitors, Nissan believes a small diesel could chip into Detroit's full-sized customer base. The key unresolved issue is whether Nissan and Cummins can arrive at a sticker price low enough to satisfy the junior segment's more price-sensitive customers. 

Juke: The Juke will appear in October with freshened styling, flash-ier front and rear lights and more body cladding. Nissan will also begin marketing more color customization on the model, allowing customers to mix and match interior and exterior, seat and trim colors. In the Juke's next iteration, later in this decade, Nissan will aim for a still more polarizing design.

Altima: A freshening is scheduled for 2016 model year.

Pathfinder: A major freshening is planned for the 2016 model.

Sentra: The car will be freshened for 2016.

Versa Note, sedan: The Versa sedan received a freshened front and rear for 2015, and two new trims, the SR and SL, were added to the Versa Note. 

Quest: The minivan, which arrives in October, sees little change for 2015. A higher-end Platinum grade is added, and the van picks up 1 mpg of fuel economy.

IDx: The rear-wheel IDx compact sports sedan concept presented to audiences at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show is designed to recall the Datsun 510 sedan. "DX" is even the Roman numeral for 510. Global product planning chief Andy Palmer said at the time that the model would fit into Nissan's portfolio as a lower-end sports car -- an affordable option below the 370Z, arriving on the market as early as 2017. However, the company continues to debate the investment, which would require the creation of a low-volume rear-wheel platform not shared by other models.

Leaf: As of the 2015 model year, the electric Leaf is one of the only vehicles not in line with Nissan's new brand styling. The Leaf is at least a year away from receiving the common V-motion front grille and boomerang headlights. But Nissan is also planning a more significant reshaping of the car, probably in model year 2018. That project will deliver two changes: a more traditional styling to tone down the futuristic impact of the car's first generation, while remaining a hatchback; and an enhanced lithium-ion battery system with greater driving range. Despite the manufacturer's imperative to make the Leaf and the upcoming Infiniti EV look as different as possible in the 2017-18 time frame, the two models will share the same underpinnings. Since the Infiniti has vowed to use an inductive battery-charging technology on its EV, it is likely that the Leaf will offer the technology.

370Z: The 2015 Z models reached showrooms in July with only minor trim and technology package changes. The rear-wheel-drive sports car is not due for a redesign before 2017. Look for the next version to offer a smaller turbocharged engine option, and to be slimmed down, addressing criticism that its current body is too bulky. 

GT-R: The GT-R was freshened for 2015, with new headlights and suspension, steering and brake enhancements. The model will carry over into 2016. A GT-R Nismo performance version arrives in August.

Cube: The boxy, low-selling Cube has been discontinued, as of the end of the 2014 model year.

BladeGlider: If Nissan greenlights the program, the arrow-shaped hybrid-electric BladeGlider sports car concept could appear before 2018. But public reaction to the late-2013 concept unveil was more curious than enthusiastic. Nissan wants to challenge world racing circuits with the concept of EV race cars; the BladeGlider's racing twin, the ZEOD, ran at 24 Hours of Le Mans in June with mixed results. But it is still far from clear whether Nissan will commercialize the concept for U.S. showrooms.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com.


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