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Hoping to gauge customer interest, Nissan is displaying a “project” version of its Frontier mid-size pickup with a 2.8-liter Cummins four-cylinder diesel engine.
Several months back we posted an epic Top 10 list highlighting some of the priciest, most opulent and downright ludicrous pickups available on the market. Vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade EXT and Harley-Davidson F-150 are but a couple of the high-brow haulers we featured. Those vehicles – and we hesitate to call them trucks – are so over the top they spill into luxury-car territory.
Bottom 10 Vehicles with the Largest Declines Dependability
Quality is an ever-moving target; it’s something automakers have to constantly monitor. And like the Mongol hordes conquering vast swaths of Asia in the 13th century, problems can easily overwhelm an unsuspecting company’s defenses. Like arrows toppling a mighty war elephant, just a few small issues can devastate even the most reliable vehicle on the road. To keep these nomadic defects at bay, engineers and product planners must remain vigilant.
Along with Consumer Reports, J.D. Power is one of the major firms that tracks automotive quality. Its annual Vehicle Dependability Study is highly anticipated by OEMs and media alike. Think of it as a report card for automakers.
For nearly a quarter-century the study has kept a careful eye on quality by tracking problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). It measures things that have gone wrong with 3-year-old cars and trucks as reported by their original owners.
Like America’s Most Wanted, J.D. power has just released a list of 10 vehicles that have suffered the largest declines in quality. These vehicles have had the greatest year-over-year increase in PP100. Some of the cars and trucks on the list may really surprise you.
Bigger isn’t always better, although domestic automakers are pretending not to hear you when it comes to compact pickups. Why?
Top 10 Best Selling Pickups
The pickup truck is an icon that embodies the working spirit. It’s every blue collar employee’s calling card and farmer’s best friend. Truck buyers grow especially close to their vehicles as trucks are a key tool in earning a living, depending on them to last through days and years of service.
After reports of the next-generation Nissan Titan being delayed with a possibility of not bowing until 2014, it appears the Japanese automaker is still several years away from debuting its new trucks.
Nissan had hoped a new Titan would be on the market by now, but Chrysler‘s bankruptcy and subsequent Fiat takeover caused a deal on the next-generation Titan to break down. The Japanese automaker had its design and engineering team working on a Nissan-branded Ram 1500 but unfortunately that will never see the light of day.
The engineers have, however, worked on evolving the Titan’s frame when building the new range of NV vans but plenty more work still has to be done on the new Titan. One source said that the new Titan is still “a couple of years” away, which puts it still on schedule for a 2014 release as previously mentioned.
The new Frontier however is further behind than the Titan and will probably remain a body-on-frame vehicle, which means the third-generation Xterra will also be body-on-frame.
[Source: Car & Driver]
With the end of North American Ford Ranger production last month, Ford’s loss is reportedly Nissan‘s gain as the Japanese automaker ramps up marketing efforts on it’s mid-size Frontier pickup.
Even though the Ranger remained the top selling small pickup last year (70,832 bought in the US during 2011), Nissan’s Frontier also gained ground, posting an increase of some 28 percent, resulting in 51,700 finding owners.
Now that Ford has exited the segment, Al Castignetti, Nissan’s US Sales Supremo, sees a real opportunity for Nissan to re-assert its dominance in the smaller truck sector, the only true competitor on the horizon at present being Toyota’s Tacoma.
If that happens, it could almost be a return to the 1970s when between them, Toyota and Nissan practically owned the US small truck market, the Domestics relying on “captive” import models from Isuzu and Mazda since they didn’t have their own at the time.
For Nissan, smaller trucks have always been a staple and unlike the now departed Ranger, the Frontier (internally coded D40) is a truly global truck, sold in other markets as the Navara where it has been consistently popular since its introduction in 2004 as an ’05 model.
That said, in the full-size segment, it’s a different story. Nissan’s Titan, now getting long in the tooth, failed to make the impact the automaker hoped for and last year, sold less than 22,000 copies in the US; Ford by contrast, moved almost 585,000 F-Series trucks in the same period.
Part of the problem with the Titan, has been the lack of configurations and options compared with trucks like the F-Series, along with real credibility in the full-size segment.
However, given its expertise in smaller trucks, Nissan really has a chance, at least in the short term to reap the benefits of the Ranger’s departure, especially now that the Frontier, besides its global status, is an established player and increasingly profitable due to its longevity in the marketplace.
Even in the longer term, if tighter fuel economy standards lead to a surge in demand for smaller, more fuel efficient trucks, Nissan could also make significant gains; rumors of GM re-joining the segment as well as Scion potentially offering a pickup type vehicle, along with Jeep, indicate there is still life in smaller trucks.
In the meantime, Nissan will do what it can to keep interest in the existing Frontier. “We’ve got our dealers reinvigorated on the truck and got our marketing out there,” said Castignetti recently. “We’re having great success with it.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Kelley Blue Book has announced the winners of their 2012 Best Resale Value Awards with Toyota being the best resale value brand and their luxury counterpart, Lexus, topping best resale value luxury brand.
Coming out on top of the list of this year’s top 10 best resale value vehicles however is (In order from first to last): Audi‘s Q7, Chevy‘s Camaro, Honda‘s CR-V, Hyundai‘s Tucson, Infiniti‘s FX, Jeep‘s Wrangler, Lexus’s RX, Nissan‘s Frontier, Toyota’s FJ Cruiser and their Tacoma.
Resale value is always important to those spenders hoping to get the best bang for their buck for their vehicle down the road. But oftentimes these are just estimates and market changes should be taken into consideration as that can impact resale value of vehicles.
[Source: Kelley Blue Book]
The compact pickup segment is interesting because major updates are rare compared to other sectors of the auto industry. The RAM Dakota hasn’t received a refreshed look since 2007, and the Nissan Frontier hasn’t changed since 2005. The outgoing Ford Ranger hasn’t really changed since 1998.
This isn’t the same story for the Toyota Tacoma which will receive an updated interior, new entertainment options and revised exterior styling, however the engine and frame will remain the same. “It’s an important segment for us because it provides us with young customers,” said Bob Carter, Group Vice President and brand manager for Toyota. Carter explained that with gas prices continuing to rise, compact pickups could see a sales resurgence. Carter supported this theory by explaining the fact that Toyota sold more Tacomas than full-size Tundras through the first half of the year. The Tacomas should start rolling out in October after Toyota’s part supply situation improves to full capacity by September, following the Japanese disaster in March.
[Source: Left Lane News]
It might be hard to imagine, considering that it sold just 40,727 of them last year, but when you add up the totals over the last 14 years Nissan has actually built one million Frontier pickups at it’s Smyrna, Tennessee assembly plant, spanning two generations.
Nevetheless, the compact truck market is not the popular segment it once was. The only true compact truck left, the Ford Ranger, bows out after this year, leaving so-called ‘mid-size,’ rigs, the Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon and Dodge Dakota to pickup up the pieces, even though, the remaining domestic brand trucks are not long for this world either.
It’s a far cry from the late 1970s and 1980s, when compact trucks were one of the hottest things going and individual models, like Nissan’s own Hardbody regularly sold in excess of 100,000 units.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if Nissan sells another million small trucks over the next 14 years. Given that many manufacturers who peddle vehicles stateside have either abandoned the concept of smaller pickups, or at the very least not chosen to really update existing models, as it stands, that might be a hard goal to achieve.
Time and again it’s been revealed that there still is a substantial market for small pickups, especially with higher fuel prices currently a reality, only there’s very little choice. Perhaps it’s about time the automakers changed that.
With the Ford Ranger having left the building, General Motors is capitalizing on the death of a legend by going full steam ahead with the development of their next compact pickups, which will replace the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
While the Ranger will be sold in markets across the globe, save for the United States, the GM twins will be developed as a world platform, with General Motors leveraging the expertise of their divisions in Thailand, which is a significant market for small trucks. Of course, the trucks will have to be built Stateside, since imported trucks are subject to extraordinary duties thanks to the infamous “chicken tax“.
Of course, Toyota and Nissan still make a compact truck, but we can see the appeal of a domestic alternative for a large section of the market. GM had originally planned to kill off their small truck twins, but the recent change of events seems to have made them re-consider their plans.
Nissan is set to recall 605,000 vehicles over defects with the steering system and vehicle batteries. The recall will comprise of 303,000 Frontiers, 283,000 Xterras and 18,500 Sentras from the year 2000 to the year 2010.
The affected vehicles reside in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, with 85 percent of the cars being sold in the United States.
The steering defect can result in a cracked steering shaft due to possible corrosion, while the battery problem exists in the positive cable on Sentras, can can lead to difficulties starting the car or driving at low speeds. No injuries or deaths have been reported in relation to the recall.
Texas is truck country, so when you’re looking to organize an event for loyal pickup customers it would seem the best place to do it. Recently, Nissan decided to just that, putting on its first ever truck rally for Frontier and Titan owners at Hidden Falls Adventure Park, not far from the state capital Austin. The park contains more than 200 miles of off road trails and allowed Nissan to bring together more than 41 Frontier and Titan owners for a three day shindig with an off-roading theme.
Besides the owners, professional instructors were on hand to help guide them along marked trails, while a group of Nissan’s engineering, product planning and marketing staff were on hand to talk with the truck owners and their families. Part of this event was to get feedback regarding the existing trucks and what features buyers might be looking for in the next evolution of Nissan’s pickups including the upcoming Titan. “These guys are passionate about their trucks,” stated Chief Nissan marketing manager for trucks Dan Tons. “We asked them why they choose Nissan. They said they were looking for a vehicle that fit their needs, was priced right and could handle their capabilities best.”
Added Tiago Castro, Senior Planner for Nissan trucks – “we wanted a firsthand opportunity to talk to customers who currently own Titans. We wanted to learn what they like and don’t like about the Titan and to also have interaction with them like we do for other Nissan vehicles, like the Z car. A lot of these guys get together on their own, but this time we wanted to facilitate that meeting.”
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
Given that the Mazda B-series has been binned, Ford’s Ranger will bite the dust next year and GM is planning to kill the Colorado/Canyon, the choice for buyers of mid-size pickups will become fewer and fewer, with only the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier remaining as true contenders. Nissan isn’t giving up on the Frontier just yet (as the Navara it’s hugely popular in other world markets) and for 2011 is dishing up a few updates.
Like bigger brother Titan, trim levels have been changed to S, SV and SL from XE, SE and LE, while the PRO-4X off-road specialty truck carries on, essentially unaltered. Configurations remain King or Crew Cab with a choice of short or long boxes; 2.5-liter, 152 hp four-cylinder and 4.0-liter, 261 hp V-6 engines, manual or automatic transmissions (depending on trim level) and two or four-wheel drive.
The biggest differences for 2011 concern dropping the six-speed manual gearbox option on SL King Cab and SV Crew Cab models, while adding it to the S and PRO-4X King Cab trucks. In addition, standard child tether anchors have been added to all King Cab trucks, while the four-cylinder SV truck now adopts the same interior trim as its V6 engined counterpart. SV trucks can now be ordered with a Premium Utility package, while the PRO-4X can be ordered with a Luxury package (confused yet?). In addition, Navy Blue paint will be offered on the SV. The 2011 Frontiers are scheduled to go on sale in September 2010, roughly a month after the 2011 Titan.
Nissan is preparing to recall 48,700 trucks and SUVs for issues relating to the suspension on the U.S.-built vehicles. Some of, but not all 2010 Nissan Armada, Frontier, Titan, Pathfinder, Xterra and Infiniti QX56 models are expected to be involved in the recall. No official recall has been issued yet, however, as Nissan awaits information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The issue with the trucks and SUVs involves a lower suspension control link that may not have been welded properly and as a result cause the bushing collar to crack, creating a rough and noisy ride. The potential recall isn’t so much a safety issue as a driveability issue and no accidents have been reported.
In the wake of the Toyota recall crisis, NHTSA has also been under increased scrutiny, issuing an alarmingly high number of recalls.
[Source: Associated Press]