Nov 242017
 

At Latino Traffic Report (LTR), the chance for a back-to-back comparison of automotive competitors is rare, but sometimes, lightning strikes. Such was the case with the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox and the 2017 Nissan Rogue. Sharing a similar shade of exterior paint (Cajun Red and Palatial Ruby, respectively), they looked like brothers from another mother, but they were not. They were rivals that distinguished themselves in several ways.

Testaments to the increasing popularity of the small SUV segment, both models are top sellers for their brands. Equinox sales have reached nearly two million units since its launch and it is Chevrolet’s second-best selling vehicle overall, after the Silverado. Similarly, new sales records designate the Rogue as Nissan’s top-selling vehicle in the United States.

The two were nimble for city driving but the redesigned Equinox, also lighter by 400 pounds, felt much smaller compared to the outgoing model. It arrived in the mid-range LT trim as opposed to the Rogue, which came in the top-of-the-line SL AWD trim.

Under the hood, the Equinox offers three engine choices, all turbos—a 1.5-liter, 2.0-liter, and a 1.6-liter turbo diesel (a segment exclusive). I drove the 2.0-liter with 252 horsepower and 260 lb.–ft. of torque.

Rogue SL seats

The Rogue can be equipped with a choice of two four-cylinder engines, a 2.0-liter on the hybrid or a 2.5-liter matched to the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission with Sport and Eco mode switches. I drove the latter that produced 170 horses and 175 lb.–ft. of torque, giving the Equinox the power advantage. The Rogue, however, should have been more fuel efficient, with an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy rating of 25/32 mpg compared to the Equinox’s 22/29 mpg rating. But I averaged 25.4 mpg with the Rogue and 26.7 mpg with the Equinox.

Equinox LT seats.

An SUV earns its stripes with utility, beginning with seating and cargo capacity. Both offer seating for five but the Rogue can also seat seven on lower trim levels with an optional third row. On the test model, the heated, two-tone leather seats elevated the Rogue’s interior, while the Equinox had quilted cloth seats. Both have 60/40 split second-row seats that fold flat. Inside, the Equinox there’s up to 63.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with the second row folded but the advantage goes to the Rogue with 70 cu. ft. of cargo room.

These family vehicles are not without safety innovations. Both SUVs equip all trim levels with rearview cameras but the Rogue tops that with its optional and innovative around view monitor on the SL trim. For the 2018 model year, a blind spot monitor will be standard on the Rogue but not on current models.

Rogue dash.

Chevy, however, offers its own signature safety technology, starting with Teen Driver (standard) that allows parents to set controls in order to encourage safe driving habits, even when they are not in the vehicle. The optional and improved Safety Alert seat on the test Equinox buzzed the left or right upper thigh as a warning and the available Rear Seat Reminder, also on the test model, pinged when the ignition was turned off to remind me to check the back seat before locking the SUV.

Equinox dash.

The standard MyLink infotainment system on the Equinox that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, can be matched to a standard seven- or an available eight-inch-diagonal color touchscreen, included on the test model via the Sun and Infotainment Package ($1,995). Other convenience features included cruise control, air conditioning, and keyless start. The Confidence and Convenience Package ($1,945) added a power liftgate, heated front seats, and side blind zone alert.

Nissan Connect with Navigation was included on the Rogue SL along with a seven-inch display, Nissan Voice Recognition for navigation and audio, and a motion activated tailgate. The SL Premium Package ($2,020) added a panoramic sunroof, and the Platinum Package ($770) added intelligent cruise control, among other features.

Available in four trim levels, and FWD or all wheel drive (AWD) combinations, pricing for the next-generation 2018 Equinox starts at $24,525. The as-tested price came to $34,375. The Rogue comes with three trims as well as a hybrid and the all-new Rogue Sport and a choice of FWD or AWD. Pricing starts at $24,795. The as-tested pricing came to $31,365.

Sí The Equinox included innovative safety technology like Teen Safety, OnStar, and Rear Seat Reminder.

The Rogue offered better value, with seating versatility, five or seven, as well as convenience technology like a power liftgate, plus a blind spot monitor that will soon be standard.

No: Important safety technology, like a blind spot monitor, was unavailable on the base trim levels of the Equinox.

The Rogue was less fuel-efficient than expected.

 

 

Sep 252016
 

2016-08-06-titan-crop

The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) named Nissan’s all-new Titan XD the Truck of Texas last year, partly because its game changing Cummins Diesel V8 engine and capabilities placed it between a half-ton and heavy-duty sweet spot. I recently drove the gasoline-powered Titan XD Platinum Reserve four-wheel drive (4WD) for Latino Traffic Report. It’s quite the bruiser in city driving, but like its diesel sibling, offers impressive capabilities of its own.

“Titan XD is a truck that uniquely uses both technology and strength to add confidence to the completion of everyday work tasks,” says Fred Diaz, division vice president and general manager, North America Trucks and Light Commercial Vehicles, Nissan North America, Inc. “Half of all full-size truck owners tow more than ten times a year, with a quarter o2016-08-09-19-59-20f owners using them to haul tools, so we engineered TITAN XD’s toughness from the ground up.”

Powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine with 390 horsepower and 401 lb.–ft. of torque and matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission, the Titan XD can meet most work challenges. It has a maximum payload capacity of 2,523 pounds (2,594 with the two-wheel drive (2WD)) and can tow a maximum of 11,000 lbs. (11,270 1bs. with the 2WD).

Assembled in Decherd, Tenn., the new V8 engine utilizes four-valves per cylinder, Variable Valve Event and Lift for better responsiveness, and Direct Injection Gas for better performance and fuel economy. All Titan XDs come with one configuration, the four-door Crew Cab and six foot 5.8-inch bed.

2016-08-06-18-02-18Straddling the half-ton and heavy-duty classification excuses the Titan XD from stating an estimated fuel economy but according to the onboard average fuel calculator, I achieved 14.1 miles per gallon during the weeklong test drive.

With a wheelbase that’s 20 inches longer than non-XD TITANs, the test model made city driving slightly challenging. While parallel parking in downtown Austin was out of the question—not that it couldn’t be done but there were absolutely no spaces to be had—parking in general was greatly assisted by the RearView Monitor with trailer guides, the AroundView camera with Moving Object Detection, and front and rear sonar systems that are all standard on the Platinum Reserve.2016-08-06-20-32-29

While I didn’t get to test them, off-road performance has also been improved with features like Hill Descent Control and Brake Limited-Slip Differential. A new off-road gauge calculates the vehicle’s pitch and roll angles. I did get to engage the Hill Start Assist that prevents the XD from rolling backwards at a stop.

A workable truck has to be versatile and that includes ample cargo space. New for 2016 is the second-row underseat storage with a locking lid and integrated foldout flat floor. The center console can hold a computer tablet and a dual lockable in-bed “TITAN Box” is available.

2016-08-09-19-59-03As the name implies, the Platinum Reserve is the top-of-the-line trim level on either gasoline or diesel-powered XD. As such, the interior is rather plush with two-tone quilted heated and cooled leather front seats, heated rear seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with a wood insert, premium open-pore wood instrument panel finishers with metallic “Platinum Reserve” badging, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and pre-wiring for the DVD Family Entertainment System, among other features.

Pricing for the gas-powered 2016 Titan XD starts at $36,485. The as-tested pricing came to $56,715.

: From capability to safety, the Titan XD Platinum Reserve packs a lot of features into this plush but hard-working pickup.

No: Its size makes it challenging to maneuver in confined urban settings.

2016-08-06-1titanrear-crop

Apr 172015
 

2015-04-08 juke2

On a recent weeklong test drive of the 2015 Nissan Juke, the five-door hatchback or “sport cross” as Nissan terms it, justified the appeal for this growing segment. It’s versatile, affordable, and fuel-efficient, a trifecta for the Latino car buyer.

Since its launch for the 2011 model year, the Juke’s appeal begins with its design. The distinctive profile, from the headlamps to the taillights, is matched with sporty two-toned cloth seats featuring the unique motorcycle tank-inspired center console, finished in high-gloss paint.

The rear 60/40-split fold-down bench seat adds versatility and 35.9 cubic feet of cargo room. I was able to fit a mountain bicycle in mine.2015-04-04 jukebike2

For 2015, the Juke includes standard LED Signature Accent Lamps, projector beam headlights, and bold new colors, like the Cosmic Blue (with a purplish hue) that came with the test model. It was matched to an interior with red accents, but the JUKE Color Studio program allows buyers to customize the colors of select exterior and interior pieces, such as wheels, spoilers and mirror caps. I might have chosen a different color, like black purple, instead of red.

2015-04-08 0jukeseatsWhile the test model was configured as a front wheel-drive (FWD), the Juke is available as an all-wheel drive, a nice option for this segment.

Powered by a fairly peppy 1.6-liter four-cylinder and matched to the Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Juke FWD has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. I achieved an average mpg of 34.1. A six-speed manual is available on the supped-up Juke NISMO and NISMO RS.

Standard technology for 2015 includes a RearView Monitor with a 5.0-inch color display, Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start, and Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System and Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant.

An AM/FM stereo with a CD player and USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, is also standard.

The Juke SV adds the I-CON system drive mode selector—another great feature at this level—and auto climate control digital display, privacy glass, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, premium cloth seating materials, SiriusXM Satellite Radio (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately) and a power/sliding sunroof.2015-04-juke.rear.lic

Packed with function and fun, the Juke, however, isn’t perfect. The front armrest can get in the way of the second drink holder and there’s no auto setting for the headlights, i.e. they have to be turned off manually.

Offered in a range of five trim levels, S, SV, SL, NISMO and NISMO RS, pricing for the 2015 Juke starts at $21,075. The as-tested price came to $23,585.

 

Sí: Great look and good fuel economy.
No: Armrest blocks drink holder, weak stereo.