Nov 082017
 

At Latino Traffic Report (LTR), we celebrate advancement by Latinos in the auto industry. Most car buyers know Infiniti as Nissan’s premium brand but for Latinos, it has special significance. Every model bears the mark of senior vice president for Nissan Global Design and chief creative officer, Alfonso Albaisa, one of the highest-ranking Latino executives in the auto industry. Since 2013, Albaisa has made sure each Infiniti model combines provocative looks with luxury and technology, like the 2017 QX30 Premium AWD, that I recently test-drove.

“The category defying design of the QX30 stays true to the inspiration behind the daring QX30 Concept,” says Albaisa. “Its mix of artistry in the flowing lines, and power in the elevated stance and confident look, makes a bold visual statement and challenges current preconceptions of what a crossover should look like.”

Unique design cues, like the signature crescent or boomerang shape repeated throughout, like on the C-pillar and the front grille, also set the QX30 apart in a crowded segment.

To help buyers choose the model that suits their needs, it’s available in six trim levels: QX30, QX30 Luxury, QX30 Premium, QX30 Sport, QX30 Luxury all-wheel drive (AWD), and the top-of-the-line QX30 Premium AWD that I drove. The wide range of trim levels, however, results in a price difference of nearly $10,000 between the base and top-trim level, before adding optional packages.

Infiniti’s around-view monitor in the rain.

Impressive technology includes the new Intelligent Park Assist system that uses twelve sensors to park itself in parallel and reverse-in spots, available as part of the Technology Package ($2,200) or standard on the Sport trim. Happily, the test model came with this package that also included blind spot and lane departure warning systems, intelligent cruise control, an around view monitor, and forward emergency braking.

Powered by the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 208 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a seven-speed automatic dual clutch transmission, it should earn an EPA estimated fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 30 mpg for the AWD. I averaged 27 mpg during the weeklong test drive. The front-wheel drive should achieve three more city/highway mpgs.

The Intelligent AWD also included a drive mode selector to customize the ride and handling. For increased fuel efficiency, I chose the Economy mode and for tighter steering on Austin’s curviest road, FM 2222, I selected the Sport mode.

Inside, the QX30 showcases premium materials selected by Infiniti designers. The test model included the optional Café Teak Theme Package ($1,750) featuring brown Nappa leather seating and accent pieces, the Dinamica headliner, and genuine wood trim. Navigation was also added as part of a package ($1,850), which also added front and rear parking sensors.

Standard creature comforts on all QX30s include Intelligent Key, a rearview monitor, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control with rear seat vents, Infiniti InTouch with a seven-inch screen, and HD radio.

The QX30 Premium grade I drove added a Bose ten-speaker premium audio system, a rain-sensing windshield wiper with heated washers, the around view monitor, LED fog lamps, chrome trunk finisher, and aluminum kickplates. Oddly, neither the tilting telescopic steering wheel nor the tailgate were automatic.

Pricing for the 2017 QX30 starts at $30,945. The as-tested pricing came to $48,035.

Sî: The QX30 Premium is one of the sleekest crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) in its segment, favored by beautiful design.

No: The need to purchase packages to get features like a blind spot monitor and navigation in a premium segment was disappointing.

Note: Nissan is recalling 2017-2018 Infiniti QX30 vehicles. The driver’s air bag may unexpectedly deploy due to insufficient grounding of the steering components if an electrostatic discharge occurs and the air bag clockspring is broken. Owners may contact Infiniti customer service at 1-800-622-6200, option 7 or go to www.safercar.gov.
Dec 072016
 

Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has learned that Alfonso Albaisa, INFINITI executive design director, took an all-new INFINITI Q60 to Havana—the first United States-spec car registered in Cuba in 58 years—to trace his roots back to his parents’ birthplace. Now based in Japan, where he oversees all four INFINITI design studios across the world, Albaisa grew up in Miami. This was his first opportunity to visit Cuba and see the curves of the mid-century modern architecture of his great-uncle Max Borges-Recio, including the Tropicana, Club Nautico, as well as Borges Recio’s own home. In the process, Albaisa may have also found the origins of his own design DNA that is expressed in the unique flowing lines of current INFINITI vehicles.

Alfonso Albaisa, INFINITI executive design director.

LTR first met Albaisa, at the North American International Auto Show in 2012 in Detroit where he introduced the all-new Pathfinder as vice president, Nissan Design America. At the time, he had had a hand in the development of products like the Juke, Altima, Maxima, and Rogue. In Detroit, the new Pathfinder didn’t receive any drama (it was billed a concept), which belied the revolutionary redesign of the all-new model. Gone was its truck-like look as well as construction. The Pathfinder (recently redesigned again in 2017) was now a unibody constructed SUV but Albaisa and the Nissan PR folks declined to declare it a crossover, but rather, a “next generation SUV.”

According to Albaisa, the switch to a unibody, and the accompanying rounded exterior, came from customer input. “They want the utility but not the bouncy ride and poor fuel efficiency of a body on frame SUV,” he said at the time.

“We have a display at the design center with postage stamp-sized photos of each member and their country of origin. The feeling of diversity is really about the stories that we share,” he said.

The next year, he had been promoted to his current position at Infiniti. LTR caught up to him at the Nissan 360 event where he shared his vision for the future.

Rather than trying to keep up with European carmakers, he said Infiniti would focus on what it meant to be a premium brand. He embraced the brand’s sensual fluid lines and sculpted shapes that set it apart as a “seductive provocateur.” For inspiration, he unveiled a trilogy of exquisite concept cars named “essence, etherea, and EMERG-E.”

Nov 092015
 

2013 Nissan Altima

Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Altima and Pathfinder vehicles, 2013-2014 Nissan Sentra vehicles, 2013 Infiniti JX35 vehicles, 2014-2015 Infiniti QX60 vehicles and 2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid vehicles. The affected vehicles received an incorrect occupant classification system (OCS) control unit during a repair. These OCS control units may incorrectly classify the front passenger seat as empty, when it is occupied by an adult.

2013 Pathfinder

2013 Pathfinder

If the OCS does not detect an adult occupant in the passenger seat, the passenger air bag would be deactivated. Failure of the passenger airbag to deploy during a crash (where deployment is warranted) could increase the risk of injury to the passenger.

Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will update the OCS software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in November

2013 Infiniti QX60

2013 Infiniti QX60

2015. Owners may contact Nissan at 1-800-647-7261.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.