Add a little eXtra to the Frontier and…

My rough Photoshop skills of what I think the Xterra would look like based on the Frontier.

Nissan has launched an all new Frontier mid-size pickup truck. It is not a full size pickup like the Titan. There are mixed reactions to the new Frontier in terms of its capabilities and options. People also think that Nissan is to late to the game in the mid-size truck segment. But, overall, the truck on paper appears to be capable. It looks like a truck should as well, in my opinion, so that helps.

Nissan also recently launched a new Pathfinder. Upon seeing it, I started to think about some reports that I read recently that have indicated Nissan dealers are asking corporate to bring back the Xterra. With the popularity of off-roading and many of Nissans competitors resurrecting iconic nameplates with incredible capabilities, Nissan dealerships are saying customers will buy an Xterra if it were on the showroom floors. They also know they need something to compete with the likes of the Ford Bronco Sport, the Toyota 4 Runner, Land Rover Defender, and others.

I am beginning to see how that can come to fruition based on the new Frontier. I am hoping Nissan thought about this ahead of time and planned accordingly to potentially make an Xterra from the Frontier platform. It would simply be the Frontier without a bed and connected to the cab, as I have demonstrated with the above Photoshop render. The only problem is if the Frontier is innovative enough, to use it as a base for an Xterra, and will it live up the expectations of customers? As controversial as it would be, I think that it would. Nissan can’t wait on this if they want to get money from that market.

While we don’t know what the price of the Frontier is yet, Nissan is very extreme in pricing. They are either incredibly affordable, budget cars or they raise your eyebrows in astonishment to what could justify the high price they are asking. If the Frontier comes in at an appealing price, and sells, then I think they will easily green light an Xterra and we might see a new version on the road within 2 years. What do you think?

How hard is it to buy and sell?

buyingselling

Not too long ago, heading to eBay and Craigslist were the two big ways to find a car online. As fees go up, and sadly Craigslist now has them, where do you go to find a good used car, especially from a private party seller? As a seller, where do you go to post a car to find a buyer?

I am not versed in this area at all. I simply have a quick opinion about it. When Craigslist came out with the fee to post a vehicle, the next free option was Facebook Marketplace. That was a great option until recently. Now, Facebook has all sorts of filters that make it very difficult to find a vehicle. For example, two vehicles that I like to look for are Jeep Grand Wagoneers and Porsche 944s. Neither are an option to filter by when you select model under those makes. When you do an open ended search it doesn’t pull up very relevant stuff. I am not sure if those models can be entered. It just gets frustrating. eBay Motors also used to be glorious, but that is also not the best way to find cars either. At this time, the best way I have found to find cars is AutoTempest. But, while the results are satisfying in quantity, it can be tedious to go through them. A note to make as well is that while you can filter for all sorts of features you want, there is actually no way to filter out features you DON’T want. If you are trying to find something without heated seats, there really isn’t a good way to find a car that doesn’t have that. You have to go one by one. Lastly, as if trying to find a car isn’t hard enough with all these factors, there is the issue that you are never going to find the correct car from the start. According to Jalopnik, an issue appears to be happening with Toyota Supras that are showing as 6 cylinder cars on AutoTrader, when in fact they are 4 cylinder cars. A website can only display what information is entered, at least…I think. At the time of this writing, there was not a response as to why this was happening.

Then, you have the buying side of things. Oh my goodness. As if it wasn’t hard enough to FIND the vehicle you want, now you have to deal with PEOPLE. Egos flair, information is withheld, paperwork is tedious, time is wasted, it is seriously just the most aggravating process ever. I’ve never bought a car from a dealer, but I’ve heard it is an absolute drain. But, I am almost certain that sometimes dealing with private party buyers or sellers is just as insane.

What really hit me as an eye opener to how even as a car person, I am now not interested in buying or selling cars, was a conversation I had with a friend the other day about buying and selling cars. This friend indicated that their car was getting older, it has miles on it, and they would potentially be in the market for a newer, but still used car, in the very near future. They said they would simply shop at CarMax and trade in their current vehicle for the newer one. Now, almost all car enthusiasts would suggest against this. I have grown up being taught to drive your car until the wheels fall off, or to private party sell your car because you can get more money. But…after I started thinking about it, from all the points I have mentioned above, I realize why that is a bad idea. Especially for a non car person to try to private party sell their vehicle.

I was tasked to sell a friends vehicle one time. They gave me a price they wanted to get and told me any price above that, I could keep. I also had roughly a 30 day time frame to sell. Let’s just say I am not a salesman. I did manage to sell it. However, it was only at the price that the friend wanted and I barely got rid of it in 30 days. While there are factors that can be part of that, like the car itself, I still didn’t do nearly as well as I had hoped I would have done.

In the end, I think CarMax and trading in your vehicle is a great idea. It can save you time and headache. You might think you are doing yourself a favor by trying to sell your car yourself. But, think of all the time, effort, and materials you are putting into that, to create the listing, prepare the car, deal with calls and emails and texts with stupid questions and non showing interested parties, and absolutely insulting low offers. Do you really want to deal with all of that? Just…think about it.

Wrangler Raptor Bronco Battle

wrbb

A few weeks ago, I commented on a Ford Bronco post on social media that was about how Ford thinks the new Bronco will eat the Jeep Wrangler for lunch (I’m not really sure where the exact quote about that is). My comment was, that on paper, the new Bronco looks to be a superior off-road vehicle to the Jeep. Many people quickly commented back saying that being able to make a prediction like that is not sound and that there is one crippling feature the Bronco does not have which will always make the Jeep superior.

That feature is a solid front axle. Jeeps always reign supreme because of having a solid front axle. The Bronco will be coming with independent front suspension. While I completely agree, that my opinion about the Bronco on paper is premature to call it superior to the Jeep without actually physically being able to compare them yet, I had to really think about the solid front axle issue.

After thinking long and hard about it, I concluded that I believe the Bronco is intended to be a different kind of off-road vehicle. I am not saying that the Bronco should not be compared to the Jeep, but I think the type of off-roading each vehicle is good at is slightly different. Jeep is intended for mountainous trails with steep inclines and jagged rocks. The Raptor and soon to be Bronco are created for desert trails and speed. That conclusion was solidified when I watched one of Doug DeMuros recent videos about the Jeep Mojave. I think Jeep built the new Mojave to specifically go head to head with the new Bronco in desert speed. The Fox shocks installed on the Mojave is almost the sole reason I think this.

What vehicle are Fox shocks famously found on? Oh yeah, the Ford Raptor. While no one is exactly comparing a Raptor to a Jeep, the Raptor is an insane desert off-roader. That is the type of driving I believe that the Bronco will fulfill to an even greater degree, but also tackle mountainous trails in an above-average way than what the Raptor currently does. This is why I think Jeep is installing Fox shocks, increasing the speed in low gear via the transfer case, and raising the ride height of the Mojave to prepare to compete with the Bronco on desert trail running. They know the Bronco is a threat and they are preparing for it. On the flip side, one could wonder why Jeep is moving away from “Trail Rated” and now placing “Desert Rated” badges on the Mojave? I think they want to show dominance in all areas first.

All of this makes sense when you look at the type of vehicles most popularly used for desert rally and endurance racing. Trophy trucks and the H1 Hummer are not exactly solid axle. The rear axle of a trophy truck is solid, but the front is independent and Hummers are portal. Looking at those vehicles and knowing that the Raptor is built to be with those vehicles, I believe it is safe to assume that the Bronco, with its independent suspension, is intended to join those vehicles playing in the sandbox.

One last side point is the modification capability of each vehicle. A point I made in my comment on social media was that the Jeep culture is vast and strong, and the aftermarket modification parts, capability, and customization is enormous. The Bronco out of the box will not have that. It will take some time for the aftermarket accessories to increase and bugs to be ironed out.

Even with all of this, I am incredibly excited for the Bronco to come on the market. Choices and competition are amazing and this will only make the off-road segment even more popular. Although, most of these will probably never leave the asphalt.

Retool for the New School

Reading Autoblog today, stirred up some thoughts I have been mulling over for a while…the matter of automobile production. What really does it take to produce an automobile? If it is just like anything else in life, the willingness, passion, desire, and devotion to get it done are the ingredients to success. Why that doesn’t seem to work, or at least it was never popular up until this point I just don’t know. But I see a shift coming. A shift that will change the way automobiles are conceived, made, bought, and driven. More importantly there will be a shift to a unique connection between company, machine, and consumer.

I think the turn around time for creating a concept vehicle by a company, and either not producing it, or saying that it will be produced 3-5 years down the road…is absolutely stupid. That’s a lie. If you want to make something, you will make it, end of story. Sure it takes time to reset production plants and assembly lines, gather the materials and resources, create new machines that can make the new parts…yes I get that. But really, where has that gotten us? It has gotten us to this point, where new ideas are being generated faster than that old process can keep up.

Three stories on Autoblog today relate to this topic. The first is that Nissan is planning to build a new vehicle every 6 weeks until 2016. I say that is the most brilliant plan of any company to date. That kind of diversity will make their vehicles more exclusive and personal for consumers. In this day in age, consumers want to be part of a whole, but they want to stick out in that whole. This plan that Nissan has will provide that. Creating that type of momentum for niche audiences will also start creating a desire for people to own something that has the ability to become rare, which instead of seeing an automobile, particularly a grocery getter, as a expense, it is seen as an investment.

Second story is that Lamborghini is undecided on whether to create the four dour Estoque (Which has been around for what I think is a while and it is dumb they haven’t made it yet. It’s a great vehicle with would serve a purpose.) or an SUV. My opinion, BUILD THEM BOTH! Lamborghini shocked the world a few months ago with talk that they might start creating an “everyday” line-up of vehicles. People think that it might tarnish their image. I don’t. Lamborghini will never be a second rate company. If they want to build the most powerful exotic SUV, let them. It just goes to show that others can’t do what Lamborghini can do.

Lastly; the Jeep story. Just emerging from bankruptcy and paying off their debt, Chrysler has got some major catching up to do. They had an epic super bowl commercial, but I don’t think they are being wise on riding that success. Jeep has been considering producing a pick up Wrangler for a while, aka the Gladiator. Why they have not built it yet has made sense, paying back loans and all. But the decision to yet again put it on the back burner because cash is tied up in other places; like making small cars…REALLY? The Jeep has global sales capability, it already does, and it could add to it with the pickup model. To retool the assembly line to make a pick up Jeep Wrangler is much easier I think than to retool it to create a whole new car! Chrysler, I don’t know what you’re thinking but I don’t think it is very wise on this one. Try to remember your super bowl commercial and make the right decision to do something brilliant.

We The People…who own cars

Dear Car Companies,

We the people realize that you design and build cars for a living. We highly appreciate your talent and dedication to your craft because without you, about 98 percent of us would still be walking to the Seven Eleven down the block.

We recognize that you have been in this business a long time and have a built some pretty incredible machines. However, times are changing and we would like to tell you something. May we ask you for your attention for just a moment.

You have done pretty well thus far feeding us vehicles that we think we need. Actually, it is more like vehicles you think we need. However, you would be lying to yourself if you think you are giving us what we want.

As a person myself, I am taking the role of ambassador to relay important information. I will give you things that we the people are looking for in a car. We want vehicles with incredibly, let me rephrase that, RIDICULOUSLY good gas mileage. But you can’t just give us that, because up until this point, the ones that have done so, have looked like crap. Sorry.

We want the cars to look good, like something you’d buy at Tiffany’s, not the jewelry center at as Wal-Mart. Cheap imitation isn’t going to cut it anymore. We are smart, and can pick out the imposter a mile away. I promise, if you can deliver, we will pay.

A third thing we want is practicality. Don’t give us a seven passenger vehicle if really the only people who could fit in the back seats are children. If you say seven adults comfortably, prove it. Pick-up trucks, vans, cars; get people to drive them to tell you what is practical so you don’t have to guess. If you are right the first time, you don’t have to come up with some lame excuse for a cheap imposter vehicle.

Lastly, we want performance. There are only 24 hours in a day, so the fastest way we can get to 60 miles an hour, or more, is important. A smooth ride and great handling are critical because roads and traffic are terrible now days and we have to be able to dodge a bump, or take one, and the car has to last. Here’s an idea. Start with a race car, add the previous elements of gas mileage, looks, and practicality, and still end up with a race car. Done, walk away.

And, as a side note, don’t name these wonderful machines absurd names. Really think about what it is you have created and name it appropriately. If you have any questions, consult us. You can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or any other online social network known to man. But listen to what we are saying back to you, seriously. We can easily start walking to the Seven Eleven down the street.

Sincerely,

We the People