2016 Nissan Maxima

2016 Nissan Maxima

Episode 3501
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

This week we test the 8th generation Nissan Maxima. And once again Nissan has promised a return of the “four door sports car” driving experience that made Maximas of the early 90s so exciting. This car certainly looks exciting. So let’s see if this Maxima’s excitement runs more than skin deep.

The 2016 Nissan Maxima is one of the most stimulating to see sedans we’ve come across in years. It’s rakish and radical. The sexy sheet metal is supposedly inspired by jets. Now, we haven’t heard that line since the 50’s; regardless it is a looker for sure. 

Nissan’s V-motion design theme sets the deep grille, and is echoed along the rest of the car as well. This Maxima adopts the floating roof look of the Murano, with partially blacked C-pillars, and a fast roof that gives the side glass a chopped appearance. Standard, beefy 18 inch wheels further compress the visual height.

But if you think this means a claustrophobic interior you’re wrong. Space is plentiful, yet still engaging, and a lot more upscale. Now, that doesn’t mean Maxima has gone near-luxury. Nissan feels there is plenty of room for classy materials in mass market mid-size sedans. 

The list of standard features is also impressive, including Nissan Connect with 8.0-inch touchscreen navigation, a 7.0-inch Drive-Assist display in the instrument cluster, remote start, full power seats, and dual-zone climate.

Though oddly enough, only a basic backup camera. Only top-level Platinum trim gets Nissan’s Around View Monitor. A terrific feature you’ll find on a Versa Note for less than 20-grand. SL-trim and above add Forward Emergency Braking which in our low speed barrier test mitigated stopping distances without consistency.

On the plus side the Zero Gravity front seats were as comfy and well bolstered as advertised. Rear seats equally so, and there’s almost full-size car room back here. Storage space? Yep, got plenty of that as well, at 14.3 cubic-ft. 

Any sporty car regardless of how many doors needs invigorating power. Here the new Maxima complies with a familiar 3.5-liter V6. But, with the redesign comes significant updates including GT-R goodies like sodium-filled valves. Horsepower climbs to an even 300; torque remains the same at 261 lb-ft.  

The big downer to still the CVT transmission. But, it’s also upgraded and tightened up for better response, and thankfully, quieter operation. Shift paddles are nice and big; and are intelligently mounted on the steering column, not on the wheel.  

So, the question remains. Can this front driver live up to its 4DSC hype? That’s a hard thing to do. We found the new Maxima drives solid. At a decent clip it remains very flat through corners, and overall feels light on its feel. Indeed, 82-lbs. has been shaved from the previous car. 

To get the full experience, opt for the SR model with its unique dampers and larger front stabilizer bar. As well as an Integrated Dynamic-control Module with Active Ride Control. 

We navigated the cones quickly, with sharp turn-ins and a firm feel to the wheel. Braking is undramatic, 60 to 0 in 125 feet. That’s fine, if not as short as we’d like.

Still, at this point, are we starting to be believers? Yep! But acceleration runs made us back off a bit. As one test driver put it, “the engine is willin’, but the trans is illin’”

The Maxima jumped off the line quickly, hitting 60 in 6.1-seconds. 2/10ths quicker than last gen. But after simulating a shift to second, there were awkward power surges that had our car torque steering down the track. Still the full ¼-mile went by fast at 14.3-seconds at 102 miles-per-hour. Now Nissan, give us a non-rubber band tranny and we’ll buy in completely. 

New to the Maxima this year are selectable driving modes; with Sport quickening throttle response and steering, as well as adjusting the tuning of the CVT and the Active Sound Enhancement system.

Out on the road, whether you believe it is a true sport sedan or not, it sure feels like one when you’re behind the wheel. You sit very low, and the thick steering wheel feels great in your hands.

Few standalone options are available with five trim levels starting at $33,235. This SR starts at $38,495.

OK, it’s time to put up or shut up.

Does the 2016 Nissan Maxima deserve the “Four Door Sports Car” label? It’s certainly exciting inside and out, and with the exception of the CVT, an impressive performer for its size, sitting far above the typical mid-size family car class. So, we give it a qualified “yes”. But without reservations, it is the best Maxima, and the best Nissan badged sedan, we’ve ever driven.   

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6
  • Horsepower: 300
  • Torque: 261 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 14.3 seconds @ 102 mph
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front

2024 Subaru Solterra

The Solterra Gets Subaru Into The EV Game

Episode 4339
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You could say that Subaru is one of the more conservative brands out there. So, it’s no surprise it took them a little longer than most to venture into pure EV territory. But now that they’ve staked a claim with this Solterra, it’s time for us to see if Subaru buyers should plug in.

The Subaru Solterra is indeed the brand’s first full battery-electric vehicle; and while it took partnering with Toyota to make it happen, as we’ve seen with the BRZ and GR86 sport coupes, that partnership can lead to some great things.

So, we’ll start there; the Solterra’s counterpart is the Toyota bZ4X, and they do share most powertrain elements, specs, and features; but Subaru has done a few things to establish some unique vibes for their brand. That starts with the drivetrain, as all-wheel drive is standard here as in most Subarus, and in similar tradition, power won’t overwhelm you, it’s more safe and familiar feeling than overpowering as some EVs can be. Called StarDrive, this Subaru’s dual-motor setup rates 215 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque. Subaru loves to tout that their drivers are second only to Jeep owners when it comes to venturing off pavement, so capability is a must.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front
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2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem
2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel
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2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear
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2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port
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We did find Solterra as competent as every other Subaru. Their X-Mode has been programmed to work seamlessly with the electric motors, and its 8.3 inches of ground clearance is higher than the bZ4X; plus, you can use Grip Control to moderate speeds and maximize traction.

While most new EVs seem to be hovering around 300 miles of range, max here in the Solterra from its 72.8-kWh battery pack is 227 miles, 222 here in Touring trim. Our results were much less than that, on pace for just 172 miles in our driving loop. But that may be a fluke since we managed 210+ in our bZ4X test.

Only 100-kW max for DC fast charging. But even though it has only been on the market for a year, they’ve already cut down charging times for ‘24 models. An upgraded battery conditioning system, needs 35 minutes for an 80% charge. Subaru always seems to come out on the right side of being cool while remaining authentic, and the Solterra’s styling works, as does its beefier roof rack for ’24 which now holds up to 700 lbs. for tents and the like. Touring trim comes with some great looking 20-inch alloy wheels and there’s lots of body protection, but they did go a little overboard with all of the EV badges everywhere.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected.

In addition to being a good-looking small SUV, it’s a highly functional one too with plenty of room for 5, durable materials, and a bridge-type center console with lots of storage space underneath, though there is no traditional glove box. Subaru also claims it was designed to be dog-friendly, so that’s a plus too. It does have the roomy feel of an Outback, and rear cargo capacity is pretty close, too, at 29.0 cubic-feet.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected. It really shined in the handling course at our Mason-Dixon test track; the EV low center of gravity giving it a very planted feel through the cones. There was minimal body roll and great all-wheel-drive grip; though when it came to us getting a grip on the steering wheel. Well, it’s an oddly shaped steering wheel that took some getting used to. It’s another thing that separates it from the bZ4X, though it seems a little bit like just being different for the sake of being different.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard
2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster
2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display
2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk
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On the other hand, while not insanely fast like some EVs, there was good punch off the line; enough to get us to 60 in 6.2 seconds. And rather than rolling back the power, the Solterra kept it consistent the whole way down the track. We finished the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93 mph. There wasn’t much feel coming through the brake pedal, but panic braking stops were fade-free with an average amount of nose dive; our stops from 60 averaged 120 feet.

Using 33-kWh of electricity per 100-miles, the Solterra earns a good efficiency rating. Pricing starts at $46,340 for the base Premium, and tops out with Touring at $53,340, with Limited in between.

Being the rugged and lovable outdoor types, Subaru owners have proven to be willing to sacrifice certain things for the good of the environment they spend so much time enjoying. Whether that will translate to them going all-in on the 2024 Solterra remains to be seen. It’s no surprise Subaru has finally gone all-electric, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise they’ve entered the EV game conservatively. Something tells us Subaru owners wouldn’t have it any other way.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Motor Setup: Dual Motor
  • Battery Size: 72.8-kWh
  • Horsepower: 215
  • Torque: 249 lb-ft
  • EPA Range: 222 miles
  • 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.8 seconds at 93 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 120 feet (avg)
  • MW Test Loop: 172 miles
2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Front

2024 Toyota 4Runner

Aimed to Please for Another 15 Years

Episode 4338
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You know, a lot has changed over the four decades that the Toyota 4Runner has been backwoods exploring and pavement prowling. Most notably, the rise of car-based crossover utilities and the word “softroader” somehow becoming a thing. Well, the 4Runner is still all truck and definitely not soft, but you don’t have to be an off-road pro to enjoy it!

You may find it odd that we’re talking about the fifth-gen 2024 Toyota 4Runner, as we’ve already given you an early look at the upcoming sixth-gen model. And yes, we too have been eagerly awaiting a new 4Runner for some time, considering this outgoing model has stuck around for the last 15 years. But there’s still a lot to love here, so consider this test as one last ride in a fan-favorite utility that’s sure to do well in the second-hand market for years to come.

2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Front
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2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Rolled Down
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Our 2024 4Runner is equipped with the TRD Pro treatment, a premiere trim for off-roaders or those who want to look the part. No judgement here, as the TRD Pro grade does look tough with its more rugged attire. That’s especially noticeable upfront with the exposed skid plating and trim-specific grille donning the bold “TOYOTA” lettering. The side profile starts up top with a sizeable roof basket, working down low to the matte black 17-inch alloys wrapped by Nitto Terra Grappler tires. Ironically, “Terra” is also the name of this new paint color, a hit or miss with our crew, but certainly a standout from the typical white or black. By the way, the all-new 2025 4Runner doesn’t stray too far away, with fan-favorite features, like the power sliding rear glass, sticking around.

We found our current 4Runner TRD Pro didn’t shy away from trail work. Behind the wheels are TRD-tuned Fox shocks and springs, keeping that Nitto rubber planted to the earth. Deeper under its skin is the TRD Pro’s standard four-wheel drive system: Tried, true and very capable.

Deeper under its skin is the TRD Pro’s standard four-wheel drive system: Tried, true and very capable.

This 4Runner’s 15-year winning streak does become more apparent inside, though it’s tough and utilitarian design isn’t completely spartan. For example, the 8-inch touchscreen, while not the largest, does get the job done and features smartphone integration. The SoftTex-trimmed seats are comfortable and easy to clean should the outside come inside.

This is the swan song for 4Runner’s famed 4.0-liter, naturally-aspirated V6. The new 4Runner is all turbo 4’s with a performance hybrid. Our test V6 puts down an able 270 HP and 278 lb-ft to the standard rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive layout. The only transmission is a five-speed automatic.

2024 Toyota 4Runner Engine
2024 Toyota 4Runner Dashboard
2024 Toyota 4Runner Instrument Cluster
2024 Toyota 4Runner Central Display
2024 Toyota 4Runner Shifter
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2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat
2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat Detail
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This legendary V6 combination took its own sweet time at our Mason Dixon testing site, clocking a still acceptable 0-60 time of 7.7 seconds. These all-terrain tires meant less grip off the line, with a decent amount of squeal; but that grip is found in droves in the wilderness. Keeping the throttle pinned meant quarter-mile passes ended in 15.9 seconds at 88 mph.

Things were also mixed in our braking runs too, stopping from 60 in a fine 113 feet. But, the pedal felt soft until about a third of the way towards the firewall, then firmed up nicely. So, we expected and found lots of body roll through our cone course. The light steering isn’t quite in its element here, but does make for an easy drive under normal conditions.

Pricing for the outgoing, and still widely available 2024 Toyota 4Runner starts at $42,100. That’s for an entry-level SR5. A TRD Pro starts at $56,565.

We can’t wait to get some serious on and off-road time in the new sixth-gen 4Runner. But with so many fifth-gens out on the road and in the wild, we know we’ll be seeing plenty of them for quite a while longer. The 2024 Toyota 4Runner remains a formidable force in the SUV market, and should bring buyers plenty of joy for many miles to come.

Specifications

  • Engine: 4.0-liter NA V6
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 270
  • Torque: 278 lb-ft
  • EPA: 16 City | 19 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.9 seconds at 88 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 113 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 16.2 MPG (Regular)