It’s true, Nissan is walking away from the full-size pickup truck segment in Canada. The Titan before you, as impressive as it is, will no longer be available north of the 49th, aside from Anchorage…

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Road Test

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Despite its good looks and impressive capability, the Titan will be discontinued for 2022.

It’s true, Nissan is walking away from the full-size pickup truck segment in Canada. The Titan before you, as impressive as it is, will no longer be available north of the 49th, aside from Anchorage or Fairbanks.

As with most cancellations, it came down to a lack of sales. Nissan sold a mere 1,218 units last year and just 2,807 in 2019, while even at its peak of 2017 the Japanese automaker found just 5,692 Canadian buyers. This is actually bad news for Toyota, because its Tundra will now inherit lowest sales status, despite managing to push out a respectable 11,053 units last year (it’s high of 11,738 was in 2018). Although the Tundra’s numbers may appear lofty when shown next to the Titan’s, even mighty Toyota’s full-size offering hardly matches Ram’s 83,673 full-size pickup truck sales in 2020, or GM’s collective Chevy/GMC Silverado/Sierra deliveries of 104,279 units during the same 12 months, while Ford once again topped them all last year with 128,650 F-Series down the road.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
This Crew Cab body style is the only way you can still get a new Titan in Canada.

The sad reality is, Nissan’s failure to launch the Titan as a serious full-size pickup truck contender has nothing to do with the vehicle’s quality and capability. It’s one rugged, well-built half-ton, or rather two tough trucks when factoring in its larger Titan XD heavy-half sibling, with its only serious weaknesses being fewer cab/bed options and just one, lone V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission combination.

Currently, the Titan is just available as a Crew Cab in Canada, having dropped its smaller King Cab variant for 2020. Both cabs remain in the US, although American buyers can no longer purchase the Single Cab work truck.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Done up in Pro-4X trim, the Titan looks as rugged as it is.

The Titan’s sole V8 displaces 5.6 litres and makes 400 horsepower plus 413 lb-ft of torque; the XD’s turbo-diesel was discontinued for 2020. Part-time four-wheel drive is standard in Canada, with no lower priced rear-drive alternative, but it must be said the Titan’s nine-speed automatic transmission certainly gives it an edge compared to some competitors, Toyota’s Tundra only offering six forward speeds. Still, Ford uses a 10-speed automatic in all of its full-size trucks, while GM offers the same transmission (literally) in some of its large pickups.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Off-roading comes naturally to this big 4×4 pickup.

Notably, Nissan Canada’s retail site never bothered updating its Titan page with a 2021 model (clearly displaying the 2020 truck instead), even though the brand’s dealers continue to advertise the newer model year, plus third-party car sites, such as CarCostCanada, have integrated all 2021 specs along with the elimination of base S trim, which was $50,498 before, and addition of a new base 2021 SV trim for $63,698. Now (June 30, 2021), Nissan isn’t even showing trucks as an option on its side pull-down menu, strangely hoping would-be 2022 Frontier customers manage find the redesigned model in its “Future & Concept” section.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Ground clearance is not a problem.

The just-mentioned 2021 base price doesn’t come anywhere near to matching the entry prices of the Titan’s domestic rivals, by the way, with the class-dominating F-150 starting at just $34,079, which isn’t even as affordable as the base Chevy Silverado 1500’s $32,048 entry point, or for that matter the Sierra 1500’s lowest window sticker of $33,248. The least expensive Ram 1500 Classic is priced just a bit higher at $36,890, and the aforementioned Tundra significantly more at $47,010. Compare those numbers to the Titan’s $63,698 base price, and it’s easy to understand how it might be difficult to get someone’s attention, unless they clearly understood that similar equipment and trim levels sold by all of the above cost around the same.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Nice details, such as LED headlamps and driving lights, give the Titan a uniquely upscale look.

Unfortunately, that’s not how we tend to buy vehicles. There’s a reason that dealers advertise a vehicle’s base price, after all. We might initially become interested in a Silverado because it’s the lowest priced truck on the market, but after we get sold on one with more features, we quickly forget about the initial “loss leader” that motivated us to come down to that particular dealer in the first place. Soon it’s all about how much you can afford each month, and the sales team turns you over to the finance department.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
This beefy wheel and tire combo is standard in Pro-4X trim.

To be clear, the domestic trucks’ lower prices are mostly due to their inclusion of regular cab body styles, multiple engine choices, and a whole lot of additional trims, with the cheapest of each U.S. brand’s truck focused more on attracting high-volume commercial fleet buyers. The sheer volume of such trucks sold actually allows for the seemingly endless cab, bed, engine, drivetrain and trim combinations to exist, making it possible for a buyer to configure a truck exactly the way they want. Most pickup truck consumers, however, would rather buy a well-equipped four-door pickup, which is the key reason Nissan and Toyota only offer such variants.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
These side steps were designed to slide over and not hang up on rocks, roots or other off-road obstacles.

The Titan I most recently tested was a Crew Cab Pro-4X optimized for off-road work and pleasure. So equipped, it’s priced at $66,998, which is right in the realm of pricing acceptability for this class of truck. As stated earlier, the sales leads enjoyed by Nissan’s rivals have nothing to do with any specific competencies over the Titan. It’s a tough, capable on- and off-roader with better than average expected reliability, beefy towing and payload capacities of 9,270 lbs and 1,580 lbs respectively, plus no shortage of style. I think the Titan’s recently refreshed design, and particularly my Pro-4X-trimmed test model’s upgrades, look great, while Nissan’s interior finishing was even a bit more refined than some of its competitors.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
This is one sweet looking roll bar.

In detail, the Pro-4X’s dash top was completely covered in a padded soft leather-like synthetic with cool orange contrast stitching, while others only apply hard plastic to this area. This said, Nissan only uses hard-shell composites for the Titan’s door uppers, which makes them uncomfortable for those who like to rest their elbow next to the side window. The Titan does provide nicely padded leatherette door inserts above even more comfortable armrests, also featuring contrasting thread work, while the Japanese model gets even more pampering with a soft, padded bolster ahead of the front passenger.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
A powered rear window is a nice touch.

The Titan Pro-4X’ seats also include contrast stitching, complete with the model’s “PRO-4X” logo embroidered into their backsides, but their wide, flat shape didn’t allow much side support for my smaller body type. The driver’s seat was multi-adjustable, however, providing good positioning, but its two-way powered lumbar support never met up with the small of my back as well as others do in this class. At least it was roomy and accommodating.

Rear occupants get limousine-like legroom, while seat comfort in back is decent enough. An airy panoramic sunroof made my tester feel even more spacious, while rear outboard passengers get the comfort of a warmer behind thanks a set of seat heaters.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The Titan Pro-4X cabin is impressively refined, other than those door uppers that are hard plastic.

Back up front, the Titan Pro-4X’ steering wheel is leather-wrapped with sporty thumb indentations for optimizing comfort and control, plus yet more contrast stitching gave it plenty of style to go along with its heatable rim (not available with every rival), while Nissan’s multi-information display is also larger and filled with more features than some others in the class, but is missing some useful ancillary dials within a primary gauge cluster that’s otherwise analogue.

The Titan’s centre touchscreen is fairly large and plenty colourful too (the permanent blemishes to my test model’s display were due to a previous journalist’s ammonia-infused wipe down), with no shortage of functions either. High-quality switchgear could be found through the cabin as well.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The well organized cockpit provides plenty of room to get comfortable.

I learned how to drive using column-shifters, so naturally didn’t mind swapping cogs next to the Titan’s steering wheel. The arrangement (also used by Mercedes for most of its cars) frees space up on the lower console as well. The aforementioned nine-speed auto was updated by two forward gears for 2020, and delivers smooth, positive shifts via fast kickdowns when needing to take off quickly. And yes, the Titan sprints away from stoplights with little hesitation, blasts past slower moving highway traffic with only a hint of provocation, and provides a soul-stirring V8 snarl while doing so.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Mostly analogue, but the multi-info display is large and colourful.

Like most trucks in this segment, the Titan rides on a fully-boxed frame and uses an independent suspension up front plus traditional leaf springs in back, which provide good composure over the majority of surfaces. The Ram 1500 is the only large truck that utilizes coil springs all-round, while all trucks in this class use steel for their cabs and boxes, other than the F-150 that’s significantly lighter due to an aluminum out shell.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The overhead parking camera was a big help.

Nissan has an enviable 4×4 heritage, which left me with no concerns about going off-road with the Titan. It features a dial for engaging two- and four-wheel drive high, plus four-low when the going got tough, while its electronic and mechanical driving aids not only aid handling during slippery condition on pavement, but help overcome challenges on the trail as well. Therefore, it was easy to crawl over rocks and logs before swamping through ruts and mud-soaked pits, not to mention plenty of deep sandy spits, while generous suspension travel helped make the Titan’s ride comfortable at all times.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The Pro-4X’s wide seats should fit most every body type.

When it comes to reliability, plus resale value, the Titan should fare well over time. Yes, I know it’s being discontinued, which never helps when trying to predict the latter, but Nissan has a great reputation for holding values overall, and trucks tend to do better than cars in today’s market. There are even some models that start going up in value, something we’ve seen with well-cared-for examples of the Xterra and earlier off-road capable versions of the Pathfinder in recent years. The Armada may experience similar depreciation resilience if the overland trend continues, so it makes sense that trucks like this Titan will also hold onto their value in the used market.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Rear seat spaciousness is generous.

After everything is done and said, the Titan isn’t perfect, but it scores high in all the categories it needs to, particularly its better than average expected reliability, impressive refinement, well-stocked features, thoughtful design, solid construction, and potent powertrain. It’s not even that bad on fuel with a claimed combined city/highway rating of 13.3 L/100km, so you might just want to snatch one up before all the new ones are forever gone from this country.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The Titan’s bed gets a grippy surface for safety in wet weather.

Nissan is currently offering up to $6,500 in additional incentives when purchasing a new 2021 Titan or Titan XD, with CarCostCanada members saving an average of $8,500 thanks to dealer invoice pricing, which gives them an edge when negotiating. Find out how this advantage will benefit you when buying your next new vehicle, and also be sure to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store now, so you can have all of this vital information at your fingertips when you need it most.

Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann

It’s been nearly a decade since Nissan launched its car-based Pathfinder crossover, representing a risky move that replaced three generations of body-on-frame SUV predecessors, as well as the Quest…

Redesigned 2022 Nissan Pathfinder rolls off production line

2022 Nissan Pathfinder
Nissan just started production of its 2022 Pathfinder, a completely redesigned model that will hit Canadian showrooms this summer.

It’s been nearly a decade since Nissan launched its car-based Pathfinder crossover, representing a risky move that replaced three generations of body-on-frame SUV predecessors, as well as the Quest minivan that faded away five years later, but it proved positive for sales. Now those awaiting its replacement before trading up can take heart, because the all-new fifth-gen Pathfinder just started rolling off the automaker’s Smyrna, Tennessee assembly line.

“Start of production of the new Pathfinder marks another major milestone in our Nissan NEXT momentum story,” said Jeff Younginer, Vice President, Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant. “The Smyrna plant team is thrilled to put the newest version of this iconic vehicle on the road for customers.”

2022 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2022 Pathfinder is almost entirely new, keeping its 3.5-litre V6 yet boasting an all-new shape and fully updated interior.

The new Pathfinder, which has been built in the Nashville suburb since 2004, pulls its sole 3.5-litre direct-injection V6 engine from Nissan’s Decherd Powertrain Plant in Decherd, Tennessee, located about an hour south on Interstate 24. The drivetrain’s all-new nine-speed automatic transmission, on the other hand, hails from ZF’s production plant in Gray Court, South Carolina, but would-be buyers hoping for greater performance will likely be more interested to know that it’s not the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the outgoing model.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder
The new Pathfinder receives Nissan’s Intelligent AWD system as standard in Canada once again.

The new nine-speed auto should provide quicker, more engaging shifts when performing passing manoeuvres or managing the three-row mid-size SUV through fast-paced corners, while Nissan promises smooth operation as well. Additionally, standard Intelligent 4WD with a seven-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector means Canadian buyers will enjoy optimal traction year-round. This is especially important off the line thanks to the powertrain’s strong 284 horsepower, the torquey V6 partially responsible for the new SUV’s impressive 6,000-pound (2,721-kg) maximum towing capacity.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder
The new Pathfinder’s interior receives improvements in refinement, larger, modernized electronic displays, and much more.

Along with wholly renewed styling that should appeal to Nissan’s many truck buyers thanks to plenty of sharp angles and rugged details, the bigger and broader version of its trademark “U” shaped grille especially notable, a completely redesigned interior provides seating for up to eight, new available second-row captain’s chairs (which reduce seating to seven), plus an optional 10.8-inch head-up display that projects key info onto the windscreen ahead of the driver, a large 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and the brand’s ProPilot Assist semi-self-driving capability with Navi-Link, while the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of advanced driver assistive systems comes standard.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder
Second-row captain’s chairs will be optional for 2022.

The new 2022 Pathfinder will start showing up in Nissan Canada dealer showrooms this summer, although those wanting to take advantage of especially good savings may want to consider the outgoing 2020 Pathfinder which utilizes the same V6 engine. Nissan is currently offering up to $7,000 in additional incentives when purchasing a 2020 model, and new zero-mileage examples are still available being that no 2021 version was produced. Be sure to check out CarCostCanada for all the details, and remember to download their free app so you can access timely info on available factory rebates, manufacturer financing and leasing deals, and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands on any new car, truck or SUV.

2022 Pathfinder and Frontier Reveal (14:39):

Dévoilement du Pathfinder et du Frontier 2022 (14:39):

The All-New 2022 Nissan Pathfinder ​(0:06):

2022 Nissan Pathfinder LIVE Walkaround & Review (5:31):

Design Spotlight | Nissan Design Director Ken Lee on All-New 2022 Pathfinder (8:55):

How many seats does the Pathfinder have? | 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Q&A (0:55):

How many trims are available? | 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Q&A (0:31):

What’s the towing capacity? | 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Q&A (0:39):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Nissan

It’s no secret that trucks aren’t updated as often as cars, although this has been changing in recent years due to peoples’ tastes shifting from sedans, coupes and wagons to more utility-oriented…

Redesigned 2022 Nissan Frontier will have you quickly forgetting its antiquated predecessor

2022 Nissan Frontier
The entirely new 2022 Frontier says goodbye to 16 years of the previous model, and hello to a much more modern and exciting design.

It’s no secret that trucks aren’t updated as often as cars, although this has been changing in recent years due to peoples’ tastes shifting from sedans, coupes and wagons to more utility-oriented offerings. No matter, because no one, including those within Nissan’s inner circle, could’ve likely guessed the Frontier would still be trucking along mostly unchanged after 16 years of production.

Currently the oldest non-commercial design available new, Nissan will pass this baton down to its own 370Z when the all-new 2022 Frontier arrives later this year, unless the Japanese automaker shocks us all with an earlier than expected release of the legendary sports car, of which today’s version now has a dozen years to its credit. Both will be important to Nissan’s success, albeit the new 400Z (as most are calling it) is more about enhancing the brand’s performance image, while the Frontier should do a good job of bolstering its bottom line.

2022 Nissan Frontier
The redesigned Frontier presents a fairly unique look within a hotly contested mid-size pickup truck market.

Of course, trucks are important for a mainstream brand’s image too, and just by appearances the Frontier should appeal to the masses. That will be important, as Nissan has lost a lot of market share to mid-size pickup competitors, most of which have introduced multiple redesigns since the last Frontier was new. Toyota’s Tacoma remains top of the list, followed closely by GM’s Chevy/GMC Colorado/Canyon (fraternal) twins and more distantly by Ford’s Ranger, which were all discontinued and resuscitated in recent years, and while no definitive word has surfaced about a revised Dodge (Ram) Dakota, Jeep anted up with its highly successful Gladiator a few years ago. Even Honda’s Ridgeline, the only mid-size pickup truck the Frontier still outsells, has seen upward sales momentum since its more rugged 2021 refresh, so it’s a good thing Nissan’s new Frontier will soon be ready to do battle.

2022 Nissan Frontier
Rugged looking and fully capable, the new Frontier should be a force to be reckoned with.

The 2022 Frontier arrives with boxier styling that pays some angular homage to the brand’s old Hardbody pickups of the ‘80s and ‘90s, albeit the new look gives more respect to Nissan’s full-size Titan, particularly the front door window cutouts that, like Ford’s F-150, are kinked to aid visibility. It seems influenced by GMC’s just-noted Canyon too, at least before the domestic truck said goodbye to its arguably better-looking rectangular grille and hello to a much deeper, chunkier version this year. Any resemblance to the Canyon will hardly be an issue for Nissan fans, however, as the new Frontier’s styling will be unique enough, is plenty rugged, and boasts lots of up-to-date LED touches.

2022 Nissan Frontier
Nissan uses LEDs to give the new Frontier’s headlamps special character at night.

Speaking of up-to-date, nothing from the old Frontier will be pulled forward into this new iteration’s cabin, which is a very good thing. The new model’s styling has been completely reimagined, and appears so refined that Nissan should really be considering a new Xterra based on the same platform. Where the old truck’s dash is rounded in retrospect, the new design is just as bold and blocky as the exterior styling, although in a more conservatively tasteful way. Stitched soft-touch synthetic appears padded ahead of the front passenger, as do the grip-like sides of the lower centre console, the example shown no doubt in higher-end Pro-4X trim thanks to its sporty orange/red highlights and premium-level finishings.

2022 Nissan Frontier
Pro-4X trim gets a sportier appearance package with lots of blacked out trim.

A mostly analogue gauge cluster features a large colour multi-information display at centre, par for the course these days, which should come packed full of functions, while the sizeable standard 8.0-inch touchscreen atop the centre stack boasts Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and all the other expected base functions, backup camera included, with that parking camera upgradable to an Around View surround monitor seen within a larger 9.0-inch display in higher trims. Likewise, wireless charging (albeit no wireless CarPlay) is now on the options menu, as is nine-speaker Fender audio in the Pro-4X.

2022 Nissan Frontier
The Frontier’s bed can be had with a track-mounted tie-down system, plus bright LED lighting.

Speaking of the Pro-4X, which is Nissan-speak for a serious professional-grade mud-slinging, rock-crawling 4×4, improvements include a special set of Bilstein shocks plus underfloor skid plates covering the transmission and gas tank, while cool red tow hooks can be found up front, and a special orange/red-enhanced version of Nissan’s new logo gets stamped front, back and inside.

2022 Nissan Frontier
Seen here in sportier Pro-4X trim, the Frontier gets modernized electronics and much more luxury than the outgoing model.

The 2020 Frontier (there is no 2021 model) included S, SV and Pro-4X trims (and can be had with zero-percent financing right now), plus a Midnight Edition that won’t likely be repeated for the 2022 model year, but may be revisited at a later date. Reportedly, a sporty Nismo edition will arrive at some point in the future too. The three main trims will once again be offered for 2022, although a more simplified lineup will discontinue two-wheel drive variants in Canada, other than a fleet-only base King Cab S work truck.

2022 Nissan Frontier
A nine-speed automatic comes standard, while wireless phone charging is available.

This last point clarifies that the smaller King Cab and more accommodating Crew Cab will both make a return, with the former available across the entire model range and the latter only unavailable with base S trim. This said, Canadian Frontier buyers can get Pro-4X with the King Cab, which will be a bonus for those preferring bed space over interior roominess.

Once again, the King Cab provides a six-foot bed, leaving the shorter five-foot bed for the Crew Cab, other than when the long-wheelbase SV model is chosen, which increases the span between axles from 3,200 mm (126 in) to 3,550 mm (140 in).

2022 Nissan Frontier
The new Frontier should definitely improve comfort and refinement.

Unlike the US-spec Frontier that received a new 3.8-litre V6 and nine-speed automatic two years ago, this all-new 2022 model will be Canada’s introduction to the much more advanced, fuel-friendlier combination. The engine puts out 310 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, which should be plenty of fun off the line, highly capable during highway passing manoeuvres, and especially enjoyable when attacking the wild.

Off-roading in mind, all retail Frontiers get Nissan’s part-time shift-on-the-fly 4WD system featuring 2WD, 4HI and 4LO driving modes that connect through to an electronically-controlled transfer case. Hill start assist and hill descent control are included too, while the Pro-4X receives an electronic locking differential.

2022 Nissan Frontier
Rear seat roominess should be competitive.

Standard four-wheel drive means the Canadian-spec Frontier’s maximum tow rating will be limited to just 2,944 kilograms (6,500 lbs), compared to US-specified two-wheel drive models that are good for up to 3,408 kg (7,500 lbs). Both trailer weights are impressive, however, especially when comparing some in this class that can only tow up to 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs).

Wholly on the positive, Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of advanced driving assistive technologies come standard in Canada, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert with auto-braking, high beam assist, and adaptive cruise control.

The new 2022 Frontier will arrive this summer, with pricing and trim details expected before launch. Until then, make sure to check out our full photo gallery above, and enjoy all the videos Nissan provided below.

 

 

The All-New 2022 Nissan Frontier​ (0:06):

All-New 2022 Nissan Frontier (0:15):

2022 Pathfinder and Frontier Reveal (14.39):

2022 Nissan Frontier LIVE Walkaround & Review (6:40):

How big is the truck bed? | 2022 Nissan Frontier Q&A (0:37):

How much can the Frontier tow? | 2022 Nissan Frontier Q&A (0:33):

2007 Nissan Frontier Driven More Than 1 Million Miles (5:34):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Nissan

Remember the Micra? How about the Versa Note? Both were subcompact hatchbacks from Nissan, and both were discontinued from our market in 2019, at least partially due to our collective love affair with…

Nissan toughens up Kicks design while providing improved infotainment for 2021

2021 Nissan Kicks
The refreshed 2021 Nissan Kicks sports a larger, bolder grille and totally reworked front fascia design.

Remember the Micra? How about the Versa Note? Both were subcompact hatchbacks from Nissan, and both were discontinued from our market in 2019, at least partially due to our collective love affair with SUVs.

While probably more profitable for Nissan, this is not necessarily great news for entry-level car buyers, as the days of new $10,500 Micras and $14,500 Versa Notes are long gone. As it is, today’s $16,498 Versa sedan is the Japanese brand’s least expensive option.

Nissan’s entry-level hatchback is in fact the Kicks SUV, available from $19,398 plus freight and fees last year, and soon starting from $19,898 in refreshed form for 2021. They should be arriving at Canadian Nissan retailers soon, at which point Nissan will likely update its website to reflect their availability (only 2020 models were showing at the time of publishing).

2021 Nissan Kicks
A redesigned bumper provides an updated look from the rear.

A quick glance at the new 2021 Kicks and it will be easy to see that the auto industry’s bigger is better trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down, with the new models’ grille augmented significantly over the original design it replaces. This makes for a more imposing visual presence, albeit with a feistier, more impish attitude than the brand’s larger SUVs. The chromed grille surround nicely flows up and outward into a sharply shaped set of horizontal headlight clusters, while new LED fog lamps can be found just below on the model’s sportiest and priciest SR trim line. Changes are less noticeable down each side and in back, the former including new LED turn signals integrated into the side mirror caps, and the latter including a redesigned bumper.

2021 Nissan Kicks
The updated look ties in well with the rest of Nissan’s refreshed and redesigned SUVs.

Making the slight bump in pricing still more palatable, new standard exterior features include automatic on/off headlights, heated side mirrors, and a rear wiper/washer, while updates to the interior include a new standard 7.0-inch infotainment display with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. This gets upgraded to a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen in mid-range SV and top-line SR trims, while additional options include a leather-wrapped steering wheel rim and shift knob, a single-zone automatic climate control system, plus Bose audio.

2021 Nissan Kicks
LED fog lamps are added to the Kicks’ sportiest SR trim.

Those wanting more power will need to be satisfied for the time being, as the Kicks’ sole 122 horsepower 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine remains unchanged, including its 114 lb-ft of torque. This entry-level model is more about fuel economy than all-out performance anyway, aided by an efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT) the continues into 2021 as standard equipment. Although fuel economy details have yet to surface for the 2021 model, today’s Kicks is rated at 7.7 L/100km in the city, 6.6 on the highway and 7.2 combined with its front-wheel drivetrain, and take note Nissan doesn’t offer an all-wheel drive upgrade for this model.

2021 Nissan Kicks
New side mirror housings incorporate LED turn signals.

Along with excellent fuel economy, the 2021 Kicks comes well equipped with advanced safety and convenience features including standard automatic emergency braking, rear automatic braking, lane-departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and high-beam assist. Moving up to SV or SR trims adds driver alertness monitoring and a rear door alert system that warns when something or someone may have been left in the rear seating area, while top-line SR Premium trim includes a 360-degree surround parking camera.

2021 Nissan Kicks
The updated interior includes larger standard 7.0-inch and optional 8.0-inch infotainment displays.

At nearly $20k, the 2021 Kicks is priced right for a small SUV. In fact, the Kicks remains one of the most affordable new sport utilities on the Canadian market. Then again, the Kicks is now the entry point for a Nissan hatchback, which means Nissan no longer has anything to compete with the likes of Chevy’s super-cheap $10,198 Spark (which replaces the Micra as Canada’s most affordable car), Mitsubishi’s $13,858 Mirage, Hyundai’s $14,949 Accent, Kia’s $17,295 Rio 5-Door, or Honda’s now discontinued $16,390 Fit and Toyota’s similarly cancelled $17,290 Yaris Hatchback (2020 models of each are still available at some retailers), these last two joining Ford’s Fiesta that was shuffled out of blue-oval showrooms the year prior. Can you see a theme here?

2021 Nissan Kicks
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is standard across the line.

Giving the Kicks a serious run for its SUV money is the Hyundai Venue, a direct hit at $17,599, while Kia’s $21,195 Soul, Hyundai’s $21,299 Kona, Mazda’s $21,300 CX-3, Nissan’s own $21,598 Qashqai, and Chevrolet’s $21,998 Trax don’t cost much more, nor for that matter does Kia’s $23,095 Seltos, Mitsubishi’s $23,198 RVR, Subaru’s $23,795 Crosstrek, Chevy’s $23,798 Trailblazer, or Toyota’s $23,950 C-HR.

If you think this market segment is packed full of competitors, consider that Ford’s EcoSport, Honda’s HR-V, Jeep’s Compass and Renegade, plus Fiat’s 500X and Mini’s Countryman (arguably a premium subcompact SUV) weren’t even mentioned because they’re all priced over $25k (some well over), while Dodge and Volkswagen don’t even offer anything in this category, but the domestic and German brands should ante up something soon if they want to build their brands with first-time new car buyers, and thus remain relevant.

2021 Nissan Kicks
The Kicks continues to offer a roomy interior for good SUV value.

Look for the 2021 Kicks to arrive at Nissan Canada retailers later this month, or if you’re hoping to get a great deal you may want to check out the 2020 Kicks that’s not only priced lower, but can currently be had with up to $3,000 in additional incentives. Go to the 2020 Nissan Kicks Canada Prices page at CarCostCanada to find out how you can save big time, whether on manufacturer rebates as well as factory leasing and financing deals when offered, plus dealer invoice pricing all the time, the latter potentially saving you thousands off of any new vehicle. What’s more, make sure to download the free CarCostCanada app from Google Play Store or the Apple Store, so you can have all of this vital money saving information at your fingertips when you need it most.

Also, make sure to check out the complete photo gallery above, and enjoy the official Nissan-supplied videos that follow.

 

2021 Nissan Kicks Connected Technology (1:15):

2021 Nissan Kicks Safety and Driver Assistance Technologies (1:08):

2021 Nissan Kicks Overview (2:24):

2021 New NISSAN Kicks LIVE Walkaround & Review (4:44):

New 2021 Nissan Kicks | Limitless Possibilities (0:15):

2021 Nissan Armada and Kicks Walkaround with Nissan U.S. CMO Allyson Witherspoon (9:58):

Live: New Nissan Kicks Japan Premiere (48:25):

 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Nissan

When an automaker creates a sports car as immediately classic as the now legendary 240Z, it’s often all downhill from there. It’s like the band that has a top-10 hit on their first album, and never…

Nissan’s latest concept is the Z car we want

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The new Nissan Z Proto concept combines design cues from past and present into an all-new form.

When an automaker creates a sports car as immediately classic as the now legendary 240Z, it’s often all downhill from there. It’s like the band that has a top-10 hit on their first album, and never achieves the same level of musical genius again. Could the next Z be the one that finally outdoes the original?

Sometimes we forget that Nissan (then Datsun in North America) had already experienced relative success with another great sports car before the 240Z arrived in 1969. In fact, the 1965–1970 1600 roadster (and predecessors), named Fairlady in Japan and raced in SRL 2000 form by actor Paul Newman at the very beginning of his motorsport career, was the 240Z’s (Fairlady Z’s) predecessor despite looking nothing like it. Where the 1600 roadster looked and performed similarly to British and Italian sports cars of the era such as the MGB, Triumph TR4/TR5, Alfa Romeo Duetto/Spider and Fiat Spider, the 240Z left every other entry-level competitor in the visual and literal dust, and became an instant hit because of it.

1969 Nissan (Datsun) 240Z
The now legendary Nissan (Datsun) 240Z was introduced to the world in 1969.

The Zs that followed gained displacement to overcome pollution equipment and therefore weren’t quite as appealing, while the 280ZX added luxury and weight, a scenario that continued to play out with the 300ZX, although the second-generation 300ZX was absolutely gorgeous and extremely powerful for the era, and is therefore considered by many as the best Z since the 240. This said the 350Z was lauded for styling and performance when it arrived, while the 370Z added more luxury and weight, and has kind of worn out its welcome after 12 years on the market. This brings us to the here and now, with hopes that the yellow beast before us all is a thinly disguised seventh-gen Z.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
Long overhangs have caused a 5-inch increase in the Z Proto’s length.

The Z Proto, as it’s called, appears more than just a concept. The name Proto is short for prototype after all, which outside of sports car racing circles means a near production ready concept designed to test the waters before a full introduction. Nissan has a history of near-production concepts, which bodes well for this car becoming the new 400Z, as netizen pundits are calling it.

Nissan has been teasing the next-gen Z for quite a while, first with a teaser video showing the car in silhouette a few months ago. This caused quite the stir, with many expecting a production-ready car to appear, but alas we only have a concept, albeit a nicely fleshed out one at that. The Z Proto looks like it could easily be a production model, from its graceful lines that pay greater respect to the original than any Z since the ‘70s, to its fully formed interior that continues forward with many of the key design elements that have always been part of Nissan’s much-loved super coupe.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The rear design incorporates styling from the 300ZX, as well as a roofline that pays tribute to the original.

From the front, the Z Proto immediately reminds of the early 240, 260 and 280 Z cars, particularly the blocky, rectangular grille that seems to pay tribute to a popular mod of the era which saw owners removing the thin chromed front bumper (this practice became even more popular amongst 280Z owners due to its larger safety regulated front bumper), but also shares similar sizing to the current 370Z’s frontal opening. Just the same, this has been the new Proto Z’s most criticized design element, with some thinking it’s just too big and square.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The Z Proto’s creased and domed hood pulls some cues from the first-gen Z.

The Proto’s elegantly formed hood plays off early Zs too, but with a much wider domed centre section that begins farther rearward after a more pronounced crease down the middle. The ovoid headlights are entirely new, however, sharing some circular symmetry with the first Z, particularly the daytime running lights that are supposed to represent the circular reflection of the transparent headlamp fairings used on Japanese-domestic-market (JDM) models (and aftermarket upgraded North American cars). Their flush glass-covered sealed beam look is more in-line with the fourth-generation Z32, mind you, which incidentally housed the Z’s first Xenon HIDs as part of its 1998 makeover, but the new concept uses LED technology.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
Some classic design details separate the Proto from all Z cars after the first generation.

The Z Proto’s roofline, rear quarters and hatch, on the other hand, pull cues from a variety of eras, albeit mostly from the ‘70s due to moving most of its visual weight to the rear, which sees nicely upswept quarter windows as well as pillars with integrated “Z” logos, paying direct homage to first-generation models. This said, the rear lighting elements and back panel garner more influence from both the refreshed 1987-1989 Z31 and all Z32 300ZX models thanks to their large, horizontal taillight treatments, while the entire car is a major departure from both 350Z and 370Z models, necessary to provide a fresh approach to such an outdated model.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
This full fleshed out interior combines classic Z styling cues with modern electronics and refinement.

For those wanting a return to what arguably made the original 240Z a great car to drive, its superb power to weight ratio, the Z Proto’s five-inch longer body won’t be good news unless Nissan constructs it from lightweight metals and composites. Doing so, of course, would drive the price up substantially, which means we’re only likely to see the same types of high-strength steels and alloys used in the platform-sharing Infiniti Q60’s body structure, with any exotic materials allocated to the much pricier GT-R.

The new Z Proto measures 4,381 mm (172.5 in) long, 1,849 mm (72.8 in) wide, incidentally, which is exactly the same width as the Q60, plus it’s 1,310 mm (51.6 in) tall. We can expect a production version to use at least as much aluminum for its body panels as the current 370Z, which gets a lightweight hood, door skins and hatch. Aluminum suspension components will make the grade too, the current Z already using an aluminum-alloy front subframe, engine cradle, and forged aluminum control arms (upper and lower in the rear), steering knuckle, radius rod, and wheel carrier assembly.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The fully digital gauge cluster modernizes the entire cabin.

Within that just-noted engine cradle will be Nissan’s impressive twin-turbo 3.0-litre VR30DDTT engine, an advanced power unit that delivers superb performance and much better fuel economy than the 3.7-litre V6 currently in use. It comes in two states of tune in the Q60, including 300 and 400 horsepower variants, with most pundits expecting a 400Z nameplate to accompany the most potent version. This said it would be an unusual move to limit the upcoming Z to just the top-line engine, as a 300Z’s lower price point would allow for many more sales, while a potential 300ZX could denote available all-wheel drive, currently standard in Canada in the Q60, while provide an ideal marketing connection to the aforementioned historical Z models. A six-speed manual is shown in the concept, nothing new here, while it’s possible the new Z will debut more forward gears for the automatic, which currently houses seven.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The usual trio of dash-top dials is included, albeit with a new turbo boost gauge.

As has mostly been the case through the decades, the new Z Proto’s interior is heavily influenced by first-gen Z cars, albeit with modern-day refinement and technology that far surpass today’s model. A key giveaway includes the sport steering wheel with its classic circular centre pad endowed with a “Z” logo instead of Nissan’s usual crest, but fans will appreciate the trio of driver-canted ancillary gauges atop the centre dash even more. Along with the usual oil pressure and voltmeter dials, the Z Proto replaces the current model’s digital clock with a boost gauge, a nod to the twin-turbo V6 housed just ahead.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
A large state-of-the-art infotainment touchscreen will be included in any new Z.

The digital gauge cluster and large high-definition infotainment touchscreen are the most notable improvements over all predecessors, the former necessary for respect in this segment, and allowing for much more driver usability due to the ability to incorporate sophisticated performance readouts, while the latter should come equipped with all the usual modern amenities including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a big, clear backup camera with the possible option of a 360-degree overhead bird’s-eye view, and more.

The three rotating dials used for the heating and ventilation system strangely don’t appear to provide dual-zone capability, but it is automatic so this version is at least up to par with the current car.

2020 Nissan Z Proto Concept
The Z Proto’s 6-speed manual and single-zone automatic climate control are nothing new.

Speaking of the current car, the Z Proto’s side-window defog vents on the outside corners of the dash, and its uniquely shaped door handles with integrated air vents, appear directly pulled from today’s Z, a strange choice if the brand wants to wholly differentiate the upcoming model from the one it replaces.

The seats look fabulous, but such can be said for the current model’s top-tier Recaros too, all of which help to make the new Z Proto appear like a production model in waiting. Then again Nissan is calling it a “development study vehicle,” so we shouldn’t get our hopes up too high, even though the 2001 Z Concept ended up looking a lot like the 2003 350Z. Reports claim the production vehicle has been signed off and development is well under way, but so far we haven’t been given a launch timeline. Considering today’s Z is now the oldest generation of any model sold in Canada, they may want to get a move on.

On that note, the 2020 Nissan 370Z is available with up to $1,000 in additional incentives. Find out about this and other info at CarCostCanada, where you can learn about manufacturer rebates, leasing and financing deals, and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. See how the CarCostCanada system works, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

Also, make sure to check out our full photo gallery above and the three available Z Proto videos below:

Unleash the #PowerOfZ (2:18):

Hear the Z Proto roar (0:33):

Get ready for the Nissan Z Proto (0:29):