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NISSAN VERSA NOTE & GMC SIERRA PICKUP


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By Kelly Foss, MyCarData.com

NISSAN VERSA NOTE

Starting price:  $13,990

In the B Segment, a.k.a. sub-compact class of cars, value is the name of the game. The car companies that can provide a lot of car for not too much money demonstrate that they understand the purchasing preferences of sub-compact buyers. The ones that can also add innovative features and efficient engineering will sell many vehicles. Nissan has already broken the code in this segment with its current sales leading Versa model. It is now prepared to make life even more difficult for the competition with the new and improved 2014 Versa Note.

Historically, American car companies have not focused much engineering attention on sub-compact cars. European and Asian car companies have because sub-compacts are often the biggest sellers in the markets that they service. Nissan is a combined European/Asian automotive manufacturer and its long history in small car design really shows in the Versa Note.

The Note is a stylish 5-door hatchback. It verifies the notion that even modestly priced vehicles can look good if you bend the sheet metal the correct way! Not only does it look good but it’s surprisingly roomy for a small vehicle. Nissan has done an excellent job of making the most out of a modest piece of automotive real estate. Tough not plush, the car is nicely appointed and offers a very broad array of equipment for a vehicle of this size and class.

The entry Versa Note S comes with a small 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engine, a 5-speed manual transmission, steel wheels, air conditioning and an OK audio system with a CD player and an aux-in plug for your portable music devices. This is basic transportation meaning no automatic transmission, cruise control, power window or power door locks are available, but the price is a miniscule $13,990.

The most expensive Note is the SV with SL Tech Package. This model includes the CVT automatic transmission, aluminum wheels, power windows and door locks, cruise control, and Nissan’s Around View Monitor which has cameras on all four sides of the car and gives you a 360- degree view of your space. You also get push button vehicle start and keyless entry plus Nissan’s innovative Divide-N-Hide adjustable cargo floor system. The Tech package is outstanding for this class of car. It includes a navigation system, touch screen display, USB connection, MP3 playback, Bluetooth streaming audio, Nav-traffic and Nav-weather, Sirius satellite radio, and a hands-free text messaging assistant that reads your incoming messages to you from your Bluetooth connected cell phone. The starting price of this model is a very attractive $18,490.

The Note drives quite well and delivers a surprisingly quest cabin. Power is adequate but its EPA fuel economy rating of 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway trumps the “need for speed” in this class of car much to the dismay of Maverick and Goose. (A Top Gun reference for those who didn’t see the movie.) A full suite of safety gear is included in the Note and to Nissan’s credit all of it is including in every model even the $13,990 base S. The Note is a ‘Versa’tile, useful, efficient and good looking machine. For the price, it’s a very compelling offering.
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gmc.sierra

GMC SIERRA PICKUP

Starting price:  $24,090

The pickup truck wars continue unabated in our country. They’ve been going on for decades and there is no end in sight. Their high profitability provides the never ending fuel that fans the flames of competition.

Currently, it’s General Motors’ turn to step ahead of the pack with its newly designed 2014 GMC Sierra pickup. Chevrolet’s Silverado is also new this year and is functionally very similar to the Sierra.

The 2014 Sierra is full of new development and innovation and is truly “new.” My test vehicle was a Sierra 1500 SLT Crew Cab with 4-wheel drive. It was a capable and luxurious vehicle with a sticker price of $49,710. To some that may seem like a bunch and to others, mainly truck people, it’s a fair price.

The changes in these new GM trucks are profound and too extensive to outline fully here but these are some of the most noteworthy features. The truck is now smarter and more efficient. It’s common for 4-wheel drive pickups to ride very high, necessitating running boards or even a step ladder to get in. The Sierra sits much lower yet retains truck level ground clearance and the wheels have abundant vertical travel in the wheel wells. The advantage of this setup is the ease of entry and exit plus a lower cargo bed height for convenient access. It also gets better fuel economy because of its lower wind resistance profile.

Speaking of wind, the cabin on the Sierra is now eerily quiet inside. GM totally redesigned the doors and removed noise and harshness from the cab. The interior is purpose-built for truck owners. The gauges are large and controls are easy to reach. The gear shift lever is steering column mounted which gets it out of the way and yields a huge benefit in useable interior space. The rear seat bottoms fold up and out of the way with a one-handed push allowing a huge interior cargo space in the rear seating area. Passenger room in the second row is very large and easy to access.

Kudos to GMC for being enlightened enough to offer perforated ‘cooled’ leather seats on its pickups. It gets hot down here!

GMC has introduced new versions of the 4.3 V6, 5.3 and 6.2 V8 engines. All have direct injection, variable valve timing, which is a new innovation in an overhead valve engine, plus Active Fuel Management, which allows the engines to run on 4 cylinders during light load conditions. Power has increased significantly, as has fuel economy because of these changes. My test truck with its 5.3 V8 posted 23.1 mpg on a Dallas to Houston freeway drive at 70-75 miles per hour. Tow capacity is rated at 9,600 pounds, and with the optional trailer package it jumps to 11,200 pounds.

The new Sierra is a good-looking and good-driving truck. It’s more efficient, refined and capable than previous generations.

Visit MyCarData.com for more information on these models.


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