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With a big back seat, a sporty and firm chassis, and handsome styling, the Altima has carved out a sizable niche in the mid-size-sedan class. Interior quality is not its strongest suit, but the engines are willing, the price is right, and, unlike rivals, it has more than a modicum of driving excitement.
This big, traditional SUV is built upon the frame of the Titan pickup and packs a serious V-8 engine. Its three rows of seating are remarkably spacious, it drives smaller than it actually is, and it is well-suited to towing. Its interior quality is lacking; if that bothers you, go for an Infinity QX56.
If you can stomach the cartoon-like styling, the Cube is an economical errand hopper with a spacious, functional interior. It was designed for city use, and it proves to be less than comfortable on the highway. The competition—the Kia Soul and the Scion xB—seems far more mature.
One of our favorite mid-size pickups, the Frontier is a solid body-on-frame truck that offers a powerful V-6, has handsome styling, and is actually fun to drive. Base four-cylinder models trade power for fuel economy. It’s also sold as the Suzuki Equator, which offers a longer warranty.
The GT-R is a successful attempt to create a Ferrari rival with a Porsche price tag. Its twin-turbo V-6 is stunning, the grip ridiculous, and its performance numbers are a match for cars that cost twice as much. It can feel massive, but it’s a supercar, and a surprisingly affordable one at that.
Nissan’s smallest SUV is big on sport, but its small size holds back its utility. A new 1.6-liter turbo four powers the Juke and provides plenty of skoot. Toss the Juke into a corner and it responds much like a car. It might look odd and frog-like in photos, but the Juke is better in person.
The Leaf is a bona fide electric car that will comfortably go 70 miles on a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries. Charge depleted? Plug it into your home. As practical as a Versa hatchback with a four-gallon gas tank, the Leaf is intended for city driving or for owners with short commutes.
The seventh-gen Maxy debuted as an ’09 with a curvier body to separate it from its more plebeian platform mate, the Altima. Once pitched as a “4-Door Sports Car,” the opulent Maxima still zooms harder and turns sharper than most cars in its sphere, especially the sleepy Toyota Avalon.
As the SUV market has migrated to crossovers, the big, seven-seat, body-on-frame Pathfinder has been left behind. It remains a tough truck with real off-road abilities. The V-8 option gives it a 7000-pound towing capacity, versus 6000. Its independent rear suspension softens the highway ride.
Nissan has always been on the vanguard of minivan styling, and the new Quest is no exception. Unique and tasteful styling despite the boxy shape, the Quest can also boast an impressively luxurious and spacious interior worthy of the Infinity badge.
The gorgeous two-seat 370Z is a potent combination of serious horsepower and a willing chassis. It can occasionally feel like a really quick tank (heavy and cramped), and the V-6 still groans unflattering. The 350-hp NISMO Z is a bit over the top for us.