Rsearch & Development

Bright hues, thick gloss, and shining ChromaFlair: Nissan orange is increasingly unique

The current orange in Nissan's lineup was developed to coincide with the launch of the Sentra SR.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's Sunset Drift ChromaFlair paint color isn't your usual choice. It's a bright and vibrant orange, not matte or candied, but attractive nonetheless. It's available on nine of the models in Nissan's North American lineup even though orange represents just four-tenths of one percent of the vehicles solid in the U.S.

The Japanese automaker's ties with the color orange run deep. Orange was layered onto the body of the 1970 Datsun 240Z, and it's available on the 2021 Nissan Rogue.

2017 Nissan GT-R Premium Katsura Orange This 2017 Nissan GT-R Premium wears Katsura Orange.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Today, Nissan offers more orange vehicles than any other automaker in the U.S. It's on the Altima, Leaf, Rogue Sport, Maxima, Versa, Kicks, Murano, Rogue, and Sentra. Hyundai sells the Veloster in Sunset Orange, the Kia Soul comes in Mars Orange, and Lamborghini offers a number of options that look like they came from a bag of Skittles including Arancio Argos, Arancio Xanto, and Arancio Borealis.

Nicole Fonseca, Senior Design Manager at Nissan loves the color orange and spends 90 percent of her workday at Nissan Design America outside San Diego making color decisions for vehicles that are coming to the company's lineup. "Orange is for a very specific customer," Fonseca said. "They're bold, confident and secure… and those are the same words we use when we're developing the different hues of orange at the design center."

Fonseca and her team are largely credited with having developed Sunset Drift. They wanted something bold.

"Orange evokes a feeling that no other color does, and I love to incorporate it into our designs," said Fonseca. "Your car is an extension of who you are, and color is a big part of that. It's the same as picking the colors for your nails, makeup or home – you do so to make a statement and show your personality."

Designers use renderings and real life models of new vehicles to determine if a paint colors is "right".Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The color was designed while work was underway on the current generation of the Nissan Altima, specifically their SR trim. One major component to achieving the look needed to make the Altima appear vibrant and saturated is a paint pigment known as Chromaflair. The trademarked ChromaFlair pigment makes the paint appear as different colors depending on the light source and view angle.

To test how the color will look on the cars in real life, Fonseca's team uses more than digital renderings. They spray full-size mock ups of vehicles with two color options, divided down the center, so they can review them simultaneously.

"We need to evaluate them in real life," Fonseca says. "Orange is very challenging to get just right. It can't be too yellow or too red. It has to have the perfect balance."

With Nissan launching 10 new products in the next 20 months, it's likely that a new version of the orange color is on its way. For its part, the company isn't saying much, just that "new hues and a bright future" are what color designers are working on now.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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Updated premium crossover

2022 Infiniti QX50 picks up new standard features

The new QX50 gets more tech and safety features.

Infiniti

Infiniti is one of a handful of automakers that have continued developing and building cars instead of focusing only on higher-profit and much more popular SUVs and trucks. That said, Infiniti's catalog is crossover- and SUV-heavy. Its smallest and least expensive crossover, the QX50 gets a handful of new features for 2022, and today Infiniti announced pricing.

Infiniti offers the 2022 QX50 in five trims: $40,025 Pure, $43,375 Luxe, $47,825 Essential, $52,525 Sensory, and $57,975 Autograph. All trims get Infiniti's variable compression (VC-Turbo) engine that makes 268 horsepower and returns up to 26 mpg combined. The advanced engine shifts its compression ratio to match the driver's behavior. When more power is needed, the compression changes, and when efficiency is the priority, it changes again. It's a marvel of engineering, but it's not as fuel-efficient as a hybrid. Power reaches the front or all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission.

2022 Infiniti QX50 Pricing starts at around $40,000.Infiniti

Beyond the new standard features for 2022, buyers of the new QX50 will have to step up to the Luxe trim to get the most desirable features such as auto-folding exterior side mirrors, power lumbar support, and perforated leather upholstery. Standard comfort gear includes eight-way power front seats, dual-zone climate controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Infiniti stuck with its dual-screen infotainment configuration with the 2022 QX50. The top eight-inch screen handles wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto duties, as well as navigation. The bottom seven-inch screen handles vehicle controls, radio stations, and other settings. Though the system looks great and adds a high-tech feel to the cabin, two screens can be distracting and confusing while driving. The good news is that the QX50 gets an excellent 16-speaker Bose stereo starting with the Luxe trim.

2022 Infiniti QX50 ProPilot Assist and Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are now standardInfiniti

The 2022 QX50 hasn't been crash tested by either major ratings organization yet, but the 2021 model performed well. It earned Good ratings in crash testes and a Superior score for its standard crash prevention systems. The 2022 QX50 comes standard with Infiniti's ProPilot Assist system, which brings advanced adaptive cruise control functions that can center the car in its lane, brake, and accelerate. Other standard tech includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, rear automatic braking, predictive forward collision warnings, and forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.


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