Design

Nissan's 'Timeless Japanese Futurism' does not include a tablet-style infotainment screen

The Nissan concept shows off a single wide screen instead of two separate disolays.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Don't blame it on the rain. Blame it on Tesla and Volvo, the pioneers of the tablet-style infotainment screen. They literally flipped the infotainment script on what customers expected from their systems with display graphics that were cleaner and truly different in the vast sea of colored buttons and song names cut off on the display.

In the years since, many automakers have followed suite, most notably with Ram's 12.3-inch and Ford's 10.1-inch vertical displays. Nissan, like Hyundai, will be bucking the trend.

Nissan ariya concept 2020 The interior off the model shows off its roominess with horizontal space showcased by long design lines across the dashboard. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

When developing its display for the Ariya Concept, Nissan prioritized design and vision over the tablet trend. Instead, the design team created a curved two-screen display that was made to look wave-like and give a sense of horizontal proportion.

The layout reflects Nissan's new Timeless Japanese Futurism design language, also expressed in the Ariya Concept's unique shield (instead of a grille). This look is something that Mercedes-Benz has begun to embrace, and Cadillac has executed in the new Escalade.

"The human eye naturally looks from side to side when driving," explains Tomomichi Uekuri, senior manager of HMI engineering team. "People can see and absorb more information if it's laid out horizontally. Peripheral vision works this way as well."

According to the automaker, "In addition to conveying information better for the human eye, the layout does so from a safer location — in the line of sight, closer to the road. By matching the cabin's horizon aesthetic, it becomes a seamless part of the dashboard. Nissan's design team calls this "engawa" – the undefined space between where you are, and where you are going."

The Nissan Ariya Concept's display combines the information traditionally found on a driver's information display and infotainment screen and masks them under one display. Information can be changed out and moved by swiping.

"The display's wave construction is innovative and utilizes an ergonomic layout for both the meter display and the center display, not only for visibility, but also allows the driver to easily reach the center display touch screen," Uekuri explains.

It looks great, but how close is that to reality? The Ariya Concept, while futuristic, serves as a showcase of the possible. It's interlay in the realm of possibility that the design language of the model carries over into the next Rogue or Murano. It could go into Nissan's new all-electric SUV.

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The 2022 Frontier gets a brand-new face and updated tech.

Nissan

After 16 years on sale in its current form, the Nissan Frontier is a familiar face on our roads. The truck, which is technically old enough to get a driver's license and drive itself, is being totally overhauled for 2022, and the new look is a big departure from the ute we've seen for so many years. Nissan announced that production has started, so we don't have much longer to wait to see it in action for ourselves.

The new truck's 3.8-liter V6 has already been in action powering the 2021 Frontier. It produces a class-leading 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, and sends its power to either the rear or all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.


2022 Nissan Frontier Production is underway in Mississippi.Nissan


This is the first new Frontier we've seen in over a decade, so the upgrade in technology is steep over the previous truck. The 2022 Frontier can be optioned with a surround-view camera system with off-road mode that automatically displays terrain around the truck when it's shifted into 4LO. The system displays guidelines and can help the driver navigate tough obstacles on the trail. A host of safety features will be available that includes automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings, high beam assist, and more.

Other than its age, there was nothing particularly wrong with the previous Frontier's interior, but the new truck looks to be considerably more upscale and modern. Various trims come with interesting contrasting color schemes and the truck gets Nissan's excellent Zero Gravity seats as standard. New hydraulic cab mounts should help quell vibrations inside, and traditional hydraulic power steering will provide excellent steering feel and feedback.

Nissan is building the new frontier in its Canton, MS facility, while the truck's engine is being built at the automaker's powertrain plant in Tennessee. We'll start seeing the new model on dealers' lots sometime in late summer 2021, and you can find a first drive review of the truck right here in a few weeks.


2022 Nissan Frontier The new trucks will arrive on dealers' lots later this summer.Nissan

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The Nissan Pathfinder is just at home on the trial as it is on the road.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". The message is about making choices and, how the road taken made all the difference. Often in life and on the road, we have to make one choice. Take one road. No turning back. I thought of this poem on my recent test drive in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder in the hinterlands of Montana, when I could take two different roads—paved and dirt—and that made all the difference!

Nissan has redesigned and retooled its fifth-generation Pathfinder instilling greater latitude for buyers who want to travel both types of roads and expand their adventure footprint. After seven decades of off-road development, 35 years in the business of selling Pathfinders, and with more than 1.8 million sold in the U.S., this Japanese automaker has moved the needle with a ground-up revision of the previous-gen model.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a capable off-roader.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The full-sized sport utility is available in four trims (S, SV, SL and Platinum) and two- and four-wheel drive versions; Nissan expects that nearly 60 percent of buyers will choose four-wheel drive. The Pathfinder is in a segment that has grown larger each year as more families want a vehicle for around-town, school and playdate runs and for weekend getaways with traction technology that allows travel in the backcountry and good towing capability. Direct competitors are the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer.

A day-long drive of approximately 150 miles on tarmac and over a variety of dirt roads and tracks provided the opportunity to assess the Pathfinder's updates. A late-spring snowstorm added slickness to all the road surfaces in the region and allowed the Pathfinder to show off its traction capabilities at both slow and higher speeds and with lane change and emergency-braking maneuvers, when towing. I concentrated my evaluation on the augmented hardware and software designed to enhance the crossover's capabilities for backcountry travel and towing.

What I found most notable over every road surface was the comfortable ride and responsive handling that come from a collection of upgrades—and, in particular, as a result of the following: the gearing on the new nine-speed transmission, with paddle shifters for personal and more precise shifting for sport driving and slowing over rough terrain; the new terrain mode system that's engineered for different driving conditions; the four-wheel drive system that moves torque more quickly to avoid wheel slip; the improved suspension system; and new tires with a larger contact patch and more aggressive tread pattern, among other changes.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Pathfinder's drive modes are designed to inspire confidence. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Pathfinder provided sure-footed motoring and comfort over uneven surfaces. Its 7.1 inches of ground clearance easily maneuvered over the small obstacles on the trail and hill descent control took the reigns without hesitation for steeper and longer downhills on traction-compromised surfaces.

I was also impressed with the Pathfinder's towing competence and appreciated the standard trailer sway control onboard all trims. It offered notably strong, mannered acceleration from a standing start and excellent straight-line braking without porpoising for either exercise.

The new 2022 Pathfinder brings off-road and towing attributes that are important to families who are seeking to spend time in the backcountry for days trips and longer and for overlanding in terrain that doesn't require a true off-road vehicle with a low range. It's will appeal to buyers who want don't want to have to choose only one road.

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