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Redusernab Asks: Has Nissan Gone the Way of Acura?

Robert Emslie February 7, 2017 Redusernab Asks 26 Comments

Acura was the first attempt by the Japanese auto industry to throw off the shackles of economy car status, extending the value proposition of Asian nation’s auto makers into a whole new strata of pricing and near-luxury positioning. It laid the groundwork for Lexus, Infiniti, and almost Amanti, and was a success from the get go. After all, who wouldn’t want Honda quality and integrity in a slightly larger and more luxurious package?

And then things went south. I won’t go into the details of Acura’s almost two decades in the woods, but suffice to say, the brand doesn’t seem to have much of a raison d’être any more. Honda too has seemingly lost its way, but it’s at least showing some life. Acura? Not so much.

The thing of it is, I think this automotive malaise might just be contagious. If you take a look at Nissan’s lineup it too seems to be little more than a big ball of “meh.” None of Nissan’s sedans are really all that memorable, and neither are their crossovers or SUVs, any maker’s bread and butter. Sure, the company has the GT-R, but seriously, that’s kind of old news and really frickin’ expensive. I’m thinking, and for today’s question I want to see if you agree, that Nissan too has lost its way, and has gone down the same rabbit hole as Acura. What do you think?

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  • I think they went in the way of Toyota from early 2000s. Cars that appeal to the masses, plain, boring, reliable, functional, and affordable. The Rogue was one of the top selling vehicles last year so it’s clearly it’s “working” whereas people just stopped buying Acuras other than the MDX.

    • outback_ute

      I think that some of the Japanese manufacturers have struggled to recover since the 1990s recession/banking crisis. Or perhaps I should just say they have focused on mainstream profitable vehicles, at the expense of marginal enthusiast types.

  • P161911

    Not completely, Nissan has a few bright spots. The new diesel Titan, the GT-R, the Leaf (at least 5 years ago it was good, it was the first true mass market EV), the 370Z (they still make those right?).

  • 0A5599

    Yes.

    • mfbseth

      “$47,156 dollars.”

    • Sjalabais

      It’s a ridiculous, topless ball of ugly. We’re all going to love it soon.

      • outback_ute

        Somehow more ok when Range Rover does it?

        • Sjalabais

          No, it’s less okay because they’re presumptuous bag of 1%ers…you got to get your clichées right, man.

          🙂

          • outback_ute

            But still very f-in far from okay, to channel Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction 🙂

        • Rover 1

          At least on the RR the styling lines up. Nothing wrong with the concept, but the Murano was the wrong basis for the reality, and IMHO the Evoque looks much better.

  • neight428

    Nothing superlative wears the Nissan badge apart from the GT-R, but their stuff is all competent, and they seem to sell a lot. They give you all of the upsides of the best cars from their competitors’ 2-3 year old designs at a price that beats their competitors’ current models. Competence doesn’t have to be sexy, whereas “luxury” is, so I don’t think that the Acura analogy holds either way.

    • marmer

      Yes. That is almost exactly why my wife chose a Nissan Rogue over competing small crossovers from Honda, Mazda, and Lexus. Also, the interior packaging and materials are pretty nice at that price point. Big improvement over previous Nissans.

  • JayP

    All you need to know is “Sentra SR Turbo” to understand Nissan has lost its path.

    • You read my review, right?

    • BlakeS

      Amen!

  • discontinuuity

    They’ve gone the way of Toyota: they make quality mass-market cars, but almost nothing is fun to drive or sporty anymore.

  • Citric

    On one hand, Nissan has gone full-bore into making cars that are not really fun. The ones I’ve driven have been mostly fairly squishy and forgettable. On the other, I think that might actually be a pretty profitable market niche. Not everyone wants an exciting car, lots of people have heart conditions and bad backs and stuff. As a squishy car that I think would be good for my aunt or something, Nissan fits the bill. It’s not for me, but not everything is.

    If anything, Acura’s problem is that it kept trying to half-ass being a fun brand, which leaves behind everyone who just wants a squishy luxury glider but doesn’t really attract people who know there’s something more fun out there. Nissan’s also half-assing fun, but then you look at a Sentra and it’s full of browns and woodgrains they’re not really pretending that it’s the heart of their brand like Acura does.

  • I’m still trying to come to terms with SAAB’s/Saab’s upmarket repositioning of itself over the course of the 1970s. If you want my opinion of Acura or Nissan (or, for that matter, Datsun) you’ll have to check back in a few decades.

    • 0A5599

      Upmarket repositioning? It’s the brand for eccentric college professors, just like it was in the 70’s.

      Or is “upmarket repositioning” a fancy term for “I have ascended the ivory tower of academia and can maintain my high lifestyle by supplementing the earnings from my tenured position with book royalties that will endure as long as I keep making insignificant revisions in order to kill the secondary textbook market”?

      • Upmarket compared to the ’60s and earlier. I’ll grudgingly acknowledge that the leap in target market from 96 to 99 wasn’t large (although as the owner of two 96 sedans I am supposed to insist that all subsequent models are unworthy), but by the introduction of the 900 the company clearly was aiming higher than the typical two-stroke and/or V4 customer.

        That reminds me: A tenured position would be nice, but I should at least write a textbook anyway.

        • Vairship

          This one is apparently highly recommended (4 1/2 stars out of 5 on Amazon):

        • 0A5599

          Write a book that has appeal to a broader audience. Maybe something like “Fifty Shades of Shale” to bring in women and others who wouldn’t normally be associated with geologists.

      • Alff

        These days it’s the brand for eccentric college graduates trying to pay down mountains of student loans.

  • Rover 1

    Nissan?

    They’ve made some of my favourite cars, leading the whole world in design.

    Wildly popular when they were released as the first ‘Retro’ designs – later copied by everyone else from Ford to VW

    I must get one of each now that they’re quite affordable.





  • Inliner

    Well, I cannot identify selling points for the Sentra and Altima above other, especially Japaense-origin, competitors. Do they sell because their dealers approve more risky (credit-wise) buyers?

    Neither has the reputation and resale value of Toyota and Honda, nor are they the most spacious in class (correct me if I’m wrong), nor handle very well, nor are they well known for interior comfort. Did I miss something?

  • BlakeS

    As confused as Acura sedans are, there Suv offerings are very impressive. Nissan on the other hand, just no. There slogan was “Shift” now it should be “Whine”. Every platform is dated, eco box oriented, cvt equipped, boring. The GTR has now rose in price to the point of where it does not even make sense. The 370Z has been left for dead. I guess we should all be satisfied with the body kit, fender gap like a Camry, Nismoslo Sentra. I mean the car doesn’t even have irs but the body kit is all you need right?! Oh and the wheel offsets on the Nismo Sentra should go down in history as the worst oem offering to date. Nissan needs to die. They are officially a more expensive Mitsubishi without the Evo offering.

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