Are Nissans good cars, and are they reliable? We provide a balanced look.
Nissan is one of the largest, most revered, and steadfast car manufacturers in the world, offering a broad range of compelling models that cover every vehicle segment. But just because the company knows how to make cars doesn’t mean everything it makes is high quality.
Are Nissans good cars? Are Nissans reliable?
If you’re thinking about buying a Nissan car but have some concerns about quality, we’re going to analyze the Japanese automaker and its offerings to give you the full picture.
IN THIS GUIDE
About Nissan And Its Cars
Nissan was founded in 1933 and initially sold its cars under the Datsun brand. The company has gone through a lot since then.
It became the first Japanese automaker to win the Deming Prize for engineering excellence in 1960; phased out the Datsun name entirely in favor of Nissan in 1981, and grew to become Japan’s second-largest carmaker by the turn of the century.
Nissan entered into an alliance with Renault of France in 1999 as a result of almost going bankrupt but experienced a miraculous recovery and great success in the following 15 years. It was during this period that icons such as the LEAF EV and GT-R sports car were introduced.
Today, Nissan is one of the most popular players in the automotive industry, a mainstream brand catering to the masses with a rich lineup of cars, SUVs, and trucks. Even if you have never owned a Nissan, chances are you know someone who has.
The Altima was at one point the company’s most popular model, serving as an affordable, economical, spacious, and capable sedan for individuals and families alike. The Rogue (Qashqai) is now its best-seller, offering most of the benefits of the Altima but in a more versatile crossover body style.
There is always the Versa and Sentra for those looking for a smaller, more affordable sedan, while the larger Maxima has long been a showpiece for the best Nissan features.
On the same note, those looking for a smaller or larger crossover have the option of the Kicks or Juke and the three-row Pathfinder, respectively. Heck, Nissan even offers a traditional body-on-frame SUV, the massive Armada.
Need a capable pickup truck? The midsize Frontier and Navara and full-size Titan are workhorses that you can depend on. What about a frugal electric vehicle? Try a LEAF or an Ariya.
We can’t talk about Nissan without mentioning its sports cars, namely the Z cars (350Z, 370Z, and 400Z) and the venerable GT-R. The former is a reasonably affordable sports coupe, while the latter — Godzilla, as it’s often called — has gained legendary status as a supercar-slayer.
Are Nissans Good Cars?
Nissan is a full-fledged automaker that fields a rich lineup covering every vehicle class and segment. Traditionally known for economical family sedans and hatchbacks, the company now sells everything from large pickup trucks and SUVs to thrilling sports cars.
To answer the question of whether or not Nissan makes good cars, we need to determine the factors that make a car good.
Most industry experts, journalists, and everyday shoppers would agree that for a car to be good, it needs to be safe, reliable, easy and comfortable to drive, affordable, cheap to own, and even attractive. Let’s go over these criteria.
Most vehicles from American, Japanese, and European automakers offer an incredible level of safety, and Nissan’s cars are no exception.
Not only are the latest Nissans engineered to the highest safety standards, but they also come equipped with advanced safety features such as forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, and pedestrian detection.
These vehicles perform very well in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NIHS) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in North America and Euro NCAP in Europe, often earning top scores.
The latest Nissan Altima, Maxima, and Rogue, in particular, offer excellent all-around safety and perform at the highest level in every crash test protocol.
So, are Nissan cars safe? Yes. Most, if not all, of the company’s popular models meet or surpass the safety standards of North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, and other regions.
Are Nissans Reliable?
Japanese automakers are often known for making the most reliable cars on the market, but does Nissan fit the bill?
Truth be told, the company often lags behind crosstown rivals Toyota and Honda in dependability, and its reliability may have taken a hit in the past decade partly as a result of its alliance and consequent parts sharing with Renault, a manufacturer not known for making reliable cars.
Nissan cars vary widely in their reliability, but they are still among the most reliable on the road.
Reliability surveys in North American and Europe, such as those conducted by JD Powers and Consumer Reports, often place Nissan in the upper half of the pack, meaning its cars have above-average reliability.
Reliability data aggregator RepairPal gave the brand a score of 4 out 5 in its 2021 evaluation, ranking it 9th out of 32 brands. That makes Nissan more reliable than Subaru (14th), a brand people often think has the edge in reliability.
Finally, while some car manufacturers and brands tend to yo-yo drastically up and down the rankings year after year, the company generally clocks in with consistent results.
Are Nissan cars reliable? Fairly so. While not as reliable as Toyota or Honda, Nissan is certainly above average in terms of reliability. Its popular models generally score well in reliability assessments.
What’s the point of having the safest car in the world if it drives and handles like a tank, moves like a turtle, and rides like a carriage on a rocky country road? Ride, handling, and overall road performance are very important considerations when buying a car, and Nissan delivers on that front.
The Japanese automaker has been in the car business for over a century, so you can bet it knows a thing or two about making compliant, comfortable, and easy to drive vehicles.
For instance, mainstream models such as the Nissan Versa, Sentra, Altima, Rogue (Qashqai in Europe), and Pathfinder have traditionally performed to class standards, if not better, and the same is true for newer introductions such as the Nissan LEAF and Ariya electric vehicles.
If a sporty, more engaging ride is your thing, you’ll be happy to know that Nissan is one of the few mainstream automakers that still offers purpose-built sports cars.
The Z cars have served as an entry point for buyers for years, while the supercar-slaying GT-R is simply one of the best performance cars of the 21st century.
So, do Nissan cars drive well? Yes. Nissan’s mainstream cars typically drive, ride, and handle better than industry average, and its sports cars are legendary for their performance.
Nissans are designed and built to meet modern consumer standards in any way, shape, or form, which means they are offered with the latest tech, comfort, and convenience features.
Even the lowest Nissan is available with a touchscreen infotainment display, remote keyless entry, push-button start, leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, USB charging, and more.
More premium features such as dual-zone climate controls, heated seats and steering wheel, Wifi Hotspot, wireless charging, head-up display (HUD), and adaptive cruise control become available as you move up the model line.
Nissan was one of the first automakers to jump on the autonomous vehicle bandwagon and, as a result, has one of the most advanced self-driving tech currently available. The Nissan ProPilot has been offered on a variety of models since 2016.
So, do Nissans have good convenience features? Yes. In many ways, Nissan is above the curve as far as bringing the latest tech, comfort, and convenience features to its cars.
Cost Of Ownership
Not only are Nissan cars generally affordable, but they also tend to have a low cost of ownership.
Fuel-efficiency is above average in nearly every segment the company competes in, so you’ll save money on gas, while maintenance costs are about 30 percent lower than industry average, according to RepairPal’s reliability assessment.
But while Nissans are largely reliable cars that require infrequent maintenance, the results suggest a higher-than-average likelihood that necessary repairs will be expensive.
Insurance doesn’t deviate much from industry norms. Aside from its sports cars, most of the brand’s mainstream vehicles are geared towards families and, therefore, command relatively low insurance premiums.
So, are Nissan cars cheap to own? Generally speaking, yes. Nissans are on the whole economical vehicles with relatively good fuel efficiency, low maintenance costs, and low insurance premiums compared to industry standards.
Nissan is positioned as an affordable brand the likes of Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Volkswagen, and not a budget or luxury brand. However, it slots above Mitsubishi and other mainstream brands that tend to sell on price and little else.
Yet, while most of their models are targeted at low and middle-income individuals and families — the Nissan Versa was at one point the cheapest car in North America — a few models such as the Nissan Maxima, Armada, and GT-R are premium vehicles in certain trims.
With regards to resale value, Nissan is about average, if not below. That means used Nissans are cheaper than the vehicles of many brands, especially Hondas and Toyotas, which tend to hold their value very well due to their reputation for reliability.
Looking for a used car? Our in-depth used car buying guide will help you find a good one.
So, are Nissan cars affordable? While by no means bargain-basement cheap, most new Nissan models are designed, engineered, and styled for the average car buyer. Used Nissans, on the other hand, tend to be far more affordable than used Hondas and Toyotas.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so this evaluation metric is highly subjective
As a mainstream automaker, Nissan tries to appeal to as many people as possible and designs its cars accordingly. The result? Designs that many journalists and car enthusiasts deem bland, uninspired, weird, and, in the case of the first-generation Nissan Juke, even ugly.
Sure, sports cars like the Nissan GT-R and Z car add a bit of spice, but there is only so much two interestingly-styled models can do for a brand consisting of around 20 distinct models.
That’s unfortunate when considering that Nissan made some of the most visually appealing cars in the 1990s. Fortunately, the 2020s have seen the company infuse a bit more character in their new models.
So, are Nissan cars attractive? One man’s “beautiful” is another man’s “ugly”, so we’ll let you make the call.
The Verdict On Nissan Cars
Nissan has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early part of the 20th century. Today, it’s one of the biggest names in the automotive industry and a stalwart on the world’s roads.
From tiny city cars to large pickup trucks and crossovers to exhilarating sports cars, the company has something for just about anyone.
By all accounts, Nissan cars are affordable, safe vehicles that are easy to live with. The availability of tech, comfort, and convenience features are a strong suit, so driving one easily and comfortably won’t be an issue.
They are not necessarily the most attractive vehicles (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but you’ll be happy to know that they are cheap to own and operate.
Are Nissans reliable? While not at the same level as Toyota and Honda, Nissan cars generally perform above average. Are Nissans good cars? Have peace of mind knowing that they are better than average when all things are considered.