2009 Nissan GT-R: Nashville to LA, Part 4: We Both Like Colorado
August 08, 2008
Our long-term Nissan GT-R and I enter Colorado on Interstate 70, but quickly divert to U.S. 24 and I-25. We're headed to Walsenburg, south of Pueblo. We'll cross the state via the southern east-west highway, U.S. 160, which, judging by my atlas, looks like it has its share of twists, turns and elevation changes. Later, I have second thoughts and wish I'd picked twistier U.S. 50, but with a motel booked in Cortez for the evening, we have to press on.
The GT-R isn't the least bit concerned about the road selection. It loves the cooler mountain air, doesn't seem to mind that I gave it 91 octane in Colorado Springs, and is barely fazed by the altitude. We drop as low as 4,700 feet in Pueblo, but mostly we're traveling at 6,000-7,000 feet, and it still feels fast. I love the sound of the turbos -- I don't remember them having as prominent a role in the soundtrack of the pre-production silver car I drove a couple months back.
Ride quality takes a turn for the crappy, though, as I-25 is pretty ugly through Pueblo.
I would cautiously recommend U.S. 160 as a good driving road.
The mountainscape scenery is superb and there's an excellent series of high-speed turns through the Rio Grande National Forest. At a moderate pace during a light thunderstorm, the GT-R exhibits almost no body roll, delights its driver with authoritative, rev-matched downshifts and outruns every other motorized vehicle on the road without breaking a sweat.
This national forest does include the headwaters of the Rio Grande River, by the way. And after the GT-R takes a peek into the valley, I do the same.
But the 160 also goes through a lot of small towns, nearly all of which drop the speed limit down to 35 mph. Combine that with a healthy population of vacationers towing trailers, and the pace can be infuriatingly slow when you're driving something like a GT-R. The upside is that it ends up averaging 20 mpg the whole time we're in Colorado. Still, next time I'll be taking U.S. 50.
One thing I've forgotten to mention yet is that the GT-R notified me it was ready for its first service at 1,030 miles. I later learned that this service is only required if you've been driving it on a racetrack, so after consultation with the crew back in Santa Monica, we opt to wait until I'm back in LA.
For good measure, I manually check the oil at 1,782 miles (though the car automatically does a self-evaluation at each startup) and find the dipstick right at the front of the engine bay. Nice. And I don't need to add any oil right now.
Although my backpack is riding up front with me, the cockpit remains comfortable and it hasn't yet begun to stink of fast food. I've been sitting in the seats for hours on end, and they're fine, too. Even the cupholders are adequate. In short, the 2009 Nissan GT-R is not a one-dimensional performance car.
Tomorrow we'll take Highway 145 to Telluride.
Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor @ 2,144 miles