November 11, 2009
I've been driving our 2009 Nissan GT-R every day for the last three week as we sell it on eBay Motors and Mota.com. It's not my top pick for a daily driver but it is surprisingly practical and comfortable once you put the suspension in comfort mode.
I've even seen the fuel efficiency rise slightly to 19.5 mpg on the last tank from a lifetime average of 17.4 mpg (although I know it's kind of crazy to even talk about fuel economy in a car like this). But the fact of the matter is that, unless you are rich enough to save the GT-R for weekend jaunts, you will wind up driving this car around town and to work. And it definitely fills the bill there too. Just don't ask anyone to sit in the "back seat."
I have to agree with what they say in this hilarious Youtube video, "It was supposed to be the car of the century! You could own the track but you could still take it to go shopping."
Meanwhile, at this writing, the bidding on eBay is up to $50,100 with 5 days to go. The reserve hasn't been met but it's getting close. I'm happy to say we are now above the price that Carmax offered us for the GT-R.
November 06, 2009
Ever want to know what it's like to ride in a GT-R on the highway?
Well, yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
Driving north on highway 5, I saw this truck hauling a black GT-R and though the picture would be cool. With the shutter of my point-and-shoot set at 1/100 and with a wide focal length it should've been pretty sharp, afterall, it was a fairly bright morning. Well, it's not...and yes, I was in COMF.
*Kurt Niebuhr just saw the picture and added this: Yeah, it kinda does ride like that. Like it's being hung off the back of a truck."
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant
September 16, 2009
There is a particularly undulating stretch of the 405 freeway that I tackle every night on my way home.
In most cars, I barely notice the bumps. But when driving the Nissan GT-R, you really need to be in control of the steering wheel. The GT-R takes every road imperfection as a call to action. Not only do you feel it in your bum, but keeping the car within the confines of the lane lines is an adventure. You have to be alert and in command. And don't let go of that steering wheel.
Here is a video of Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson testing the Nissan GT-R in Japan.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 29,060 miles
August 27, 2009
What can you say about the most blogged-about car in the history of the Long Term Blog that hasn't already been said in the previous 166 posts?
Pretty much nuthin.
So I'll just second Al's complaint about the seat cushion's quirk that affects those of us with bony butts.
I will admit that my butt is bony, and the entire time I'm in the driver seat of the GT-R, I squirm and fret over that strange sand bar of seat bolstering jutting out behind me. It's not huge, and I keep thinking that if I can wiggle around just right, it'll stop goosing me. But no dice.
I'd love to hear from other GT-R drivers on this topic. Does the part of the seat bolstering that juts out a bit bug you, too?
Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com
August 05, 2009
We all know the GT-R has motor. And grip. And crazy maintenance issues. But did you know that it's got some serious air conditioning? American truck strong. GM strong. (If you're not aware, GM is widely recognized as having some seriously strong air conditioning. There have been fights after hot track days re who gets to leave in the GM.)
I was out in the desert cruising around (more on that later) for a good five hours in temps raging from a breezy 105 to this max reading of 120. The A/C blew cold and strong, and the temp gauge stayed static. Frankly, I was expecting more, or any, drama.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 25,276 miles
July 13, 2009
Our 2009 Nissan GT-R has my all-time favorite steering wheel.
Everything about it fits my hands perfectly. I love the way the perforated leather feels at the grips, the paddles are well within reach of my girl fingers, and the audio controls are convenient. And, of course, it helps me pilot the beast.
I think this car was made for me.
What do you like in a steering wheel?
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 24,850 miles
July 09, 2009
Last night, I took off in the GT-R and realized my seat was getting kinda toasty. I didn't remember the GT-R having seat heaters. I looked around the center console for controls but couldn't find any. So, I figured they must be on the seat itself somewhere. Trouble was, I was driving on the freeway by now and couldn't really go on a button hunt. Even feeling around the seat controls, I couldn't find a heater switch.
I'm a hot seat lover, so I can't believe I never noticed that the GT-R has seat heaters. I guess I'm thinking about more important things when I'm driving Godzilla, like the acceleration screen. I love to see the curves on the acceleration screen.
When I finally got to a stop, I found them on the left of the seat in plain site. It's not exactly like they are hidden. Problem solved.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
June 05, 2009
I did it. I think I'm the first adult to have gone for a ride in the backseat of our 2009 Nissan GT-R. Editor Dan's kids, Scott O.'s kids and, I think, Karl's kids have sat back there and all editors have said that adults don't fit. But I've lived to tell about it; and yes, they do. OK, it probably helped that I'm short, 5'5".
But, it actually wasn't that bad. And I was sitting behind someone who's 5'9". But they had enough room for their legs and my knees weren't pressed against the back of their seat. Sure, when I leaned back my head was touching glass and I could look up and see the sky but it wasn't cramped back there. Definitely cozy. And I can fit my hand through the holes in the seat and poke the person sitting in front of me.
Not saying that I'd agree to a long road trip (I'd get car sick from the harsh ride), or even a ride cross town back there, but I wouldn't complain during a quick trip to the store.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
June 03, 2009
Our long-term 2009 Nissan GT-R has excellent front seats. They are both comfortable and supportive, with luxurious suede-like surfaces and leather trim. You can see in this shot the excellent 8-way power seat adjuster knob that Erin inexplicably left out of her previous blog pic.
Just above that seat adjuster knob is the seat heater switch, a strange location and difficult to find unless you remembered it or something.
The small quirk about the seat is that both sides of the bottom side bolsters connect through the base of the seat (seen in below photo). This extra material can be felt right at your tailbone if you have a bony butt.
It's only slightly uncomfortable, but I've never seen another vehicle with this type of bottom cushion seat styling.
Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 21,600 miles
June 02, 2009
It was almost a year ago that I picked our 2009 Nissan GT-R up in Nashville and drove it 3,000 miles across the U.S. Yet, I still get excited every time I get in this car -- as if I'm going to drive it again for the very first time.
And, you know, I think it's seating postion in the cockpit. This has to be one of the best resolved driving positions in any current-day sports car.
It takes a minute to get set up -- with a single rotary-looking knob that actually functions more like a joystick as the main seat adjustor. And then there's a separate toggle button for the height adjustment of the front half of the seat-bottom cushion. The steering wheel has separate manual levers for both telescope and tilt (the latter moves the whole gauge pack up and down).
Once all that's done, though, it feels wonderful to sit in the GT-R. The steering wheel sits and fits in your hands just so, and the seat has you all set up to be looking ahead and making quick decisions about where Godzilla is going next. And all the controls are a finger's stretch away. And, when you're stopped in traffic, that special GT-R badge is right there in front of your face.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor
May 26, 2009
I snagged the GT-R for the long weekend -- score! Figuring that Saturday and Monday would be bad days for L.A.'s already notorious traffic, I limited those days to running errands and running down to Long Beach to play tennis, respectively. The real quality time would be spent Sunday, taking a day trip with my girlfriend to Santa Barbara, with stops at Calabasas (for Supercar Sunday) and Camarillo (for the outlets). I got my car fix at the former (saw everything from Jay Leno's 192? Bugatti racecar to a mint '67 Shelby GT 500) and some new Nike kicks for my gf at the latter.
Right about now you're thinking "Yeah, yeah, that's all very nice...what about the GT-R?"
Here are a few of my random thoughts on the nearly 500-hp supercar:
-- Pulling away smoothly is sometimes herky-jerky (especially when the car is cold) no matter how carefully you modulate the throttle
-- The tranny has no "creep", so parallel parking requires you to feather the gas ever so gently, so as to minimize the quirk noted above. A park assist feature would be nice too.
-- The tranny is awesome, however, when you're hard on the gas, clicking off smooth shifts so quickly the fierce acceleration doesn't let up at all between gears. And there's no lag when you're flicking the paddles either.
-- This car slingshots to crazy velocity like it has an afterburner strapped to the roof.
-- Even with the adjustable suspension in "Comf(ort)" mode, the ride is just too stiff. On a road trip, I'd rather not feel the amplitude and contour of every bump in the road. I actually prefer firm suspension setups, but if you're gonna have an adjustable suspension, have some meaningful difference between Normal and Comfort settings.
-- Pronounced road noise on coarse asphalt and concrete freeways.
-- Awesome seats. Perfect blend of firm support and hours-in-the-saddle comfort. Plenty of proper lumbar support despite the absence of an adjustable feature.
-- Incredible handling capability, nothing that weighs two tons has any business changing directions so nimbly.
-- I averaged 16.5 mpg in mostly freeway driving, with some twisty two-laners and traffic thrown in for good measure.
-- At first intimidating due to its power and bulk, the GT-R proved easy to handle, and is one of those performance cars that "shrinks" around you as you explore its considerable talents.
In short, the GT-R provides plenty of emphasis on Race, not so much on Grand Touring.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor at 21,289 miles.
March 13, 2009
I was soo lucky to land the 2009 Nissan GT-R as our road trip car to Vegas. I usually HATE driving to Vegas, such a boring trip. But the GT-R's seats are comfortable enough for both the driver and passenger to withstand 283 miles and our car has all the amenities to make that long, boring slog to Sin City bearable. We had satellite radio so we wouldn't have to keep switching stations, seat heaters!, 480 horsepower for short bursts of speed to enliven things and the entertainment of watching fellow motorists drool at the car.
Before the trip I was warned that the suspension, even in Comfort mode, would still make the car shudder over road imperfections but it really didn't bug me as much as I thought it would.
On the way back home I asked my road trip companion if she enjoyed her ride in the GT-R. She did, especially because it was so comfortable as the seat sort of cradled her and the lumbar support pushed her in at the right spot so she didn't get an achey back. She did feel guilty that I had to do all the driving, though. Heh. Yeah, I think that I had a lot more fun than she did and that's saying a lot considering I usually find the road to Vegas so very dull.
I was fascinated by the power of this car which made me feel like a giant trying to pet a kitten. So much oomph that a couple of times when I wanted to pass slowpokes, I found that I had jumped to 10 mph faster in what felt like a mere second when all I wanted to do was get around them. Oops! Looked in my rearview mirror and they were now a faint dot on the horizon.
I had to watch my speeds on the 15, though, since there seemed to be a lot more cops out than usual. Such a bummer. Leaving Vegas, after Stateline there had to be a cop every 2 miles sitting on the side of the road with their laser speed guns pointed at traffic.
BTW what has to be the biggest plus about the interior of this car is the 9-cubic-foot trunk that can accommodate the luggage of two girls going away to Vegas for three days. That's pretty amazing for a supercar. Our Audi R8 had about 7 cubic feet of oddly shaped space in its frunk.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 18,717 miles
January 30, 2009
As the economy continues to sputter, we here at the Long-Term Blog are turning our attention to burning questions that are in tune with these troubled times. Such as the following:
Which is better, the GT-R's dual-clutch automated manual transmission or Porsche's new PDK?
I'd like to leave aside the question of durability, since we've just reported that less than one percent of GT-Rs have experienced the infamous transaxle failure. But Nissan's eliminating launch control from future GT-Rs, so there must be something to it. As for PDK, it can weather 40 consecutive launches without issue, according to Porsche, and nothing in our experience suggests otherwise. Advantage: PDK.
The margin only widens at speed, where PDK proves utterly seamless in full automatic mode and serves up lightning-quick yet remarkably smooth manual shifts in "Sport." The GT-R's transmission is very good, but there's some perceptible thunking through the gears, and its downshifts aren't as quick as PDK's.
So there's your answer: Godzilla's good, but PDK's better. It's still no manual substitute, though, and never will be.
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com
January 26, 2009
We wouldn't normally associate a 2009 Nissan GT-R with Sunday brunch with Grandma and Grandpa, but that's precisely where we were going this weekend. So the four of us piled in.
Truth be told, there wasn't enough space for me to frame a proper picture of the resulting rear seat legroom. After all, this is a real car, not a cutaway used for catalog shots. Besides, the girls weren't in a posing mood. Shelby, our taller 12-year old, fit much better than 10-year old Sarah because her legs are long enough to allow her feet to hit the floor and her toes to slip under the front seat. And she wasn't stuck sitting behind me, either.
But a couple of interesting/weird points are nevertheless visible in this photo.
1) The rear seat belts go the "wrong" way. They pull from the inside to the outside. Not being out in the open makes the buckles hard to get at, especially for "big" people. But big people don't fit back here anyway, so it doesn't matter much. Still, it's an odd choice.
2) Those seats don't fold and there isn't any sort of pass-through, but the Bose subs are backed-up by an unseen vent that turns the whole trunk into a resonator. Couldn't really try it on Sunday morning, though. I didn't want to boost the bass of the Car Talk guys any more than necessary.
"Hello, you're on Car Talk."
"Hi Tom and Ray. I'm Dan from California. I need your help. My transmission is making a funny noise."
"So's my brother. What kinda car is it?"
"It's a 2009 Nissan GT-R. It all started after I used launch control to dust-off this guy in a Porsche..."
OK, I made that last part up; My call never got through and the GT-R's transmission noises are no more humorous than usual.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,198 miles
December 30, 2008
A week in the GT-R is like hanging out with Superman. Wherever you stop, people notice, and if stationary long enough, begin to congregate. Matronly types with no interest at all in automobiles put their hand near their mouth (as if the GT-R might overhear) and comment in unconsciously sultry tones on how fast the car looks. Small groups mingle on sidewalks to watch you pull away, witness to the jet-like roar as the car spools its turbos. All the while, you're ensconced in a bunker-like cocoon with fantastic seats. Beyond the ill-deserved attention, my wife specifically asked me not to bring this car home again. Why?
It was certainly not for the GT-R's chiseled good looks. This is a fairly massive coupe, but it deftly hides that bulk in a square-jawed way that grabs you as you approach the car. Favreau should have put Iron Man in this rather than the R8. In white, especially when approached from the front, its gaping maw does make it look like a whale shark has trolled onto your driveway. But in the darker shades, this is one menacing machine. Though I never got the chance to snap a photo of the two together over the holiday, a neighbor down the end of my block has a black GT-R (welcome to L.A.), and trust me, it's all ate up with menacing.
So what was up with the shun? My spouse's cruel request stemmed from the GT-R's suspension tuning. On SoCal's beautifully constructed concrete freeways, the expansion joint hop can make the GT-R a brutal penalty box over long freeway stretches. Granted, this is not a car tuned for freeway running, but in the spirit of other great grand-touring machines, this stands out from an otherwise impressive all-rounder.
The GT-R does feature an adjustable suspension, which helps calm what still feels like a combination of a brutal spring rate and overly aggressive compression damping. But even in the comfort mode, poor pavement will have the GT-R's stiff chassis transferring pounding impacts to the cabin. For all the time most owners will spend on the track, I'd happily trade the suspension's "R" mode for a silkier setting below the "Conf" notch. They could save the range of this setup, or an even stiffer one, for the upcoming GT-R V Spec.
This realm of suspension tuning is an area where the European manufacturers still seem to have an edge over their Japanese counterparts. Compliance combined with sporting control is the Euro's ace in the hole. Perhaps it's Japan's lucky emphasis on excellent road quality, but many sporting machines from Japan seem tuned in a test-track vacuum. We're always seeing GT-R mules flitting around the Nurburgring, but suspensions tuned for lap-time bragging rights often run counter to real world livability. While at the Nordschleife, they might want to hound some of the BMW crew.
This poor-pavement punishment is a standout anomaly, as the GT-R would otherwise happily serve as an everyday supercar. I can't say enough about the stellar, grippy seats, the tranny is responsive in manual mode and still works well in stop-and-go traffic, even the trunk is usefully spacious. Chassis feedback is limited as you really push this beast, but that limit is so ridiculously high, few will ever approach it on the street. Do you think if we could get some Japanese suspension engineers to apprentice for a while at BMW, they'd finally seal the ride/handling gap?
Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 14,783 miles
November 28, 2008
It only takes a few stints behind the wheel of the GT-R to figure out the best settings for its driver-configurable transmission, suspension and stability control systems. It looks pretty much like this: transmission switch in "R" mode, suspension switch in "Comf"and the VDC switch left in the middle. The result is slightly quicker reactions from the transmission (which is otherwise quite lazy for a sportscar) and a fractionally more comfortable ride. Oh, and it also means that the soon-to-be-defunct launch control setup is only two buttons away instead of three. Not that we would ever take such a risk.
Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 12,914 miles
November 28, 2008
Every time the 2009 Nissan GT-R's dual-clutch automated manual transmission rattles and clicks while cruising around town, it reminds me of the sounds made by a racing-type, non-synchromesh dog-ring gearbox. And when someone whines about this intrusion by the mechanical workings of the car, I'm happy. It means there's one less crybaby fascinated by the GT-R - and one more person who will find his way to the Lexus SC 430 that he deserves.
There's no sense complaining about the GT-R's ride quality. Or its shift action. Or the noise that the transmission makes. Or the way the rear wing looks on the rear deck. Or the way fuel will puke out of the gas tank when the rear differential has been heated up by hard use. Or even the fact that you're on your own when it comes to warranty coverage when you engage launch control for a fast getaway.
The Nissan GT-R is a fast car. It doesn't make excuses for being a fast car. It doesn't try to pretend it's a limousine or a minivan, a crossover or a commuter. It's exactly the automobile we've been asking for, a hard-bitten performance car.
It is not for crybabies.
If you're not up for the compromises in your comfort and welfare while driving this automobile, then you should be driving something else. It's a mystery to me that the GT-R should get so much stick for its eccentricities. It is as if the car is being forced to pay a psychological price for its affordable market price. Because it costs less than a Porsche 911 GT2, there are those who expect it to be as user-friendly as a Subaru WRX.
For me, the Nissan GT-R is a pure track car that through some sneaky legislative loophole is allowed to carry a license plate. It is a sports car, a civilian version of the Nissan-sponsored GT-R that just won the championship in Japan's Super GT racing series (pictured above). The GT-R is a racing car for the street, not a 480-hp Lexus. Its eccentricities are part of the price you pay.
The only way the 2009 Nissan GT-R could be better would be if it, you know, occasionally caught on fire.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 13,500 miles
October 29, 2008
Seriously Nissan? 80-grand. Automatic transmission, keyless entry, iPod integration, NAV with real-time traffic, but no automatic headlights? It seems trivial, but I had them in my '95 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe and they should be present here, too.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant
October 06, 2008
The first time I really laid into the GT-R was merging onto the highway Saturday morning. The absolutely effortless acceleration and jet-like engine aria were astonishing -- I giggled for a good 30 seconds. Sadlier was dead on when he described it as like driving a plane. Actually, the last time I felt such a sensation was on a small private jet.
So when I drew the GT-R for the weekend, I immediately changed my plans and jetted out for 24 hours in Las Vegas.
Given the fact I live farther away than Jacquot does, I knew I couldn't touch his absurd time from the week before, but on a Saturday morning I figured I could at least set a new record for myself. Averaging around -- mph and keeping pace with other cars, I got from Santa Monica to the Luxor in 3.5 hours. And what a few hours it was. Once you clear the god-awful Los Angeles freeway surfaces, the GT-R's Comf suspension setting becomes less ironic and I could actually enjoy the ride. The seats I initially lamented for pinching a little too much and not offering adjustable bolsters like in the G37, actually became wonderfully comfortable as the drive went on. My girlfriend (who is basically half my size) concurred that the seats were excellent.
Other than the suspension, I couldn't ask for a better Vegas car than the GT-R. Reason one is the turbo-6 doesn't blink at the countless inclines. Reason two is the ability to blow past the ExpeTahoeBurbans and dimwitted Priuses that diligently cling to the left lane. This was a bigger deal on the way back Sunday with much heavier traffic. Although I hate passing on the right (since it's not so legal), they leave you little choice with their complete lack of lane discipline. After giving them a brief opportunity to get the hell out of Godzilla's way, I yell out "Shake and bake baby!" and like a pilot pushing down on the throttle at take-off, nudge into the GT-R's jet engine. Holy crap it's fun.
And yet with such speed and fun, I managed 19.78 mpg over the whole trip (one tank each way, 18.5 mpg there, 21.4 back). That's pretty darn good considering I only got 20.2 mpg out of a Dodge Journey on the exact same journey three weeks ago. JDP could also only manage 17.1 mpg out of the R8 on the much flatter trip to Phoenix.
Given all this and the fact it has a useful trunk and lots of entertainment options, the GT-R is a phenomenal road trip car...as long as the road's good enough for Comf to actually mean Comf.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 8,318 miles
(I'll have some more GT-R trip stories this week over on Thoughts from the Curb)
October 01, 2008
Shook hands with Godzilla last night, and had a brief, but enjoyable visit. This thing's good. I only experienced two freeway on-ramps to get just a hint of the handling, but it sticks like glue through the turns. If you probed the limits on a public road, you may find yourself on your head. The steering is good, but not great. But the acceleration at speed is amazing, the fastest I've ever experienced. If you mash the throttle on the freeway, there may not be a downshift but there's no drama; you're just gone. And you find yourself quickly going crazy fast. As Dan said, the speedo's useless, but there is a nice digital speed display so you can confirm the traffic citation.
The Polyphony/Xanavi display is fun to play with, but I wasn't about to take a pic while I was driving, so the two screens I'm showing here were when the car was stationary, hence not much displayed data. There are 11 different screens that show engine functions, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, torque distribution, driver's steering and pedal inputs, and some others. It's technically fascinating.
The 6-speed dual clutch transmission is excellent, but first gear is clunky and sometimes even throws you forward. Also, in first and second gears, there is some crunching sounds coming from the transmission. That wasn't pleasant.
But I love the styling. It's the only Japan car that I would call Bad. You know, like Tony Montana or Mr. Blonde.
Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 7622 mi
September 04, 2008
There's an infomercial I've watched a few thousand times for some counter top oven thingie. The guy says the contraption is so easy to use, you just "set it and forget it".
I wish our long-term 2009 Nissan GT-R followed this philosophy. Every time I climb in the car I have to put the suspension in Comf (there are three settings) and the transmission in R (Race, it also has three settings). I usually leave its stability control system in its default setting, which does not display a light (it also has three settings).
This sucks. If I owned the GT-R I would want the car to remember how I like it to be set up. I would want to set it and forget it. But as it is, I have to go through the same ritual each and every time I jump in the car. Running errands on a Saturday, I can futz with those toggle switches a dozen times in just an hour or two.
It's quite annoying. I just ran up to the cash machine you stupid car, can't you remember I want Comf?
Scott Oldham, Edmunds Editor in Chief
August 26, 2008
Each and every time you start the GT-R it checks its own oil.
Its factory spec tire pressure is just 29 psi front and back.
Kids really do fit in the backseat. Forget about adults.
Under the passenger floor is this hidden compartment where important items like the tow loop is stored.
Scott Oldham, Edmunds Editor in Chief @ 4,999 miles
August 15, 2008
First, a shameless plug. Over on our up-and-coming Strategies Blog, colloquially known as "The Edmunds Blog," a rather provocative Weekly Top 3 list has been posted that involves the GT-R. Topic? The best all-around sports car for $70,000. Go check it out, and tell us what you think. (I totally vouch for the Weekly Top 3 guy, by the way. Cool dude.)
And now, a few GT-R thoughts, based on one canyon run and one lunchtime cruise around LA.
(1) It sounds like a plane. You know when you're rolling slowly toward the runway, and you hear that soft whistling noise from the jet engines? That's what the GT-R sounds like when you're trundling along in traffic. And you know how the whistle turns into a half-growl/half-shriek when the plane accelerates down the runway? That's what the GT-R sounds like when you floor it. Some have complained that this car doesn't have enough character in its exhaust note, but I say, who cares? The thing sounds like an airplane. That's just cool.
(2) In automatic mode, the transmission just can't wait to get you into 6th gear. Under light acceleration, you'll be in 6th by like 30 mph. I did an experiment in our parking garage over a span of about 100 feet -- I went 0-18 mph, and I was in 4th gear by the end. Which is fine (fuel economy, emissions, what-have-you), but quite remarkable.
(3) Three six-footers and one five-foot-two-incher can drive around town in reasonable comfort for an hour, including a few full-throttle blasts and some corner-hugging turns. Trust me; I was there. The (lovely and talented) smallest passenger was admittedly sitting behind me, so that I wouldn't have the steering wheel in my lap, but the two other six-footers sat one behind the other on the passenger side, and they weren't complaining. This may have been partially because they were getting a ride in the GT-R, but nonetheless -- try that in any other sub-4-second 0-60 car.
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,419 miles
P.S. A special shout-out goes to six-footer Ola for literally stopping traffic in downtown Santa Monica in order to make this picture possible.
August 09, 2008
I have a problem with underestimating driving distances, and that's why our 2009 Nissan GT-R and I are facing the prospect of driving 950 miles in one day. It doesn't matter. We're still going to take Highway 145 north toward Telluride (elevation: 8,700 feet) and then cross into Utah on CO Hwy 90/UT Hwy 46.
It ends up being so worth it. The 145 is gorgeous on the approach to Telluride, with snow-flecked mountains rising from truly green hillsides. If only I'd had enough time to do some hiking. Here again, the turns are more sweeper than switchback, so the GT-R makes rapid progress until I have to pull over and ogle the scenery.
We've descended onto a high plateau and open rangeland by the time we reach Utah, and our arrival is made eventful only by the bullet hole through the Hwy 90 sign. I don't carry a gun. Also, I manage not to hit any cows, but the GT-R's wide mug murders 794,534 insects during our trip. (I gave it a self-service bath in Cortez to wash away some of the evidence.)
It's desert-hot by the time we turn onto U.S. 191, and again, I'm frustrated by lack of time for hiking in either Canyonlands or Arches National Park. Summer's not over, yet, though.
Getting back onto I-70 takes some of the wind out of my sails. The Utah stretch of this interstate is in terrible condition and the ride quality is just a hair short of intolerable -- I feel every ripple and fissure in the pavement. I'll never again drive this road in our long-term GT-R.
Traffic is light, though (because, what do you know, this highway's a closed course, too!), which means there's plenty of room for the the Nissan to settle in at its preferred triple-digit cruising speeds. Yet, it never does worse than 18 mpg for the rest of the day.
Radar picks up significantly once we're on I-15, and I'm glad to have the Escort radar detector of long-term Audi R8 road trip fame. Ours is the top-of-the-line 9500ix and I've been using it the whole trip. As you can imagine, it quickly became indispensable, and conveniently, the GT-R has a seam between its IP and center stack panels that allows perfect nesting for the power cord. The relevant power point is just right of the steering wheel.
I've never used a radar detector before, but as you can imagine, this $500 model has a lot of features, my favorite being the audible prompts that tell you what kind of radar or laser you're about to drive into. Also, the Escort tells you when its GPS signal has been lost when you're driving through the mountains, so you know when you're on your own out there.
When we hit Santa Monica, California, at about 10:30 PM that night, the long-term Nissan GT-R has 3,096 miles on its odometer. I think the greatest compliment I can give is to say that I'd originally planned to make this a 2,000-mile trip (roughly the distance between Nissan of Cool Springs in Franklin, TN, and my house in LA). But I've gone and amassed over 3,000 miles and I've scarcely noticed. My back's a little sore from today's haul, but I could keep going, no problem.
I still don't know if I can love the 2009 Nissan GT-R, but I do like this car and I respect both its massive performance capabilities and its capacity to function as a real car that can be taken on a real road trip. Ride quality is still iffy, for sure, but choose your route carefully and you'll be happy in it. And for the record, I love the way this car looks.
Lowest gas price: $3.88 for 91 octane somewhere in Kansas. Highest gas price: $4.89 for 91 octane in Baker, California. Best value gas price: $4.00 for 93 octane in Columbia, Missouri.
Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor @ 3,151 miles
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
August 07, 2008
As soon as I cross the Missouri-Kansas state line and enter the toll section of Interstate 70, the 2009 Nissan GT-R and I are driving through a pretty terrific thunderstorm.
There's not much hail, fortunately, so the bodywork takes no welts. The flash flooding is considerable, though, and at times visibility seems like it's not more than a few feet in front of the Nissan's nose. Motorists are pulling to the shoulder. And the GT-R's Bridgestone Potenza RE070Rs, particularly the rears, are hard-pressed to find traction. I reduce speed (a lot) but still find myself countersteering every other minute. I don't know if I'd call these tires great in the wet. But given how much water is on the road, this isn't a fair test.
Finally, the storm is over and we enjoy this post-nuclear sunset near Topeka while waiting at the toll plaza. After nightfall, I roll into Hays, Kansas, planning to grab a room at one of its many chain motels. But everything is booked up by summer vacationers. I end up with the very last room at the Best Western in Waukeeney, KS, which is about 45 minutes farther west. Clearly, not everyone has put their summer travel plans on hold due to high gas prices.
I see a lot of husband-and-wife Harleys during my road trip west, but this is the only one with a side car. After they complete their pass on this stretch of I-70 just west of Columbia, MO, this couple politely moves to the right lane and he gives me a thumbs-up. (The camera is zoomed in this pic, so my following distance is more conservative than it appears.)
Before leaving Missouri, by the way, I give our Nissan GT-R one last fill of 93 octane, its preferred drink, according to the label on its fuel door. From here on out, it will have to make do with inferior 91.
Tomorrow, we'll cross into Colorado and find some twistier back roads.
Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor @ 1,567 miles
August 06, 2008
I'm actually supposed to do this trip in 3 days, but 5 minutes after getting into our 2009 Nissan GT-R, I realize that's not happening. Granted, the GT-R's fast enough that I could probably do it in 2 days. But this is my first east-west drive across the United States -- I want to take every highway in my atlas. It's also the longest amount of time I've ever not had to share a high-end performance car.
I immediately give into nostalgia and point the GT-R toward Memphis, because about 10 years ago, I went to college there. I'd forgotten how nice the roads are here, and the GT-R's ride quality borders on compliant on I-40.
I arbitrarily decide to keep revs below 4,000 for engine break-in, but I later read that Nissan recommends keeping it under 3,500 rpm for the initial 400 miles. And until 1,300 miles, you're not supposed to use full throttle and you're supposed to keep the suspension in "Comf" mode to allow for maximum travel, says the owner's manual. It's OK, though. Even half throttle provides considerable speed, and you can still see triple digits during closed-course driving.
By the time I roll up to the midtown Memphis Holiday Inn Express (friendly staff here, by the way), my luggage is cooked. Outside temperatures have been mild, so it must be the rear transaxle that's causing every carpeted surface in here to heat up. For the rest of the trip, my backpack rides in the passenger footwell.
The next morning I stop by Huey's, hoping this hamburger joint might be open, but no dice. Huey's is a chain in Memphis, and if you get sick of BBQ, it's hard to beat their juicy burgers, which my friends and I used to wash down with a pitcher of Michelob. This is the original store at 1927 Madison.
Next stop is 450 miles away in Bloomington, Illinois, which is most definitely not on the road back to California, but a person called Mom lives here, and the GT-R is keen to see all the summer flowers in the family garden.
Besides, Interstate 55 randomly becomes a closed course on the way back south, and on its straight, flat, smooth pavement, the GT-R briefly cruises in the 130s. Not the highest speeds we've ever recorded, obviously, but it's striking how comfortable the car is at this speed -- completely unstrained.
Finally, we reach St. Louis. Although everybody tells you the Gateway Arch is the one place you must go here, that's a lie. The real place you must go is Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard, which is possibly the best ice cream-related product I've ever had. On summer nights, the line wraps around the building at the 6726 Chippewa location, but on this hot afternoon, I wait only a couple minutes for my custom cookie-dough-butterscotch-banana concrete.
One complaint: The XM Nav Traffic feature really needs Nav Construction logic. The decision to make the pilgrimage to Ted Drewe's comes last-minute, and the nav system routes me on to I-64/U.S. 40. Just as I'm about turn onto the entrance ramp, I see the cones and the completely deserted freeway with construction equipment on it. No wonder it's showing up green.
I end up taking a long, slow drive through the old-money suburbs of Ladue and Creve Coeur. Narrow roads, 25-mph speed limits and irritating drivers in luxury SUVs. At least the concrete ends up being the most delicious meal I've had all year. And break-in is almost complete.
Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor @ 1,072 miles