The days of dream cars aren't gone, exactly. You know dream cars…those fanciful flights of design that once were hallmarks of auto shows. Instead, dream cars have been mostly replaced with concept cars, which are usually a thinly-disguised version of an upcoming model.
Case in point: The Nissan Hi-Cross Concept. Originally debuting at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the Hi-Cross made its North American debut at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. The green hybrid crossover is a preview of Nissan's next generation crossover…but exactly which one it's not saying. However, we can make a few educated guesses. For example, sprinkled throughout Nissan's official information are phrases about "compact crossover." Nissan's current entry in the compact crossover market is the Nissan Rogue, which competes against the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and so on. So while Nissan's not saying anything official, it's not too much of a stretch to call this a preview of the next-generation Nissan Rogue.
Who It's For
The Nissan Hi-Cross Concept--or the vehicle it presages, at least--targets the same crowd that buys the aforementioned Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Who's that, exactly? Well, just about everyone it seems…those things are everywhere. But more specifically, figure marketing that would feature young people going to the beach to surf, then going out on the town, picking up kids from school, perhaps, and so on. If it were a real car, that is, like the next-generation Nissan Rogue as a completely random and non-speculative example.
Not surprisingly, the Nissan Hi-Cross Concept is a hybrid, as is anything worth mentioning these days. It also uses Nissan's continuously variable automatic transmission. But also hidden inside its shapely green sheetmetal is:
- Seating for seven. Even though Toyota has dropped seven-passenger seating in its new RAV4, the Hi-Cross concept boasts enough room, although we can't imagine the third row being very comfortable.
- Instantly recognizable Nissan styling. That new nose treatment (also on the new Pathfinder) is very distinctive.
- A clever take on hybrids. The system uses a lithium ion battery, similar to the Nissan Leaf EV, and sandwiches the electric motor between two clutches; one to disengage the engine from the electric motor to allow fully electric operation, and another to smooth the transition between electric and gasoline drive.
What We Think
In case we've been too subtle, we think the Nissan Hi-Cross Concept is a look at the next-generation Nissan Rogue. At the very least, it's a stylishly packaged look at what Nissan thinks a compact crossover could look like. Beyond that, it's also a showcase for some pretty clever hybrid technology. Our guess? This isn't the last we've seen of this vehicle, by whatever name it happens to go by.
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