It's tough to break into the executive car segment nowadays thanks to the introduction of new models like the impressive Hyundai Sonata, not to mention the dominance of the upgraded versions of the Toyota Camry and Accord.
Nissan, however, has a new flagship in their ranks, one that is ready to take on the competition: the Teana 350XV.
On the outside, the car looks very fit for a gentleman from the boardroom, especially if the gentleman wants something different from the usual exec cars on the road. Its a really long car, and its sleek all over. The headlamps wrap around the the front end of the car, and the grille is as prominent as it should be. There's a nice treatment of chrome all around, and the rear LED taillights look very cool; same goes for the blacked out panoramic sunroof. The wheel design seems a little too sedate, but a trip to an aftermarket wheel dealer will easily take care of that.
Inside, there's a very modern yet conservative design theme; a perfect cabin to relax in on the way back home from work. Supple leather lines all of the seats, the steering wheel, shifter and door panels, while the dash is a stylish mix of brushed metal trim and matte wood panels. It's a comfortable place to be in, and definitely at the forefront of its class.
As expected for a top of the line model, there are plenty of electronic features to make sure the passengers get what they paid for. There are the usual power assist features for the steering, windows, locks, mirrors and front seats, and even gets keyless comfort access for key-in-your-pocket driving convenience. On the ceiling can be seen the panoramic sunroof, which can be opened at the touch of a button, while the temperature inside is kept cool by a fully automated climate control system.
There are some odd features left out for this price range. I do feel the Teana should really come with a DVD entertainment system instead of just an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with an aux port. I have driven a Teana with a fully integrated DVD and navigation system, but it's a costly (probably) extra. They also didn't seem to pay as much attention to the rear seats, as the back doesn't get recline functions or climate and audio controls (like the Toyota Camry 3.5Q). Nissan have installed an ottoman in this car, something you would find in a Lexus LS or a Mercedes S-Class, though it seems to have been installed on the wrong seat: the front passenger. Odd indeed, as execs generally prefer the back seat.
To be honest, this car has been around for a while now; a model already on its 2nd generation. The first gen Teana was powered by just a 2.3 liter V-6 which wasn't all that impressive for performance but definitely delivered on comfort. The initial version of the current generation got an upgraded and uprated 2.5 liter engine, but given the increased weight of the car, it was hard to feel the difference. With this 350XV version, there's now plenty of power on tap.
The new V-6 engine displaces 3.5 liters, capable of 252 horsepower and 335 Newton-meters of torque. It's less powerful than the 3.5 liter engines from Toyota's Camry and the Accord from Honda, but it's definitely much more than the 2.5 liter version. Off the line, the Teana can squeal both front tires, though that's not really what many would be doing with it. The transmission is Nissan's own X-Tronic continuously variable transmission, which does away with fixed ratio gears for smoother, shock-less acceleration. On the highway, it pulls cleanly and evenly as it should, and is quite silent at speed. In terms of fuel efficiency, well, I never expected much, but its respectable in the city at 5.9 km/l (light to moderate traffic) and 9-10 km/l on the highway.
Teanas are not meant for handling, thus much body roll can be expected in the corners. However, take it on the open road and there's an air of confidence as it gets up to speed, and does it in the utmost of comfort and smoothness; a trait that is gradually getting lost with today's sporty-inclined exec cars. At PhP 2.048M it's a little pricey compared to its similarly specced competitors.
There is now plenty of choice in the market for the discerning executive, from sporty exec cars like the Sonata to the standard bearers like the Camry and Accord. If I wanted a relaxing, chauffered ride home, however, I would pick the Teana and it's ultra-comfortable ottoman... even if I have to be in the front seat to enjoy it.