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September 21, 2010 > Auto Review: Altima by Nissan

Auto Review: Altima by Nissan

The Altima was originally launched 17 years ago; 3.1 million Altimas have been produced since then. Nissan has introduced a fourth-generation design for 2010. Altimas are available in three basic models, a four-door sedan, similar to previous models, a coupe, and a hybrid.

You have a choice of two power plants for your new Altima. The first is a 2.5-liter, double overhead cam, 16- valve, inline four cylinder unit rated at 175 HP and 180 pound feet of torque. This one delivered 23 mpg in city tests and 32 mpg on the highway. The other choice is the 3.5-liter, V-6 unit used in many Nissan vehicles. This 24-valve engine is rated at 270 HP and 258 pound feet of torque. Its EPA testing delivered 20/27 mpg.

Nissan's advanced Xtronic CVT is standard on all Altima models. CVT stands for "Continuously Variable Transmission" that acts like an automatic without feeling the shift points. It is another improvement in technology and more efficient than a standard automatic transmission. The V-6 cars get a "Sport" transmission controller that allows the driver to "shift" the CVT as if it were a manual transmission.

We had a four-door sedan with the premium 3.5-liter engine and sport package. It was quite nice with good outward vision and easy entry and exit. The front seats were not as comfortable as they could have been and provided very little support. It had a huge trunk, bigger than any trunk we have seen in a long time. The back seats were large and can accommodate full-sized adults with no problems.

The combination of 270 HP and CVT was new to me. I was wondering how it would perform. Well, that combination is great. As I pressed the throttle, the Altima moved smoothly forward. There was no sense of transmission shifting, just smooth acceleration. This system exhibited very little torque steer. The ride was smooth and handling was fine for an inexpensive car; controls were easy to understand and use.

Altima Sedan is available in three trim levels: 2.5 CVT is the base model with the four-cylinder engine and starts at a base price of $19,900; 2.5 S CVT starts at $21,840; base price of the V-6 3.5 SR CVT is $24,520. Our car came with the $2,370 Sport package that added Xenon headlights, fog lights, moonroof and a rear spoiler. It also included the premium package with leather seats, Bose sound system and other items that added $2,380 to the sticker price.

The Altima is a cost effective choice in the mid-size category. If you want to stay on the green side of automobile technology, the Altima also comes in the Hybrid version. I can't wait until I try that one.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
Member of the Motor Sports Press Association

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