The Nissan Altima is a driver's car among mid-size sedans. This fourth-generation Altima was all-new for 2007. It set record sales records, won the AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Premium Mid-Size Cars, and ranked highest among mid-size sedans in the J.D. Power and Associates APPEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout) study.
For 2008, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) is standard equipment. Indeed, the 2008 Altima comes loaded with safety features.
A gas-electric Hybrid version is available boasting an EPA-rated 35 miles per gallon City, extending its range past 600 miles between fill-ups. Rated as an Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV), the Altima Hybrid is sold in states that have adopted California emissions regulations: California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Whether four-cylinder, V6, or hybrid, the Nissan Altima offers performance, comfort, safety, economy, and looks. It feels powerful and luxurious. It's a couple of inches shorter than the Maxima on the outside, and gives up a little room in the rear seat; but offers comparable room up front, and very nearly as much luggage space. Fold-down rear seats allow the Altima's trunk to expand into the cabin for carrying big long things.
A well-optioned 2.5 SL offers the leather upholstery and other features of the luxurious 3.5 SL, but with the improved fuel economy of the four-cylinder engine, and we found it delivers plenty of power.
The 175-hp four-cylinder rates 23/31 mpg City/Highway on Regular octane. The 3.5-liter V6 makes 270 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque and rates . The price for that power, however, is an EPA-rated 19/26 mpg appetite for Premium fuel. Best is the Hybrid, which rates 35/33 mpg along with better performance than the standard four-cylinder. Hybrid technology isn't cheap, however, and the Nissan Altima uses the best: from Toyota.
For drivers who appreciate sharp handling, the Altima excels. This is a car that inspires driver confidence, a car that a driver can really connect with. It's steady and predictable in extreme situations, including rough pavement. Its suspension is quite firm but isn't harsh.
A sporty new Altima coupe has joined the lineup. The coupe is a little smaller than the sedan, sprung a little tighter, and different enough in character that we have dealt with it in a separate review.
The 2008 Nissan Altima sedan is available with four-cylinder or V6 power, manual or CVT automatic transmission, four different trim levels, and a bewildering array of option packages.
Altima 2.5 ($18,230) is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated 175 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque (170 and 175, respectively, in California). Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, power windows and door locks, cruise control, tilt/telescope steering-wheel, metallic-look interior trim, pre-wiring for an audio system, an intelligent key with push-button starting, and 16-inch steel wheels. ABS and EBD are standard. Air conditioning does not come standard. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, an automatic is not available.
Nissan Altima 2.5 S ($20,080) and 2.5 S automatic ($20,580) add air conditioning, six-speaker AM/FM/CD, trip computer, and a greatly expanded option list. The 2.5 S Convenience Package ($1,050) adds an eight-way power driver's seat, audio controls in a leather-wrapped steering-wheel, automatic headlamps, and other appointments from the higher-line models; Convenience Plus ($2,150) includes a power glass sunroof, alloy wheels, and the Convenience Package. The 2.5 SL Package ($3,850) includes leather upholstery and most of the 3.5 SL features except the V6 engine. Bluetooth and the premium stereo can be added with the Connection Package ($1000).
Altima 3.5 SE comes with a six-speed manual ($24,080) or automatic transmission ($24,580) and a 3.5-liter V6 rated 270 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The SE also adds 17-inch alloy wheels, power-adjustable driver's seat, steering-wheel-mounted controls for audio and trip computer, a combination of wood and metallic interior trim, automatic headlamps, heated side view mirrors and other features, including power windows that can be raised or lowered with the key. Vehicle Dynamic Control ($900) is optional and is packaged with a full-size spare tire. The Sport Package ($1,300) adds sunroof, fog lights, and a rear spoiler; the Premium Package ($4200) adds the Sport Package and the Connection Package with HID xenon headlamps, heated leather seats, and other interior features.
Nissan Altima 3.5 SL ($28,280) comes with a CVT automatic and most of the SE features, though it comes with 16-inch alloy wheels. The SL adds leather upholstery; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated front seats (with power lumbar support for the driver); power glass sunroof; fog lights; Bluetooth hands-free phone system; Homelink universal transceiver; and a nine-speaker Bose 6CD/MP3/WMA sound system with RDS, speed-sensitive volume control, and XM Satellite Radio.
A navigation system, a rearview camera, and XM Satellite Radio are available in various packages. A rear spoiler ($370), fog lights ($310), and splash guards ($135) are available as standalone options.
Nissan Altima Hybrid ($25,070) comes with cloth upholstery and uses a mix of base, midgrade, and upgrade trim levels. The Hybrid features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and Toyota's proven electric hybrid drive, with a CVT transmission, Vehicle Dynamic Control, traction control, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The electrically powered air conditioning works even when the engine is stopped. It can be loaded with the Hybrid Connection Package ($4,400) with leather upholstery and every available Altima feature except the navigation system, which is included in the Technology Package ($6,400), making a Hybrid Technology Package the ultimate Altima.
Safety features that come on all models include ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, an advanced air bag system, with frontal and side-impact airbags in front, full side curtain airbags, active head restraints in front, and a tire pressure monitoring system. VDC electronic stability control is available on V6 models.