By KBB.com Editors
When Nissan redesigned its midsize sedan for 2002, it turned out as big as the "flagship" Maxima. Because that Altima has sold strongly, Nissan kept the 2007 redesign evolutionary, concentrating on improvements. Lower engine mounting, for instance, aims to cut "torque steer" to near-zero. Either a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) may be installed with the four-cylinder or V6 engine. This CVT, Altima's first, provides a kickdown comparable to regular automatics. Shift modes provide normal, economy and sport operation, with no strange "rubber band" sensation. A gasoline/electric hybrid sedan will arrive soon, followed by an Altima Coupe.You'll Like This Car If...
If you like CVTs as well as a choice of four-cylinder or V6 power, the Altima is an appealing, sportier contender when compared to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Anyone who values firm control on winding and challenging roads, without a loss of ride comfort, should appreciate the merits of the Altima's taut suspensionespecially the sport-tuned setup of the 3.5 SE.You May Not Like This Car If...
Naturally, if you simply cannot get used to the gearless operation of a CVT, the Altima isn't likely to appeal to you unless it has a manual transmissionthough the kickdown feature makes the CVT feel more like a conventional automatic. Reducing the availability of anti-lock braking (Nissan offers it as standard only on V6 models, and not available at all for the base 2.5 sedan), is an unfortunate choice that several automakers are making lately as a cost-cutting measure.What's New for 2007
Slightly smaller in this fourth generation, Nissan's midsize sedan can have an Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) for the first time. Striving for the best-performing front-wheel-drive sedan in the world, Nissan claims to have addressed perceived weaknesses of the 2002 through 2006 models, including interior quality, noise levels and steering effort.Driving It Driving Impressions
Seriously substantial, each Altima model demonstrates superior handling capabilities coupled with a satisfying ride. In 3.5 SE form with manual shift, it's especially enjoyable on twisting roads. A beautifully-behaved clutch adds to the pleasure, though the shifter is a bit vague. Although the taut suspension yields greater body motion on imperfect surfaces, ride comfort doesn't suffer. The four-cylinder sedan also blends ride comfort with adept handling. You hardly notice lesser bumps, and Altimas make quick work of deeper ones. Even the four-cylinder delivers exuberant energy with only moderate engine noise. As expected, Nissan's CVT performs with satisfying smoothness.Favorite Features
Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Nissan has taken the lead with CVTs, which have been produced since 1992, though not installed in U.S. vehicles until more recently. For the Altima, the CVT benefits from a passing kickdown feature as well as a choice of three modes, and the CVT-equipped sedan accelerates without excessive engine noise.
Sport-Tuned Suspension (3.5 SE)
With its tauter suspension and undeniably sporty control, plus excellent steering characteristics, the V6-powered Altima 3.5 SE performs masterfully on twisty two-lane roads, offering fine road feel and connection to the pavement.
Seat cushions in the "high-hospitality" interior have been lengthened and offer good thigh support. Seatbacks are taller, but back support isn't quite up to par. Especially with leather upholstery, you may sometimes feel as if you're about to slide downward. Front occupants can stretch out comfortably. Abundant glass translates to super visibility and a low cowl permits expansive views ahead. Gauges are basic, but easy to read. Doubled in volume, the glovebox is now deemed "jumbo-size," because no part of the air conditioner is behind it. A new dual-pivot brake pedal promises normal "feel" at both low and high speeds.Exterior
Built on an all-new "D" platform, the Altima rides a wheelbase that has shrunk by nearly an inch. Overall length is 2.5 inches shorter than the 2002 through 2006 models, and windshield pillars have moved forward. In its 2007 form the sedan's "stance is still aggressive," according to Nissan, but in a slightly smaller size. In consideration of the car's many new features a shorter wheelbase was needed to keep weight down, but Nissan claims the Altima offers "the same room inside." Wheel arches are considerably more pronounced. Taillamps were reworked, but have kept the basic look of the prior generation. Body rigidity has improved, too.Notable Standard Equipment
Even in the base 2.5 trim level with a four-cylinder engine and stick shift, the Altima includes power locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, "Intelligent Key" with a pushbutton start feature, a split-folding rear seat and 16-inch tires. Three additional trim levels are offered: Four-cylinder 2.5 S (with SL package available), plus the 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL. The 2.5 S adds air conditioning and a CD player. Sport-minded drivers can choose the 3.5 SE, which includes a sport-tuned suspension, V6 engine, power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels. Curtain-type and seat-mounted airbags are standard. Anti-lock braking (ABS) is standard with V6 models, but optional for four-cylinder models (except the base sedan). Traction control is standard with the V6, and upper models may be fitted with optional Vehicle Dynamic Control.Notable Optional Equipment
A navigation system with Real-Time Traffic information is available. Additional options include a RearView monitor, Bose-developed nine-speaker audio, a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio and heated front seats. High-intensity discharge headlamps are offered on V6 Altimas.Under the Hood
Nissan's fourth-generation 3.5-liter V6 generates 270 horsepower (up 20) and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder develops 175 horsepower. Both engines can work with either a six-speed manual gearbox or Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT), which incorporates 700 algorithms and a kickdown feature and offers a choice of three driving modes. A gasoline/electric Altima Hybrid sedan goes on sale early in 2007.
2.5-liter in-line 4
175 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
180 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 (manual), 26/34 (automatic)
270 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (manual), 22/28 (automatic)
On sale since November, the Altima starts at $18,565 (destination included) for the base four-cylinder 2.5 model with manual shift. That's $200 more than the equivalent 2006 model. An Altima 2.5 S stickers for $20,415. With a manual gearbox, the V6-powered 3.5 SE starts at $24,615, while the top-of-the-line 3.5 SL commands a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $29,015. Nissan's CVT is standard on the 3.5 SL, but a $500 option elsewhere, and not offered on the base 2.5 sedan. The Fair Purchase Price, which represents what consumers are actually paying, is likely to be slightly lower. Be sure to click on Fair Purchase Prices to check what the Altima is currently selling for in your area. The Altima competes mainly against the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, which have starting sticker prices that are a little higher. In terms of resale value, we predict that the Altima will perform well over time. Depending upon trim level, the Altima is expected to retain 42 to 46 percent of its original value over a 60-month period, which is better than its Honda and Toyota competitors.