By KBB.com Editors
Totally redone for 2007, Nissan's mid-size Altima is even closer to the marque's flagship Maxima in size and character. Spun from Nissan/Renault's robust D-Platform architecture, this stylish front-drive four-door continues as the volume leader in the division's lineup, having been joined by a gasoline-electric Hybrid variant as well as a new-for-2008 Coupe model (each reviewed separately). Even in conventional form, the Altima sedan covers a lot of competitive ground, offering four trim levels, both four- and six-cylinder power and the choice of a six-speed manual or Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). That wide selection helps it face off against the current best-seller, Toyota's popular Camry, as well as the Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord -- both all-new for 2008 and both formidable foes in one of America's toughest market segments.
The Altima's breadth of powertrain and packaging choices opens the door for lots of comparatively affordable variations on the theme that can meet and exceed the needs of all manner of mid-size sedan buyers -- whether they're seeking basic transportation or want something with a more sporting character.
Anyone who regularly plans to carry adults in the rear seat will find the Chevy Malibu, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry all offer a bit more usable "stretch space" in the aft quarters than the slightly smaller Altima package.
The key Altima enhancement for 2008 is anti-lock brakes becoming standard across the entire line. Also new to the mix are splash guards, a diversity antenna and the availability of XM Satellite Radio as a factory-installed option.
Driving Impressions An extremely rigid body structure serves as a great foundation for all Altima models. Even with their smaller wheel-and-tire packages, the four-cylinder variants have a semi-sporty feel, and things get...more overtly engaging when you step up to an SE V6 variant. While not quite as dynamically sophisticated as the new Accord, the Altima's suspension soaks up minor road imperfections while delivering a comfortable and well-controlled ride over most surfaces. The four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are competent and consistent stoppers. Both the 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL also offer the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) group that adds both driver-selectable stability and traction controls to deliver an extra measure of confidence.
Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Standard on the 3.5 SL and available on all but the base Altima 2.5, the Xtronic is Nissan's third-generation CVT. This computer-controlled stepless shifter helps improve performance, economy and emissions. In "Sport" mode, it even creates six "virtual" gears that closely approximate the response of a conventional manual gearbox.
Optional 2.5 SL Package
This fashionable extras group gives buyers who want a more fuel-efficient four-cylinder Altima 2.5 S virtually all of the main upscale trappings of a 3.5 SL, adding leather upholstery, power and heated front seats, a moonroof, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, HomeLink universal garage-door opener and numerous lesser luxury touches.
The Altima's airy cabin has a contemporary appearance supported by nicely textured plastic, lots of stow space and numerous soft-touch surfaces that contribute to its welcoming character. White-on-black main gauges are easy to read, the ancillary controls and center-stack switchgear is logically arrayed and the Altima's generous glass area provides the driver with good sightlines to the outside world. The front buckets, although comfortable, could use a bit more lateral support. Even though the Altima skews to the smaller side of the official EPA "mid-size" category, its 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat can still accommodate two average adults or three kids while enhancing the flexibility and utility of its 15.3 cubic feet of trunk capacity.Exterior
Even a quick glance shows that the Altima is rich in Nissan family cues, most notably in its grille, headlamp and taillamp treatments. However, the lines and contours of its crisply rendered sheetmetal display a bit more aggressive edge than you'll find in the Sentra or Maxima. A well-defined shoulder ridge complements bold flaring on fenderwells that house 16-inch 215/60 tires on steel wheels on 2.5 and 2.5 S models and 215/55 rubber on 17-inch cast-alloy wheels on 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL versions. Only six-cylinder Altimas offer front fog lamps, which are standard issue on SL models but optional on SEs.
Even the low-volume, special-order Altima 2.5 base model (available only with a manual transmission) includes anti-lock brakes, power locks and "Intelligent Key" push button start/stop. The 2.5 S, which accounts for the majority of all Altima sales, adds air conditioning, an audio system with CD player and offers the luxury-oriented SL Package as an option. In addition to V6 power, the 3.5 SE appeals to enthusiasts with a sport-tuned suspension, six-speed manual transmission and performance tires, while the 3.5 SL has leather, a Bose audio system, automatic up/down passenger's front window and standard CVT automatic. All Altimas have front, front-side and side-curtain airbags.
An impressive array of upgrade packages are offered for all but the base 2.5. Even the 2.5 S can be outfitted with leather upholstery, a dual-zone climate control system, power moonroof, voice-activated navigation system, premium Bose audio system, XM Satellite Radio, rearview camera and lots more. The V6 3.5 SE and SL step it up further with dedicated packages of their own, netting all of the above plus Vehicle Dynamics Control (stability and traction control systems and a full-size spare tire). Adding the Premium Package to a 3.5 SE brings virtually all of the 3.5 SL's luxury touches, as well as xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps.
Conventional Altima sedans offer the choice of an inline-4 or a V6. Both engines are made from lightweight aluminum, have four valves per cylinder and use continuously-variable valve timing to improve response and efficiency across their entire operating ranges. The 2.5-liter four (2.5 and 2.5 S) develops a solid 175 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque while the 3.5-liter V6 (3.5 SE and 3.5 SL) raises those figures to 270 and 258, respectively. Both can be paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox (2.5/2.5 S/3.5 SE) or Nissan's Xtronic CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission), which is optional on the 2.5S and 3.5 SE but standard on the 3.5 SL.
2.5-liter in-line 4
175 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
180 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32 (manual), 23/31 (automatic)
270 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 19/26 (automatic)
By Humble on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Easy to drive, excellent ride."
Cons: "Speedometer calibrated in 20MPH steps"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Had the Altima for three years and never a problem. Dealer easy to deal with for required maintenance."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Phil on Monday, March 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value and comfort for the money"
Cons: "Required additional set of snow-worthy tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This car has been excellent for both in town and road driving over 7+ years. Physically and in performance it has met or exceeded all expectations. Best car I have ever had as to value and performance to costs."
By Meg on Thursday, March 19, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Better than ice cream.....go buy one now!"
Cons: "Poor visibility when looking rear"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I LOVE my Nissan coupe! I have all the power I need to use when necessary, like moving beyond a vehicle who suddenly swerves into your lane, or driving safely up and down steep mountains, or ending a game of "pass me at 75 & then drive 60" - now I can, within seconds! Okay...basically I think this car is nice looking too...I have leather, heated power seats...Bose sound, moon/sun roof, Bluetooth, auto headlights etc., none of which I have had before....this is all a lovely, fun, and since used, affordable dream to me, which I absolutely deserve. And yes, I do drive carefully....... I think everyone should own a car like this at least once in a lifetime....most definitely !! Unless you are a cat with 9 lives...then take your time doing what is on your bucket list . Me? Next will be a new coupe!"
By amcinak on Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I bought this car in the summer when there was no snow. I purchased it because of the ratings on gas mileage and because it is roomy inside but still looks somewhat sporty. I have driven in snowy/icy road conditions for thirty years and this is by far the worst handling car I have ever owned for these type of conditions. This is with new all weather tires. The ride is smooth on pavement but if you go over any type of speed bump, enter/exit a parking lot with any type of hump/bump you will bottom out. And that is going as slow as possible and still actually moving. It's also got some type of felt like/fabric covering on the wheel wells, which I don't understand. Snow and ice builds up on it and rubs the tires consistently. I do like the fact that it is roomy and comfortable to drive and I get about 28 mpg highway in cold temps."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By RockitMan on Saturday, February 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Easy to drive sporty quick subwoofer cool car"
Cons: "small not cheap bad in snow not good mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"80% of the reason I bought the car was the salesperson claimed 32mpg average. Turns out one person got 32mpg with straight highway driving. I'm getting 24-25 with 90% highway driving and cold weather. NO long warmups. Not easy to enter/exit for a fit 60 year old, but I knew that. I just thought I could handle it. Sporty handling means jarring bumps. Low ride height means you can't see well down the road. Headlights are not the best even with upgraded bulbs (not HID). No fog lights on mid-range model?? Corners well. Brakes don't stop well for such a light car, until you're nearly stopped, then they really grab. Not easy to see out of. Four headrests and 3rd brake light occupy much of the rear view mirror. Not worth squat in snow. Tires spin and brakes anti-lock. Tires are Michelin MX4, Consumer Report's top-rated tire. Trunk is large and so is the gas tank. Most panels are held together with plastic buttons. Superficially, this is a neat car. Am I just getting old? What in the world was I thinking when I bought this car??"
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Alan on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great economy,roomy,and easy to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Have seen these vehicles all over,and decided to trade my 02 Impala in...Best thing I ever did Loved the Impala,but love the Altima just as much..I plan to trade every 10 years or so,and im sure it will continue to be a nice ride..."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful