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Nearly everything but the engines is either all or substantially new, beginning with the Altima's "class-above" looks, inside and out, and extending to a raft of new features, some class-exclusive. The CVT automatic transmission, thoroughly revamped for pleaseability and efficiency, accounts for much of its class-leading fuel economy.
For 2010, the Altima Coupe receives a revised hood, front fascia and wheel designs, as well as new fabrics and interior trim. All models now feature Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) as standard equipment and last year's 3.5 SE is rebadged as the 3.5 SR. New audio and technology features include a revised nine-speaker Bose stereo and a hard-drive based navigation system with 9.3 GB music storage, XM NavTraffic, NavWeather and streaming audio capability.
The base 2.5 model receives more standard features including new 16-inch wheel covers, a CVT automatic transmission, power side mirrors, a trip computer and outside temperature gauge. The 3.5 SE trim receives Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), HID headlamps, fog lamps and a rear spoiler.
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.
The 2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid provides yet another alternative in a growing list of midsize hybrid sedans including the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion hybrids. But Nissan is hedging its bets. Not only does the Altima Hybrid trail the introduction of the gasoline-electric pioneers – Honda Insight and Toyota Prius – by several years, Nissan is also making it available only in those states that have adopted the more stringent emissions standards pioneered by California. So unless you live in a handful of states that have adopted the same guidelines, the Altima Hybrid is maddeningly out of the average consumer's reach. The Altima employs technology developed by Toyota – the solidly-proven Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is used under license by Nissan.