There has been some conjecture that continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), such as those used in some Nissan vehicles, can deliver fuel savings comparable to hybrids, and at much less cost. However, that contention, valid or not, has met with lukewarm response from environmental groups and new-car buyers looking for fuel savings, air quality benefits and the appeal of owning a hybrid.
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.