For the many car shoppers who have no need for a lumbering SUV, desire
for a sporty two-seat sports car, or budget for upscale luxury, the
obvious choice is a nice, mid sized sedan.
The field is dominated
by two entries today - the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry - however, the
Nissan Altima is worthy of your attention. The 2009 model gives a
somewhat sportier take on the same pleasant, useful package as its
Just look at those
enormous tail lamps running way up the sides of the rear body! The shiny
tubes inside are a design cue from earlier models. Up front, the tapered
nose with “T” Nissan grille is flanked by bold, chunky headlamp
clusters. Smooth sides stand out with sharply carved wheel well
outlines, and the sedan roofline tapers back boldly.
Inside, the instrument
panel breaks sharply out of the cascading dash panel, and rakishly
angled controls and grips enliven the subtly configured door panels.
Interiors come in the evocative shades of Charcoal, Blonde and Frost,
depending on exterior shade, which can run from Sonoma Sunset to
Majestic Blue. My Navy Blue tester wore Blonde inside.
Choose from two engines
- a solid 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder, or a vivacious 3.5-liter V6, a
14-time Ward’s “10 Best Engines” award winner. The four puts out 175
horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. of torque (subtract five from each number for
California cars). The V6 delivers a hearty 270 horsepower, along with
258 lb.-ft. of torque.
Altimas are offered in
five levels. My SE test car sat above the base model and the S model in
the lineup and below the luxury-oriented, leather-equipped SL. While the
entry level car and the S share the four-cylinder, the SE and SL get the
six. The fifth model, the Hybrid, uses a different, 158-horsepower
four-cylinder with a 40-horsepower electric motor.
The base car and SL
come only with Nissan’s highly-developed continuously-variable automatic
transmission (CVT) while the two middle lines, the S and SE, both offer
a choice of a manual six-speed as well. My tester had the CVT.
The V6 earns EPA fuel
economy numbers of 19 City, 26 Highway. I averaged 20.2 mpg on the
required premium fuel. The four-cylinder pushes those official numbers
to 23 City, 31 Highway using regular; that could influence your buying
The EPA’s Green Vehicle
Guide gives all V6-equipped Altimas a 7 for Air Pollution, but the cars
with CVTs get a 6 for Greenhouse Gas while the manual transmission
versions earn a 5.
Since 2007, you can
order up an Altima Hybrid if you live in one of the eight states that
follow California ’s stricter emissions rules. The Hybrid earns 35 City,
33 Highway, and superb green numbers - 9.5 for Air Pollution and 9 for
Greenhouse Gas. That puts it in the EPA’s “Smartway Elite” category.
2009 Altimas carry over
the 2007 and 2008 styling, but offer numerous little upgrades,
particularly to the base model. It gains new covers on its 16-inch steel
wheels, dual power remote mirrors and a standard trip computer and
temperature gauge. Other upgrades include dual sunvisors with vanity
mirror and speed-sensitive variable intermittent wipers.
All 2009 Altimas
benefit from new automatic door locks. The S has upgraded climate
control; the SE gets standard Vehicle Dynamic Control (electronic safety
system), improved headlights, new fog lights and a jaunty rear spoiler.
Most, if not all cars
today come with some form of tire pressure monitoring. One morning, my
Altima suddenly flashed a low tire pressure warning light, so I stepped
outside to check. All four tires looked fine, so I didn’t worry about
it, but the light stayed on. Finally, I pulled out my gauge at the gas
station and found the culprit - the left rear tire was at 25 psi while
the others were at 31.
That’s not dangerous,
but low tire pressure affects fuel economy (slightly) and it’s always
safer to keep your tires equally and properly inflated for things like
tire wear. The light disappeared after I added air to the offender.
Altima prices range
from $19,990 for the base 2.5 model through $21,540 for the S, $25,680
for the SE, $26,650 for the Hybrid and $29,380 for the SL with all of
its bells and whistles. Add $695 to those prices for delivery.
You can order up option
packages, such as my tester’s Premium Package and Sport Package. For
about $4,000, I got heated leather seats, sensationally upgraded Bose
audio system with nine speakers, and much more. My tester came to
$30,500, including delivery.
With cars in a
competitive realm like the midsized segment, you have to get in, drive
around, work the controls, and think it over before you buy. The Altima
was a very pleasant drive - and you’ll have some very serious thinking
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Car Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Nissan Home Page
Column Name: Altima is
a very pleasant driver
Topic: The 2009 Nissan
Altima 3.5 SE
Word Count: 876
Photo Caption: The
2009 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Photo Credits: Nissan
Altima Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 11
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2009 Nissan Altima
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2009 Nissan Altima