• Oct 14, 2009
2010 Nissan Altima – Click above for high-res image gallery

As the company's number-one global volume vehicle, the Altima is instrumental in keeping the lights on at Nissan HQ. Now in its fourth-generation (last redesigned for the 2007 model year), the made-in-the-USA model is sold in both sedan and coupe variants with a choice of two gasoline engines or one hybrid powerplant. Nissan offers four sedans for the 2010 model year, with the Altima slotting in directly under the flagship Maxima in the lineup (with both sharing Nissan's D-platform architecture).

After spending time with the 2010 Nissan Altima, we understand why it's the brand's best selling model and while it's not a tire shredding sport sedan, this competent family hauler deserves all the kudos and sales volume it's earned.



Photos copyright ©2009 Michael Harley / Weblogs, Inc.
Fresh features become dated in a few years in this fast-paced segment, so Nissan has treated its Altima models to a Hollywood facelift and spa treatment for the 2010 model year. Benefitting from the attention, the hood, front grille, front bumper and rear license plate areas of the sedans now feature revised character, with new 16- and 17-inch wheel designs completing the transformation. The coupe receives the same updates, but offers standard 17-inch alloy wheels, new projector-beam headlamps and side view mirrors with integrated turn signals (on some models). The sedan is offered with two new colors (Ocean Gray and Burgundy... err Tuscan Sun), while the coupe receives three (Crimson Black, Navy Blue, and Ocean Gray).



Within the cabin, the new duds include revised interior fabrics and finishes. Gauge illumination has switched from orange to white for a new look, and the optional next-generation navigation system has been fitted with a larger 6.5-inch monitor offering Zagat ratings, XM NavWeather, and Bluetooth streaming audio. The premium audio package includes a 4.3-inch color display, USB and iPod connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, MP3/WMA CD-ROM playback, XM Satellite Radio, and RearView monitor (which operates quite well through the smaller color display). All models gain standard Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC). For a bit more flair, the Altima Coupe is now offered with red leather-appointed seating – much better in person than it sounds.



Nissan left the Altima's mechanicals untouched -- smartly so. The standard powerplant on base and S models is a 175 horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-four. The 270 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 is reserved for the newly-designated top-of-the-line SR models (replacing the SE models for 2010). The Altima Hybrid sedan model utilizes a 2.5-liter inline-four mated to a 40-hp electric motor sending power through a CVT transmission. Nissan's Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) is the only transmission fitted to the sedans, but the Coupe is offered with a six-speed manual with either gas engine choice.



We took a quick spin in 2010 Altima 2.5 S with the SL option package (leather, premium audio, heated seats, etc.). As expected, it drives identical to the 2009 model -- meaning the sedan is comfortable and confident around town, and relaxed on the highway. The CVT mannerisms are noticeable at first, especially to someone coming from a traditional stepped-gear automatic, but it's a good match for the four-cylinder powerplant, doing a great of job squeezing all the power out. The 2.5-liter is more than adequate for the Altima, and the reward is highway fuel economy topping 30 MPG. With more than 60 percent of the curb weight over the front wheels, and a suspension tuned for comfort, the front-wheel drive Altima four-door will never be confused with a performance sedan _ but that was never its mission.



The Nissan Altima sedan, coupe, and hybrid are sold amidst a segment chock full of other choices. The updates for 2010, from cosmetic makeover to new electronic sophistication, are all strong maneuvers to allure consumers who are cross shopping the Altima against the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat, Chevy Malibu, and Hyundai Sonata. Sure, that's a lot of players, but as the economy has made this "reasonably-priced sedan segment" even more enticing to families on a budget, the Altima has the goods and they're hitting dealers now.



Photos copyright ©2009 Michael Harley / Weblogs, Inc.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Would much rather drive this then any of the vehicles listed above...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Would much rather drive Fusion than this or any of the vehicles listed above...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Weird car. Materials and build quality seems shoddy, rear brake light is not properly mounted either.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've always liked the tails on this car because they're somewhat original. I hate the CHMSL though. It looks very 1987.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Swede is right, at least about the third brake light. I don't know if it is an illusion or what, but it sure looks crooked to me. As far as the other complaints go, it's a matter of taste.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good catch, the 3rd brake light is way crooked. That's rediculous.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I seem to get downvoted by blind people. Have a look at the last picture and tell me that it's supposed to be like that.

        More things I do not like in this anglojapanese Renault

        Unsymmetrical steering wheel
        Ghastly rear lights
        Huge badges
        Hood stick (is it 1992?)
        Cargo crushing tailgate hinges with a little cord flopping about in the wind.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes the CHMSL does look off kilter, but who is to say it came that way from the factory?

        Speaking of bad CHMSL, look at the Camry-4 damn LEDs! How f-ing lazy of Toyota. Contrast the ES350.

        'properly mounted' could mean on the edge of the trunk, that way its visibility would not be dependent on the thoughtfulness of the driver to remove snow in the winter.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't believe they say nothing about how loud and unrefined the 2.5 is. I had one of these as a rental last month and I couldn't believe how loud it was even at 2500-3500 rpm. It was almost as bad as a Caliber rental I had earlier in the year. I've had two Malibus this year with the ecotech 6 spd combo and they are lexus quiet and have no vibration at idle.

      Also I think it's crazy you have to stick the fob in a slot on the left side practically down by the hood release and then push a button on the other side!
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're an idiot. The only reason you would need to stick the key in the slot is if the battery dies in the remote then it can read it the good ol' fashioned way by putting it in the slot. Otherwise it could be in the trunk or the back seat and you can start the car with just pushing the button.

        I wish every day had Nissan's keyless set up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hey Dave why don't you keep you childish comments to yourself. Did you see me calling you names? Like I said maybe they made a running change. When I picked the car up at Enterprise they reminded me that it wouldn't start if I didn't put the key in the slot. One time I forgot to put it in the slot and it didn't start. Like I said, nothing would happen unless you put the fob in the slot way down on the lower left hand part of the dash, and then in the screen in the center of the gauge cluster it instructed you to depress the brake and then you could depress the start button. No brake, no start, no fob in slot, no start.

        So unless you were in the car with me on the business trip you are in no position to comment on what steps were required to start THAT PARTICULAR NISSAN. Grow up man. My mom's Lexus works the way you describe and I have no doubt your nissan does as well. My rental Altima DID NOT. Grow up man.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would have to agree that this sedan is a bit boring in style, I never liked this generation of the Altima. I liked the previous generation it stood out in the crowd. I have to also agree that the quality of materials in the vehicle are still below that of the Camry, Accord and even the new 6. I actually prefer the V6 motor over the 2.5L 4-cylinder because it makes the car sound more refined especially with the CVT transmission. I just hope that the next generation design Nissan goes back to the sleek design and better quality materials for the cabin.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "A well-mannered sedan without surprises."

      ZOMG, WHERE DO I SIGN UP????
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think that they should have re-design it again, the design seems like it's getting old and boring compared to other cars. Also, I think that they should have done a better job with the interior. It should look more like the Maxima's and 370Z's interiors, they're much nicer than this. Heck, even the Sentra's interior looks better than this.
      • 5 Years Ago
      While I do think that this is one of the better-looking non-premium sedans and coupes (not hard), the Altima is not on my list (for early next year). Maybe it's the interior or the CVT or that it doesn't seem to excel at anything, I don't know.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't understand why people call this car "boring" - compared to what? The hecho-en-Mexico Fusion? The bland Malibu? The Camcord? It's due for a full refresh but still looks pretty damn good, especially compared to most of the competition.

      I've driven a few of these and they're excellent cars. In 4 cylinder mode they're not particularly sporty but the steering is excellent, and you can't complain about the ride/handling trade off. It's still by and large the best car in the class.

      For those who complain the interior is "cheap," it's still better than that of the Fusion, Malibu, Accord, and Camry.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Compare a pic of this to an '02 Altima. Exactly the same concept, barely updated. So, the car buying public is basically looking at a car they've already seen for the last 8 years.

      • 5 Years Ago
      The zippiness is still present in the dynamics, but the overall freshness is gone.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a 2009, 2.5s, 6MT. I've put 8500 miles on it so far. I also have a 2000 Altima GXE with 270,000 miles. Here's my experience with the 09 Altima....

      I have a wife and 2 kids to haul around. This car is very very roomy inside. Trunk space is very nice, don't like the luggage crushing hinges though. Driving dynamics of the 6MT are good, not great. Clutch is smooth, throws are too long. It has decent power for a 4-cylinder, not anywhere near the V6, but ok. 4th gear is quite strong. Road feel is very very smooth. You feel like you are gliding at 80mph. Engine noise over 2500 rpm is very pronounced, but I actually like that. I like to hear the engine growl. Most other people are annoyed by this. If you want a quiet ride, go for the V6 or the CamCord. Gas mileage is wonderful. 32.2 MPG is what I'm getting in 80/20 hwy/city.

      In the 4cy, it's not a sports car by any means, but it is a fun to drive family hauler with plenty of room inside that gets good gas mileage. I like it, and plan to keep it for a long time, or at least until I don't have to haul the kids around anymore.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And one other thing. You do NOT have to stick the key fob in anywhere to start the vehicle. You simply have to have it somewhere inside the vehicle.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This will sell very well, ulike the Detroit garbage so many commenters love.

      I'll do without the kind of "excitement" (read: unreliability, uncertainty as to whether the brand I bought will even EXIST in a year) Detroit provides.
    • Load More Comments