2005 Altima New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Altima is the sportiest of the mid-size sedans. For 2005. Nissan has redesigned the interior, addressing the biggest caveat with this car. In addition to its new interior, the 2005 Nissan Altima gets some mild styling enhancements and a slight boost to its powerful V6, already one of the best V6 engines on the market. A new high-performance Altima SE-R adds even more sports appeal.
The Nissan Altima boasts a bigger interior than the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and most other mid-size sedans. The new interior is nicer and more convenient than last year's interior.
When ordered with its 250-horsepower V6, the Nissan Altima is one of the hottest cars in its class. It delivers stunning acceleration. Punch it in any gear and it takes off, with nimble handling and brakes to match all the thrust. For its part, the standard four-cylinder engine is more powerful than comparable engines in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The Altima earned the North American Car of the Year award when it was redesigned for 2002, and it remains Nissan's best selling vehicle.
Nissan Altima is offered in 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 SL, 3.5 SE, and 3.5 SL trim levels. Two engines are available. Base, S, and SL models are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL feature a powerful 3.5-liter V6, essentially the same engine used in the Nissan 350Z and Maxima.
The base 2.5 model ($17,200) comes standard with power windows, a green-tinted solar glass windshield, power steering, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, fold down center armrests front and rear, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and an in-glass antenna. Stereo and air conditioning are not part of the base package, however. The base model comes with a five-speed manual transmission; an automatic transmission is not available.
The 2.5 S ($19,050) adds air conditioning, power mirrors, remote keyless entry with remote trunk lock, an eight-way adjustable driver's seat, cruise control, a six-speaker audio system, seatback pockets and a lock for the split rear seat. The 2.5 S comes standard with a five-speed manual, but is available with a four-speed automatic ($19,550). This is the most popular Altima, and Nissan offers several option packages to further increase its appeal. The Convenience Package ($1,680) features alloy wheels, 8-way power driver's seat with lumbar support, leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, trip computer, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, speed-sensitive volume control, automatic headlights and a vehicle security system. The Convenience Plus Package ($2,500) adds a power glass sunroof with sunshade to the other goodies, while the Premium Convenience Package ($3,300) ups the ante with a Bose audio system that includes a six-disc in-dash CD changer.
The 2.5 SL ($23,400) is the luxury Altima. It comes standard with a four-speed automatic transmission, heated leather seats, a power driver's seat, simulated wood trim, and has most of the features offered in the Convenience Packages above. The only convenience option is the sunroof ($850). For those who want all the goodies without the big engine, this is the car.
The 3.5 SL ($26,900) has the V6 and comes standard with the five-speed automatic. A new model for 2005, this is a very nice car, loaded with luxury features, and represents the top of the line.
The 3.5 SE ($23,100) is the performance model, equipped with the V6, five-speed manual, 17-inch alloy wheels, wider, speed-rated tires, a performance-tuned suspension, fog lights, and dual chrome exhaust tips. The SE is available with the automatic ($23,750). A Leather Package ($3,000) includes the leather upholstery, Bose audio system, sunroof, heated front seats, and heated mirrors. The Sport Package Plus ($2,600) includes the sunroof, spoiler, Bose premium audio, and xenon headlights. The Leather Sport Package ($3,900) combines the Leather Package with the spoiler and xenon headlights.
The new SE-R ($29,200) benefits from the changes wrought on all 2005 Altimas, but also gets a 260-horsepower version of the 3.5-liter V6, performance-tuned front struts and rear shocks, stiffer front and rear springs, and thicker front and rear stabilizer bars. The SE-R also comes with 225/45R18 W-speed rated tires and 18-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels. New front and rear fascias, compact fog lights, new rear spoiler and side-sill spoilers, and large dual exhaust finishers highlight the exterior; inside, the SE-R gets sport leather seats, dark chrome trim, and a three-pod center-mounted gauge package.
Safety features include dual-stage frontal airbags. Side-impact airbags for the front passengers are optional, however. Roof-mounted curtain airbags designed to provide head protection for front and rear passengers are also optional, but we recommend them as most side-impact fatalities are caused by head injuries. Seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters are standard; we recommend always wearing seatbelts because they are your first line of defense in a crash. Also.