2007 Altima Hybrid New Car Test Drive
Nissan has re-invented the Altima for the second time in its four generations. The Nissan Altima has been totally redesigned for 2007. It offers more performance, comfort, safety, economy, and better looks than last year's model. It looks more like the Maxima now. It's a couple of inches shorter on the outside, but has more room on the inside, including a spacious trunk. Fold-down rear seats allow the trunk to expand into the cabin for carrying big long things.
The object of the redesign was to bring the feel and power of a luxury car to this everyman's midsize sedan, and Nissan has succeeded, at least with the Altima model that has the V6 engine and all the options, including plush leather. There are still models with a four-cylinder engine, which offer good power and get 26 city and 34 highway miles per gallon.
The 3.5-liter V6 is a new engine generation. It makes 270 horsepower, more than what's available in other midsize cars (excluding turbocharged or expensive sports sedans), along with 258 pound-feet of torque. The price for that power: The V6 requires premium fuel and gets 22/28 mpg.
Another thing that makes the Altima stand out is its new optional CVT, or continuously variable transmission. It's the only automatic transmission available in this car, and it's a winner with its manual mode, which allows six speeds or ranges. A CVT improves gas mileage because there's less internal friction.
The handling is true, and the suspension is quite firm without ever being harsh. It inspires confidence. It's a match for rough pavement and is steady and predictable in extreme situations. The Altima also comes loaded with safety features.
An intelligent key comes standard in the Altima. This system enables the car to be started with the keys in your purse or pocket. This might be convenient for some, but it leads to new problems, having to do with the memory of the human brain and confusion of the car's electronic brain.
The 2007 Nissan Altima is initially available as five models: the 2.5, 2.5S, 2.5SL, 3.5SE and 3.5SL. The first three use a newly revised version of the 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine, making a strong 175 horsepower, and the other two use a new generation of the trusty 3.5-liter V6, now with 270 horsepower. There will also be an Altima hybrid coming in early 2007.
Two transmissions are available, the standard six-speed manual or the continuously variable transmission.
Standard equipment on the 2.5 includes cloth seats, 16-inch steel wheels, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, halogen headlamps, electric power steering, AM/FM/CD with four speakers, vehicle information display, and intelligent key with push-button starting. Air conditioning does not come standard.
The 2.5S adds air conditioning, a six-speaker sound system, remote keyless entry, power sideview mirrors, and speed-sensitive intermittent wipers, among other smaller things.
The 2.5SL uses the continuously variable transmission, and adds leather interior with heated front seats and power driver's seat, moonroof, alloy wheels, dual-zone temp controls and rear air conditioning vents, among other smaller things.
The 3.5 SE uses the powerful V6 engine with the six-speed manual gearbox and cloth interior. It adds ABS, traction control, and 17-inch alloy wheels, plus heated sideview mirrors and other features.
The 3.5SL has most of the things listed above, but goes back down to 16-inch alloy wheels. It adds high-intensity xenon headlights, foglamps, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, and nine-speaker Bose CD/MP3 sound system.
A Technology Package includes the navigation system, a rearview monitor and satellite radio. Other packages, called Convenience, Convenience Plus, Connection, Sport, Leather and Premium, let buyers tailor their Altima to their needs.
Safety features for the Altima include an advanced air bag system, side-impact airbags in front, full side curtain bags, active head restraints in front, and a tire pressure monitoring system. On the higher priced models, anti-lock brakes are standard and electronic stability control is optional. ABS includes electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist. Electronic stability control, which Nissan calls VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) is optional on 3.5 models.