January 12, 2013
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Some of my readers and forum participants believe the Altima is a boring car to drive – I’ll agree that perhaps it isn’t the most sporty and exciting vehicle on the market, but most mid-sized family sedans are not. What are most mid-sizer buyers looking for, anyway? They are looking for comfort, features, reliability, cargo and passenger capacity, fuel economy and various other metrics. I’m sure some have fun-to-drive on their list but that is typically further down.
Comfort: This is one area the new Altima shines. With NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats, the Altima offers excellent comfort for the front passengers. The rear passengers are perhaps not treated as well but still have more than adequate room and comfort.
Cargo capacity: The trunk space is plentiful as mentioned yesterday and fold-down seats extend that even further.
Features: Well, as mentioned in day one, the Altima SV that I am testing has quite a few for a rather reasonable price. Some of the technology features such as Bluetooth sync with text-message reading and google integration are unique and could be a plus for many buyers with technology a key factor in their decision.
But how a vehicle drives should be near the top of the list for a buyer. The Altima is a comfortable cruiser with a soft suspension that soaks up road imperfections pretty much flawlessly. The suspension is not floaty or cumbersome, though, and the Altima still takes a set nicely and rebounds quickly, instilling confidence.
The 2.5L four-cylinder engine is torquey and offers great acceleration when needed. Although I subscribe to the theory that one can never have too much power, the 2.5L four in the Altima is plenty powerful for this vehicle and offers brisk acceleration when called for. I’m not sure upgrading to the 3.5L is really necessary unless you crave that extra grunt daily.
The CVT transmission is smooth as it should be, although when cold it seems to whine a little. And when the wheels are spinning in snow it feels like it is slipping while it whines – I’m not sure if that is intended or not. The traction control and stability control are effective but are also forgiving as they let you get a little loose before reining you in – the perfect balance for our snowy roads.
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