For 2007, the Nissan Altima is completely redesigned, and enters its fourth generation, with a redesigned platform, new styling and driveline options.

The Altima is built on Nissan’s all-new “D” platform, with improved rigidity and redesigned suspension. Engine choices are a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine or new 3.5-litre V6 engine. The 2.5 S and 3.5 SE come with a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a continuously variable transmission (CVT); the 3.5 S uses the CVT exclusively.

A hybrid version, the Altima HEV, will be introduced later in the model year.

Features on the 2.5 S include 16-inch steel wheels, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, speed-sensitive steering, automatic headlamps, heated mirrors, tire pressure monitoring system, Intelligent Key with pushbutton start, air conditioning, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, cruise control, tilt and telescopic column, speed-sensitive variable intermittent wipers, six-way manual driver’s seat adjustment, CD stereo with six speakers and auxiliary jack, engine immobilizer, and side and curtain airbags.

The 3.5 S adds stability and traction control, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, and heated seats.

The 3.5 SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped wheel, and woodgrain interior accents.

All models can be optioned further, with such additions as leather seats, six-CD stereo, hands-free telephone capability, navigation system, rearview camera and XM Satellite Radio.

The new Altima replaces a car that was a pleasant driver, but addresses some of its weaknesses: the interior is much improved, torque steer has been virtually eliminated, and airbags have been extended across the model line-up. Stability control can only be added to the 3.5 SE as part of a $3,800 Leather Package, however.

It’s possible to load up the 2.5 S into a luxury liner, which is often difficult to do with smaller-engine models; the 3.5 SE, meanwhile, offers sporty performance, tuned suspension and a close-coupled six-speed manual transmission, along with a roomy interior. Expect the hybrid to provide the same level of comfort, but with a fuel-saving driveline.

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