2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid
2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

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2009 Nissan Altima

North Vancouver, British Columbia – With the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and the Saturn Aura Hybrid for 2010, the number of mid-sized hybrid sedans in Canada has shrunk to four: the recently redesigned Toyota Prius, the all-new Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, and the Nissan Altima Hybrid. (A new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is expected soon as well).

Unlike the Malibu and Aura which are “mild” hybrids, the Prius, Camry, Fusion and Altima are all “full” hybrids – they can run on electric power alone at lower speeds, and as a result, offer better fuel efficiency than “mild” hybrids.

Initially, Nissan was sceptical about hybrid technology, and by the time it reversed its policy, Toyota had gained a significant lead in the market. So rather than wait another few years to develop its own system, Nissan licensed Toyota’s hybrid components for the Altima Hybrid sedan which it introduced here in 2007. Meanwhile, Nissan has been working on its own hybrid system which is rumoured to be ready by 2011.

2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid
2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

The 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid is basically unchanged from the first Altima hybrid model. It uses Nissan’s 158-horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder DOHC 16-valve CVVT engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (e-CVT), an electric motor developing 40 horsepower, an electronic “brain” controller, and a 245-volt nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) battery pack mounted behind the rear seat. The Altima Hybrid’s combined engine and electric motor power output is 198 horsepower, eleven more horsepower than the 2010 Camry Hybrid.

Though it has more power than the Camry Hybrid, the Altima Hybrid’s Energuide fuel consumption ratings are about the same: City: 5.7 L/100 km (50 mpg Imp) and Hwy: 5.9 L/100 km (48 mpg Imp) compared to the Camry Hybrid’s City: 5.7 L/100 km (50 mpg Imp) and Hwy: 5.7 L/100 km (50 mpg Imp). The new Fusion Hybrid is even better with City: 4.6 L/100 km (61 mpg Imp) and Hwy: 5.4 L/100 km (52 mpg Imp). But the hands-down winner in the mid-size hybrid sedan category is the new 2010 Toyota Prius with Energuide figures of 3.7 L/100 km (76 mpg Imp) and Hwy 4.0 L/100 km (71 mpg Imp).

Still, the Altima Hybrid’s fuel economy is much better the standard Altima four-cylinder sedan which has ratings of City: 8.9 L/100 km (32 mpg Imp) Hwy: 6.1 L/100 km (46 mpg Imp). As you can see, the Altima Hybrid’s biggest gains in fuel economy occur during city driving where it is able to run on battery power alone at speeds up to about 50 km/h and switch off the gasoline engine automatically at traffic lights and stop signs.

2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid
2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Starting at $32,998, the 2009 Altima Hybrid 2.5S is about $10,000 more than the base Altima 2.5S, but is better equipped with standard features such as the continuously variable transmission, traction and stability control, dual-zone automatic climate control, wood interior trim, power moonroof, pushbutton start and remote key, power windows with front auto up/down feature, premium cloth seat coverings with front seat heaters and eight-way power driver’s seat, CD/MP3/aux inputs and steering wheel controls, and heated outside mirrors.

The 2010 Camry Hybrid ($30,900) and 2010 Fusion Hybrid ($31,999) are also well equipped, and like the Altima Hybrid, are priced higher than their standard four-cylinder counterparts.

Today’s hybrids may be economical but they’re certainly not spartan.

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