2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

The Nissan Altima‘s coming-of-age happened in 2002, with the arrival of the dramatically larger third-generation model, whose added size turned the car into a true mid-sized family sedan. In fact, that car offered more interior space than the pricier Maxima.

A fourth-generation Altima arrived for 2007, and was a brand new design in every respect, based on a new, smaller platform and riding on a one-inch-shorter wheelbase, a change that Nissan said didn’t have a noticeable effect on interior space.

The look was different, but the new Altima’s engines were carried over: a 2.5-litre four-cylinder (175 hp/180 lb.-ft. of torque) was standard, and the upgrade was a 3.5-litre V6 (270 hp/258 lb-ft). A hybrid model added partway through 2007 mated the 2.5-litre with Toyota-sourced electric components for power ratings of 198 hp and 199 lb.-ft. of torque.

2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL. Click image to enlarge

Either gasoline engine could be had with a six-speed manual, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which was optional in all but the 3.5 S model, where it was the only transmission available. The Altima Hybrid used a CVT as well.

Altima trim levels began with the 2.5 S, with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, intelligent key and pushbutton start, air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, cruise control, tilt-and-telescopic steering, speed-sensitive variable intermittent wipers, six-way manual driver’s seat, six-speaker CD stereo with auxiliary input, front-seat side airbags and curtain airbags for front and rear seats.

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

2012 Nissan Altima 3.5 SR coupe
2012 Nissan Altima 3.5 SR coupe
2012 Nissan Altima 3.5 SR sedan (top) and coupe; photos by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge

Finally, the 3.5 SE got 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, leather trimmed steering wheel, and woodgrain interior trim.

Options included Bluetooth, leather seats, navigation, back-up camera and satellite radio.

A good-looking Altima coupe was added in 2008, riding on a shortened version of the sedan’s platform. The basic version of this two-door was better-equipped than the sedan, with standard alloy wheels, heated seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel and an eight-way power driver’s seat. They Altima Hybrid was kitted out similarly to the 3.5 S sedan, but added automatic climate control, stability control, six-way power passenger seat and wood-tone interior trim.

For 2009, the 3.5 SE got a standard sunroof, there were new wheel covers for the 2.5 S and the 3.5 SE coupe got upgraded 18-inch alloy wheels. Nissan added an auto-lock feature to the power door locks.

Front-end styling was new for 2010, and stability/traction control was made standard across the line. Sadly for enthusiasts, the V6-powered sedan now came standard with the CVT, and the 3.5 SE was renamed 3.5 SR. Newly available were a 4.3-inch colour display screen, USB capability, hard drive-based navigation with Bluetooth streaming audio and DVD playback.

Revisions for 2011 were limited to the addition of a back-up camera to a number of four-cylinder and V6 option packages.

2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL. Click image to enlarge

In 2012, Bluetooth was added to the sedan’s optional luxury package, and the Altima Hybrid was discontinued.

Fuel consumption estimates, according to Natural Resources Canada, were 8.9/6.1 L/100 km (city/highway) for the four-cylinder/manual transmission Altima, and 8.9/6.3 with the CVT. With the V6, the CVT was the more efficient transmission, with ratings of 10.6/7.7, while the manual version of that car was estimated at 11.3/7.3. The Altima Hybrid’s numbers were 5.6/5.9. By 2012, fuel efficiency had improved slightly, to 8.7/6.0 L/100 km for a four-cylinder/CVT model (and 8.8/6.2 with the six-speed), and 10.4/7.3 for the V6/CVT model.

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