2008 Nissan Altima
The 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
places a high performance engine underneath the hood of a reasonably priced four-door sedan. The upgraded V-6 engine produces 95 more horses than the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder base Altima, and impressively, this extra boost in power comes at no expense to passenger comfort or five-star crash rated safety. Nissan has also made available technology options like touch screen navigation, making it ready for whatever the roads throw at you. If this is the happy consequence of blending a sporty engine and a reliable family sedan, we’re all for it.
What's to Like
This fourth-generation Altima has a sport-tuned suspension and 270 horsepower, two of many features dedicated to the driving enthusiast. Body-hugging seats and an intuitively designed instrument cluster have spiced up the interior. There are also – count ‘em – nine cup holders: the only true testament of a car’s worth, right?
What's Not to Like
The rear headrests aren’t adjustable, and rear headroom is tight for those over six feet tall. Hard plastics covering the center console make for an uncomfortable armrest. There are some very enticing options, but watch out for the pricing – you could end up driving away in a $32,000 Altima.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
The Altima is nothing short of a fun car to drive. The refined V-6 feels powerful maneuvering along the roads, and the handling, sans a miniscule dead spot in the steering, is taut. Remarkably solid suspension accommodates city-driving comfort; and there’s enough torque to neatly curl you around hairpin turns. We liked the manual’s long gears, but felt that the car would have a friskier drive if the ratios were a little shorter – an unfortunate compromise. The Xtronic CVT’s uncomplicated manual mode allows the driver to easily blip between gears for a more lively drive experience.
Engine and Drivetrain
As an upgrade from the 2.5-liter inline-4 engine in the base Altima, we think the 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 engine gives this car a much-needed power boost. 270 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque propel the front-wheels energetically. Both the 6-speed manual and Xtronic CVT with manual mode provide exciting drive options. You can find this engine in three of Nissan’s models: the 350Z
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
The Altima’s features are directed toward a more sports-oriented driver, evidenced by their standard push button ignition, but most options come in the form of expensive add-ons. A sport package, priced at $1,300, gives you a moonroof, rear spoiler and fog lights. If you add the premium package on top of that, with features like leather seats and an upgraded Bose stereo system with Bluetooth capability, your wallet will be $4,200 lighter. We think the car’s options are priced a little too high.
Key Technology Evaluation
There’s been no skimping with the seamless integration of technology. Options include satellite radio and an intuitive touch screen navigation system with real time traffic and voice recognition. While an auxiliary input jack comes standard for those with loaded MP3 players, Nissan has delivered an optional bass-heavy Bose audio system that even your deaf grandmother could hear.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
This CARB rated ULEV-II sedan gets outstanding gas mileage for the amount of power it is pumping out. 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for the manual and 19/26 in the automatic means you can make the most out of those long road trips. The longer gears, which make the power delivery less sporty than we’d like, contribute to the Altima’s great gas mileage; but with gas at four dollars a gallon and climbing, it’s a trade-off we can accept.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
This five-seater has optional leather and heated seats. An elegant and efficient instrument cluster is easy to use, and there’s a trough-like glove box for all your belongings. A cavernous trunk will hold golf clubs, suitcases and any unruly passengers as well.
A wide-mouthed front grill and sweeping front headlights set this car’s exterior apart from others in its class. Fat front fenders give the Altima an aggressive, grounded appearance. Its tail can’t cash the checks the front is writing though, as the rear looks lackluster.
Market Segment and Pricing
Its competitors have a difficult time matching the Altima’s $24,180 starting price. For the cost, you’ll be getting more power and standard features than rivals like the Honda Accord EX
and Chevrolet Malibu LTZ
. However, options on this car can jack up the price significantly.
What We Think
The Altima's 270 horsepower will make any driving enthusiast happy, and the spacious interior will guarantee your comfort too. The high-priced options may tarnish its gleam slightly, but we think this car is a great choice for a powerful four-door sedan under $25,000.