Friday, April 17, 2015

All the pluses add up in Nissan's Altima

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – Nissan calls the Altima its “cornerstone.”

That’s certainly appropriate.  The sedan is the automaker’s No. 1-selling vehicle up and down the line, and it does quite well in the United States.

Invariably, I run into lovers of Toyota, General Motors, Honda and Ford sedans who ask me: “What’s the big deal about the Altima?”

I think my best answer is: It does and has a lot that motorists take for granted.

Let’s run down the columns, shall we?

First off, it looks good. The tested 2015 Altima 2.5 SV came off as a shapely sedan parked in my driveway, wearing “Cayenne Red” paint.  “Nice car,” some folks said as they walked by.

“You’re right,” I answered.  “And have I told you that you have good taste?”

The price is right, a starting figure of $24,720 on the tested model, which was seriously dressed up with Convenience and Technology packages.  Even those raised the bottom line to a still-affordable $28,180.

The interior is comfortable, with a good range of vision from the cockpit, and pretty fair room for those seated behind driver and front-seat passenger.  A generous lineup of comfort and convenience features is thoughtfully displayed, easily reached and quickly understood.

The ride is nice.  Just the right touch on the steering, and the continuously variable transmission was a seamless operator in my time behind the wheel.  Horsepower from the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is not tire-shredding – it's around 180 – but it’s strong enough to handle the great majority of city/highway chores.  Relatively little engine noise reached the tester's cockpit, even during aggressive accelerations.

I confess that I love the 3.5-liter V-6 (270 horsepower) that can be had in the Altima 3.5 versions.  It’s one peppy power plant.  But I’m guessing that most prudent sedan buyers will be content with the Altima 2.5-liter engine.

Fuel mileage with the 2.5 is superb: 27 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.  Those are numbers that you can take to the savings bank.

About the only thing I did not like about my tester was its super-sensitive lane departure warning system, which seemed to be monitoring my at-the wheel performance by the quarter inch.  I routinely disabled it, which lowered my blood pressure dramatically.

Bottom line, the 2015 Altima is a solid “B” to “B-plus” car, offering myriad perks for buyers looking for a sensibly priced sedan.

Can’t ask for much more than that.

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