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Nissan's continued attention to the Altima pays off

Nissan may be focused on its upcoming electric cars these days, but ithasn’t forgotten gasoline. For 2010, it offers a refreshed version ofthe midsize Altima sedan.


Nissan may be focused on its upcoming electric cars these days, but it hasn’t forgotten gasoline. For 2010, it offers a refreshed version of the midsize Altima sedan.


It’s available with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder, at a starting price of $23,798. My tester used the 3.5-litre V6, which starts at $28,298; in top-line SR trim, my vehicle was $31,898, further tweaked with a $3,550 Leather Package of cowhide seats, upgraded stereo, Bluetooth and other items. While the four-cylinder can be ordered with a six-speed manual transmission, the V6 exclusively uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions as a gearless automatic. The Altima is also available as a two-door coupe or gasoline-electric hybrid sedan.


Modifications to the 2010 are relatively minor. Front-end styling is changed, although the back end remains the same. An important difference is that stability and traction control are now standard on all models.


Altima is a very competent performer, with crisp handling, pleasant ride and quiet performance. The 270-hp V6 offers impressive acceleration, and while I’m still not entirely sold on the feel of in CVTs in larger cars, this unit works fine.


The company thinks so too, and in an effort to convince customers who worry about repair costs, it has doubled the warranty on all such units, back to 2003, for a total of 10 years or 200,000 km, whichever comes first. Official fuel ratings are 10.2 L/100 km in the city and 7.2 on the highway, while during a week of cold-weather driving, I averaged 11.1 L/100 km.


Early Altimas suffered from cheap interiors, but the company has gotten progressively better, and this new version looks and feels refined.


The controls are simple and easy to use, plastic pieces are fitted together well, and the upgraded Bose stereo includes a colour audio display screen and an iPod menu button that takes you directly to your player when it’s plugged into the auxiliary outlet.


The roomy rear seats fold down, increasing the trunk from a length of 110 cm to a total of 170 cm of cargo length.


Overall, when midsize sedan buyers are making their test-drive list, Altima deserves to be in the top tier. Nissan’s continuing attention to this sedan over the years has certainly paid off.

 
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