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#12

in 2011 Affordable Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $16,741 - $16,741
Original MSRP: $26,800 - $26,800
MPG: 33 City / 33 Hwy
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2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid is capable and fuel-efficient, but reviewers find that there are other options -- like the Ford Fusion Hybrid -- that handle better, use less fuel and are more powerful.

  • "The 2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid is a green car that doesn't completely suck the life out of driving. While it's no sport sedan in the conventional sense, it manages to keep much of the spirited acceleration and road-holding prowess of the gas-powered four-cylinder Altima. Enthusiasts will also appreciate the steering, which is notably precise for a hybrid car while providing respectable feedback." -- Edmunds
  • "The Hybrid's engine is slightly louder during acceleration than conventional models." -- Consumer Guide
  • "This is an agile, frisky car but not a refined player." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers say the 2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid is powerful -- for a hybrid. It has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces a total of 195 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which has an infinite number of gear rations and aids fuel economy. The EPA says the Altima Hybrid averages 33/33 mpg city/highway, which is considerably less than the Ford Fusion Hybrid’s 41/36 mpg city/highway and the Toyota Prius’ 51/48 mpg city/highway. The Altima’s fuel economy is similar to the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which nets 31/35 mpg city/highway.

The Altima Hybrid’s powertrain is similar to the Camry Hybrid because Nissan borrowed the Toyota’s Synergy Drive Technology through a licensing agreement. When it comes to performance, however, it looks like Nissan improved the system -- test drivers say the Altima is more powerful and its comparable fuel economy ratings are a plus.

A few reviewers complain that the Altima’s transition between electric and gasoline power is too abrupt and noticeable -- a complaint we rarely ever see about the Camry Hybrid or Fusion Hybrid.

  • "The Hybrid is generally strong, though the CVT in this application slightly dulls passing response." -- Consumer Guide
  • "We encountered some shuddering when switching from electric to gasoline mode and an audible 'click' at stops when the parallel hybrid powertrain switched to all-electric mode." -- Motor Trend
  • "Whether we’re comparing conventionally powered versions or hybrids in this class of family four-doors, the Altima always anchors the zesty end of the range, eager, quick, and rowdy. This hybrid really specializes in test-track numbers." -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

The Nissan Altima has taut handling for a family sedan. The hybrid edition differs slightly from its gasoline-powered sibling, featuring electric power steering instead of the hydraulic power steering of the gas model. Some reviewers don’t like the electric power steering, and say it feels numb, disconnected, and when it’s paired with the suspension, it absorbs too many road bumps. On the plus side, the electric power steering makes the Altima Hybrid easy to maneuver around parking lots.  

Reviewers are divided on the Altima Hybrid’s brakes. The car uses regenerative braking to recharge its batteries. Some reviewers say the brakes are smooth, while others notice a slight shudder when they engage and an electronic whine. The effect may not bother some.

  • "Steering is notably precise, with ample feedback." -- Edmunds
  • "The controls are troubling, too, amped up to the point where it’s hard to be smooth with them. Brake-pedal force has annoying variations, perhaps due to regen considerations beyond the driver’s knowing." -- Car and Driver
  • "On the highways and byways, the Altima Hybrid is a mixed bag. We weren't in love with its electronic steering, which felt somewhat numb and disconnected at times and had us making constant course corrections when strong winds buffeted the sedan. On the other hand, the system makes it easy to maneuver through parking lots. Contrast the steering feel with the Altima Hybrid's suspension, which felt a bit too tightly sprung at times. The car thunks over potholes and imperfections that characterize many California roadways." -- Motor Trend

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