Nissan Altima Sedan Performance
The 2008 Nissan Altima continues to impress reviewers as a powerful and versatile performer a year following its redesign. Experts say the Altima is especially competitive with its 3.5-liter V6 engine, and the 2007 model took second place in a Car and Driver comparison test, falling just short of the Honda Accord.
- "With its sporty suspension tuning…and quick steering, the 2008 Nissan Altima provides enthusiasts with one of the most enjoyable midsize coupes and family sedans available. Ride quality is still comfortable throughout the line, and road and wind noise are subdued." -- Edmunds
- "Performance-oriented drivers looking for a modicum of fun -- even if the constraints of frugality, fuel economy, or family rule the purchasing decision -- will naturally gravitate toward the model." -- BusinessWeek
- "The Altima is still not the keenest driver's machine, but it's faster, crisper, and safer than ever, and it's less stodgy than a Camry. At this price -- less than $20,000 -- it's back in the race." -- Automobile Magazine
- When reviewing the 2007 model, Car and Driver notes, "For years, Nissan's Altima has been the gangly nerd always invited to America's mid-size prom but whose evening was inevitably spent alone in a corner of the gym that smelled like sweat socks. This newly designed Altima 3.5SE, however, now has every chance of hanging with the hip seniors, given its silky 270-horse V-6 that has been lowered in the chassis to level its halfshafts. The Camry and Accord may still not quake in the Altima's presence, but it turns out this once-ignored dance partner…knows all the latest steps." -- Car and Driver
- The Republic likes the V6 model, saying, "Here's a sharply styled sedan that cranks out 270 horsepower, corners like a go-kart and doesn't vacuum all the cash out of your savings account." -- Arizona Republic
Acceleration and Power
Reviewers agree the Altima has plenty of power and good acceleration, whether using a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 175 horsepower or the more-often-tested 3.5-liter V6 with 270 horsepower. Test drivers are particularly impressed with the available continuously variable transmission (CVT), and recommend it over the awkward shifting of the six-speed manual. The EPA gives the 2.5L Altima a fuel economy rating of 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 on highways with an automatic transmission. With the manual, the Altima rates at 23/32 city/highway. The 3.5L receives a fuel economy rating of 19/26 city/highway with the automatic transmission, and 19/27 city/highway using a manual.
- "Conventional 4-cylinder models with CVT automatic are sprightly from a stop and show good highway passing response. … Our test 3.5 SE with CVT ran from 0-60 mph in just 6.3 seconds." -- Consumer Guide
- "This 3.5-liter V-6 is sweet, particularly as it powers through the six-speed stick. With 270 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, and a multi-point fuel injection system it has plenty of grunt and revs easily without drama. … The clutch, shifter and throttle were not as easily modulated as some. It took most of the week to really get the feel of them enough to shift smoothly most of the time." -- The Auto Channel
- "A six-speed manual is standard, but its clutch engagement is abrupt and its shifter feels unsubstantial and moves through its gates with all the precision of a $10 Folex watch. We don't make this recommendation often, but we'd opt for the continuously variable transmission instead." -- Edmunds
- "My opinion of the CVT itself is split. I really like its ability to quickly raise engine rpm when a quick burst of acceleration is needed while darting through traffic, but when cruising at steady, slow speeds, the CVT adjusts itself so as to keep engine rpm extremely low, which robs the V-6 of power." -- Cars.com
Handling and Braking
Auto critics say the 2008 Nissan Altima handles competently, but the brakes are not as responsive as desired. In addition, several warn of torque steer, a problem that frequently plagues front-wheel-drive sedans.
- "Handling is excellent. … Damping is about what we would expect from a mass market sedan with a 'sport' package, that is, firm but not harsh, crisp but not jerky. We had no problem diving hard into a tight turn and pushing through near the limit of adhesion." -- The Auto Channel
- "While not quite as dynamically sophisticated as the new Accord, the Altima's suspension soaks up minor road imperfections while delivering a comfortable and well-controlled ride over most surfaces." -- Kelley Blue Book
- In a contrasting opinion, a Cars.com reviewer preferred the Altima to the Accord, saying, "I tested an Altima 3.5 SE. … The taut suspension faithfully communicates the quality of the road back to the driver, so if you drive on rundown roads, expect to feel their state of disrepair. Even this sportiest of Altimas, though, doesn't jostle occupants like a Honda Accord." -- Cars.com
- "My only caveat is that the brakes felt a bit touchy to me, on or off rather than progressive." -- BusinessWeek
- "Braking is the one area in which the Altima could be deemed mediocre. Pedal feel is progressive, but during instrumented testing, we've measured stops from 60 mph in the 126-134–foot range, which is only average for this class." -- Edmunds