Sporty but comfortable ride, Energetic and smooth powertrain, Refined interior
CONS Scant headroom with sunroof, Too much road noise, Antilock brakes and stability control optional on some models
First-class upgrade on a business-class ticket
Nissan got serious about competing with Toyota and Honda in the midsize-car wars with the 2002 Altima. It was completely redesigned and restyled, significantly larger than the model it replaced, and sported an available V6-engine that had best-in-class power. That Altima helped Nissan rebound from sales doldrums and re-establish itself as a credible automaker in the U.S.
Fast forward to 2007.
Nissan is again mired in a sales slump, and, once more, it is Altima that comes to the rescue. Though the styling is similar, the 2007 Altima is actually a completely new car that's one inch shorter overall and two inches shorter in wheelbase than the model it replaces. Nissan has also given Altima a number of new features and offers a hybrid model in California and certain east-coast states.
The front-drive-only Altima comes in Base, S, SE, and SL trim. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower is standard on Base, S, and 2.5SL. SE and 3.5SL come with a 3.5-liter V6 that has 270-horsepower. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on all models except the 3.5SL. Standard on the 3.5SL and optional on S, 2.5SL, and SE is a continuously variable automatic transmission.
2007 Nissan Altima SE
Base Price: $24,500
As-Tested Price: $30,715
Built in USA.
Floor and Trunk Mats
Premium Package with XM
Vehicle Dynamic Control
Engine: DOHC 3.5-liter V6
Transmission: CVT automatic
Drive Wheels: front-wheel drive
Standard safety equipment on all Altima models includes dual front, front side, and curtain side airbags. Antilock brakes are standard on SE and SL, optional S and not available on the base model. Stability control is optional on SE and SL.
List prices start at $17,950 for the base model and climb to $28,400 for the SL. All models carry a $625 destination charge. Available features include leather upholstery, sunroof, keyless access and starting, Bose audio system with 6-disc CD changer, satellite radio, Bluetooth cell-phone link, navigation system with real-time traffic information, and HID headlamps.
For 2008 Nissan adds a two-door coupe to the Altima lineup.
Get up and Go
Since the introduction of the 3.5-liter V6 in the 2002 model, Altima has been one of the fastest midsize cars. That doesn't change for 2007 as the 3.5-liter V6/CVT combo will pull the Altima from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Altima is one of those cars that's always going faster than you think.
What is more impressive than the engine's power is the overall powertrain smoothness. Because the engine makes plenty of torque and the CVT doesn't have traditional gears, the V6-powered Altima accelerates like a locomotive. There's ample grunt off the line and impressive passing power. If you are die-hard traditionalist, you can still manually work the transmission through pre-programmed "gear" steps via the manual shift gate. However, leaving the selector in drive lets the transmission do the work and takes advantage of the CVT's near-infinite range of gear ratios to make the most of acceleration and fuel economy.
Unlike the previous-generation Altima, the 2007 model does not suffer from undue torque steer when accelerating out of corners. There's still a bit of wheel spin on slippery surfaces, but the traction control that is standard on V6 models does a good job of keeping it to a minimum.
EPA estimates for the V6 Altima are 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. That is slightly better than the Honda Accord V6 and a tick worse than the Toyota Camry V6. In reality, the Altima is very fuel efficient given the car's acceleration potential. Expect to average about 21 mpg in routine city driving. If your highway commute includes lots of highway driving, a 26 mpg average isn't out of the question. In addition to exceptional fuel economy for a powerful V6, the Altima boasts a class-leading 20 gallon fuel tank. That extends driving range well beyond 400 miles for the typical commute and means fewer trips to the gas station.
Nissan recommends premium-grade fuel for best performance and economy.
On the Road
Altima is a model of composure over most surfaces. The suspension does an excellent job of absorbing bumps rather than amplifying them. Four-cylinder and 3.5SL models offer the smoothest ride. SE rides more firmly and will occasionally pound over bumps and expansion joints.
Obviously the SE is the athlete of the bunch. Regardless of trim, Altima offers a sporty ride that remains unruffled in quick lane changes or fast turns. Undue body motions are kept to a minimum and lean in turns is negligible.
When driving Altima swiftly, you get a sense that the front tires are pulling you around a corner, rather than the car tracking through the corner. Perhaps it is by design, but this inspires confidence in the average driver. Occasionally the rear end will step out in the middle of a turn if you hit a large pot hole, but otherwise Altima is unflappable.
Brakes are strong, and pedal modulation is quite good. Steering has a natural feel unless you're really pushing. Then it feels somewhat over boosted and can leave drivers sawing at the wheel while trying to maintain a smooth arc in sweeping turns.
Shame on Nissan for not including antilock brakes and stability control on the standard equipment list of every model. Even less-expensive competitors like the Hyundai Sonata offer this valuable safety equipment at no additional cost.
Inside, Altima is not as quiet as Buick LaCrosse or Toyota Camry. Noise levels are reduced compared to the previous generation, perhaps on par with Accord and Ford Fusion. The four-cylinder engine is noisier than the silky V6 and the V-rated tires on the SE V6 noisy enough on rough concrete surfaces to disrupt quiet conversation.
Behind the Wheel The biggest difference between the previous-generation Altima and the '07 model can be found inside. At first blush the new Altima looks expensive. Upon closer examination you'll find surprisingly good assembly quality and class-leading materials.
The dashboard layout is simple and straightforward, but still retains a sporty character. Gauges are placed directly in front of the driver and are easy to read. Audio and climate controls are large and clearly-marked. Even buttons and knobs for the windows and power mirrors are conveniently placed.
The front seats are firm yet comfortable. They offer adequate support in turns without being overly confining. Head and leg room are acceptable, though taller drivers may want to stay away from the optional sunroof, which lowers the headliner a bit. Thanks to tilt-telescope steering wheel, driving position is good. Visibility to all directions is excellent.
NHTSA Crash-Test Results, 2007 Nissan Altima
|Front Impact, Driver ||5 stars|
|Front Impact, Passenger ||5 stars|
|Side Impact, Driver ||5 stars|
|Side Impact, Rear Passenger ||4 stars|
|Rollover Resistance ||4 stars|
Rear seats are quite comfortable but aren't as roomy as in the previous generation. They are still average-adult complaint, though anyone over six feet tall might ask for the front seats to be moved forward a bit and will most certainly complain about the low roofline. Entry-exit is a snap thanks to tall and wide door openings.
The trunk is huge. It will easily swallow four large suitcases or a week's worth of groceries. The opening is large, but sports hinges that intrude on cargo space. Split-rear seatbacks fold nearly flat to increase cargo space. Interior storage is highlighted by an extra-large glove box and a deep center bin below the climate controls.
Bottom Line The 2002-06 Nissan Altima was a good car. The '07 Altima is a great car. The differences are subtle, but noticeable. Interior materials and fit and finish are greatly improved. Ride quality is better and interior noise levels are lower. Performance is enhanced.
The competition is very good and that's forced Nissan to hold down price increases. A fully loaded SE or SL V6 tips the scales at just over $30,000, which is comparable to similarly equipped models from Honda, Toyota, and Volkswagen and a trifle more than Ford Fusion or Chevrolet Malibu. Still, the smart shopper might forgo the V6 and pick up a judiciously optioned 2.5SL. That's easily the best value in the lineup.
|Specifications, 2007 Nissan Altima|
|Wheelbase, in. |
|Size, liters/cu. in. |
3.5 / 213
|Length, in. |
|Horsepower @ rpm |
270 @ 6000
|Width, in. |
|Torque (lb-ft) @ rpm |
258 @ 4400
|Weight, lbs. |
|EPA Estimates, mpg|
22 city / 28 highway
|Cargo Capacity, cu. ft. |
|Fuel Capacity, gals. |
3 years / 36,000 miles
|Front Head Room, in. |
5 years / 60,000 miles
|Front Leg Room, in. |
5 years / unlimited miles
|Rear Head Room, in. |
|Free Roadside Assistance |
3 years / 36,000 miles
|Rear Leg Room, in. |
|Free Scheduled Maintenance|