The Ultimate Altima

by Clint Burgess

It seems to be more often that auto manufacturers are taking their old models to the drawing board and transforming them into more modern and relevant vehicles that can compete in today's buyers' market. This idea of making old models new again has fallen on the public with varying degrees of success. That said, Nissan's new Altima is an exception to the rule. Making the Altima look this good has taken years of brainstorming and designing. Fortunately for consumers, this refining process has been worth the wait.

Since undergoing a major overhaul in 2002, the Altima has solidified its place among consumers as an old favorite. There is a certain sense of nostalgia that comes from this car. Nearly everyone in high school drove an old one at one time or another. Since that time, the Altima has grown up, and so have the people who are driving them. The most drastic change in the Altima's transformation for 2005 was the completely overhauled body style. Now the vehicle retains a more conservative appearance and conveys a sense of dignified self-possession that will only set you back about $19,000 for the base model. The Altima fits into the auto market as a solid and reliable sedan that allows owners to look like they really have it together when in fact they have Danzig in the CD player.

Another side of the Altima that may not be apparent at first glance is its penchant for performance. After Nissan let the engineers loose on this model, it came off the assembly line with the most horsepower in its class. Technically classified as a family sedan, the Altima makes up in bells and whistles for what it lacks in flashiness. It is available with a 2.5- or 3.5-liter engine and also comes packaged as a V6 with a manual transmission. Not bad for a car classified as a family sedan. The Altima, in other words, is a borderline sports car. It can satisfy the practical necessities of a driver with more than one passenger while also providing the torque that we all occasionally crave.

The Altima amounts to quite a bit of car for the money. Base options are pretty standard, but bump up to the S model and necessities like A/C, power accessories and keyless entry fit nicely within a budget. It is slightly confusing, though, when trying to decide on the six different trims available on the Altima. A good rule of thumb is to decide whether you need just a tad of what this refined vehicle has to offer or if you want the smorgasbord of options. Like most new vehicles these days, the Altima can accommodate whatever indulgences your taste in fine accessories may be. And lots of shiny knobs may be nice, but unless they're functional they might as well be in the trunk under an old blanket. The Altima achieves this function in a very successful way.

This Nissan has been a favorite of consumers for years. While it used to be a utility sedan that got the job done with no flash or pizzazz, the new rendition more than makes up for the last decade of unfortunate Altima models. Nissan has found a way to offer a solid vehicle to their customers. There is no huge price tag and, from an exterior perspective, not a lot of frills. There is however, a good reason to consider the Altima for your next car.