The 2011 Nissan Altima is clearly more stylish than competitors like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, and the line includes both a coupe and a hybrid.
While it’s not quite as roomy inside as some mid-size rivals, the 2011 Altima has held up decently since its 2007 debut. It remains one of the sportiest and most fun-to-drive entries in this segment. The exterior lines are simple but racy, and inside, the instrument panel is straightforward, foregoing the overwrought stylistic flourishes of others in the class.
Like most rivals except the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, the Nissan Altima offers both a four (a 175-hp, 2.5-liter) and a V-6 (a 270-hp, 3.5-liter). The company’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic is fitted to both engines, except for the Coupe, which offers a six-speed manual with either engine. The V-6 is a variant of the same engine used in the 370Z sports car, which helps explain 0-to-60-mph times of less than 6 seconds with that engine.
But you pay the price in gas mileage if you opt for the V-6 in the Altima sedan: 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and a combined rating of just 23 mpg. The four is somewhat better: 23, 32, and 27 mpg combined, though the combined rating falls 1 mpg with either transmission if you opt for the Coupe. Worst of all is the Coupe with the V-6 and six-speed manual: 18, 27, and 21 mpg combined.
For gas mileage, head for the hybrid. The 2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid uses a specially tuned 162-hp version of the 2.5-liter four mated to an earlier generation of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, with its pair of electric motor-generators. Combined power output is 198 hp, but the fuel economy is notably superior: 33 mpg for city, highway, or combined mileage.
Like the Toyota Camry Hybrid with which it competes, the 2011 Altima Hybrid is virtually indistinguishable from the regular sedan on the outside. Its only interior difference, aside from badges and gauges, is that the rear seatback doesn’t fold forward because the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack sits in the trunk at its base. The rear seat on all Altima sedans is a little cramped, but that has nothing to do with the hybrid hardware.
The straightforward interior of the Altima is functional and neatly styled, though it abounds in hard, drab plastics that are now significantly behind the best in class. The ride is firm but good, the handling is well above average, and the Altima earns its stripes as the most driver-friendly of the high-volume mid-size sedans.
Like its competitors, there are several carefully calibrated trim levels and numerous options. The Nissan push-button ignition is standard across the board, but the top-line SR model includes a power driver’s seat and wood interior trim. Options include a moonroof, a Sport Package (featuring High Intensity Discharge headlights), a Technology Package (navigation, hard drive for music storage, Bluetooth for streaming audio, and satellite radio with live traffic and weather). The audio upgrades are wrapped into the Premium Package, along with leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear-seat air conditioning vents, and mood lighting. These luxury features will cost you, though: a fully-loaded 2011 Nissan Altima runs to $32,000 or more.
For more details, see the full review of the 2011 Nissan Altima lineup on our sister site, TheCarConnection.
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