Let's get this out in the open right away in the spirit of full and honest disclosure and transparency.
I hate CVT transmissions!
For those of you unfamiliar with the continuously varying transmission just imagine a transmission without any gears and you've pretty much got the idea.
Granted, there's a lot to like about the modern CVT including seamless shifts and better fuel economy, but from my point of view driving one feels just like you've put a giant soft pillow between your right foot and the accelerator.
So you can imagine that I'm noting going to rave about the CVT in the 2010 Altima 3.5 SR which takes a zesty 270 HP V6 engine, and makes it howl like a frightened Chihuahua when you bury your foot in the pillow…I mean gas pedal.
And that's a shame because the Nissan Altima is otherwise a fine car.
I can easily see why it is one of Nissan's best selling cars.
Surprisingly I got a 0-60 time of 7.15 seconds and a quarter mile in
15.37@100 mph. The Altima also stopped from 60-0 in a very respectable
distance of 112 feet.
Let's start with the outside and work our way into the car.
The Altima is a handsome car with Hollywood good looks and chiseled features that makes you happy to have one parked in your driveway or waiting for your after work in the company's parking lot.
And when you get into the car there's tons of easy living room for you and your family to spread out on lazy summer vacations.
And just as importantly with that thrifty CVT transmission EPA gas numbers are 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. I got an as tested 24.3 which is remarkable given a car with almost 300 HP.
The 2010 Altima 3.5 SR certainly won't bust your fuel budget on that trip to grandma's house.
It will however try to wrestle the steering wheel from your hands should you decide that you just have to floor it coming out of an apex of a turn. The car's steering is tuned more to the luxury side of the equation than to the canyon carving racer in you.
With 258 pound-feet of torque all going into the front wheels the ugly specter of torque steer pops up a bot too often…especially given the Altima's generous amounts of power steering boost.
However, what makes the car a pleasure to drive around town also makes it a handful if and when you decide to get frisky with it.
My tester came with cloth seats and a black on blacker interior which made the car feel somber when paired with the bright orange dashboard lights.
On the other side of the coin at an as tested price of $27,785.00 you get a lot of power, performance, and comfort for your hard earned cash money.
That's MSRP includes such niceties as:
– Steering wheel mounted secondary controls for almost everything you'd ever want to control from the steering wheel.
– Xenon Headlights to turn the night into day.
– Dual auto temp controls to keep peace a harmony between you and the passenger.
– A rear spoiler to keep that kid inside of you happy as a clam in a family hauler.
– 17 inch alloy wheels for that cool customized Southern Cali look.
So yes you get a lot of bang for your buck including stuff that you might not consider crucial until you really need it like a huge trunk, and enough space for three adults to ride in easy comfort in the back seat.
Now I never thought I'd ever say this as a guy who lives and dies by the old manual transmission, but Nissan please bring back the standard automatic with proper gears instead of a belt on a cone. That would make for the ultimate Altima in my book.
Mica is a
columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early
years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he's not reviewing cars
for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and
writing about endurance sports for, EverymanTri.com.
Mica is also the Endurance