2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid Tests Consumer Interest

The Hybrid is rated at 35/33, and in a mix of city and highway driving with plenty of non-green full-throttle application, I got 33.

Published: 25-Jun-2008

The third generation Altima, introduced in model year 2002, saw the transformation of the car from a strictly four-cylinder sedan at the small end of mid-size category to a full-line nameplate, with four- and six-cylinder models sized at the upper end of the class. If it then more nearly resembled the most popular cars in that most popular class, an all-too-easy path to potential obscurity, the Altima differentiated itself in its style and demeanor, both more exciting than the conservatism of the mass-market brands. This, and a lineup with a good variety of choice, helped the Altima to become Nissan's top seller.

From a distance, fourth-generation Altima, which debuted for 2007, looked like a restyle of its immediate predecessor. It was much more than that, as it was based on a new chassis architecture, Nissan's "D" transverse-engine, front-wheel drive platform, with improved rigidity and suspension design. Engine choices were the standard-for-the-class inline four or V6, both with a little more personality than competitors, and available with (depending on model) a six-speed manual or continuously-variable transmission (CVT).

Nissan further differentiated the Altima from midsize genericness with the mid-year introduction of the Altima Coupe, which I dove earlier this model year and found to be pleasantly entertaining, even with the 2.5-liter four, and quite practical. With styling that hints at its cousin, the Infiniti G coupe, is in no way a two-door sedan.

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