Full 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid Review
What's New for 2007
The 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid is all-new. The main difference between it and all other Altima models is that it has a gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain that provides exceptional fuel economy. The Altima Hybrid also benefits from the 2007 Altima's full redesign.
At the beginning of Prius-mania, Nissan could see itself venturing up a creek without a paddle. Or rather, into a new fuel economy-conscious market without a hybrid. As a quick fix, Nissan swallowed its pride and essentially purchased the rights to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive. This marriage has resulted in the 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid, which combines the high-tech, fuel-saving benefits of Toyota's hybrid technology with the redesigned Altima sedan's improved interior and sporty driving dynamics. Sadly, for those who live in "flyover" states, the Altima Hybrid is only available in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
When discussing any hybrid, fuel economy is a priority-one concern and the Altima Hybrid certainly delivers, with an estimated EPA 42 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. That's basically identical to the related Toyota Camry Hybrid, and better than the Honda Accord Hybrid and Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid. It's also about 16 mpg better than the four-cylinder Altima in city driving, but about equal to it on the highway. The Hybrid is therefore best suited for around-town duties and even then, the gas savings most likely won't make up for the price premium – hybrids are still more of a moral, ecological choice than an economic one.
The hybrid model benefits from the entire Altima line's redesign for 2007. Outside, 350Z-style headlamps and a sweeping roof line give it a more hunkered-down, sportier stance than before. The Altima's previous bargain-basement interior trim has been fully upgraded with more supple and richly grained materials that go a long way toward giving the cabin a more polished, refined and welcoming ambience. Standard equipment is decent, but options are encapsulated in three pricey packages that limit customer choice and make the MSRP rise faster than Bundt cake in a broiler. For instance, if one wanted factory-installed satellite radio, it would cost $5,250 as part of the entire Connection Package.
The 2007 Nissan Altima is once again a premier player in the ubiquitous midsize family sedan segment, and the Hybrid model further raises its stock. Although it offers performance and fuel economy similar to the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Nissan's overall sporty nature should appeal to those looking for a green car with a more engaging driving experience.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid is a midsize sedan. Standard equipment includes 16-inch wheels, tilt/telescoping steering column, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, velour cloth seats and a six-speaker audio system with a single CD player. The Convenience Package adds automatic headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, an auto up/down passenger window and a rear spoiler. The Connection Package adds the above items plus a moonroof, rear A/C vents, leather upholstery, heated front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, HomeLink, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with six-CD/MP3 changer and satellite radio. The Technology Package includes all of the above items and adds a navigation system, a rear parking camera and hybrid energy display.
Powertrains and Performance
The Altima's hybrid powertrain is essentially identical to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive in both design and function. It combines a modified version of the Altima's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (which makes 158 horsepower in this application) and an electric motor capable of 40 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. Both gasoline and electric aspects operate together or one at a time, depending on driving conditions, to optimize fuel economy and power. They combine for 198 hp, with fuel economy estimated at 42 mpg city and 36 mpg highway – on par with the Toyota Camry Hybrid. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard.
Front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, and a tire-pressure monitor are standard on the 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid. The Technology Package adds a rear parking camera. In NHTSA crash tests, the regular Altima earned a top five-star rating for its protection of the driver and passenger in head-on collisions. Side-impact testing resulted in a five-star rating for front passengers and four stars for those in the rear. The IIHS gave the Altima a top rating of "Good" in its frontal offset test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid features a spacious cabin with exceptionally good rear-seat legroom and plenty of soft-touch materials that are miles ahead of the hard plastics used in the previous-generation Altima. A standard "Intelligent Key" keyless entry and start system allows a driver to get in and drive away without removing the key fob from his or her pocket. There are nine cupholders (for five passengers) and plenty of storage cubbies, including a fairly large one located in front of the gear shifter. Although a tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard, it's awkward to adjust, as one must hold the adjustment lever with one hand while pushing or pulling the wheel with the other. As spacious as it is, the Altima's backseat is not necessarily the most comfortable in the midsize family sedan class, as its low-mounted bench denies thigh support to taller adults. Additionally, foot space is tight under the front chairs and the head restraints are nonadjustable. Due to space taken up by the Hybrid's battery pack, the trunk measures 9 cubic feet in capacity, which is about 6 cubic feet less than normal.
According to those who have driven the 2007 Altima Hybrid, acceleration is similar to that of the regular four-cylinder Altima. As with all hybrids, however, the Altima Hybrid is very sensitive to driving style. Aggressive use of the throttle will quickly negate the car's potential fuel economy gains. Thankfully, the car retains much of the regular Altima's above-average handling and quick steering.