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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 resulted in the Nissan Altima Hybrid, a sedan that combined the high-tech, fuel-saving benefits of Toyota's hybrid technology with the Altima's sporty looks and driving dynamics.
It was an impressive combination, and in many ways the Altima Hybrid was the most desirable hybrid sedan on the market during its time. Unfortunately, Nissan only sold it in handful of states, and annual sales numbers were pretty miniscule. As such, the Altima Hybrid will be pretty hard to find as a used car.
Most Recent Nissan Altima Hybrid
The Nissan Altima Hybrid was introduced at the same time as the regular, redesigned Altima for 2007. Unlike its non-hybrid sibling, however, it was discontinued after 2011.
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 pound-feet 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 35 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined -- on par with the contemporary Toyota Camry Hybrid.
Standard equipment was ample, with things like keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control and a power driver seat among its standard features. Options were aplenty including a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, Bluetooth, navigation, a rearview camera and a Bose sound system. Unfortunately, these options were encapsulated in three pricey packages that limited customer choice and made the MSRP rise faster than Bundt cake in a broiler. As such, expect used Nissan Altima Hybrids to come with either a lot of equipment or very little.
The Nissan Altima Hybrid set itself apart from the Toyota and others by being a rare green car that didn't completely suck the life out of driving. While it was no sport sedan, it managed to keep much of the spirited acceleration and road-holding prowess of the gas-powered four-cylinder Altima. At the time, we also gave the car high marks for its precise steering, top-notch interior materials and strong crash safety scores.
During its life, changes were limited to 2010 when Nissan slightly tweaked the exterior styling, upgraded the interior fabric and added an iPod interface to the options list.