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After raising the family sedan performance bar with the last-generation Altima, Nissan steps up its efforts in cabin refinement with this year's redesign. The result is one of our top picks in this segment as the 2007 Nissan Altima provides dashing style, entertaining driving dynamics and a welcoming interior.
Strong performance from V6 models, smooth and responsive CVT, attractive cabin design with quality materials, generous interior room front and rear.
Stability control not available on lower trim levels, mediocre comfort levels in backseat.
Available Altima Sedan Models
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A clean-sheet redesign for 2007 produces a Nissan Altima that boasts an available 270-horsepower V6, a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a roomy cabin that's much improved in terms of overall materials quality.
Although not the most glamorous segment, the family sedan class is undeniably very important to carmakers due to its high volume and high visibility. Nissan played it safe with the first Altima (which debuted in the early '90s) with modest dimensions and four-cylinder power only. Five years ago Nissan gave the Altima an extreme makeover that turned it into the sport sedan of midsize family cars, thanks to a well-sorted suspension and the availability of Nissan's potent and refined 3.5-liter V6. Sadly, the cabin wasn't as highly polished, filled as it was with a lot of hard plastic and bland design. That all changes for this year, as the all-new 2007 Nissan Altima adds a healthy dose of style and refinement to go along with its sporting character.
This year's styling revamp, which features 350Z-style headlamps and a sweeping roof line, gives the Altima a more hunkered-down, sportier stance than before. The Altima's previous big weakness, its rather downmarket interior trim, has been fully addressed. The use of more supple and richly grained materials in the cabin goes a long way toward giving the 2007 Altima's cabin a polished, refined and much more welcoming ambiance.
Already a highly respected engine in terms of refinement and performance, the "VQ-series" 3.5-liter V6 gains more power this year. The stats are 270 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, giving it considerably more output than most competitors. Also noteworthy is the Altima's new continuously variable transmission (CVT). Nissan has been building CVTs for a few years now but this is the first one we've sampled that works well enough to justify its existence in lieu of a traditional automatic.
Overall, we believe the 2007 redesign has established the Nissan Altima as a premier choice once again. It bests the Mazda 6, another sporty favorite of ours, in terms of passenger room and power. It's also more refined than other midsize sedans like the Mitsubishi Galant and Chevy Malibu. And while the Accord and Camry are as accommodating as the Altima, they don't quite match the Nissan in terms of overall driving enjoyment. For family sedan shoppers interested in a vehicle that brings some enthusiasm to the daily grind, the new Altima is one of our top recommendations.
A midsize sedan, the 2007 Nissan Altima comes in four trims: a base 2.5 trim (by customer order only), 2.5 S, 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL. The base version comes with a 175-hp four-cylinder engine, 16-inch wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry/starting, cruise control, a split/folding rear seat and a telescoping steering wheel. The 2.5 S adds air-conditioning, a CD player and MP3 input jack, a trip computer and intermittent wipers. The sporty 3.5 SE comes with a 270-hp V6, a sport-tuned suspension with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, power-folding side-view mirrors with integral turn signals, a power driver seat, wood-tone accents and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. The 3.5 SL goes the full luxury route with leather seating, a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 16-inch alloy wheels, xenon HID headlights and a Bose audio system with CD changer and satellite radio.
Options include an SL package for the 2.5 S that essentially adds all the features of the 3.5 SL minus the V6. Available on all but the base Altima is a technology package that bundles a navigation system with a rearview monitor. Many of the SL features can be ordered on the 2.5 S and 3.5 SE trims either à la carte or through packages.
The front-wheel-drive Altima is powered by either a 2.5-liter inline-4 with 175 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque (on the 2.5 trims) or a 3.5-liter V6 with 270 hp and 258 lb-ft (on the 3.5 trims). All but the 3.5 SL come with a six-speed manual transmission, while a CVT is standard on that trim and optional on all others except the base car.
In our tests, a 3.5 SE with the CVT ran to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds. The CVT provides quick, smooth acceleration and powerful passing ability without any of the "freewheeling" effect we've noticed on other, less-sophisticated CVTs. Despite all the power on tap, the Altima V6 exhibits no torque steer under hard acceleration. Fuel economy is impressive on four-cylinder/six-speed cars; they're rated at 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway. Nissan Altimas with the V6/CVT combination have an average rating of 22/28.
Front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes and a tire-pressure monitor are standard on every 2007 Nissan Altima. Antilock brakes are standard on the 3.5 trims and optional on the 2.5 S. Only the 3.5 trims are eligible for traction control (it's standard) and stability control. (It's optional.)
The 2007 Nissan Altima features a spacious cabin (rear-seat legroom is best-in-class) and plenty of soft-touch materials that are miles ahead of the hard plastics used in the previous generation. All Altimas have "Intelligent Key" keyless entry and start, which allows owners to get in and drive away without removing the key fob from their pocket or purse. There are plenty of cupholders and 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. The seat does have a standard split/folding rear feature, providing extra cargo capacity should the 15.3-cubic-foot trunk not be enough.
With its sporty suspension tuning (especially in 3.5 SE guise) and quick steering, the 2007 Nissan Altima provides enthusiasts with one of the most enjoyable family sedans available. Ride quality is comfortable throughout the line, with the 3.5 SE having a firmer but still agreeable personality in that respect. Strong performance from the V6 models should more than satisfy those who like a kick in the pants when they boot the gas, and the four-cylinder provides perfectly adequate acceleration. Braking performance is the Altima's main dynamic weakness. Pedal feel is progressive, but during instrumented testing, we measured a 134-foot stop from 60 mph, which is about 10 feet longer than most rivals'.
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