2007 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyers Guide™

THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS
Model:    Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Engine:   3.5-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque:   270 hp @ 6000 rpm/258 lb.-ft. @ 4400 rpm 
Transmission:   Continuously Variable (CVT)
Wheelbase:   109.3 in.
Length x Width x Height:   189.8 x 70.7 x 57.9 in.
Tires:   215/55R17
Cargo volume:   15.3 cu. ft.
Economy:    20mpg city/29 mpg highway/ mpg test
Price:  $25,000 (est.)

Assets –Upgrade of already fantastic design. Great power and handling.
Debits –Hitting start/stop button while car is going shuts engine off.

I’ve been a fan of Nissan Altima styling from Day One – well at least since the previous generation model hit the roads. I find it clean, aerodynamic and impressive as it moves down the highway.

So I was naturally intrigued by the redesign, which is clean, aerodynamic and impressive as it moves down the highway. I was not disappointed.

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I had an opportunity to drive both the 3.5SE, powered by the 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine, and the 2.5S, powered by a 165-hp inline four. Both use a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that shifted smoothly, not matter how hard we drove the car. A 6-speed manual is also offered. On the 3.5SE, the gearbox also had a manual mode that allowed the drover to shift if he or she so chose. We tried it on our hillclimb test, and we tried in over some of the more interesting roads Nissan offered at the car’s introduction. While the manual mode does give the drive a bit more control over the gear the car is in, there was no appreciative improvement in performance.

Interestingly, there was very little drop in performance going from the V6 to the I4. Handling, however, was not as good with the four. There was also a difference in handling between the well-equipped 3.5SL and the 3.5SE, especially under hard driving. We felt that if we had to drive over hard twisty roads very often, we’d opt for the SL over the SE. In normal driving, however, there’s little difference between the cars.

Part of the reason for the Altima’s great performance is a new platform that is more rigid than the previous one and uses an all-new front suspension. In addition, the engine is mounted lower and uses a six-point mounting system in place of the previous four-point system. Front half-shafts have equal angles and are more parallel to the ground, eliminating torque steer to a great extent.

The end result is a car that’s easy to drive on the highway and on hard twisty roads. It’s an almost-perfect compromise for a mid-size sedan. Seat comfort is very good with decent side support for those hard roads. Front seats are also heated. There’s excellent rear leg room as well. The front seat backs have intents for long-legged rear passengers, which we didn’t have to use.

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Compared to the previous generation Altima, the 2007 version rides on a wheelbase that is 0.9 inch shorter and is 2.5 inches shorter overall. Trunk space remains the same at 15.8 cubic feet, but it seems larger. In addition, the rear seats fold flat – there are straps located in the trunk that release the seat backs for even more carrying capacity. We found the trunk would easily carry a t least three golf bags, maybe four if you stacked them properly.

The styling is perhaps less dramatic than the previous generation, if only because that car pushed the envelope further. However, the taillights on the new car are radical.

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Nissan designers got a bit carried away in the cupholder department. There are three locate dint he center console plus door cupholders that will hold large bottles (but not large Fiji water bottles).

I liked the audio system in our tester that also had an input for an iPod (it’s the AUX input) that allows you to play your music through the car’s audio system.

For storage, there’s a deep center console and a large cubby at the base of the center stack. The glove box is large enough to generate echoes.

The instrument panel is good, with large white-on-black dials. However, there are orange rings around these dials that become garish at night.

There are extensions on the sun visors to give further protection from outside glare.

There were no surprises in the 2007 Nissan Altima. It continues to be a very good car and should be a major competitor in the mid-size segment with a choice of two great engines, a smooth CVT transmission, great styling, and tons of interior room.

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate

Complete specifications on the 2007 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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