We recently got a chance to drive Nissan's entire lineup of sedans at its North American headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. Here's what we thought of the Altima:
The 2010 Nissan Altima, which comes in both Coupe and Sedan body styles, as well as a hybrid sedan, starts at the very reasonable price of $19,900.
With the sedan, three trim levels are offered.
Go for the Coupe and the price starts at $22,440 with four levels of trim.
The Hybrid, starting at $26,780, is only available in one well-equipped trim level.
Mechanically, the 2010 Altima Coupe gets a six-speed manual transmission available with either the 175-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder or the 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine.
The only alternative is the Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission). The sedan is only available with the Xtronic CVT, doing away with last year's available manual. The Hybrid gets a special version of the four-cylinder engine for a combined power rating of 198 horsepower together with the electronic motor, piped through an eCVT, which isn't the same CVT as in the other models.
The hybrid gets 35 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, a significant upgrade over the CVT four-cylinder sedan's 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway rating. The Coupe manages an identical score to the sedan with the four-cylinder, with the manual adding 1mpg highway to the Coupe's rating. Both Sedan and Coupe also rate 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway when equipped with the V-6 and CVT. The manual-V-6 option on the Coupe changes its figures to 18/27 mpg.
An upgraded 4.3-inch display with rear-view monitor, XM satellite radio and Bluetooth and USB inputs is now available as an option, while the Hard Drive Navigation System upgrade brings the screen to 6.5 inches and adds a 9.3-gigabyte hard-disk music/navigation system.
The front end of the 2010 Altima lineup is interestingly devoid of the hook-like headlights found on the 370Z and Maxima, giving the Altima a new design direction--or a return to the previous one. Notably bolder than the previous version, the 2010 Altima carries over many of the same styling cues, but in more extreme form. The strong character fold, following back down the side of the car from the fender, for example, was present on the 2009 model, but the new car's looks to be sharper and more expressive.
The blacked-out fog light surround and lower fascia element have been replaced by a body-colored surround and vent as well, and the wheels get a split-spoke design in place of the solid spoke of the current model. Revised interior materials freshen the look and feel.