Home > Test Drives > 2005 Nissan Altima

2005 Nissan Altima

      It seems like only yesterday that Nissan was bragging about its stylish new Altima. Sales were hot when it was introduced in 2002, but they’ve cooled somewhat in the face of new competition, especially the ever-present Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
     But fear not, Nissan fans. An updated Altima is already on the way for 2005.
     While it looks almost identical to the 2004 Altima on the outside, the Japanese company scrapped the interior to give its cabin a totally new look and feel. It at least matches, and in some ways exceeds, the competition from Honda and Toyota.
     Gone is the clunky, hard plastic dash that plagued previous Altimas. The new dash feels softer and more solid, nearly on par with a European luxury car.


     It also has a new instrument panel, center console, trim finishes, three-spoke steering wheel, seat materials, headliner, and extra chrome. As if that’s not enough, you can now get a DVD-based navigation system in your Altima for the first time. It looks like a whole new car from the inside.
     Outside, the changes are more subtle. It has a slightly bolder, more athletic look after Nissan added new smoked headlights and taillights, a restyled front fascia with a raised hood design, a revamped grille, and chrome accents to set some models apart.
     Of course, Nissan couldn’t really call it a new Altima without making some changes under the hood. Engineers massaged five more horsepower out of the company’s fantastic 3.5-liter engine — probably one of the best V6 engines available today — to make an impressive 250 horsepower.
     Nissan also offers a decent four-cylinder engine for fuel efficiency, but we’d highly recommend the V6 for its smoothness and response.
     Three nice transmissions are offered: a five-speed manual, four-speed automatic and five-speed automatic. Traction control is available on Altimas with automatic transmissions to help control the car on slippery surfaces.
     Our V6-equipped test car was more fun to drive than most four-door sedans. The slightly sporty driving feel matched its slightly aggressive body.
     Acceleration, as with all Nissans that use the same 3.5-liter V6, was exciting. It could pull away from stoplights with ghusto, and you could almost feel a hint of the Nissan 350Z sports car through the steering wheel.
     The suspension was a good combination of comfort and sport. It didn’t have the wonderfully tight, knife-edged feel of the Accord, nor did it have the smooth, supple feel of the Camry on the highway. It fit somewhere in between, giving it just enough firmness to be fun and just enough softness to be comfortable — exactly as an Altima should.
     From a safety standpoint, the Altima comes with standard dual-stage supplemental air bags that sense seatbelt use and collision severity and deploy accordingly. Optional are front seat side-impact supplemental air bags and roof-mounted side-impact curtain air bags to protect people’s heads in the front and back seats.
     Best of all, now that Nissan has improved the Altima’s interior it has no obvious weaknesses. It drives well, it’s comfortable, and its price is in line with the more mundane sedans from Japan.
     Only one problem: How will Nissan find a way to top it when it comes time for a total redesign?


Categories: Test Drives Tags: , , , , ,
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.