This week I continued with another Nissan product, the Altima SER 4-door sedan. I took a trip to Lake Tahoe, California and actually Nevada too. I love mountain driving and hadn’t had the opportunity to give it the Crest Test over the San Gabriel mountain chain in Southern California, so Tahoe would have to do.
I began my journey from the high desert of Acton up to highway 395, which is a shorter distance from Los Angeles than I-5, and the landmarks are great to see. Up the Owens Valley past the Death Valley and Mount Whitney turnoffs, through lovely little towns like Lone Pine, Independence and Bishop. You can take glider rides up around the majestic Mt. Whitney that offer an exhilarating experience. Then continuing past Mammoth Lakes where snow skiing doesn’t get much better. You pass Lake Crowley so famous for trout fishing and June mountain ski resort and Mono Lake with its rich history.
Finally I reached the last leg which is a short 11 mile drive up the Kingsbury Grade to South Lake Tahoe. This is truly one of the most beautiful lakes in the land. And what about the drive… I almost forgot because it was uneventful and comfortable. This is one capable car and that makes the drive easy and fun as it handles the tight mountain curves. It’s easy to fall in love. Either that or I’m simply “Easy”.
Public Service driving observation: Try not to follow too close for lots of reasons: it will tick off the car in front of you. You will be hard pressed to stop in time when traffic slows quickly. It will not allow you to see debris in the road that can do damage to your car – especially if it causes a blowout.
Handling & Performance:
This is no slouch – 260 horsepower gives you all juice you need in and out of the mountains. And it is a smooth power. Japanese cars just do it with class and without fan-fare. The American love affair with cars goes way back and tradition has always meant loud exhaust that somehow signifies power and performance. Not so folks – it just makes a lot of noise and those days went out in the 70s for good I believe. Today’s cars, even American, don’t have to make noise to be respected for their performance. Ok, Corvette and Viper may be exceptions. In any case you won’t be disappointed by this Altima’s performance.
Not my favorite styling wise, but it’s not ugly I-ther.
Fit and Finish:
The Japanese have been unwavering over the past three decades in how well they put their cars together. It is a cultural thing so all cars manufactured in Japan are excellent, in my opinion. I’ve traveled there and watched them work. The Altima is assembled in the US and they too have done a great job. I suspect the Japanese influence must have some affect on the work ethic adopted here. Mercedes Benz (Daimler) is another example of old country meeting new and has unquestionably had a positive affect on Chrysler cars.
Well it isn’t cheap but the MSRP tag of $29,200 didn’t surprise me. I often refrain from looking at the price until I’ve tested the car. This is worth the money.
Nissan products go the extra yard to include a lot of goodies and gadgets with their cars. This is no exception. If you read my review last week on the Infiniti G35 you’ll recall it too was well appointed.
I really liked the addition of the MPG gauge in the instrument cluster. You catch yourself driving better (lighter on the gas pedal) because of it – especially at today’s pump prices.
Well, I gotta level with you. If I had my “druthers” I’d be hard pressed to not give the nod to the Infiniti G35 because the cost is very similar. I have to admit the Infiniti “Badge” is a strong tug on my ego. But more than that the G35 included a couple of control features that I like – the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) and EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution).
Nissan Altima SER $17-29,000, Ford Taurus $21-24,000, Subaru Legacy $21-29,000, Toyota Camry $18-26,000, Mitsubishi Galant $19-26,000, Mazda 6 $19-27,000, Kia Amanti $25,500, Chrysler Sebring $20-31,000, Honda Accord $16-29,000.
Good fuel economy, handles well and lots of power.
Although performance and handling is good Nissan doesn’t block road noise as well as they could.
3.5 liter 260 hp V6 engine with continuous variable valve timing control, 5-speed automatic transmission with “Tip Tronic” or manual shift control, 4-wheel power assisted anti-lock disc brake system, Xenon headlights, fog lights, dual power heated mirrors, 3-gaughe cluster for volts, oil pressure and fuel consumption, power sunroof with tilt and slide, sport leather front heated seats, Bose audio system with 6 CD player and speed sensitive volume control, power windows, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering column, 60/40 split rear fold down seat, remote trunk and hood release, rear and side windows defoggers, center console, 8-way power driver seat with lumbar support, air conditioning, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel with control switches, trip computer with outside temperature, auto on/off headlights, power door locks, dual air bags, immobilizer key system, child safety rear door locks and latch system and vehicle security system.
20 City and 30 Highway MPG
Parts – n/a
Assembly – USA ?
Class: – Midsize
Cars: 350 Z, Altima, Armada, Frontier, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder, Quest, Sentra, Titan and Xterra.