The 2010 Nissan Altima has a lot going for it, including its sporty design, responsive handling, well-built cabin, impressive feature availability and excellent safety ratings. This is an entertaining car to drive and is far from the typical "family" sedan. And there's an even sleeker coupe version as well.
Its fun-factor, however, will largely depend on whether you opt for the four-cylinder or V6 engine. For its the particularly adept V6-powered Altima 3.5 SR model that comes standard with a sport-tuned suspension that significantly enhances handling and performance. But even with its smaller engine and softer suspension, the four-cylinder is still more engaging than the majority of sedans that focus on comfort.
And new for the 2010 model year is a refreshed front fascia as well as the addition of stability control to the standard feature list. Also new is an upgraded sound system and a navigation system improved with a larger touchscreen and additional real-time satellite information, Bluetooth connectivity and digital music storage. Also new is the renaming of the 3.5 SE to the 3.5 SR and the elimination of the manual transmission sedan.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2010 Altima is offered in both sedan and coupe body styles. The base sedan is called the 2.5 (referring to engine size) and is only available by customer order. Its standard features include full power accessories, keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control, 16 inch steel wheels, a trip computer and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Notably, a stereo is not included, but the 2.5 is prewired for one with four speakers. And there is no available optional equipment for the 2.5.
The Altima 2.5 S model is offerred in both sedan and coupe body styles. In addition to the above, it adds keyless ignition as well as a 6-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. In addition, the 2.5 S coupe comes with 17 inch alloy wheels. There's also a Convenience package that adds 16 inch alloy wheels to the sedan, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, an 8-way power driver seat and automatic headlights.
Other available 2.5 S packages include the Convenience Plus package for the sedan only that adds a sunroof and dual-zone automatic climate control. The 2.5 S Premium Audio package (again for the sedan only) includes a rearview camera, a color display, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth and an iPod interface. Not to be left out, however, the 2.5 S Premium package for the coupe consists of essentially all the previously listed options.
Also available is a 2.5 SL package for the sedan that adds heated front seats, a leather interior, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear air conditioning vents. This same package is called the Leather package on the coupe and adds xenon headlights while dropping the rear vents.
In addition to the V6 engine, the 3.5 SR adds a sport-tuned suspension, 17 inch alloy wheels (18 inch on the coupe), heated side mirrors and the 2.5 S Convenience package features. The 3.5 SR Sport package (sedan only) includes a sunroof, a rear spoiler, foglights, xenon headlights and dual-zone climate control. The 3.5 SR Premium package (both sedan and coupe) essentially adds all of the 2.5 S coupe Premium package, Premium Audio package and SL package features.
Finally, the Technology package, for both the 2.5 S and 3.5 SR sedans and coupes, adds a hard-drive navigation system, weather and real-time traffic, digital music storage and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Powering the 2010 Nissan Altima is a choice of two engine. The 2.5 models are equipped with a 2.5 liter four-cylinder that pumps out 175 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. It's mated with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) on the sedan, or either a standard six-speed manual transmission or the optional CVT on the coupe.
The EPA-estimated gas mileage for the CVT is a very respectable 23 mpg city and 32 mpg on the highway, and a nearly identical 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with the manual.
Under the hood of the Altima 3.5 SR models is a 3.5 liter V6 that delivers a robust 270 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and has the same transmission choices as the 2.5. In performance tests, a 3.5 sedan was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in just 7 seconds. The coupe with the CVT was even quicker reaching the same speed in a fleet 6.7 seconds, while the manual coupe was the fastest coming at just 6.5 seconds.
Fuel economy for the 3.5 is EPA-estimated at an again very respectable 20 mpg city and 27 highway for the CVT and 18 city and 27 highway for the manual.
Standard safety features for all Altimas include antilock brakes (ABS), traction control, stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. And in government crash tests, the 2010 Altima sedan received perfect five-star-ratings for both frontal and side-impact protection. The coupe received five stars for side-impact protection and four for frontal.
The Altima's cabin is attractively designed, quiet and made up of high grade materials. The gauges and controls are easy to see and user-friendly, including its navigation system. The coupes also get sportier seats with additional side bolstering.
While overall space and comfort is very good in the Altima, rear headroom can be on the tight side for taller passengers. The backseat of the coupe, however, is extremely tight and will likely be tough on adults for other than quick trips. That said, the sedan offers a respectably sized trunk at 15.3 cubic feet. Not surprisingly, the coupe's is much smaller at 8.2 cubic feet.
Most drivers will be satisfied with the Atima's capable four-cylinder engine with its comfortable ride and sportier-than-average handling. But those seeking a more special driving experience, the sport-tuned suspension and precise steering of the V6 model would be the best choice as it actually performs like a more expensive sport sedan.