What I mean by the title, is that with heated leather seats, nav, auto dual zone A/C, this is a very practical and well priced near luxury car with a sports car touch and hybrid mileage. It hits the s...
What I mean by the title, is that with heated leather seats, nav, auto dual zone A/C, this is a very practical and well priced near luxury car with a sports car touch and hybrid mileage. It hits the sweet spots all around. Firm european ride and handling (VW, BMW), tons more space than a Prius, and a 2.5l gas engine that can really make this car scoot if you need to put your foot in it. Yet driven normally (doing nothing special) gets 32-35 mpg city and highway.
I've got 3800 miles and 5 months on this 2009 model year car. It replaced a diesel VW used for commuting (and I also have a clean diesel MB SUV). The Altima uses 1/2 the fuel of the already efficient VW diesel - and that really surprised me. The diesel was much more efficient than a gas only car I previously used, and the Altima beats even that. It turns out it's the time with the engine off - at traffic lights and in traffic - that makes the difference. Even after 5 months, it's still very cool to sit in traffic with the engine off, yet the radio and A/C working - and that's where the mileage really adds up.
To be perfectly fair to the VW, on the highway, it got about 5 mpg more than the Altima - the diesel still shines there. But in the Dallas traffic crawl, it's the Altima hands down.
It will run at up to about 38-39 mph on electric alone; even if you accelerate to speed on electric + gas, back out of the throttle below the referenced speed - and it switches to electric alone. It's just awesome to be cruising down the street with no engine sounds except the whir of the electric motor.
The key to great performance - keep the kW (electric power) meter in the middle of the 1st arc and watch the gas stations go by. The regenerative braking is very effective - and you quickly learn how to lightly touch the pedal to keep the generator in line rather than the friction brakes. I thought it was going to be hoakey, but it really helps you understand how to drive the car for best reasonable efficiency. And I will note that when doing so, you are easily keeping up with, if not ahead of traffic - so unlike a Prius, mpg performance does not come at the expense of moving along.
Am I psyched - yes. I don't understand why Nissan is not advertising this car more and selling it in all markets. I bought it in California and had it shipped to Texas. The local Nissan dealer states they have no issues servicing it, and in a pinch - any Toyota dealer can service the hybrid system.
If you love the idea of a Prius - I did and tried it - but just need more room and power, get the Altima. You will sacrifice only a bit of mileage, but gain lots of comfort and make that daily commute enjoyable.