By Kevin Bowe
- Stylish good looks
- Hybrid technology
- Being less dependant on greedy oil companies
- Touch screen console
- Bluetooth® option
- A little pricey ($30k as tested, $25k base)
- Sloppy handling through the corners
- Small trunk
- Noticeable transitions from electric to gas motor
What is the first thing a person does when getting a hybrid? Grow out their hair? Stop taking showers? Become a liberal? I didn’t feel like doing anything of that magnitude, but I did want to stop constantly filling up on expensive gas, okay, and the chance to surprise some blind people! I accepted my new mission with great excitement: the all-new 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid. And it didn’t let me down… until I had to give it back!
What can one expect when getting behind the wheel of a car that averages around 30 miles per gallon, both city & highway, with only 158 horsepower? My expectations were pretty low, but that was before the Altima Hybrid! With long angled lines from front to back, the Altima is a “looker” and I was the guy assigned to see if it was a “driver” as well. Once I got in I was overwhelmed with all the functions which I could control from the steering wheel and thought it was too overdone, but soon I began to master these buttons and they actually made the drive more enjoyable. All I had to do was press the start button and I was off on my hybrid mission that would eventually change my impression I previously had of these new trendy vehicles and possibly even their drivers. Some stand out features were the touch screen console that controlled the sick 6-speaker Bose system, Bluetooth® accessibility, and back up camera. All of which soon became second nature to me in their use. Everything about the car was perfect, with the exception of the constant good vs. evil battle between the electric and gas motor during initial acceleration.
Usually, less expensive cars have typically flimsy, cheap construction in order to lower the price of the vehicle to make them more accessible to a large demographic, but it seems like that is not the case with the Altima. As you enter the vehicle and close the door, the strong sturdy sound makes you feel protected. With a NHTSA 5 star front & side impact crash safety rating its no longer a feeling, its a fact! Along with the safety of the Altima, it also comes with a standard warranty of 36,000 miles or 36 months for basic and battery coverage. The Altima seems like a good safe car that will protect you where ever you go!
Do I talk about the high quality comfortable leather seating, the great center console design and usability, or the huge back seat capable of seating three large adults? Since I’m a gentleman and never kiss and tell, okay, that’s a lie, they’re all awesome! I believe that hybrid truly means change and that’s exactly what it provided, enabling the driver to change anything and everything from the touch of a button. Don’t like the height or distance from the steering wheel? Change it. If nothing good is on the radio, change to the XM® Satellite Radio or make a phone call with ease using the hands-free Bluetooth® option. I believe that this attention to comfort is the key to a great car and to a pleasant trip, no matter the mileage. From providing adjustable lower lumbar support to heated seats, all great features that I would never have thought would be an option on an Altima, let alone a hybrid! Everyone who rode in this car absolutely loved the quality and comfort. Okay, now I think I said too much!
Performance in a hybrid? Isn’t that looking for adventure while never leaving the couch? To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything from the Altima in its performance and especially since it only has 158 hp, but I was pleasantly surprised. Even though it probably won’t get you 0 – 60 mph in fewer than 8 or possibly 9, it’s no slouch. By the time I knew it, I was going eighty-five on the freeway. The car handled great in normal driving conditions and also provided to be exceptionally smooth on the freeway, which gives you the feeling as if the car was driving itself. Unfortunately, it was only a feeling. The Altima can do many great things, but driving itself isn’t one of them. Please don’t attempt! Even though performance is nothing to write home about, in today’s world, the Altima’s excellent fuel economy is something you would want to share with everyone! Our observed gas mileage, during the one week test period, was 32 mpg overall.
When I first got the keys, my editor told me to remember it’s a daily driver. Either he was wrong, or I’m just a way better driver! Regardless of the answer, all I do know is that I thoroughly enjoyed my joy ride! From the coast in Santa Cruz, to the hilly streets of San Francisco, the Altima handled it with great finesse. At times, the handling got sloppy, which was expected since it is a hybrid and not a thrill seeking sport car. Since this was the first time I have ever had driven a hybrid, I was curious to see how the transition from electric to motor would go down, since I’ve heard many cars have a noticeable jerkiness. I found that this transition wasn’t very smooth at all, but since it only occurred at very low speeds (below 25 mph), I got used to it and stopped paying attention to it. There is much more fun above 25 mph anyways!
This baby has all the right lines in all the right places! I was amazed at the beauty of the new generation Altima and I couldn’t believe it was also a hybrid! No more do you have to decide between a stylish ride or the practicality of getting great gas efficiency. From first glance, you notice the Altima Hybrid is not your typical cheese wedge hybrid; it actually has a personality which draws you in. You start to notice the small things that usually don’t come standard on hybrids – like 16-inch alloy wheels and dual exhaust! I know they are not there for performance, but they bring edginess to the Altima which is a good sign that car makers are listening to consumers. Having seen typical hybrids on the road for a few years now, it’s the Altima that is truly getting me excited to see what is coming out in the next generation of hybrid vehicles. The new generation of hybrid cars is functional, stylish, and eye-catching like they are meant to be. Hybrid technology is the future of automobiles and only fitting that with their existence and continued growth, there will actually be a green future for the generations to come. Props to Nissan for bringing it all together!
>> See all of the Nissan Altima Hybrid photos in our photo gallery
>> Do you have an opinion of the Nissan Altima Hybrid? Submit your review of a 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid at CarReview.com
>> Official website for Nissan cars, trucks, crossovers, suvs, and hybrids: Nissan USA