AutoTest File - 2002 Nissan Altima 3.5

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 23, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield International Moderator Super Moderator

    Jul 6, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Altimate Nissan: Looks, power satisfy Altima owners despite cheap details.


    (08:45 May 22, 2002)
    On the surface, Nissan's latest run at the midsized sedan market looks bulletproof. A medley of European styling cues offers a design edge in a class where bland is benchmark.

    "I have never had so many people ask me about my car in all my life," one owner said.

    Underhood, the Altima keeps pace with Camrys, Accords and Passats on its buyers' shopping lists. "The silky smooth 240-hp V6 has power to spare," said one owner. Indeed, an ample dose of low-end torque helped push the 3.5-liter model we tested from 0 to 60 mph in just above 6.3 seconds, one-tenth of a second faster than the Acura CL Type-S. Similarly, the quarter-mile took 14.85 seconds at 95.1 mph, roughly comparable to the Subaru Impreza WRX, which did it in 14.4 seconds at 93.6 mph.

    Chassis performance, however, fell short.

    First off, the heavy though boosted power steering prevented front tire feel from getting to the steering wheel. Through the slalom, the back end felt like it wanted to come around. Its slow steering response made the car feel like it needed two steps to get around each cone-an initial setup after which the steering would catch up and the rest of the car would follow.

    On freeways, however, it was nice to find the Altima produced little hop, even on the worst California surfaces. It was here steering performed well, with decent return-to-center and feel. Brakes worked well, too, with no sign of distress-no smell, pulsing or smoke-even after several aggressive runs.

    We found the clutch could be stubborn to engage and changing gears is work. It also felt rather heavy and numb, while the shifter felt spindly and vague.

    Despite our test car's performance, few owners convinced us that their Altima-love is anything but skin-deep.

    "The quality of the car is on par with poor American-made cars," one bluntly surmised. Fit-and-finish was criticized with near-ubiquity. And while many lauded the Altima's "cavernous" cabin and good-looking gauges, most bemoaned the flimsy plastics and fake-looking wood littered throughout, wishing Nissan "had spent an extra $100 or so on the interior."

    Another owner wished he'd ordered leather, if only because "I'm not sure how well the cloth will hold up." Owners also heard "a creak in the steering wheel," a shaky shifter and "a clunking trunk." One owner said he has had his car in the shop for peeling paint.

    Gauges, while large and easily seen, were also suspect. More than one owner complained about the speedometer being off calibration. We found a 4-mph discrepancy in actual vs. observed speeds.

    All that being said, owners were impressed with the Altima's overall value. And to a person they high lighted the car's distinct curb appeal. Many even went so far as to say they are in line to buy another one-as soon as Nissan works out the kinks.

    Euro curb appeal
    Cavernous interior
    Smooth engine

    Shoddy fit-and-finish
    Cheap interior materials
    Wimpy manual




    THE ALTIMA IS VERY QUICK AND AGILE. Freeway ramps and mountain roads bring out the boy-racer in me. Features recently available only on luxury cars, such as heated seats, audio and trip- center controls on the steering wheel, curtain airbags and automatic climate control, are available for a reasonable price. I can live with the stiff ride and road noise that accompany the sporty nature of the car. I shopped for no other brand. I was so struck by the new styling I knew it was my choice. For some time after the purchase, I would just sit and look at it. -RON SYKES, Brea, Calif.

    THIS CAR IS AMAZING! I'M IMPRESSED WITH the power, acceleration and smooth performance of the V6. I was pleasantly surprised to see what a large car the new Altima is-even better, it doesn't handle like one. I also considered the Toyota Camry V6, but the power and handling didn't compare to the Altima. I fell in love with the appearance of the car immediately and still find myself glancing back at it after I park. I highly recommend this automobile. - JIM SLAVIN, Syosset, N.Y.

    THE NEW ALTIMA IS GREAT BUT SUFFERS from serious quality control problems. I recently filed a lemon-law letter with Nissan, giving them one more opportunity to correct a chronic "service engine soon" indicator light that has been a problem from the day I bought the car. Aside from being in the shop approximately nine times over the past 15 weeks, I recently discovered the windshield that had to be replaced (the dealer broke it trying to adjust the incorrectly installed trim) is leaking. I love the Altima for its power, looks and handling. The service has been good but the quality of the car out of the factory is on par with poor American-made cars. - HENRY MAZZUCCA, via e-mail



    Base: $22,889
    As tested: $26,514
    IntelliChoice target price: $21,249
    Rebates: None
    Destination charge: $540
    What owners paid; average: $22,200 to $29,280; $26,436



    Unibody four-door sedan

    Wheelbase (in): 110.2
    Length/width (in): 191.5/70.4
    Curb weight (lbs): 3225

    Front: Independent strut with antiroll bar
    Rear: Independent multilink with antiroll bar

    F/R: Discs/discs, ABS
    Alloy P215/55VR-17 front and rear Bridgestone Turanza

    Fuel (gal): 20
    Cargo (cu ft): 15.6

    3.5-liter/213.6-cid six-cylinder
    Horsepower: 240 @ 5800 rpm
    Torque (lb-ft): 246 @ 4400 rpm

    Compression ratio: 10.3:1
    Valvetrain: dohc
    Fuel delivery: Sequential
    multipoint fuel injection
    Fuel requirement: 87 octane

    Front-wheel drive
    Transmission: Five-speed manual
    Final drive ratio: 3.812:1



    0-30 mph: 2.38 sec
    0-40 mph: 3.67 sec
    0-50 mph: 4.83 sec
    0-60 mph: 6.32 sec
    0-100 km/h (62.1 mph): 6.58 sec
    0-80 mph: 10.42 sec
    0-quarter-mile: 95.1 mph, 14.85 sec

    20-40 mph (first gear): 2.2 sec
    40-60 mph (second gear): 3.2 sec
    60-80 mph (third gear): 4.8 sec

    80 mph-0: 229 ft
    60 mph-0: 130 ft
    30 mph-0: 32 ft

    EPA combined: 24.68 mpg
    AW overall: 20.34 mpg

    490-foot slalom: 44.8 mph
    Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad): 0.84 g

    Idle: 42
    Full throttle: 76
    Steady 60 mph: 65

  2. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

    Oct 26, 2000
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    Island of Electronicus
    I'd still buy it.

    Fit and finsh has never bothered anyone who drive Ford, Chevy, etc. Why should it bother me?
  3. LoveBack

    LoveBack Guest


    So true.
  4. TriShield

    TriShield International Moderator Super Moderator

    Jul 6, 2001
    Likes Received:
    It's a double standard.

    If any American brand produced this car, everyone would hate it.

    Nissan's cars are Japanese Pontiacs. :hs:
  5. Toaster

    Toaster Guest

    that's why i bought the maxima instead of the altima, fit and finish

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