2011 Nissan Altima - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

2011 Nissan Altima

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A story my wife likes to share involves my desire for unnecessary things. When Traci and I got married, I had a microwave so big, you could cook a whole turkey in it.  Traci asked if I ever did.  I said no, but if I wanted to, I could.  The microwave never made it out of the bachelor pad.

That's how I am with cars. I say load them up with options.  Do you need everything a car has to offer? Much like my giant microwave, probably not.  But just knowing you have it makes you feel like the king of tech. (not an official title)

So this month's drive was a real test for me.  Could I live with a car that was very basic? The Nissan Altima 2.5 S I drove did not have power seats, premium sound, navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio and a number of other things I enjoy.  I may not use them, but I enjoy them.    

The one thing the Altima did offer was great gas mileage.  I averaged about 26.5 miles per gallon with most of that being in town driving.  The long stretch I drove on the bypass returned almost 32 miles per gallon. 

Part of the reason for the great mileage has to do with Nissan's Continuously Variable Transmission or C-V-T.  Unlike a standard transmission, the CVT does not have gears. Think of a band moving up and down a cone.  When you drive you don't feel the shifts. The goal is to keep the car in the optimum power range no matter how fast or slow you are driving. It's a great piece of technology, but it's far from perfect.  For one, it's loud.  When you drop the hammer to pass, it'll make some noise.  Nissan has had some CVT quality issues in the past, but they say they got the bugs worked out.

The car is kind of bland looking at this trim level but I did like the Slate Metallic color.

It would look even better on the top of the line 3.5 SR.  That's where you get spoilers, cool wheels, and body kits.  When it's loaded up, it's a good looking ride.

No matter the trim level, it does provide a good drive.  I drove in some very heavy storms and outside of the traction control kicking on a few times, it held it's own. For a small economical 175 hp engine, the car has some pep to it.  The seats weren't all that great though.  The bottom was comfortable, but they had virtually no lateral or lumbar support.  Doing a long haul would have you getting out too stretch every few hours.  The trunk is actually spacious for a car in this segment and the back seat is fairly roomy. 

The interior had an average look to it. Nothing really stood out, but there was nothing that made me cringe. Outside of a rubbery looking dash, materials are ok and seemed to be well put together. 

For a basic sedan with a price point in the low 20's, it's not a bad car.  I did miss my satellite radio and since the car did not have iPod integration I was doing a lot of seek and scan.

If you can live with the basic meat and potatoes package you'll be rewarded with good mileage.  As for me, I think need a turkey dinner.

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