Used Nissan Altima 2007-2012 review

Overall rating:4 Star Rating: Recommended
Updated: July 2, 2014
2008 Nissan Altima
2008 Nissan Altima

Nissan Altima is one of the best family sedans on the market. It offers solid road feel, sporty handling and snug comfortable interior.

The Altima comes as a sedan or two-door coupe, with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

The Altima's interior is sporty and nicely-finished. Front seats are comfortable and supportive. The steering tilts and telescopes. Available features included Push Button Start, Bluetooth, HID headlights and Navigation with Rear-view camera. The Altima is rated above average for the reliability, but there are a few things to watch out for when buying it used.

Nissan Altima 2008 interior
Nissan Altima interior. Click for larger view
2008 Nissan Altima hybrid rear seat
2008 Nissan Altima hybrid

Engine: The base 170-hp 2.5L 4-cylinder DOHC engine (QR25) is good on gas and has decent power. Overall, it's a pretty good engine.
The praised VQ 270-hp 3.5L V6 is very strong, smooth and refined. The VQ engine has been used in many other Nissan vehicles since early 00's and is proven to be very reliable.

Fuel Economy: The 2007 Altima with a 4-cylinder engine and a CVT transmission is rated at 23/31 mpg (10.2/7.6 L/100 km) city/highway, which is better than most family sedans. For example, the 4-cylinder, automatic Toyota Camry gets 21/30 mpg; the 4-cylinder auto Honda Accord is rated at 21/31 mpg.
On one 20-gallon (75.6 liters) fuel tank, the 4-cylinder Altima with a CVT gets an estimated 522 miles (840 km) with mostly highway driving. The V6 Altima is rated at 20/26 mpg (11.8/9.0 L/100 km) on premium gasoline.

Lineup: The 2007-2012 Nissan Altima sedan was offered in base 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 SL trims with a 4-cylinder engine and 3.5 SE, 3.5 SL (3.5 SR from 2010) with a V6, as well as Hybrid. In this generation Altima, Nissan used the hybrid technology borrowed from Toyota. The 2010 Nissan Altima hybrid is rated at 35/33 mpg (6.7/7.1 L/100 km) city/highway.

Mechanical: The Altima has disc brakes on all four wheels. Antilock brakes were optional on 2007 4-cylinder models, standard on V6. Electronic stability control was optional in early models, standard on all trims from 2010.

Nissan Altima 2.5L 4-cylinder engine
Nissan Altima 2.5L 4-cylinder engine

Timing belt or chain: Both the 2.5L 4-cylinder engine and 3.5L V6 have a timing chain; there is no timing belt. A timing chain doesn't need to be replaced in regular intervals.

What is a Continuously Variable Transmission: The CVT uses a steel belt running on two pulleys that can vary in size, changing the gear ratio continuously, without shifts. The main benefit of the CVT is that the engine RPMs stay in the most fuel-efficient range longer. The CVT is commonly known for its 'rubber band' effect, however, out of all car manufacturers using this type of transmission, Nissan CVTs are probably the most refined, especially in V6 models.

Handling and ride: The Altima handles well, with good road feel. The ride is firm, but not punishing. The 4-cylinder engine is a bit noisy on acceleration; otherwise, it's a fairly quiet car.

Safety: The 2007-2010 4-door Altima received five stars in the government frontal crash tests. In the side-impact crash tests, the 2007-2010 models received five stars for the driver protection. Rear passenger protection scores varied between four and five stars. In tougher NHTSA crash tests introduced in 2011, the 2011 and 2012 4-door Altima received four stars in frontal and five stars in side-impact crash tests. Check for details.

Pros: Sporty styling in and out, originally looking coupe, good handling, above-average reliability, crash test scores, fuel economy for 4-cylinder models.

Cons: Rear seat space is average for the class, the CVT is the only automatic choice, troublesome Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
Read about reliability, common problems and tips on what to watch out for in a used Altima next.