- Base four-cylinder model is peppier than rivals
- Very fuel-efficient with four-cylinder and CVT automatic
- Especially torquey V-6 can keep up with some sports-cars
- Crisp, responsive handling
- Back-seat not especially roomy
- No way to avoid gimmicky keyless ignition system
- Four-cylinder models don’t include stability control
The 2008 Nissan Altima is a little sportier, though not less sensible.
The 2008 Nissan Altima is largely carried over, after the Altima bowed for 2007 with a sleek new body that rides on a wheelbase one inch shorter than the previous version. Underneath the hood, the Altima sports a 270-horsepower version of Nissan's well-regarded 3.5-liter DOHC V-6, making this generation the most powerful Altima ever. And the big V-6 can also be paired with a six-speed manual transmission, unlike the ritzier Maxima sedan, which shares the same running gear but comes only with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Standard versions of the Altima are powered, as before, by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 175 horsepower. This engine may also be teamed with the six-speed manual gearbox, or you can choose the Xtronic CVT.
With either of the engines, the Altima feels decidedly sportier than much of the competition. We especially like the "shiftless" CVT transmission, which operates seamlessly, reduces noise in cruising, and actually seems more responsive than a normal automatic. With a rather taut suspension, it feels especially sporty, yet rides well enough to soak up most bumps. The 2008 Nissan Altima has an interior that feels positively functional, rather than gimmicky, with neat, attractive styling and nice materials, but its backseat could be tight for taller adults.
For 2008, standard equipment has been bolstered on the Nissan Altima. The Intelligent Key with Push Start Ignition--a system that allows you to keep the "key" in your pocket and use an ignition button to start the engine--is now standard. Bluetooth is an option, and a rearview monitor and navigation system are also available. Factory-installed XM Satellite Radio is another option on the 2008 Nissan Altima.
All model levels get front, side, and curtain airbags, and anti-lock brakes are now standard across the line. Electronic stability control is still not offered on the four-cylinder models. The 2008 Nissan Altima has performed well in both sets of crash tests, with top five-star results in the federal tests and Good ratings from the insurance-affiliated IIHS--except for Marginal ratings in the seat-based rear-impact test.