2010 Nissan Altima Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 21, 2010

The 2010 Nissan Altima remains one of the sportier choices among mid-size sedans, though if interior space matters, it might not feel as roomy as rivals.

To help you get the most useful information on the 2010 Nissan Altima and 2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid, TheCarConnection.com brings you selected highlights from a range of reputable review sources in the sections of the adjacent full review. And for a quick take directly from TheCarConnection.com's editors, who have driven all the Altima models, you'll find a Bottom Line summary covering all the main points.

The Nissan Altima remains different from most other mid-size models on several levels. First, it offers (in sedan form) a limited-availability Hybrid model, as well as four-cylinder and V-6 models. Secondly, it has a sleek coupe body style in addition to the four-door sedan. The Altima was last completely redesigned for the 2007 model year and gets a styling refresh for 2010, including a restyled front end, some new interior materials, and a revised options list.

Even though it's been more than three years since the Altima sedan's complete redesign, it remains one of the better-looking mid-size four-doors on the market. Attribute that to its racy profile and relative simplicity in the details; unlike some other sedans, the Altima doesn't come across as overwrought. The Hybrid looks almost indistinguishable from the sedan, aside from low-key badging. But the Coupe is very distinctive; it's several inches shorter, with a much more tapered roofline and sculpted rear flanks, plus an altogether different treatment in back. The same holds true inside; the Altima's instrument panel is straightforward and simple, yet sophisticated and a little sporty. The overall look can be drab in some colors, but bright trim and bezels spice it up somewhat.

Across most of the 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe and sedan models, you have a choice of a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. The 2.5-liter four makes 175 horsepower and does just fine either with the six-speed manual (coupes only) or the Xtronic CVT automatic (both models). The CVT works better than most, even with the four-cylinder, with revs settling down to an economical level at cruising speeds, and revving higher when accelerating, yet avoiding the uncertain rubber-band feeling that some CVTs have. Underneath the hood of SR models is a 270-horsepower version of Nissan's well-regarded 3.5-liter DOHC V-6. With the V-6, the Altima feels refined and strong in either body style—although there's a little too much torque at times for the Altima to deliver smoothly through the front wheels. The Altima Hybrid gets an advanced full-hybrid system with the 2.5-liter engine, tuned down to 162 horsepower for improved efficiency; altogether the hybrid system makes 198 hp. That power reaches the road through a continuously variable transmission, via the front wheels. The driving experience, no matter which version, is on the sporty side, with great steering, and the sedan's suspension just absorbent enough to soak up most bumps.

Review continues below

The 2010 Nissan Altima sedan has an interior that comes across as positively functional, rather than gimmicky, with neat, attractive styling and nice materials, but its backseat could be tight for taller adults. Coupes give up several inches of useful cabin space and are quite a bit tighter in back, with headroom scarce. The instrument panel in either model has the intimate look and feel of a sports coupe without seeming tight, and controls are close at hand. Our only lingering complaint is that the tactility of the controls leaves something to be desired, as does the plethora of hard, drab plastics. Ride quality tends to be good, though a bit on the firm side, in any of the sedan models; the Coupe's shorter wheelbase can make the ride slightly more pitchy, however.

The 2010 Nissan Altima has reasonably good crash-test scores, though it's less than perfect in a class of overachievers. The Altima sedan and Coupe models get a mix of four- and five-star ratings in federal crash tests, along with Good ratings from the insurance-affiliated IIHS in frontal and side impacts and Acceptable ratings in both the seat-based rear-impact test and the new roof-strength test. Front, side, and curtain airbags, along with electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, are all standard across the line.

Especially at the base S level, the Altima comes with a few more features than you'd expect. Nissan's push-button ignition system is included on all Altimas, whether you like it or not. Other extras on the S are the Intelligent Key system, six-speaker sound, air conditioning, rear seat heaters, a trip computer, dual power remote-controlled side-view mirrors, and speed-sensitive variable intermittent windshield wipers. Top SR models get a power driver's seat, wood interior trim, and a few other extras, while options include a Sport Package with High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, fog lights, a moonroof, and a rear spoiler, or a Technology Package with a nav system, Music Box hard drive music system, Bluetooth streaming audio, and XM NavTraffic and NavWeather. A Premium Package wraps those audio upgrades with leather seats (heated in front), plus mood lighting, rear A/C vents, and a HomeLink garage-door opener.

8

2010 Nissan Altima

Styling

Most will appreciate the aggressive but not over-the-top appearance of the 2010 Nissan Altima sedan, and the Altima Coupe will even pass as a sports coupe in some crowds.

Even though it's been more than three years since the Altima sedan's complete redesign, it remains one of the better-looking mid-size four-doors on the market. Attribute that to its racy profile and relative simplicity in the details; unlike some other sedans, the Altima doesn't come across as overwrought. The Hybrid looks almost indistinguishable from the sedan, aside from low-key badging. But the Coupe is very distinctive; it's several inches shorter, with a much more tapered roofline and sculpted rear flanks, plus an altogether different treatment in back.

Most review sources appreciate the 2010 Altima sedan's pert, sporty silhouette, as well as the styling details. Road & Track testers comment that it allows the Altima Nissan's designers to add "more character...along the car's flanks." Kelley Blue Book raves about the exterior on the Altima Nissan, which is "rich in Nissan family cues, most notably in its grille, headlamp and taillamp treatments," but at the same time, it sports "a bit more aggressive edge than you'll find in the Sentra or Maxima." Car and Driver doesn't like a lot of the sheetmetal, though, with a reviewer criticizing "the way the front view gets into an argument with the side view when they meet in the front fenders" and pointing out "there's nothing cautious about the Airbus-theme taillights either."

Edmunds notes that, from the outside, the Altima Coupe shares only the hood with the sedan. The Coupe has a "masculine-looking" appearance, with "large fenders, big headlights and a cutting-edge design around back," according to Cars.com. Road & Track reviewers agree, saying, "from the rear three-quarter view, this one's a stunner."

Inside, the Altima's instrument panel is straightforward and simple, yet sophisticated and a little sporty and sophisticated. The overall look can be drab in some colors, but bright trim and bezels spice it up somewhat. Here, too, reviewers are split on the overall effect and the details. Kelley Blue Book says that "the Altima's airy cabin has a contemporary appearance" and "logically arranged" interior controls, while Car and Driver notes that, compared to previous Altima models, "although the instrument cluster still shows you three dials, the annoying, seemingly misaligned tunnels are gone, replaced by a single-lens grouping of much improved graphics."

9

2010 Nissan Altima

Performance

The 2010 Nissan Altima—whether in standard sedan, Coupe, or even Hybrid form—should satisfy most performance needs with affordability and efficiency.

Across most of the 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe and sedan models, you have a choice of a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. The 2.5-liter four makes 175 horsepower and does just fine either with the six-speed manual (coupes only) or the Xtronic CVT automatic (both models).

Under the hood of SR models is a 270-horsepower version of Nissan's well-regarded 3.5-liter DOHC V-6. With the V-6, the Altima feels refined and strong in either body style—although there's a little too much torque at times for the Altima to deliver smoothly through the front wheels. Car and Driver testers post some of the best acceleration times in their Nissan Altima 3.5 SE, "getting from 0 to 60 at 5.9 seconds" on the stopwatch. Edmunds says "strong performance from the V6 models should more than satisfy those who like a kick in the pants when they boot the gas."

In terms of the lower-output four-cylinder on the Nissan Altima 2.5, there are still plenty of positive terms thrown around. ConsumerGuide asserts that the "conventional 4-cylinder models" are "sprightly from a stop and show good highway passing response," and they rate the 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S above the class average in terms of acceleration. "The four-cylinder models aren't particularly quick when pushed hard, but the V6 pulls strongly, with a broad power curve that makes it easy to breeze past slower-moving traffic," reports Popular Mechanics.

The CVT works better than most, even with the four-cylinder, with revs settling down to an economical level at cruising speeds, and revving higher when accelerating, yet avoiding the uncertain rubber-band feeling that some CVTs have. Cars.com considers it "about as good as they come in terms of responsiveness." Less pleasant is the Nissan Altima's six-speed manual, which Edmunds blasts for its "abrupt" clutch engagement and a shifter that "feels unsubstantial." Car and Driver writers agree, noting "the shifter clunks through its prominent detents," making the Altima "no BMW in this regard; no Honda, either."

The Altima Hybrid gets an advanced full-hybrid system with the 2.5-liter engine, tuned down to 162 horsepower for improved efficiency; altogether the hybrid system makes 198 hp. That power reaches the road through a continuously variable transmission, via the front wheels.

ConsumerGuide feels that "the CVT in this application slightly dulls passing response." However, they call it "generally strong" in most driving situations. Automobile Magazine reviewers note that "slow, fluid starts and a gentle application of the accelerator pedal can keep the Altima running off electricity at speeds up to 40 mph."

Like all hybrids, the 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid boasts commendable fuel economy ratings. According to official EPA estimates, the Nissan Altima Hybrid should return 35 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway—significant improvements, especially over the base Altima's 23 mpg city rating. Cars.com states that some of the other fuel-saving measures include a feature by which "the four-cylinder engine shuts off when the vehicle comes to a stop."

8

2010 Nissan Altima

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Nissan Altima provides impressive comfort and space in sedan versions; with the Coupe, you'll be making some sacrifices in the name of style.

The 2010 Nissan Altima sedan has an interior that comes across as positively functional, rather than gimmicky, with neat, attractive styling and nice materials, but its backseat could be tight for taller adults. Coupes give up several inches of useful cabin space and are quite a bit tighter in back, with headroom scarce.

The interior seating arrangement on what Edmunds deems a "powerful five-seater" is characterized by "plenty of comfort" in both the front and rear seats. Cars.com finds that "even though its swoopy styling might suggest limited cabin space, the five-seat Altima has sufficient room," and even rear headroom in the Nissan Altima "should be adequate for most passengers." Car and Driver adds that rear legroom "is up 3.1" inches," but "the cushion sits low." ConsumerGuide says to expect "good overall headroom and legroom" when sitting in the front seats, which offer "very good thigh and lumbar support." They also comment that "the rear bench is reasonably comfortable for those under six feet."

The 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe, however, is a different story in the backseat. There's not much chance of five adults squeezing into this sporty two-door. The front seats offer "good overall headroom and legroom," according to ConsumerGuide, like the sedan, but Edmunds notes that the Nissan Altima "Coupe's shrunken proportions take a significant toll on the backseat's head and leg space," while "the flat bench makes car-seat installation possible in a pinch."

Again with the Coupe, Kelley Blue Book reports that "it can, however, be enlarged by folding the 60/40 rear seat down." MotherProof warns that stowing much of anything in the cabin presents "a bit of a challenge," thanks to interior storage space that ConsumerGuide describes as "only average."

Also, while the conventional 2010 Nissan Altima includes a respectable amount of storage space, the same can't be said for the Nissan Altima Hybrid. Kelley Blue Book reviewers note that the "battery pack and other hybrid hardware add almost 400 pounds to curb weight and reduce trunk space by about 50 percent." Edmunds provides some firm numbers for that statement, observing that, "compared to the conventional Altima's 15-cubic-foot trunk capacity, the Hybrid's capacity is squeezed down to 9 cubes." Compared to its competitors, the Altima Hybrid offers "significantly less [trunk space] than the Malibu Hybrid's 15.1 cubic feet," states Cars.com. However, inside, the Hybrid is just as roomy as the sedan.

The instrument panel in either model has the intimate look and feel of a sports coupe without seeming tight, and controls are close at hand. Our only lingering complaint is that the tactility of the controls leaves something to be desired, as does the plethora of hard, drab plastics. Edmunds observes that the interior features "quality materials." Car and Driver testers feel "the dash and door-panel textures are exceptionally classy" on their V-6 sedan. ConsumerGuide says the Nissan Altima's interior "isn't quite as rich as its use of soft-touch, textured materials would lead you to believe," and they find the "use of budget-grade plastics in the center console area" to be particularly "disappointing." Interior materials do vary somewhat between the trims, and for 2010, upholstery and some trims are upgraded.

ConsumerGuide says "interior storage is only average" in the Altima sedan. While Cars.com reports that "the flip-down center armrest has two cupholders," testers at Car and Driver mention that the Altima Nissan's keyless ignition means "the bulky fob now takes up a cupholder" if you want to avoid inadvertently pressing a button. Trunk space is good, though; Car and Driver finds that "trunk space is up 15 percent to 18 cubic feet, very large for the class," and the Altima's "glove box has been enlarged to steamer-trunk dimensions." ConsumerGuide points out that "the split rear seatbacks don't fold completely flat."

There's a lot more to love inside the Altima. MotherProof reviewers appreciate the "sound system that displays the radio station and time in easy-to-read, large characters," and ConsumerGuide praises the "large and legible gauges." ConsumerGuide reviewers also find that the "audio and climate controls are simple to operate in models without the available navigation system," though when equipped with the navigation system, it "isn't easy to program, and it absorbs and complicates audio functions," they note.

Ride quality tends to be good, though a bit on the firm side, in any of the sedan models; the Coupe's shorter wheelbase can make the ride slightly more pitchy, however. The interior acoustics of the 2009 Nissan Altima are quelled enough to improve the driving experience. Edmunds says "road and wind noise are subdued" on all trim levels. ConsumerGuide contends that while "tire, road, and wind noise are well controlled in sedans," they are "less so in coupes."

7

2010 Nissan Altima

Safety

The 2010 Nissan Altima provides all the safety features expected in this class, but its crash-test ratings aren't class-leading.

The 2010 Nissan Altima has reasonably good crash-test scores, though it's less than perfect in a class of overachievers. The Altima sedan and Coupe models get a mix of four- and five-star ratings in federal crash tests, while they get Good ratings from the insurance-affiliated IIHS in frontal and side impacts and Acceptable ratings in both the seat-based rear-impact test and the new roof-strength test.

Front, side, and curtain airbags, along with electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, are now all standard across the line, along with active head restraints that should help reduce the chance of whiplash.

Outward visibility is another good safety point in 2010 Nissan Altima sedans. Kelley Blue Book reports that the "Altima's generous glass area provides the driver with good sightlines to the outside world," though ConsumerGuide states that "thick rear roof pillars create large blind spots in the coupe," and Cars.com elaborates on the "reduced rear visibility" resulting from the "coupe's high back end."

9

2010 Nissan Altima

Features

Keep it simple and the 2010 Nissan Altima is a strong value; options drive up the cost because of the way they're packaged.

Especially at the base S level, the Altima comes with a few more features than you'd expect. Nissan's push-button ignition system is included on all Altimas, whether you like it or not. Other extras included on the S are the Intelligent Key system, six-speaker sound, air conditioning, rear seat heaters, a trip computer, dual power remote-controlled side-view mirrors, and speed-sensitive variable intermittent windshield wipers. Top SR models get a power driver's seat, wood interior trim, and a few other extras, while options include a Sport Package with High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, fog lights, a moonroof, and a rear spoiler, or a Technology Package with a nav system, Music Box hard drive music system, Bluetooth streaming audio, and XM NavTraffic and NavWeather. A Premium Package wraps those audio upgrades with leather seats (heated in front), plus mood lighting, rear A/C vents, and a HomeLink garage-door opener.

Popular Mechanics says that the available nav system's "6.5-inch VGA screen offers one of the better interfaces we've experienced, with intuitive switching between navigation, satellite radio, and Bluetooth functions."

The 2010 Nissan Altima offers some very noteworthy options, but you'll have to pay a lot of you want just one in particular. Cars.com finds that "most popular options are grouped together in expensive packages." They warn that while this method is "fine if you want everything in the package, you may not be as happy when you learn that it will cost $2,150 to add a moonroof to the 2.5 S trim level." Edmunds deems this business practice "a little shady," comparing it to "going to a salad bar and being offered a choice of either dry lettuce or a 4-gallon bucket of Ranch."

Regarding options, Kelley Blue Book draws attention to the "dual-zone climate control system, power moonroof, voice-activated navigation system," and "premium Bose audio system."

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April 28, 2015
2010 Nissan Altima 4-Door Sedan I4 CVT 2.5 SL

Good family sedan for the price

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No major complaints. Comfort and style very nice. Electronics for that year very good. Sometimes a nosey transmission sound when pushed. O
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April 17, 2015
For 2010 Nissan Altima

Great Daily Driver That's Reliable

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I drive this car daily. This car has not had any problems and it has close to 70k miles now. I am very satisfied with this car. It starts and goes when I do. Only thing I've had to do outside of routine... + More »
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