Performance » 8
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Xtronic CVT continued to annoy with its trademark all-rpm drone and uncharismatic personality
remains one of the better drivers within the mid-size-sedan class—certainly more fun than the Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata
Car and Driver
3.5 SR's powertrain is quite simply one of the best in the business
Punch the throttle and this baby responds, without hesitation and with a solid, steady pull.
The driving experience in the 2011 Nissan Altima sedan and Altima Coupe can be quite different, depending on the engine, but all Altimas handle just a little more enthusiastically than other mid-size sedans.
The Altima sedan and Coupe are offered in four-cylinder and V-6 versions. The base 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.
While the four-cylinder engine works better with a CVT than most, and it has no problem moving the Altima rapidly, the smaller engine doesn't so much match this sedan's somewhat sportier character and more able handling. 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. Some testers have been able to dash to 60 mph in less than six seconds with the V-6.
Nissan has decided to discontinue the slow-selling Altima Hybrid, but there still might be a few out there. With an advanced full-hybrid system with the 2.5-liter engine, it makes 198 hp altogether. That power reaches the road through a continuously variable transmission, also via the front wheels.
While not everyone will like the now-mandatory CVT transmissions, the 2011 Nissan Altima is more entertaining to drive than other mid-size sedans.