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2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid Review & Test Drive

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2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid – “The Ultimate Hybrid Midsize Sedan”

Don’t’ let the Hybrid badges on the sides and rear fool you into thinking that the new 2010 Nissan Hybrid is slow at launch and performs like a weighty, mid-size hybrid sedan.

It doesn’t feel, or look like, a typical hybrid sedan that I have tested so far this year.

Its sporty good looks, higher levels of performance and premium interior appointments are second to none.

What makes the Altima Hybrid so special and extraordinary is its gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain.  It starts with Nissan’s refined version of its QR25 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine and standard electronically controlled CVT with an advanced electric drive motor/generator that increases fuel economy while maintaining low tailpipe emissions.

The advanced energy drive system shares duties between the gasoline-powered four-cylinder and the emissions-free electric motor-allowing Altima Hybrid to run solely on electric power, if appropriate, especially in city stop-and-go traffic.  If extra performance is needed, the gasoline engine starts instantly and smoothly adds power as required.

The Altima Hybrid combines a net power rating of 198hp, but more importantly, 199lb.ft. of torque from 0rpm to 1,500rpm, which gives the Altima Hybrid extraordinary acceleration at launch.  EPA fuel economy figures are estimated at a healthy 35mpg/city and 33mpg/highway.  With a standard fuel tank holding 20-gallons of fuel, the Altima Hybrid can travel on the highway up to 700 miles before you have to fill the gas tank.

The Altima Hybrid uses the regenerative braking technology to recharge the hybrid system’s batteries so you don’t have to ‘plug in’ to maintain a sufficient store of electric energy.

In order to recharge the battery, a generator places resistance on the driveshaft during braking.  Altima Hybrid’s Regenerative Brake System calculates braking force generated by brake pedal operation and controls the regenerative brake force to convert kinetic energy into electric energy, optimizing energy regeneration.  The system converts the vehicle’s kinetic energy to usable electric energy that is stored in the system’s 244.8 volt Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery for eventual use by the electric motor.

Altima Hybrid’s all-electric mode, called Electric Vehicle (EV) mode, powers the vehicle in the initial launch phase benefiting from the 199lb.ft. of torque instantly.  After the electric motor provides the acceleration, the gasoline engine quietly starts and assumes the load of powering the vehicle.  The gasoline engine works independently through cruising speeds until the vehicle reaches speeds at which fuel efficiency declines.  When loads require, the electric motor restarts again and aids the gasoline engine in powering the car.  This allows the gasoline engine to remain in its ideal rpm range while the axle torque simultaneously increases due to extra power contributed by the electric motor.

It is almost like a supercharger or turbo, instantly boosting power when you need it.

A digital display on the speedometer indicates when the Altima Hybrid is running solely on electric power.  The Altima Hybrid’s available hard drive navigation system also features a real-time display showing how the hybrid system directs the energy flow.

Serving as the foundation for Altima Hybrid is Nissan’s advanced ‘D’ platform.  It includes an independent front suspension featuring subframe mounted struts, gas-filled shock absorbers, coil springs and stabilizer bar.  The rear independent setup is multi-link with coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers and stabilizer bar.  With this fully independent suspension the handling is just like if you were driving the Altima 3.5 liter V6 engine equipped model but with much better mpg.

The Altima Hybrid goes where you want it to go thanks to the advanced electric power assisted rack & pinion steering system.  It is weighted just right, light at low speeds and heavier as your speed increases, with a good feel for the road and on-center feel.

Quickly slowing the Altima Hybrid down from speed are large, power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes.  Up front are 11.7in vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 11.5in. solid discs in the rear clamped with single piston calipers.  Keeping you in control are standard ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.  These brakes are regenerative helping to recharge the battery pack that sits behind the rear seats.

All Altima Hybrid’s ride on 16X7in. aluminum alloy wheels wrapped with low-rolling 215/60R16in. Continental Pro Contact all-season radial tires.

It is a real pleasure driving the new Altima Hybrid around town or at speed on the highways, giving back excellent power and handling performance you’ll only find on more expensive gasoline-powered sedans.

Nissan made several changes to the exterior styling of the 2010 Altima Hybrid.  The distinctive, signature exterior styling features a revised hood, grille, front bumper and rear license plate finisher designs along with new 16in. aluminum alloy wheel design.  Other changes include a power sliding moonroof in the Premium Package.  It is an even more aggressive stance with a strong wedge character line, sweptback windshield pillars, lower side extensions, spread dual exhaust tips and trunk mounted spoiler.  The co-efficient of drag is 0.31.

The interior is roomy, comfortable and sporty with Nissan’s Fine Vision gauge cluster, comfortable and supportive front seats with an available 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, sliding center console with 3-cupholders, storage slots in each door, faux wood trim on the door switch plates, available leather seats and trim, Nissan Intelligent Key to more easily open the doors, push button start/stop, dual-zone automatic climate control with filtration, rear pull-down dual cupholders and dual air ducts behind the center console to bring more air into the rear.  My fully loaded test Altima Hybrid came with these features standard-tilt-telescoping/leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio/cruise control buttons, speed-sensitive variable intermittent wipers/washers, rear passenger floor vents, power windows with one touch up/down in front, dual 12-volt plugs, dual sun visors with vanity mirrors, dual map lamps, rear reading lamps, center console with dual-level storage, and grab handles above each passenger door.  The Premium Package included leather seats/trim and shift knob, 4.3 color display with rearview TV monitor, front heated seats, Bose Audio System with 9-speakers, USB port and iPod connectivity, Bluetooth hands free phone system, XM satellite radio, Homelink universal transceiver, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, power-remote/heated side mirrors, and compass.  The Technology Package comes with Nissan Navigation system with 5in. VGA touch-screen color monitor, Hybrid energy flow display & Energy/Fuel History display, 9.3GB Music Box hard drive, DVD Player and VTR jack.  The Altima Hybrid interior has it all to keep you in touch and in the know.

The 2010 Altima Hybrid also comes equipped with a number of standard safety features including the Nissan Advanced Airbag System with dual-stage supplemental front airbags with seat belt and occupant classification sensors, front seat-mounted side impact airbags, and roof-mounted curtain side impact airbags for front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection, front seat belts with pretensioners/load limiters, front seat Active Head Restraints, the LATCH system for child seats, Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple zones, side impact steel beams in each door, vehicle dynamic control (VDC) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

The 2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid has it all to keep anyone happy behind the wheel.  With bold, aggressive looks, a roomy, comfortable and contemporary interior, excellent power, superb handling, and the added fact of 35mpg/city and 33mpg/highway with a 20-gallon fuel tank giving you up to 700 miles on the highway and over 650 miles in the city before refilling your tank.  Now that is a pleasure for your wallet or pocketbook.

COPYRIGHT:2010:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: Base $26,780 As-Tested $34,810
Type: Midsize Sedan – Hybrid
Where Built: United States
EPA Class: Midsize Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 190.7 in.
Width: 70.7 in.
Height: 58.3 in.
Wheel Base: 109.3 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.8 in.
Curb Weight: 3470 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4537 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 40.6 in.
Front Hip Room: 56.8 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 55.7 in.
Rear Head Room: 36.8 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 55.5 in.
Rear Hip Room: 52.5 in.
Front Leg Room: 44.1 in.
Rear Leg Room: 35.8 in.
Luggage Capacity: 10.1 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 4
Base Engine Size: 2.5 liters
Base Engine Type: Inline 4
Horsepower: 158 hp (combined electric/gas hp 198hp)
Max Horsepower: 5200 rpm
Torque: 162 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 2800 rpm
Maximum Towing Capacity: 1000 lbs.
Drive Type: FWD
Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 35 mpg / 33 mpg / 34 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 700 mi. / 660 mi. / 680 mi.

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