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2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S Review & Test Drive

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Nissan’s newest Altima has moved onto the big league with its latest design, becoming one of Nissan’s work-horse vehicles with a long consistent history.

At a reasonable distance, it is hard to differentiate the new Nissan Altima from its “big sister”, the Nissan Maxima. Although they share many components, the Altima is still in a different class that could ultimately save you money while providing some of the same styling that makes the Nissan family such a remarkable brand.

2009nissanaltima25ssidebridgeThe newest styling was introduced in 2006 and seems almost as innovative and refreshing as it did back in 1999. Moving in the right direction, Nissan has pumped the new Altima with several modernized gadgets that were commonly found years ago only on luxury cars.  A few of the things included now consist of the new key-less push-button ignition, Bluetooth, MP3 player, side airbags and the list goes on.

The Altima is sold in several trim levels including the base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder 2.5S test vehicle, hybrid and the upgraded V6 in 3.5 SE 2009nissanaltima25sengineand 3.5 SL trims. Our test vehicle’s 2.5-liter engine was matted to the infamous CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) transmission that can be found in many other Nissan vehicles such as the Sentra, Maxima and Murano. The CTV is proven technology that offers a new level of fuel efficiency when compared to conventional automatic transmissions. The Altima 2.5S provides surprising power delivery from its 4-cylinder engine producing 175hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. With this type of setup you could keep up with many V6 cars on the highway while managing an average of 26 MPG. Basically, you can have your cake and eat it too.

2009nissanaltima25sdashNissan’s interior has come a long way. Once criticized for the massive amount of cheap plastics, Nissan has upped the ante in the new Altima. The new Altima provides a somewhat decent interior with comfy seats, and the dash looks very appealing. Our 2.5S test vehicle had standard cloth seats which were surprisingly supportive when taking sharp turns. The rear 60/40 split fold-down seats provide ample room for three adults. It was not as noticeable to see where the hard plastics end and the lower padded portion began. Chrome accents are found throughout the interior adding a rich aesthetic to the over-all appeal of the new Altima. Such accents attempt to give you that luxury car feel.

2009nissanaltima25srearsideThe Nissan Altima was always noted for having more of a “sporty” feel than its competitors. Even when matched with the Toyota Camry 4-cyl, the Altima is able to hold its own and wear the Nissan badge proudly even if the sales come in third behind the Camry and Honda Accord.

The Nissan Altima remains to be a safe vehicle, or just as safe as any of its competitors. Although one gripe that I have about the new Altima 2.5S is that it’s missing ESC (Electronic Stability Control) as a standard feature. In past years Nissan has missed out on making some safety features standard. The out-going Altima did not even have standard 2009nissanaltima25frontseatsABS. This time it is ESC that is missing from the standard list while ABS, driver and passenger side mounted airbags, roof-mounted curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system are all standard now. Even the Korean rivals such as Hyundai and Kia have implemented ESC as a standard feature.

With my one major gripe aside, I truly enjoyed driving the new 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5S. It is a reliable, economical, and relatively inexpensive form of transportation that you can comfortably make long distance trips in without too many worries.

Specifications

Price: MSRP $21,540 / As Tested $25,800
Type: Midsize Sedan
Where Built: United States
EPA Class: Midsize Cars

2009nissanaltima25clusterDimensions

Exterior
Length: 189.8 in.
Width: 70.7 in.
Height: 57.9 in.
Wheel Base: 109.3 in.
Curb Weight: 3192 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4279 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 40.6 in.
2009nissanaltima25centerconsoleFront 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: 15.3 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 4
Base Engine Size: 2.5 liters
Base Engine Type: Inline 4
2009nissanaltima25srearseatsHorsepower: 175 hp
Max Horsepower: 5600 rpm
Torque: 180 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 3900 rpm
Drive Type: FWD
Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.
0-60mph: 7.5 seconds

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 23 mpg / 31 mpg / 26 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 460 mi. / 620 mi. / 520 mi.

The Tuner Perspective: Reviewed- 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S
-by Darryl Dowe, President Drivensport Performance

Supposedly “Z” inspired, the 2009 Altima is Nissan’s latest foray into the mid-sized sedan market. Offered in either the QR25DE  2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder or the venerable VQ35DE  3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6, the Altima boasts 175 hp and 270 hp respectively. A hybrid system based on the QR25DE powerplant is offered as well with a reported net power of 198 hp. The Front engine, front-wheel drive (FF) layout is standard fare for this category of fuel-sipping econo-box and the 6-speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission round out the drivetrain options. 11.7″ Front vented disc/11.5″ rear disc brakes are standard, as well as independent front and rear suspension. Wheel and Tire options consist of 16″ x 7.0″ Steel /aluminum-alloy wheels or 17″ x 7.5″ aluminum-alloy wheels with P215/60/55TR16/17 All-season tires. Curb Weight ranges between 3,145 and 3,470 lbs in it’s heaviest  incarnation.

Stock, Mild or Wild?

In stock trim, the Altima neither seeks to exceed or excel, impress or offend but finds itself squarely seated in the realm of the average and the mediocre; average in this case is not necessarily bad (the Altima gets between 19-23 mpg city and 26-33 mpg hwy), in fact for most consumers the Altima is just what Dr. Pangloss ordered ” the best of all possible worlds”

MILD UPGRADES

Altima owners are not left totally out in the cold when it comes to performance mods. Basic bolt-ons abound as aestetics and performance go hand in hand.  Intakes, exhausts and body kits are already available for the newest addition to the Nissan stable of economy cars and some mods even claim to improve performance:

Takeda Short Ram Intake for the 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5L,  (Fits both Coupe and Sedan) boasts a +9HP / +11TQ increase over stock; a supposedly simple, quickly installed, bolt-on horsepower affair

MagnaFlow Cat-Back Performance Exhaust System. 2.5L, 2.25 inch. System, 4inch. Dual Polished Stainless Tips, Dual Rear Exit, Bolt on installation, no welding required, increase in horsepower & torque. Dual-exit Stainless Steel Axle-back System for the 2008-2009 Altima 2.5L I4 featuring 2.25″ tubing and 4″ double-wall polished stainless tips. Magnaflow’s Nissan Altima exhaust system features fast-flowing, mandrel-bent, stainless steel tubing, a Wide-Open, straight-through, stainless steel Magnaflow Performance muffler and a snappy-looking polished stainless steel tip.

GENUINE NISSAN ACCESSORIES

Want to make a statement without voiding your factory  warranty?  Try these Nissan blessed, NISMO genuine parts to add a little flair and style to your 2.5L Altima!

Rear Spoiler- Make your Altima extra sporty with an aeroydynamic Rear Spoiler. Custom designed to help enhance rear down-force,  Prepainted in factory-matched colors

Fog Lights- They look great but, more important, they increase your visibility in foggy conditions. White lens adds wide-angle view, increasing visibility, Lens design creates low, wide projection for foggy conditions, Integrate into front bumper for a factory-installed look

Nismo Cat Back Exhaust System- 7.5 HP and 5.2 lb-ft increase at the front wheels, Complete mandrel bent cat-back exhaust system, 303 stainless steel construction,  Weight: 54 lbs (24.5kg), Precise bolt-on installation,  4.0″ (101.6mm) double-walled tips with laser-etched NISMO logo, Provides a more aggressive, sporty sound and is 50-state emissions legal,  Covered by Nissan’s 12 Month/12,000 Mile Parts and Accessories Warranty, (US Customers Only), Available for the 2009 Nissan Altima

READY TO WALK ON THE WILD SIDE?

Given enough time, money and effort, any car can be modifed and fitted with a plethora of custom parts and accessories, a truly unique one-off  car.  Turbochargers, Nitrous, Alcohol injection and engine management upgrades are some of the most common ways to boost performance and add style and flavor to your ride.

Jet Chips ECU Upgrade Kit – QR25DE- the ECU will be programmed according to the information you provide for optimized performance and mileage to match your specific modifications; Jet’s exclusive Dynamic Spectrum Tuning provides optimal performance across the entire power band and not just at full throttle; The programming includes extensive modification to air/fuel ratios, ignition advance and boost pressures for turbo applications

Ultimately,  the 2009 Altima Nissan 2.5L S is a great econonmy car, with no delusions of grandure when it comes to its appeal as a readily modified tuner platform.  A very basic car at an affordable price, look to the 3.5L V6 or the Altima Coupe for more options when it comes to support from the tuning community.

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