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Nissan Altima Hybrid Test Drive - Give us Your Report!

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  • Thanks - I'm not worried, and it's good to know that it will go up with time, but I was just wondering whether "pulse and glide" was really the right strategy with hybrids, or whether it's better to set cruise control and maintain a steady rate. Does anyone out there have any hard facts on the matter?
  • mshinmshin Posts: 1
    I'm new to this forum thing so I'm not quite sure how things work here... I bought my new Altima hybrid a few days ago. I test drove both Camry and Altima and preferred Altima's handling and acceleration better. I think Camry's ride was a little bit more refined but a bit too soft for me.

    I had a question for the car experts. I haven't read my manual yet but does anyone know when the blue light comes on on top of the battery gauge- what does that mean? It would come on sometimes and then go away. I don't know if this is supposed to be telling me something (something wrong?) or is this not supposed to be happening at all? I think it has to do with the battery status but not sure why it keeps coming on and off. Thanks.
  • langjielangjie Posts: 247
    i'm not sure, i think i use the pulse and glide method....

    i don't use cruise control because i think that it uses more power than what i can with my foot. try it out and let me know...just keep your eye on the power meter
  • langjielangjie Posts: 247
    the blue light means the oil temperature is low...this is only during warm up time, just give it at least 30 seconds to warm up to make sure all the fluids have time to circulate through the engine
  • saabgeorgesaabgeorge Posts: 22
    Actually the blue light is for low coolant temperature - which would indirectly mean the oil temperature as well. Because the battery meter takes the space where the coolant temperature guage is nornally located in the non-hybrid Altima, Nissan uses the blue light to indicate low coolant temperature. There's also a identical red symbol to indicate high temperature - hopefully you'll never see that one except for the warning light check when you first turn on the ignition.
  • langjielangjie Posts: 247
  • hiwaymanhiwayman Posts: 98
    We are careful car buyers. We decided about a year ago that we'd get a hybrid, but the whole concept being relatively new, we wanted to wait until most of the major car companies had come to market with their offerings. About 2 months ago, we started searching in earnest. I was interested in a mid-sized SUV, such as the Saturn Greenline, Ford Escape, or Toyota Highlander. My wife wanted a sedan (without giving away the rest of the story, make a guess at what we finally got. ;-) ) The Saturn Greenline had all the acceleration of a donkey pulling a load of dirt. In a word, abysmal. The Ford Escape was very poorly-made, and in spite of Toyota Synergy guts, it was unimpressive. The Toyota was frighteningly expensive and we didn't feel it worth the money. Additionally, as a car magazine tester said, "It had all the excitement of a room temprature glass of water." OK. So what's next?

    We went to a local auto mall with the full intention of working our way down the manufacturers' hybrid offerings. Just to be fair, we tried to get a second drive in the Escape. The salesman wasn't interested, and tried to steer us to an Explorer (thanks for listening..no sale). Then we went to Honda. The Civic was too tight (I'm over 6 feet tall). The door actually hit my shoulder and bounced off when I first tried to close it. No sale. We tried the Accord, and while not disappointed, it just didn't do much for us. Very vanilla car. Toyota came next. We ignored the Highlander (40K for a mid-sized SUV seems a bit excessive), and tried the Camry. Again. Nice car, but the entire car, including the "feel" of the thing, was beige. We have many friends with Priuses (or is that Prii?) and have driven them quite a bit, so no need for a test drive there. So far, of all the cars, the Camry seemed closest to what we wanted. If we could only find something a little sportier...what to do, what to do.....

    Nissan was next in line. We'd heard they'd just come out with a new Hybrid, but hadn't seen it and new virtually nothing about it (the internet mentioned Altimas, but there was very little information about the hybrid, including on Nissan's own website). We walked up to the door of the dealership (North Bay Nissan in Petaluma, California) and were greeted warmly by a salesman. When we told him what we wanted, he said, "Wait a sec...I'll get the keys". We very clearly told him we were just comparison shopping and were NOT going to buy a car. No worries. His attitude changed not one bit.

    Our salesman walked us out to the Altimas and said, "Here they are." He immediately began demonstration the keyless entry system, and got us into the car. Immediately, it felt right. Everything logically laid out, easy to understand, intuitive. Everything well made. Everything what you'd expect to get in a Japanese car. The salesman continued to tell us about the car, getting only a minor fact here or there wrong (and those facts were about competitors' cars..he's forgiven). After looking under the hood and recognizing very little of what we saw, we went for a test drive.

    Having experienced the casual acceleration and benign handling of the other hybrids, I fully expected the Altima to be yet another unimpressive car, performance-wise. I was wrong. The car accelerates like a V-6, and handles VERY well (maybe not Maserati quality, but pretty darned good for a 4-door sedan). Braking is sure and smooth, and the car corners with authority. Acceleration from 60 to 80 is truly excellent, but gas mileage goes out the window (or where every it goes when it disappears).

    After a short drive, we returned to the lot. Our salesman then said, "Why not sit in one of the fully-loaded models that's not a hybrid, but the fully-loaded hybrid will be just like this, when they come in?" We sat in the leather-wrapped interior, listening to the Bose stereo, and watching the XM traffic radio do its job, showing congestion on a nearby freeway. We were sold. We put our money down.

    We received our new hybrid in mid-June 07. Again, though the car was sold, the same salesman stepped us through the systems and things to look out for. Though he could have been spending time with new customers, he took the better part of an hour to get us comfortable in our new car. We have, since then, been driving the heck out of the car.

    Our early gas mileage wasn't very good. This is due partially to the fact that the engine hadn't broken in yet, and partially due to the fact that we hadn't learned how to drive a hybrid (like you have an egg between your foot and the gas pedal). At time has progressed, our highway mileage has nailed the EPA estimate of 36 MPG. Our city mileage is getting better, but currently hovers in the low 30's, well below the 46 MPG EPA estimate. No worries. It's a lot better than the full-sized SUV we just sold.

    Unlike other hybrids, the Altima is truly fun to drive for a leadfoot like me, as well as ecologically-responsible for people like my green-oriented wife. There is a VERY slight shudder when the gas engine kicks in (either due to a too heavy foot, or for the careful, at about 30 to 40 MPH) but once you get used to it, you don't even notice it. The other oddity is the total silence at red lights. Except for various whirrings in various parts of the vehicle (cooling fans?) the car is silent, waiting patiently for its next command from your foot.

    The body style, new for 2007 is a great-looking design, and is very rigid. No squeeks, rattles, or odd noises. At speed the car is as quiet as my friend's Lexus, and freeway performance is VERY good. All controls are at your fingertips, including steering wheel controls for radio, NAV system, blue tooth phone connections, and voice commands.

    We got the full "technology" package. The Altima basically comes in three flavors. Base-model (almost impossible to find), convenience package (various nice bits and pieces), and the top of the line Technology package, which includes Bose stereo, as I mentioned, a sun roof, XM, steering-wheel-mounted controls, NAV system, rear-view mirror that self-dims for bright following headlights, and on and on. If you can afford it, I highly recommend the tech package!

    This car is what I would call the "2nd Generation" hybrid vehicle. It is a car that addresses many Americans' need for sexy, performing steel, and yet gives a nod to the environment. Early hybrids, like the Prius (remember the original, boxy little things?) were low-performing, reasonably ugly little things, that had a total focus of gas mileage. The newer hybrids (did you know Porsche is about to come out with a hybrid SUV?) are aimed squarly at people who want green, but not too much of it.

    Don't get me wrong. This car is not a "greenwash" car (a vehicle that is touted to be a hybrid, but which gets abysmal gas mileage, and is only used for sales campaigns to make buyers think the company selling the c
  • maximafanmaximafan Posts: 592
    Thank you, Hiwayman for a very informative description of your experience with the new Altima Hybrid. I am really starting to get excited about a hybrid vehicle now that the
    Altima Hybrid is out. Right now I'm driving a
    2007 Lexus RX350, my first Toyota/Lexus product
    after driving Nissan products for the past ten years.

    While there has been a lot of nice things to
    have in my RX and the treatment at the Lexus
    dealership has been fantastic( just mainly going in for oil changes and tire rotations
    right now), I still miss driving a Nissan.
    My previous car was a 2002 Nissan Maxima. I loved that car. It was totaled in an accident;
    thus, I thought I'd try something different and
    got the Lexus. I still get nostalgic when I
    see the 2002 Maximas on the road and I still
    love what Nissan keeps producing, although I
    do love those Lexus interiors also. The only
    negative thing I would say about having a Nissan at this point is that the service guys that I have dealt with in the past(Again, mainly just oil changes and tire rotations with
    the Maxima also) have been less than stellar.
    To put it bluntly, these guys were just a bunch
    of grumps! It's a different story with my service advisor at Lexus. He's great to deal with.
    But now I've been reading about the Nissan Altima Hybrid and how it offers a little bit more sport with great gas mileage. That really
    is my cup of tea! So when my lease is up in
    three years, maybe the Altima Hybrid will be available in Florida so I can seriously consider buying one! :)
  • hiwaymanhiwayman Posts: 98
    Thanks for your kudos! I am reasonably agnostic when it comes to branding. I just look for value (well, OK, and cool cars). The difference between the Lexus dealership and the Nissan dealership isn't particularly surprising, since Lexuses (or is that Lexii?) are at the top of the heap for luxury and service experience. But then again, look what you paid for the two cars (even if you did lease). Lexus is all about service and support. Nissan is too, but they aren't driven to excellence to quite the same degree Lexus is. If possible, I'd try another Nissan dealership when the time comes. My own dealership, here in Northern California is excellent. The service writers are patient and polite and get the work done quickly. There is a big wall of awards on the wall in the show room, and they deserve them.

    I must say that I live in a very well-to-do area, and have several friends who own Lexus cars. I've ridden in them and driven them. While I wouldn't be so bold as to put an Altima in the same stratum as Lexus, I have to say that, for the money, it's a very nice car. It's the first Nissan car I've owned (I also have a small, very basic pickup truck). I am VERY pleased with the car. It is well made, well-engineered, and a good performer. I'm sold on Nissan! Oddly enough, if you look at the new Maximas, there is only a very small difference between the two models. I've heard rumors that the Maxima line is to be discontinued and the Altima put in it's place (you'll note that base-model Nissans are appearing at the bottom of the food chain..which may be an indicator that this is about to happen).
  • jaxs1jaxs1 Posts: 2,697
    Maxima is unneeded. It is doesn't offer much you can't get on the Altima and if they try to take it further upmarket to differentiate it from the Altima, then it is stepping on Infiniti.
    All they can do is try to make it bigger and softer like an Avalon for buyers who want a $30-35K highway cruiser with a roomier back seat and will not be cross shopping against the sporty G35. Maybe they can call it the "Maxima Armarda" or something and give it a chrome grill and wood steering wheel.
    Just dump it.
  • hiwaymanhiwayman Posts: 98
    "Maxima Armada"...now THAT is FUNNY! You're right though. when we were shopping for the NAH I sat in a Maxima, just out of curiosity. I actually like the interior of the NAH better, and the bodies are so similar it takes a careful look to see the differences. I've never been much of one for the wood accents and other "luxury" cues. It's not a sailboat. It's a friggin' CAR. :D Maybe if I could afford a Mercedes Maybach I'd feel differently....
  • I'm thrilled with this car. It handles beautifully, quiet, smooth ride, not a single glitch yet. I've only filled the tank twice, and mileage was 34 mpg on the first tank, and 35 mpg on the second. Lots better than my old Camry. I give this car 2 green thumbs-up.
  • maximafanmaximafan Posts: 592
    It's kind of sad what's happened to the evolution of the Maxima over the past four years. The Altima came along and just seemed to have the right combinations of everything that buyers wanted with great pricing. There
    is a few creature comforts that the 2004 to current Maximas do have though that you can't get on the Altima, such as memory seats and power folding mirrors. I do like my memory seats!!
  • mrav8rmrav8r Posts: 7
    I bought my new 2007 NAH on July 31, and picked it up on Aug 4 from Clay Nissan in Norwood, MA. I live in Arlington, VA. My salesman Ron Scotch graciously picked me up at the Amtrak station, brought me to the dealership, and made the entire purchasing experience nearly painless. The only real issue I am currently facing is state sales tax. Virginia DMV does not coordinate with Massachusetts DMV to reconcile the taxes I have paid in MA, so I have currently paid both MA and VA state taxes. I am in communication with Clay Nissan to have them cut me a check for the MA taxes that they were required by MA DMV to collect. I am hoping that they will cut me the check, which totaled over $1500.00.

    Does anybody have any advice regarding out-of-state car purchases, DMV, taxes, etc.?
  • that suxk... i though u only paid tax on you own state when u brought car out of state cause u not even rigster on that state.
  • colloquorcolloquor Posts: 482
    My brother just bought a Altima Hybrid, and loves it as well. BTW . . . I am sure all of you know that the Altima Hybrid is built at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee plant, not in Japan. I just returned from a business trip to Alabama, and saw truck after truck in Tennessee carrying new Altimas. See link below:

    http://www.nissannews.com/nissan/news/pricing/20070130085311.shtml
  • langjielangjie Posts: 247
    I think it's a lot easier if you were transferring plates. then they can allow you to drive off the lot without needing to register the car in mass (which is where you would be paying to tax).

    don't worry, i'm sure clay will cut you a check, just make sure to follow up on it
  • hiwaymanhiwayman Posts: 98
    Here in CA the DMV workers are notoriously incorrect in their assessments of your situation. You may want to check to be sure the person "assisting" you knew what they were doing. Also, CA does something where they check the sales tax from the other state. If it's lower than CA, you have to pay the diff. If it's higher, which would mean, logically, that CA would refund some money, of course they don't... :D
  • langjielangjie Posts: 247
    you have to pay the difference? and you guys call us taxachusetts
  • hiwaymanhiwayman Posts: 98
    I think the only reason Califonia doesn't have a wry name like "Taxachusetts" is because we can't think of anything to rhyme well, other than Californicate, which, when you think about it, might be an apt description of our tax structures. Not only do we have to pay the difference between other states and California, we even have to pay the difference between counties and municipalities. The big cities have their own taxes on sales. If you were to go to some little country town and buy a car, the DMV will pop you for the difference between that town and your own, if it cost less to buy there. And let's not even get started about buying a car in a non-California air quality certified state and trying to bring it in, if you are a resident of California.

    The only thing that's better than Mass (if Mass is still like it was when I lived there about 20 years ago) is that there are no vehicle inspections. We get a smog test on all but hybrid and diesel cars once every two years, but there are no headlight/horn/tire/windshield inspections (although the CHP CAN bust you for bad equipment if they see you)...
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