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Midsize Sedans 2.0

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  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Nobody I know of has mentioned this, but could Nissan be trying to differentiate the Altima and Maxima a little bit better with the size difference (Altima made smaller)?
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    I doubt it. although the altima is smaller this year, It isn't by much. Just an inch or two. In contrast, it appears to me, that nissan isn't trying to differentiate the two. A fully loaded 3.5sl altima isn't that different from a max.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,769
    Nissan is differentiating the Altima from the Maxima in several ways:

    * Price: Altima starts around $20k, several thousand less than the Maxima.
    * Powertrains: Altima has I4, V6, and hybrid powertrains available; Maxima is V6 only.
    * Content: Altima is positioned as a family sedan, although a sporty one; Maxima is positioned as a near-luxury sedan, with a more upscale interior and features like the sky roof.
    * Models: Altima is available (soon) as a sedan and a coupe; Maxima is a sedan only.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Interestingly, with the refreshed Maxima and the new Altima, i've pointed out to my friends "look, a new Altima" by looking at the fascia, only to be mistaken that it the car I was seeing was actually a revised Maxima, so you may have a point jd10013.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    not always. the 07 altima is a few inches smaller than the 06.

    The 07 Altima is shorter, but it is also wider. The few inches shorter probably didn't cause the car to loose any leg room, but the few inches wider probably helped with hip room. Without checking the figures, I bet the interior volume increased, rather than decreased, despite the body dimensions.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I just read in my Dec. 2006 issue of Motor Trend about the poor amount of headroom for anyone over 6', as well as the backseat being "skimpy for the class." The trunk is overly massive however, at 18 cu.ft.

    The previous Altima was noted for a nice large interior, IIRC.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    Nah, the car has plenty of room. at least equal to others in its class. I'm not saying this as a nissan homer (which I am) but the '07 is by far the best, and most complete altima nissan has made. It's probably still a notch below the accord, but I'd also put it slight bit better than the camry, and the mazda6. The rest, IMHO, are quite a few notches below those four.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,769
    I had the opportunity to compare the Altima and Versa side-by-side at my local auto show recently. When the driver's seat was adjusted for my 5'10" frame, the Versa had noticeably more legroom than the Altima. Part of that was because the Versa had lots of foot space under the driver's seat, moreso than the Altima.

    Every review I've read on the new Altima notes its reduced rear legroom compared to the prior generation. Not that the legroom is unacceptable for a mid-sized sedan (not nearly as crasmped as the Mazda6 or Legacy, for example), but it's no longer at or near the top of the class in that regard.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    I guess we have a different concept of "cramped". My 6 foot son is able to sit behind 5'11" me in my Mazda 6, without feeling "cramped".

    This is why these cars keep getting bigger and bigger. The perfectly adequate (to me) Mazda6 is called "too small" and "cramped". I read the same complaints about the Contour, which was a little tight, but the back seat was usable and at least set at a comfotable height. Those who criticized that car's rear seat, apparently were unaware that Ford made the Taurus and Crown Vic for those wanting a more spacious back seat.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,769
    Everyone's legs are different. :)

    I know for example that the Mazda6 has less rear leg room than my previous-gen Elantra, a compact car. I would not reject the Mazda6 only because of its rear leg space, as I think it's adequate (barely) for my needs, but my point is that most mid-sized cars have more interior volume and rear-seat space than the Mazda6. Even the current-gen compact Elantra has more of both. When I pay for a mid-sized car, I'd like mid-sized room. Otherwise I may as well buy a compact and save the extra bucks.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    Altima notes its reduced rear legroom compared to the prior generation.

    Yes, it is a little less, but fairly negligable. It was the rear headroom that was hit hardest because of the slopping roofline, though it will still comforably fit people under about 6'2. But the aim for the 07 redesign wasn't to lead the class in leg, head, or overall room. It was to be the best handling front wheel drive sedan on the road. Wheather or not it sucseeded is pretty subjective, but with the near elimination of torque steer, fastest 0-60 time ect, its by far the best performing altima yet. And, deffintly equal to, if not better, than the competition.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    I know for example that the Mazda6 has less rear leg room than my previous-gen Elantra

    Not according to measurements reported in CR and listed here on Edmunds. Both indicate that Elantra had 1.5 inches less rear leg room than the Mazda6 does.
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    bigger, in some cases, is better. a larger car offers more room and hence, more comfort.

    I don't see the Space = Comfort thing. Grippy supportive seats, properly spaced accelerator, brake, and clutch, short to moderate throws on the shifter, and a relatively small diameter grippy wheel = driving comfort for me.
    I also accept that I am not a typical consumer. I really wish I was; I wish I didn't care about how cars feel or driving dynamics and I could just get the Accord or Taurus or something and be done with it. I am sure eventually I will get old and have some 3 hour 30 mile each way commute like everyone else and I won't care. Oh well.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    I wish I didn't care about how cars feel or driving dynamics and I could just get the Accord or Taurus or something and be done with it.

    Us Accord drivers do care about driving dynamics. Which is why we don't drive Camrys or Buicks. Of course driving dynamics aren't everything. I want to be comfortable, even on long trips. And "Fun to drive" is nice, on occasion, but how aggressive can you get with a family car, with the family in it? Since I don't pull big G-forces around corners every day, I want a balance of handling and comfort.
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    Of course driving dynamics aren't everything.

    I might disagree with that statement. This is how vehicles differentiate themselves.

    I want a balance of handling and comfort.

    I totally agree with this statement. That "balance" is very subjective. Vehicles like the E36 3-series had a great balance, it was very sporty and handled very well and absorbed bumps and expansion joints very nicely, and this was over 10 years ago.

    The amount of time this vehicle will have more than 1 occupant is mayyyybeee 20%. That one occupant is neither tall nor hefty. The commute is an easy 20-30 minute drive with light traffic. Almost every other vehicle I've had has been able to get me to school or work or both and back, and been an entertaining autocross or HPDE companion.

    As I said before, I realize I am not a typical consumer, but I do need 4 doors, 5 seatbelts, 3 pedals and room for a couple of car seats. Perhaps I should go down a size class and look there.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,769
    According to my experience actually sitting in both cars, I have more rear seat leg room in my '04 Elantra.

    The published measurements can be deceiving. They do not take into account seat height and contouring, and toe space. So one car may have, by the numbers, more rear seat leg room but not feel as spacious as another car with lower numbers.

    So I always do a "sit test" when shopping for cars, and don't just depend on the numbers.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    Almost every other vehicle I've had has been able to get me to school or work or both and back, and been an entertaining autocross or HPDE companion.

    No midsize car is designed for that. Not even a 6.

    As I said before, I realize I am not a typical consumer, but I do need 4 doors, 5 seatbelts, 3 pedals and room for a couple of car seats. Perhaps I should go down a size class and look there.

    Seems to me what you need is one of those off-road-rally type cars, not a midsize sedan. I've watched a few of those races. Don't they use cars like the Mitsu Lancer, or a small Subaru? Something lighter, and more nimble than a Mazda 6.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    the space=comfort thing is more for the passengers. As others have said, the altima, accord, camry, fussion, ect are family cars.

    But I know where your coming from. Its why I decided to keep my coupe instead of tradding it in when I bought my altima. ;)
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    Sometimes I will drive somewhere 5-600 miles just because I enjoy driving. But the car has to be comfortable, and easy to drive. I drove to northern Arkansas (700 miles) to visit my sister once in a pickup truck. That was not enjoyable, at all. Never again, I couldn't wait to get home. I need something easy to drive and comfortable. Considering I've had back surgery for two ruptured disks in my lower back, lumbar support is also a necessity.
  • bhmr59bhmr59 Posts: 1,598
    I remember that you are very big on Honda and down on the Sonata. Have you driven an '07 Sonata? It seems to have everything you want in a car and more.

    If you haven't tried it, you might be very pleasantly surprized. My brother got a new Sonata the end of Feb. He was amazed at the stability control and traction control on two different snowy days. He wasn't sure what was happening, at first, just that the car did what he was intending it to do.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    No, I have not driven a Sonata. I have driven Camrys, and from what I've heard the Sonata is patterned after the Camry, and has many of the same dynamics. I have driven a new Optima (don't know how similar they are), and was not impressed with the driver's seat (or much else). It reminded me of the thinly padded seat in my old Nissan Sentra work car. Honda has a reputation that I trust. I could spend my $$$ on it, knowing I would be satisfied. Hyundai is something I would be taking a chance on, and I am not a risk taker. As far as the snow thing, in south Louisiana we may get snow once every 20 years (I am 44 years old, and have seen snow here twice, and maybe an inch or two).
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Of course the Buick LaCrosse qualifies. It certainly isn't a luxury car, and GM placed it as the replacement for the Regal. Cost-wise, it's right where the Accord and others are as well.

    Small car? No. Large? Not really. Luxury? Nope. Sporty? Gotta be kidding. That basically leaves 20-30K family sedan, which is what this group seems to be about.
  • punkr77punkr77 Posts: 183
    One thing that drops the Maxima off my shopping list (but won't matter to 95% of buyers) is no manual tranny option. The Altima can be had with a manual.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,769
    Good point. Another way Nissan differentiates between the Altima and Maxima.
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    Elroy,
    Autocross is typically a "course" configured with a bunch of traffic cones in a parking lot. Emphasis is much more on driver skill and car control than overall top speed, as cars rarely get above 2nd gear.
    HPDE stands for high performance driving event, which used to be called "hot lapping days" at local road courses. In California, this means Willow Springs (and 'Streets), Buttonwillow, Laguna Seca, Sears Point, etc.
    The Contour with slightly upgraded brakes and R-compound tires was amazingly competitive in its class. Incidentally, the early 90s Accords do well in autocross type events, especially with a warmed over suspension.
    Anything off road will have a very different suspension, there might be some confusion between rally-cross (auto-cross in the mud) or true rally stage races and the on-pavement events.
    That said, stock road going versions of the WRX/STI and EVO (the Subie and Mitsu) are very popular at these events beginning in the late 90s when the Civic and Sentra started to lose their sport compact following.
    Like I said earlier, if BMW can have the ride/handling balance they had in 1992/3, why can't other automakers figure out how to do that now?
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Like I said earlier, if BMW can have the ride/handling balance they had in 1992/3, why can't other automakers figure out how to do that now?

    Their job is not to figure that out. Their job is to build cars that consumers want to buy. When the top 3 selling vehicles (in 2006) are F-150, Siverado, and Camry and the top 8 include another truck, Corolla, and Impala...this does not lead one to believe that consumers are looking for BMW-like vehicles, does it?
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    Their job is to build cars that consumers want to buy.

    This is an interesting use of the word "want." I think their task is to make vehicles people feel they "need." I don't want a new CamCord particularly, I want something fun to drive that can go around corners well and doesn't physically beat me up on the freeway. I need a car with 4 doors, 5 seatbelts, and 3 pedals (well, okay the 3 pedals is a want, but I won't buy an auto).

    Also, I would argue that their job isn't to make cars people want, rather their job, especially to their shareholders, is to be profitable. BMW seems to be able to do that with a very low volume. ;)
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    I guess I have to be more careful about closing those loopholes :) . Let me put it this way...their job is to build cars that people will buy at a price that generates a profit.

    Is BMW low volume in Europe?

    Toyota seems to be very profitable at high volume and has the biggest selling mid-size car, despite the fact that you (or I) will not buy one.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Toyota seems to be very profitable at high volume and has the biggest selling mid-size car, despite the fact that you (or I) will not buy one.

    This is likely due to the fact that Toyota doesn't try to sell "clearance rack" vehicles, which many automakers have been guilty of, less so recently. They build (arguably maybe, lately) high-quality cars for the most part, and don't have to sell them at major discounts. People like high-quality, and apparently are willing to pay a little more for it. I imagine when Honda comes out with is new Accord, prices will be right back at sticker (as opposed to right now where people are getting real steals of $1,000-$1,500 below invoice since the current Accord is in its last few months of life). Honda also builds high(er) quality vehicles than much of its competition, and people are willing to pay more for it (and when the higher sale price outweighs the higher build price due to better quality, more profit is had).
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    Toyota seems to be very profitable at high volume and has the biggest selling mid-size car, despite the fact that you (or I) will not buy one.

    As Toyota exec said at NAIAS 2 years ago: the number one selling ice cream flavor in the US is vanilla.

    Big companies like Toyota design their vehicles to appeal to the broadest group. They are designed to not offend anyone and have a high feature content. They make relatively few models (the Honda 2 model 3 trim line is the master of this) and they will work for most of the people. Its the people that want something more interesting or exciting that don't meet the criteria.

    Smaller companies like BMW design vehicles to appeal to those who do want something with a little more soul. An example is very few Toyotas are available with a manual transmission (and since its only ~8% of the market, Toyota doesn't care), while almost every BMW is available with a manual transmission.

    BMW is low volume relative to other manufacturers (VW, Peugeot, Renault) even in Europe. They are also very profitable.
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