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Thread: 2800 mile trip in 2014 Altima

  1. #1

    2800 mile trip in 2014 Altima

    I know these opinion pieces are sometimes tedious, but they can helpful to people who are shopping the particular car in question. So here goes:

    We just returned from a 2800-mile trip in the wife's 2014 2.5 liter I-4 Altima. I've never owned a 4-cyl car, nor one with a CVT, and I was a little apprehensive about how it would perform at interstate speeds and over long distances. The bottom line is that it did okay. To be more specific -


    Engine/Transmission

    The good:

    - It runs on Regular gas, which is of course cheaper, and since gas prices have been down the past couple of weeks, we saved some dough at the pump.
    - We got pretty consistent 34-35 mpg on the highway.
    - It cruised effortlessly at 80 and 85 mph, turning 2000-2200 rpm.
    - The CVT is fine around town, delivering pretty peppy performance.

    The not-so-good:

    - It strained to get to highway speed, making a lot of noise and not exactly delivering exhilarating acceleration.
    - Passing maneuvers were white-knuckle affairs. Really.
    - Even getting onto freeways around cities was exciting at times.
    - There is no real "downshifting" effect, so you merely floor it and wait for speed to show up.
    - All in all, the engine just doesn't have a lot of guts, instead relying on (variable) gearing for performance.


    Ride, Handling and Comfort

    The good:

    - The ride quality is very good IMO. Bumps and pavement irregularities are handled well.
    - The seats are all-day comfortable and it's easy to find a good seating position.
    - Pedal-to-wheel-to-seat relationships are good for the average-sized driver.
    - Brakes are good, although we had no occasion to test them in mountainous terrain.

    The not-so-good:

    - There is some trade-off in handling for the ride, in the form of body roll and some yaw in fast transitions like curving off-ramps.
    - The steering wheel rim is thinner than I like, making for cramping fingers after a day of driving.
    - The steering is numb on-center (has slack), and them reacts too quickly, making it twitchy and requiring lots of constant correction. Look away for a split second and you're headed for the ditch.
    - The steering doesn't seem to "re-center" well - it tends to go wherever it was pointed last, rather than going back to straight ahead when released.


    Technology

    The good:

    - The Nav system actually lets you input a complete address string by voice command, as opposed to the old "State > City > Street > Number" routine most Nav's use. Huge plus.
    - The Blind Spot Warning works well and is useful.
    - Cruise control and other systems work as they're supposed to.

    The not-so-good:

    - The Nav doesn't show any useful detail such as town and city names at most zoom levels. You have to zoom in close to see them, and that's contrary to big-picture highway use.
    - The Nav screen itself is compromised by a half-inch black band at the top used for time and radio station info, reducing the smallish 7" screen to less than 6-1/2" of useful space.
    - Adding waypoints by voice didn't work for me - I got scolded and told to pay attention to driving when I attempted to add them.
    - The Nav lady often didn't tell me about upcoming turns until I was right on top of them.
    - Frequent tasks like "Nearest gas station" require about 3 steps by voice, whereas most Nav systems let you access them in one command.
    - The backup camera is fuzzy, the image is stretched and small, and useful mainly for telling if there's something moving back there.
    - The Nav screen and some of the other displays blank out with polarized sunglasses, which I use.
    - The headlights are AWFUL and completely unacceptable and unsafe IMO. The light is weak and yellow, and I was appalled to see such bad headlight lights in a modern car. BIG neg.
    - IMO the cruise buttons on the steering wheel are laid out wrong. The On-Off should be at the top and the Cancel button at the bottom where it is easily reached with a thumb. The current layout requires moving your hand off the wheel to set and cancel a setting.


    Summary

    Overall, the car did better than I expected. But then, my expectations weren't terribly high.

    I did not like the lack of power and acceleration served up by the I-4/CVT combo at all, but once up to speed it did fine on the relatively flat ground of the desert Southwest.

    I did not like the steering feel.

    I didn't like some aspects of the Nav system or its display, although address entry is nice.

    The mileage was so-so for a 4-cylinder (my 310hp V6 Acura gets the same mileage), but the Altima does use the cheapest gas. Still, I expected better mileage.

    Comfort was good, and there was plenty of room in the cabin and in the trunk.

    Bottom line is that I wouldn't buy an Altima unless it at least had the V6. The extra power is that important to me. I also wish they'd install a better backup camera and let the Nav use the whole screen. The ergonomic niggles I could probably adjust to. It's a good car; it just needs some things fixed.
    If someone blows up a school with a bomb they go after the bomber ... if someone shoots up a school they go after the gun.

    A privilege is just a right that has been taken away by government.

    Political correctness is cowardice wrapped in a lie.
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    2013 Acura RDX Tech, 30% tints, hardwired Escort 8500 X50

    2011 Infiniti M56, 30% ceramic tint, hard-wired Escort 8500 X50, LED cabin and trunk lighting - traded!


  2. #2
    Thanks for posting this. No worries, it's not tedious at all! Then again, compared to my 20,000-page review of the E-class, it's quite brief.

    I was wondering how the car was doing. It sounds good, and quite a relief given all the bad Nissan news coming out of reliability surveys lately.

    I must say that I never had an issue with the merging/passing power in my rental last year, but you are used to much more powerful cars in recent years. Yes, I've got the G35, but I rarely drive it any more. I treat it like a quasi-collectable classic, and sometimes even loan it to my siblings. So I'm totally used to my 05 Altima as far as power is concerned, and the '13+ Altimas are a big upgrade there.

    I also got to drive it in mountainous terrain-- it doesn't get much more mountainous in the US than the Sierras south of Alaska-- and I can chime in on the brakes. They felt fine, but notably weaker than the Germanesque brakes of an Infiniti or even an Acura. Compared to my third-gen they were about up to par, if not a tad stronger. What impressed me the most up there was the handling (you could really feel the Active Understeer Control minimizing the plow) and the surprisingly decent accleleration even at mile-high altitudes. Strangely, the Altima didn't feel more than a second slower in 0-60 up around 5,000 feet. My Mercedes C250 rental for the Blue Ridge Parkway also felt about a second slower at that altutiude, despite being turbocharged (forced-induction engines are supposed to lose a much lower percentage of power at higher altitudes than naturally-aspirated). So kudos to whatever Nissan did to keep it from feeling like a slug in Yosemite.
    Last edited by JayG35; 10-28-2014 at 04:12 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Administrator palmerwmd's Avatar
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    I enjoyed both contributions.

    AM having an eye on a new Altima since the prices are so good right now.

    A little disappointed in Mikes findings especially vis-a-vis the handling but jay was satisfied with the handling....so not sure now...

    Looking forward to some more input
    "In the end we all just play the roles given us... Sometimes they dont fit so well,... but I guess we make do."

    Dont forget MultiMedia forums!!
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    2x91,92,94 Q45s, 2x 350Z, 1x 240SX w/ SR20DET, 1x Sentra SER SPEC-V, 2k2 Maxima, 2x03 G35, 09 Maxima, 2k2 Maxima, 2015 XTerra, 2005 Xterra, 2012 Pathfinder,

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by palmerwmd View Post
    I enjoyed both contributions.

    AM having an eye on a new Altima since the prices are so good right now.

    A little disappointed in Mikes findings especially vis-a-vis the handling but jay was satisfied with the handling....so not sure now...

    Looking forward to some more input
    Note I said "... there is some trade-off ..." That's not to say the Altima handles badly, just that it's not quite as crisp in fast curves as some other cars. You can feel it take a set when you cut into the curve, but then the car often rebounds a little and you have to make a correction or two, depending on the length and severity of the curve. I'm thinking of some cloverleaf-type off ramps I encountered, going from 80 mph to braking, and maybe coming in a little too hot. I'd cut the wheel, the car would set, then I'd end up having to make a couple of corrections to stay on line as the car moved around on its suspension.

    This isn't totally uncommon, but I think the softer suspension makes it more noticeable on the Alti than on my Acura, for instance.

    I would guess that your Maxima has a little firmer suspension, but I haven't had one for a few years so I don't know that for sure.

    I wouldn't think it's a deal-breaker unless your hobby is taking fast sweepers a little faster than you should. In normal driving, the extra compliance makes for a more comfortable ride, and that part is good IMO.
    If someone blows up a school with a bomb they go after the bomber ... if someone shoots up a school they go after the gun.

    A privilege is just a right that has been taken away by government.

    Political correctness is cowardice wrapped in a lie.
    ________________________________

    2013 Acura RDX Tech, 30% tints, hardwired Escort 8500 X50

    2011 Infiniti M56, 30% ceramic tint, hard-wired Escort 8500 X50, LED cabin and trunk lighting - traded!


  5. #5
    Senior Administrator palmerwmd's Avatar
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    The Maxima is already a bit soft for my tastes a back ot back comparison would be agood idea.
    Mine has 2 new(er) shocks up front too
    "In the end we all just play the roles given us... Sometimes they dont fit so well,... but I guess we make do."

    Dont forget MultiMedia forums!!
    http://www.freshalloy.com/forumdisplay.php/55-Multi-Media-Forum

    2x91,92,94 Q45s, 2x 350Z, 1x 240SX w/ SR20DET, 1x Sentra SER SPEC-V, 2k2 Maxima, 2x03 G35, 09 Maxima, 2k2 Maxima, 2015 XTerra, 2005 Xterra, 2012 Pathfinder,

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by palmerwmd View Post
    The Maxima is already a bit soft for my tastes a back ot back comparison would be agood idea.
    Mine has 2 new(er) shocks up front too
    Always a good idea.
    If someone blows up a school with a bomb they go after the bomber ... if someone shoots up a school they go after the gun.

    A privilege is just a right that has been taken away by government.

    Political correctness is cowardice wrapped in a lie.
    ________________________________

    2013 Acura RDX Tech, 30% tints, hardwired Escort 8500 X50

    2011 Infiniti M56, 30% ceramic tint, hard-wired Escort 8500 X50, LED cabin and trunk lighting - traded!


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by palmerwmd View Post
    AM having an eye on a new Altima since the prices are so good right now.
    It's too bad you can only get the 3.5L in the SL version of the car, makes it a WAY expensive option !
    I know I'd never be happy with the 4 pot versions, seem to be a big hit with the blue hair crowd (read: old ppl) around here tho. Mostly, they just dodder around town @ 10 mph under the limit, so they would never tap the extra power. Without the power to pass them, I'd probably have a heart attack
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeD View Post
    It's too bad you can only get the 3.5L in the SL version of the car, makes it a WAY expensive option !
    I know I'd never be happy with the 4 pot versions, seem to be a big hit with the blue hair crowd (read: old ppl) around here tho. Mostly, they just dodder around town @ 10 mph under the limit, so they would never tap the extra power. Without the power to pass them, I'd probably have a heart attack
    Well, with the 3.5 you're looking at ~$33,000, but that includes nav and other amenities as standard equipment (and xenon headlights, which are mandatory in my book!).

    That's actually not a bad price, especially with some discounting. The 3.5 is a good engine, and the car has some things going for it. I think the V6 would make it a different car altogether.
    If someone blows up a school with a bomb they go after the bomber ... if someone shoots up a school they go after the gun.

    A privilege is just a right that has been taken away by government.

    Political correctness is cowardice wrapped in a lie.
    ________________________________

    2013 Acura RDX Tech, 30% tints, hardwired Escort 8500 X50

    2011 Infiniti M56, 30% ceramic tint, hard-wired Escort 8500 X50, LED cabin and trunk lighting - traded!


  9. #9
    TE=MikeD;1624271]It's too bad you can only get the 3.5L in the SL version of the makes it a WAY expensive option !
    I know I'd never be happy with the 4 pot versions, seem to be a big hit with the blue hair crowd (read: old ppl) around here tho. Mostly, they just dodder around town @ 10 mph under the limit, so they would never tap the extra power. Without the power to pass them, I'd probably have a heart attack [/QUOTE]

    Isnt the 3.5 available for around 26k? 3.5s? I acually drove a 13 3.5 altima and that thing was faaaaast! Thank god i didnt test drive a 3.5 before i made my purchase. I would've been in jail already!

  10. #10
    The wife might have a different opinion. Must be a reason for buying this car. Us here would always want the 6 but sounds like the 4 gets you around. People are fickled. Now with lower gas prices, for a likely small period, marketeers will likely try to move less fuel efficient cars. Could be a good time to sell a gas hog.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by rennie4 View Post
    Isnt the 3.5 available for around 26k? 3.5s? I acually drove a 13 3.5 altima and that thing was faaaaast! Thank god i didnt test drive a 3.5 before i made my purchase. I would've been in jail already!
    Maybe it was in prior years, but now there are 5 choices - 2.5, 2.5S, 2.5SV, 2.5SL & 3.5SL. Not sure why they bother with the base version, it's only $260 less than the S - hardly seems worth the effort


    http://www.nissanusa.com/cars/altima...=altimasedan_G
    2016 Challenger Hellcat, Max Steel/Blk - A8 trans, Navi, C Fiber Stripes
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    2009 G37 Vert Athens Blue/Bone - Prem, Sport, Nav
    2016 Mustang GT Prem, Guard/Ebony - Roush SC +++ ** Lmn Law 1200 mi
    2009 M45s Obsidian/Graphite - Sport, Tech, Adv Tech, Wood, Spoiler
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeD View Post
    Maybe it was in prior years, but now there are 5 choices - 2.5, 2.5S, 2.5SV, 2.5SL & 3.5SL. Not sure why they bother with the base version, it's only $260 less than the S - hardly seems worth the effort


    http://www.nissanusa.com/cars/altima...=altimasedan_G
    Mike's right - as usual.

    The V6 starts at $31,950, to which you'd have to add delivery charges.
    If someone blows up a school with a bomb they go after the bomber ... if someone shoots up a school they go after the gun.

    A privilege is just a right that has been taken away by government.

    Political correctness is cowardice wrapped in a lie.
    ________________________________

    2013 Acura RDX Tech, 30% tints, hardwired Escort 8500 X50

    2011 Infiniti M56, 30% ceramic tint, hard-wired Escort 8500 X50, LED cabin and trunk lighting - traded!


  13. #13
    Senior Administrator palmerwmd's Avatar
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    When I look at ads for there cars they all seems sveral grand below MSRP.

    I am happy with my Maxima but it makes it hard not to want to drive a brand new car again
    "In the end we all just play the roles given us... Sometimes they dont fit so well,... but I guess we make do."

    Dont forget MultiMedia forums!!
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    2x91,92,94 Q45s, 2x 350Z, 1x 240SX w/ SR20DET, 1x Sentra SER SPEC-V, 2k2 Maxima, 2x03 G35, 09 Maxima, 2k2 Maxima, 2015 XTerra, 2005 Xterra, 2012 Pathfinder,

  14. #14
    The fuel efficiency of the 4 cylinder engine mated to the CVT makes the car appealing to most buyers within the market segment. I myself prefer the smooth power of the 270bhp V6.
    2001 Eclipse Spyder GT (250k+ miles)

  15. #15
    Senior Administrator palmerwmd's Avatar
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    SDS: Good to see you post. you are indeed seldom seen

    As for the Altima,

    if I buy one it owuld have to be the 4 cyl .
    Why because otherwise I might as well stay with my Maxima.

    Its the unrefuelled range of the altima that hs me fascinated
    "In the end we all just play the roles given us... Sometimes they dont fit so well,... but I guess we make do."

    Dont forget MultiMedia forums!!
    http://www.freshalloy.com/forumdisplay.php/55-Multi-Media-Forum

    2x91,92,94 Q45s, 2x 350Z, 1x 240SX w/ SR20DET, 1x Sentra SER SPEC-V, 2k2 Maxima, 2x03 G35, 09 Maxima, 2k2 Maxima, 2015 XTerra, 2005 Xterra, 2012 Pathfinder,

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by palmerwmd View Post
    SDS: Good to see you post. you are indeed seldom seen

    As for the Alti,

    if im buy one it to be the 4 cyl .
    Why because otherwise I might as well stay with my Maxima.

    Its the unrefuelled range of the altima that hs me fascinated
    Im on a trip myself. 1st tank got me from about 70 miles north of nyc down to charolette nc and And im just about at atlanta
    With 3/4 tank left.

  17. #17
    Imagine what they'd be able to accomplish with a diesel! I know the CVT probably can't handle the torque, but they could mate it to the 7-AT used in Infinitis.

  18. #18
    Senior Administrator palmerwmd's Avatar
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    I'd love to see a Diesel in An Altima
    "In the end we all just play the roles given us... Sometimes they dont fit so well,... but I guess we make do."

    Dont forget MultiMedia forums!!
    http://www.freshalloy.com/forumdisplay.php/55-Multi-Media-Forum

    2x91,92,94 Q45s, 2x 350Z, 1x 240SX w/ SR20DET, 1x Sentra SER SPEC-V, 2k2 Maxima, 2x03 G35, 09 Maxima, 2k2 Maxima, 2015 XTerra, 2005 Xterra, 2012 Pathfinder,

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