MPG-o-Matic Nissan Altima Review Summary: The four-door Nissan Altima 2.5 S sedan provides a winning combination of ride, comfort, style, and fuel economy.
The 2009 Altima is available in five models, with three different drive trains. Our test unit was equipped with the base 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine which produces 175 horsepower (HP) and 180 foot pounds of torque. The inline four can be mated to a Xtronic CVT transmission or six-speed manual transmission (in the S version).
Power hounds will likely opt for the 270 HP 3.5-liter V6, while those looking for the highest levels of fuel economy may be enticed by the Altima Hybrid.
The EPA’s fuel economy estimates for the CVT-equipped four-cylinder 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S are 23 city / 31 highway miles per gallon (MPG).
We logged over five hundred miles on our Navy Blue review unit and slipped past the official Nissan Altima mileage estimates with ease, scoring an average of 35.5 MPG on the Interstate highway and 28.9 MPG combined.
We saw negligible difference during Interstate testing between driving with the cruise control on or off. We’ll chalk it up to the design of Nissan’s CVT, as our CVT-equipped Nissan Sentra test unit performed in a similar manner.
Test period temperatures ranged from the sixties through the low seventies, with highway testing performed on a bright sunny day. Under moderate temperatures, the air conditioning lowered highway mileage by approximately 2 MPG. We’d expect mileage to take a greater hit under warmer conditions.
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, sunroof open: 36.2 MPG
Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, sunroof open: 36.4 MPG
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C on, sunroof closed: 34.3 MPG
With a curb weight of 3,191 pounds, the 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine provides adequate performance off the line. While the CVT transmission provides a six-speed manual mode for more sport-minded driving, the Altima is actually faster to 60 MPH when left in drive.
The Altima delivers stable and surefooted handling, with a firm but not harsh ride. 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) are standard equipment.
The Altima 2.5 is well-suited to light-footed driving techniques. The standard multi-function trip computer provides both average and instant fuel economy displays. As always, we recommend driving with the graphic instant fuel economy gauge on, in order to develop a more conscientious driving style.
Our test unit was decked out with a total of five option packages.
The Convenience package includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls and 8-way power driver’s seat.
The SL package includes leather seats, with driver and passenger heated buckets and driver lumbar support.
The Connection package includes Bluetooth support, a 9-speaker 6-disc Bose audio system with XM Satellite radio. A basic audio input jack is standard equipment. Unfortunately, USB iPod input is not available.
The Technology package includes Nissan’s touch screen Navigation system, XM NavTraffic, and RearView monitor.
12-volt outlets can be found at the base of the dash and inside the center console.
The Altima’s back seat provides adequate space, with 36.8 inches of rear headroom, 35.8 inches of rear legroom, 55.5 inches of rear shoulder room, and 52.5 inches of rear hip room.
The Altima provides 15.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity, with a 60/40 fold down rear seat that’s easily folded down from both the trunk and the cabin.
All-in-all, we found the American-assembled Nissan Altima 2.5 S to deliver an excellent balance of fuel economy, handling, and driveability, with distinctive design. It’s easy to see why the Altima has become such a popular choice among mid-size sedans.
Final Assembly Point:
If you’re looking at the Altima sedan, you might also consider: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mitsubishi Galant, Ford Fusion, and Chevrolet Malibu among others in the mid-size sedan segment.
2009 Nissan Altima
“The four-door Nissan Altima 2.5 S sedan provides a winning combination of ride, comfort, style, and fuel economy.”
– by Daniel Gray