The Good The 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid features a peppy, economical drive train and some very well-designed and integrated technology options, including a great stereo and traffic-enabled navigation. But you do get the Altima's athletic reflexes, quick steering, and, in this test car, excellent braking 167 feet from 70 mph — dynamic distinctions worth having, hybrid or not. You also get an extra 398 pounds of mass, courtesy of the battery pack and allied equipment. Halfway down the long hall, we were hailed by the breathless parking attendant, racing to catch up with us. Virtually everything it launches has to be taken seriously. We went with the six-speed manual transmission package for the first part of our drive. On the down side, if you live outside of California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, or Vermont you are in for a long drive home from the dealers, as the model is initially being sold only in those eight states.
The engine and suspension in the Altima Hybrid deliver the same spirited performance as its more conventional siblings. However, like other hybrids, it doesn't take much wide-open throttle to flatten the batteries. It's a match for rough pavement and is steady and predictable in extreme situations. Having dialed a number, we waited for around 15 seconds before the phone showed us that we were connected, but there was no sound from the other end of the phone. Passionate Driving That Takes Care of the Environment Nissan's commitment to the environment takes a different form than might be found at other automakers. The phone remained connected when we turned the car off and then on again, and our outbound test call got through the first time.
Seating is firm, with good lateral support for hard driving. It makes 270 horsepower, more than what's available in other midsize cars excluding turbocharged or expensive sports sedans , along with 258 pound-feet of torque. The test would be to determine which of these phones was the easiest to pair and use hands-free in conjunction with the Altima system. And to amplify the anonymity, Nissan is making it available only in the states that have adopted California's emissions regs. So here, finally, is Nissan's first hybrid, and, not to be unkind, its So-What Index isn't high. You get the Altima's 2. And while it may have borrowed its hybrid technology from Toyota, Nissan's software and graphics interface are unique to the car, with a specific chart showing fuel history and the amount of energy reclaimed through regenerative braking.
The Altima Hybrid has the compulsory hybrid energy graphic. Hanging back on the hybrid front was a corporate wait-and-see dictated by Nissan's at-the-time dicey economic circumstances. Alas, poor Altima: a little late to the U. Among the 25 or so line items that this package offers is Bluetooth hands-free calling with voice-activated dialing, a system that we found to be one of the most intuitive and easy-to-operate to date. We want to test the hybrid market, and we're testing it with our best car.
Meanwhile, with an automatic and the 2. The Camry and Altima hybrids divide the sedan market nicely. . On the whole, we have to rate the 2007 Altima 3. When the combustion engine does rumble into life, the effect is smooth and sometimes imperceptible, although on the freeway, the ride is a little less-refined than that in the Camry Hybrid, which feels better equipped to damp out uneven road and noise. Following a drive from San Francisco down to the tony Monterey Peninsula, we dropped our car off with the valet at the Inn at Spanish Bay and started walking off to our room. However, that's where the good news ended.
The Altima Hybrid's Bluetooth system is one of the most user-friendly we've seen. Like other hybrids, the Altima will cost more than its conventional stablemates. The Nissan Altima has been totally redesigned for 2007. The combination of passionate driving and passion for the environment is what makes the Altima Hybrid the standout in its segment. And controls and knobs no longer feel like they might break off in our hands.
For 2007, Nissan is betting it can ignite some action again as it rolls out a pair of critical new sedans, the long-delayed remake of the Sentra and the update of the bigger Altima. Four-wheel disc brakes are standard. Unlike other hybrids we've driven such as the and hybrids, the effect of the Altima Hybrid's regenerative braking is subtle enough to ensure that it does not significantly interfere with the feel of the brakes. With its healthy dose of attitude, the new sedan could do even better. Test the tech: Bluetooth pair-off While its Toyota-sourced dual-mode drive train is the headline technology in the 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid, the car does boast some impressive cabin gadgetry if optioned up with the hefty Technology Package.
The other challenge: upgrade the chintzy cabin. It is, for one thing, an inch shorter than the outgoing model. Unlike the Camry Hybrid, the base-level Altima is stripped down in terms of cabin tech, and those wanting gadgetry will find themselves paying dearly for the option. Fold-down rear seats allow the trunk to expand into the cabin for carrying big long things. It's the only automatic transmission available in this car, and it's a winner with its manual mode, which allows six speeds or ranges.
It offers more performance, comfort, safety, economy, and better looks than last year's model. With a sportier profile than the , the Altima Hybrid delivers a zippier--if a little rougher--ride than its main competitor. Beyond that, there's no Prius eco-pilgrim styling to set the Altima hybrid apart from and morally above the herd. For those willing to shell out for one of the three hefty options packages, however, a world of gadgetry awaits. The Treo was not able to reconnect to the car when the ignition was turned off and then back on, and we had to spend a couple of minutes manually reconnecting. With phone and car connected, the Nokia made outbound calls the first time using the car's voice dial interface. We appreciate the tilt-and-telescope steering wheel and the new, padded armrests.