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AUTO REVIEW:
Eco-friendly Sedan: 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid


The 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid is a great blend of two concepts: a comfortable, stylish family sedan with great gas mileage and low emissions, writes Sally Miller Wyatt.


(Above): Exterior view of the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid.

Oh, these crazy gas prices! It’s surreal. I was around in the ’70s when we had to ration gas, fill up on odd or even days, and were required by law to drive 55 on the freeway. Have you tried doing that lately? Forget it! Even if you move along at 65 mph, you’re clogging up the slow lane. How is it that people can complain about the price of gas, but yet don’t seem to mind blowing through tanks of if as they roar past you at 85+ mph?

So, you want to do something about it, other than to start riding a bike again?
Hello, hybrids.

We had the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid for a test drive recently, and found this to be a great blend of two concepts: a comfortable, stylish family sedan with awesome gas mileage and environmentally friendly low emissions.

Frequent readers of this column know I’ve always favored Nissan’s Altima as a great choice for families. Over the years it has continued to be a rock-solid sedan that always seems to look nice, even as it goes through generations of re-designs.

Nissan first offered a hybrid Altima starting with the 2007 model year. Enhancements this time around include new minor tweaks: addition of standard splash guards, Diversity Antenna and an optional XM Satellite Radio.

What does not change is the Altima’s AT-PZEV rating, which is an acronym for Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. This means it emits almost no evaporative emissions. Isn’t it a great feeling to know that — as you drive to the grocery store and the kid’s activities — you’re not contributing to our recent “Spare the Air” days?


(Above): Exterior view of the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid.

The Nissan Altima Hybrid has an advanced energy drive system that uses a gasoline-powered four-cylinder engine and an emissions-free electric motor. If the driving situation warrants, the vehicle runs completely on electric power, especially during stop-and-go driving. When extra performance is required, such as when you’re getting on to the freeway, the gasoline engine kicks in. The Altima Hybrid has an EPA fuel economy of 35 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway and, when combined with the 20-gallon fuel tank, you could be looking at 700 miles between fill-ups. That definitely helps the family fuel budget.

While the hybrid technology may be the only selling point needed for some, others want to know if it is comfortable, safe and if the family will have room to spread out in here.

Altimas are nicely equipped. Standard equipment includes keyless entry with push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control, power door locks and windows, AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, three cup holders in the center console, dual visor vanity mirrors and an auxiliary audio input jack.



(Above): Interior and under-hood view of the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid.

Our test car came with a “Technology Package,” a $6,400 extra that included a host of things, such as the XM Satellite Radio, leather seats that were also heated, a bluetooth hands-free phone system, Bose sound system, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and rear passenger AC vents.

Standard safety features include an advanced air bag system, side-impact air bags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact air bags, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Traction Control, a tire pressure monitoring system and a vehicle immobilizer system.

Behind the wheel, you’ll find seats in all positions are comfortable. There is a good amount of room in the rear seat for three passengers, a wide and accommodating trunk, and great visibility. On the road, the Altima handles very well and you only barely notice the transition from battery to gas engine, which is not really the case with some hybrids. For an even more quiet and smooth ride, be sure to use the cruise control whenever possible on the freeway; that really smoothes out the engine/battery transitions.

When it comes to family sedans, it has always been easy for me to give a thumb’s up to the Nissan Altima. With a hybrid version now available, I’m adding another thumb.


Today's Test Drive:
2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid

  • Base Price: $25,070
  • Price as tested: $33,325
  • Engine: 2.5-liter, DOHC 16-valve, four-cyl. hybrid system
  • Transmission: Automatic with Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission
  • Mileage: 35/city, 33/hwy

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.

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INDEPENDENCE DAY SPECIAL
The Parrot’s Beak: A Sikh American Passage
In this month of India’s Independence, we salute an Indian American heroine. We present an autobiographical sketch by Kartar Dhillon.


NUCLEAR POLICY
False Premise: Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal
The U.S.-India nuclear accord is actually testament to the large-scale failure of the Indian Department of Atomic Energy, writes M.V. Ramana.


TECHNOLOGY
Infotech Nepal: Berkeley Meet
The Computer Association of Nepal-USA organized a two-day conference at the UC Berkeley, writes Bineet Sharma.



ENTERTAINMENT
IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: A Sikh American in California
NEWS DIARY: July
SUBCONTINENT: Cell Phones: India Worried
ETHICS: Dow and IIT Bombay
SOCIAL WORK: Goodbye, Polio
ACHIEVEMENT: Eagle Court of Honor
SPORTS: Sania Mirza in Bay Area
TRAVEL: Alamos, Mexico
CULTURE: Srikanto Acharya Concert
AUTO REVIEW: 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid
RECIPE: Khasta Kachori
FILM REVIEW: Brick Lane
TAMIL CINEMA: Subramanyapuram
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
BUSINESS: News Briefs
INFOTECH INDIA: Round-up
HOROSCOPE: August


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