Ever since its 2002 revival, the Nissan Altima has been a very popular choice for consumers interested in a sport-oriented family sedan. In particular, the previous-generation car was known for its athletic handling and performance. Unfortunately, it was also known for its low-buck interior and excessive road noise.
When Nissan redesigned the Altima sedan last year, it focused on keeping the car's sporting credentials intact while simultaneously addressing its faults. The new Altima's significant dynamic and interior improvements contributed to a powerful five-seater that provided plenty of comfort and driving excitement for those looking for a lot more than basic transportation.
The 2008 Nissan Altima adds to this pedigree with an all-new coupe model. More than just a regular Altima with a pair of doors lopped off, it's very close to being a junior Infiniti G37, in both appearance and performance. The two-door features unique body panels (it shares only the hood), a shorter wheelbase and overall length, and a revised suspension for even sportier handling.
Both the coupe and sedan come with a long list of available luxury and technology features, but they are put into large, expensive packages that often must be lumped together with other packages. For example, if you want satellite radio on a 2.5 S Sedan, you must spend $1,200 for the Connection Package, which then must be ordered with the $500 CVT, the $3,850 2.5 SL package and $300 antilock brakes. The Technology Package on the 3.5 SE is $6,400. If you want to keep the price low, we'd normally suggest going light on options, but unfortunately, Nissan makes it just about impossible to do this. It's like going to a salad bar and being offered a choice of either dry lettuce or a 4-gallon bucket of Ranch.
Although its options pricing is a little shady, the 2008 Nissan Altima is now an even more versatile (and attractive) choice in the always competitive midsize segment. The Altima coupe competes closest with the new 2008 Honda Accord coupe. Both vehicles providing a compelling mix of sport and practicality that other midsize coupes don't come close to matching. Meanwhile, the Altima sedan continues to be a very desirable midsize family car, especially for those who want one with a good amount of sporting potential. Either body style should be near the top of a shopping list.