"Fun for the whole family!" is usually attached to large buffet restaurants or miniature golf courses, but occasionally it applies to cars. Yes, it's possible for Dad or Mom to have a modicum of fun behind the wheel without squishing Junior into a cramped backseat and jostling him around with a firm ride. There are a few such candidates in the family sedan category, with the 2010 Nissan Altima being one of our favorites. As a bonus, it's also available as a coupe for those who don't need a whole family to tag along.
The amount of fun you'll have will somewhat depend on whether you choose the four-cylinder engine or the V6. The latter comes standard with a sport-tuned suspension that trades some ride comfort for sharper handling, making the V6-powered Altima 3.5 SR model feel more like a sport sedan in family-friendly clothing. The four-cylinder car is more sedate due to its softer suspension and considerable power deficit relative to the V6. Still, all Altimas will be more involving to drive than sedans purely focused on comfort, such as the Hyundai Sonata or Toyota Camry.
For 2010, the current-generation Altima receives its first significant update since its debut back in 2007. This includes a restyled front end and the welcome addition of standard stability control across the board. Nissan has also upgraded the stereo, navigation and Bluetooth systems, making the Altima one of the most high-tech models in the midsize sedan and coupe markets.
Unfortunately, that equipment comes in expensive options packages, which in some cases must be paired with other packages. This structuring makes it difficult to pick and choose among options you would consider essential or frivolous. Another downside to the Altima is its backseat, which isn't quite as roomy as what you'll find in other top models. Then again, bigger isn't always better, as the Altima's "just right" size is a major contributor to its athleticism.
All said, we consider the 2010 Nissan Altima to be one of the class leaders -- especially with the V6. There are some other models we'd strongly suggest checking out -- the highly impressive Ford Fusion, the perennially popular Honda Accord, the enjoyable Mazda 6 and the new Suzuki Kizashi come to mind -- but should you choose a Nissan Altima, it will surely provide plenty of fun for the whole family.