2008 Nissan Altima review

Most car buyers don't have the luxury of purchasing a different car for all the types of driving they do. While a sports car for a favorite road, a luxury sedan for a night out and a wagon for family road trips would be nice if you had the means — and a three-car garage — most shoppers don't. That's why it makes sense to look for a car that best combines all your needs and wants, however conflicting they may be. Nissan's redesigned Altima plays to this type of buyer, and it's rather successful at balancing the performance and comfort needs of enthusiast drivers who also have families to shuttle around.

Ride & Handling

I tested an Altima 3.5 SE. In Nissan's world, SE means sporty, and sporty for the Altima means 17-inch all-season tires on alloy wheels and a sport-oriented four-wheel independent suspension with bigger stabilizer bars.

The taut suspension faithfully communicates the quality of the road back to the driver, so if you drive on rundown roads, expect to feel their state of disrepair. Even this sportiest of Altimas, though, doesn't jostle occupants like a Honda Accord.

At highway speeds, the Altima is a quiet cruiser on asphalt, but concrete stirs up some tire noise. The car doesn't demand a lot of the driver, which makes for carefree commuting even when you're stuck in traffic.

The Altima has a power rack-and-pinion steering system that delivers predictable responses. Adjusting the tilt/telescoping steering column is a bit more difficult than on some cars because getting enough leverage to push it in or pull it out requires grasping the bottom of the wheel. Obviously, that won't be a big concern if you're the only one driving the car.

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