It is perhaps a sign of the times that the mid-size Altima Hybrid sedan is so well integrated into the Nissan line-up that, were it not for the HYBRID Logo, it would be virtually impossible to distinguish it from the other models in the Altima family. All share the same sculpted lines, pronounced wheel arches and subtly rising beltline that culminate in the raised rear deck lid. Both ends of the vehicle are punctuated by high tech light clusters: halogen headlamps up front and multi-colored tail lights at the rear.
Our test Altima came with the "Connection Package", which adds Sirius satellite radio, homelink universal transceiver, Bluetooth hands free phone and a power tilt/sliding moon roof and rear spoiler along with other interior upgrades.
There is one HYBRID power train available which is the same as that found in the Toyota, Prius. It combines a 158 horsepower, 2.5 Liter four-cylinder gasoline powered engine with a 40 horsepower electric motor for a combined "Hybrid System Net Horsepower" of 198.
Power is delivered to the front wheels via the "eCVT" or electronic continuously variable transmission, also from the Prius.
The Altima Hybrid features four-wheel ABS disc brakes with Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist as well as Vehicle Dynamic and Traction Control.
Of course the motivation behind owning a Hybrid is heightened fuel economy, and in this department the Altima Hybrid doesn't disappoint- boasting EPA numbers of 35 miles per gallon City and 33 Highway.
A leather-wrapped multi-function adjustable steering wheel, heated leather-appointed seats and door trim set the interior apart as does the high end Bose audio system that includes 6-disc in-dash CD changer, AM/FM, Satellite Radio, MP3 player and Bluetooth connectivity. The available Technology Package also includes the touch-screen navigation system.
Base MSRP for the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid is $25,070 but a well-equipped model will cost around $30,000. The standard Nissan new car warranty applies with 3-year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper coverage and a 5 year, 50,000 mile power train warranty.
With all the sporty styling of the conventional Altima and the benefit of improved fuel economy, a buyer considering a Hybrid-powered 5-passenger mid-size sedan, may do well to look into the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid.