Car Review: Nissan Altima SR Coupe

Highlight:  Nissan’s Altima Coupe was added to line up to compliment the Altima Sedan in 2008.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $32,165 (the base price starts at $24,320)

Seating Capacity:  5

Standard Safety Features: front and side impact airbags; ABS; traction control system; tire pressure monitoring system; and an emergency inside trunk release

SR’s Standard Equipment:  18-inch wheels; 8 way power driver’s seat; leather seats; heated front seats; a tilt and telescopic steering column; a rearview camera; a/c; push-button keyless entry; automatic rearview mirror; a sliding front-seat center armrest; HID Xenon headlights; automatic headlights; and solar-tinted glasses

Standard Audio: a BOSE 9-speaker AM/FM radio with a subscription to XM radio.

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes

MP3 Capability: Yes

SR’s Standard Engine/Horsepower:  3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/270-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

SR’s Standard Fuel Mileage: 18-city/27-hwy

Trim Levels:

2.5-liter S

3.5- liter SR

What’s New:  For the 2012 model year, the Altima is a carryover. Nissan adds a new Value Package, which includes Bluetooth, a leather -wrapped steering wheel, a steering wheel with audio controls, automatic headlights and auto-dimming rearview mirror. A redesign Altima is coming next model year.

Pros: Our top of the line SR model was outfitted with a throaty, easy-to-shift, 270-horsepower, six-speed manual transmission engine. In addition to the power oozing from underneath the hood (or from the dual tailpipes), the coupe’s sporty design was enhanced by an optional rear spoiler.

Also the option of having the easy-to-shift manual transmission made this one fun-to-drive vehicle. Who says midsize vehicles can’t be sporty and fun-to-drive? However, we expect most folks in the market for the midsize coupe will steer toward the automatic transmission.

Moreover, the high-quality Bose sound system was a definite plus in our eyes along with the sliding front-seat center armrest. Height-challenged drivers will definitely appreciate the sliding armrest.

Cons: There were a few drawbacks to the coupe we reviewed. There was no navigation system included in the Altima six-speed manual, but it’s available with the automatic. Go figure? At $32,165, a navigation system should be standard on this vehicle. There are a number of lower priced vehicles that include this feature. Also with this being a coupe, the rear seating area isn’t as roomy as the Altima sedan.

Moreover, why does the manual transmission cost more than the automatic? Typically, it’s the other way around. There is a huge spread of around $2,200 on the top end SR model, as opposed to a few hundred dollars on the low end S model.

The Verdict: For those looking for a reliable, sporty and affordable midsize coupe, the Altima Coupe is the perfect vehicle to fit the bill. However, be cautious in loading up the automatic Coupe with too many options, since it’s within reach of its upscale, rear-wheel drive sibling, the Infiniti G37 Coupe, which offers a longer warranty and more horsepower!

Competition: Honda Accord Coupe and Dodge Challenger

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.