First, I did lots of painstaking research on which mid-size sedan to buy. I test drove 2008 models of the Malibu, Accord EX-L, Camry SE, and the Altima 2.5 SL. Believe it or not, before I started test driving cars, I secretly believed the Camry was going to be my favorite and the Altima was going to be my least favorite. I was completely wrong, and I ended up purchasing the Nissan Altima.
My car is a Silver 2008 Altima 2.5 SL with Connection Package. It is the most expensive car I've bought so far, but the features it brings along with it make it well worth the price.
Part of the reason I didn't like this car initially was because the interior looks very sparse compared to other competitors. However, after climbing behind the wheel, you realize that everything is very logically placed and easily reachable. The radio controls are all within reach without having to lean. The shifter (CVT transmission) feels perfect in your hands, and it feels solid when moving it to different positions, both in automatic and manual mode. This car also has one of the best Dual-zone automatic climate control interfaces I've seen in a car. It's very straight forward and easy to understand.
The seats are large; there's no denying that. However, they are also comfortable, and the leather on the seats feels nice to the touch. The leather on the other parts of the car (doors, center armrest, steering wheel and shift knob) also feels very nice.
The steering wheel feels very natural in your hands. It's the perfect size for this car, and the controls on the steering wheel are very logically placed.
The accelerator pedal feel is very nice, but it takes some getting used to how the brake feels. The brake pedal is very touchy, so expect that as soon as you push on it, the car will start slowing down. Push down about an inch on it, and the car will slow down very quickly. It's nice to have when doing spirited driving, but for day-to-day use, it's a little on the touchy side.
I love the gauges and trip computer on this car. The numbers on the gauges are in white, while everything else is in an Orange and Black scheme; it's very sporty looking. The trip computer works well too. It also serves as a warning system for the car. It pops up when you're running low on fuel, when the temperature outside is very low, and if any doors or the trunk is open. It also tells you when your key is not being detected by the car. This way, you won't get stranded somewhere because you turned off the car and don't have the key to restart it.
The Intelligent Key system is just plain AWESOME!!! This is where Nissan's use of technology shows. I never have to take my keys out of my pocket anymore to drive this car. I push a button on the trunk and it pops open; I push a button on the door handle, and it unlocks; I sit in my car, put my foot on the brake, and push the start button and the car starts up. Nissan even put a sensor in the trunk so that if you accidentally drop your keys in the trunk and shut it, the trunk magically pops open again. The system is nearly foolproof! The only downside to this system is that once you start the car, the key is no longer required until you have to turn the car on again. The system isn't perfect, but there are very few things in the automotive world that are.
The Bluetooth hands-free system is pretty good too. It recognizes your voice for making calls without you even touching your phone. However, it has had some trouble when there are multiple phones in the car at one time. Make sure you check to make sure your phone is compatible with the system too.
Now, the exterior looks are quite nice as well. The front and rear tail lamps are smoked-out, which lends to this car's sporty appearance. The look is very streamlined too; it is bold, but not unrefined. Nissan definitely paid attention to detail when making this car.
Finally, this car loves to drive. I mean exactly what I say. This is the sportiest FWD car I've ever driven. It has tons of grip in the corners, and it gives you lots of feedback through the steering column. I liked driving my 2002 Toyota Solara when I had it, but the Altima is on a completely different level. The car gives you confidence on twisty roads that was severely lacking in the Solara. While the Solara would lean against the corner, the Altima feels planted and sure-footed on the road. What I also like about the Altima is that even though it gives you feedback about what you're driving on, it still feels refined for a sporty sedan. I've never been jarred from a bump or quick maneuver. What is strange is that my old Solara still jarred me on some bumps. Nissan's engineers did a great job with the suspension tuning.
See all of the comments on what has been "bad" about the car. Honestly, none of those things would keep me from buying another Nissan. I'm particularly fond of the 2009 Maxima that just came out. Overall, this is a great car with a few minor quirks.