One of the problems with Japanese car companies is that they virtually refuse to issue recalls without being forced to by the courts. It took three Grand Jury subpoenas to get Toyota to recall its deadly dangerous cars that were accelerating out of control. Domestic car companies issue recalls for any defect, whether safety related or not.
My Ford was recalled twice after seven years and over 90,000 miles for a possibly faulty ignition part and a piece of interior trim that might warp in the sun. Don't hold your breath waiting for a Japanese company to do something like that.
My advice is buy a Ford or GM. They are more reliable, safer, and the companies don't require a court order to issue recalls.
I'm the original poster. Your engine issue was exactly the problem I described. The CVT pushed the engine to such a low RPM that it shook the car and grumbled loudly. This is not the type of refinement that I expected from a popular midsized car.
The only CVT vehicle I like is my lawn mower. For it, the CVT is ideal. However cars are a different story. I have driven several CVT equipped cars, including Nissan, and I really don't care for them. I find the performance terrible. With so many great 6-speed automatics available, I'd pass up the CVT. Only by driving extremely gently can you expect top gas mileage from the CVT, and most people, myself included, just aren't willing to alter their driving style that drastically.
Yeah, they're trying to squeeze more MPG to boost CAFE, by keeping the revs to a minimum. I've been in a 2012 Ford Focus with a conventional automatic transmission that shuddered every time it came to a stop. I don't think the vibration of the Altima is solely the fault of the CVT.
The new Ford Focus has a DDC (double dry clutch) automatic transmission that has a built-in tendency for slight shudder and roughness. I've driven them and it is not bad enough to deter me from buying one. My issue with CVT is the poor performance. The new 8, 9 and 10 speed automatics from the Big Three should be a much better choice for both economy and performance.
There is a spring tension on the CVT belt pulley that is bad. I believe that is at least 'part' of the problem some people are experiencing with the "revised" CVT's. The problems are being experienced by 2013 Pathfinder customers as well. To be quite honest, people should be very wary of purchasing an "alpha" model car. Realistically yes - a redesigned product should be reliable and of the utmost quality from release ... like the Apple Computer Corporation. However, when they switch those production lines over, there's got to be a point at which they start making the redesigns. Always buy a "beta" model or 1 year past the redesign.
To the March 16th comment - that's not true. Japanese automakers will in fact issue recalls as necessary. Toyota was exonerated in nearly all US intended acceleration cases; point in case, most people were hitting the acceleration pedal.
Furthermore, US manufacturers issue more recalls due to poor reliability and quality. The term quality did not come into US project management existence in the manufacturing industry until the 1990's - the production lines were never stopped and many defects went unnoticed. Nissan stops their line to perform quality assurance through and through.
Also the NHTSA is part of the same Federal Government that through fascism bailed out the US auto industry during two presidential administrations by way of inflationary monetary policy. Fast forward to today - only Ford has a viable plan for growth, which utilized downsizing to rebuild, Chrysler is NO LONGER an American owned company, and GM's billions in bad assets are still on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet.
American car companies = fail; Japan's best are manufacturing more efficiently in the southeastern US using LEAN Six Sigma methodologies.
Also - never buy an "alpha" model. Yes, Nissan lags their engine thru CVT to get best in class MPG and there was a bad pulley tensioner. I just bought a 2014 2.5SL Altima and will write a dedicated article once past the break in period. So far so good. I also used to work for NNA in Smyrna, TN building them before my engineering degree. I am also a certified PMP.