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Old 11th February 2012, 04:31   #1
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Default 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

CARS!!! The first thing that came to my mind after I was asked to relocate to US for work. This is not my first visit to the US. However unlike the previous occasions, this time I am here for a while. Which means I don't have to rent, I can OWN! Next couple of months I spent most of my travel prep time on craigslist, KBB, edmunds and the likes.

There is one problem with shopping in the US. Choice! An aisle full of eggs is little too much for me to handle. How different can eggs be right? Wrong! You have small eggs, medium eggs, large eggs, extra large eggs, white eggs, brown eggs and you get all these in 10 different brands and these are just chicken eggs, mind you! We are digressing. My point is you have too many options when it comes to cars. More so when you are talking used. And man are those tempting. Dream cars! and they suddenly seem affordable. We are talking about the Camaros, mustang GTs, RX 8s, V8 SUVs and the fancy europeans all under 10K. I am not even talking about beaten up tin cans, these are in reasonable condition, 6-8 years old and with good amount of life left in them. Having a budget fixed helped. 8K. I need a sports coupe, a V6 or a V8 may be. A convertible, if you may! Then the reality came gate crashing. With a one & half year old in tow, I need 4 doors on my primary and only car. I definitely need 4 doors. What a bummer! But its not the end of the world. Atleast I narrowed it down to the number of doors per say!

I hate mini vans. I don't know why, but I do. May be I associate it with soccer moms or the fact that I don't fancy ending up upside-down around a corner. Anyways I didn't forsee transporting 8 people in the near future. So no mini vans for me. I like pick-ups though. They look kind of cool and "in your face", if you know what I mean. But I'm not a plumber nor a farmer. Also they handle like a boat. So it boils down to Sedans and SUVs.
For the first time in my life, I can afford a proper european car. I am excited! And the best part - the germans and the Jags are cheaper than the japanese of the same vintage. But there is a fly in the ointment. The europeans keep you happy till you are under the warranty period - say about 5 years. Heard tons of horror stories about reliabilty and maintanence costs. And even if I streeeeeetch my budget, I'm not going to be able to afford a newer one. But make no mistake, you will get a perfectly good 6 - 8 year old european car a lot cheaper than say a similar vintage accord. But I am not pushing my luck! * Sigh *

American cars on the other hand are a mixed bag. Most of the early 2000 models are big boats with big engines. And they depreciate in value like nothing on earth. If you have a Dodge or a Pontiac or a chrysler or even a Cady for example for sale, you've had it! Few SUVs from Ford, Chevy, Lincoln and the likes are still ok. They are nice and big and not a depreciation nightmare. But I still can't digest gear levers in steering column and e brakes operated by left foot! There were some post 2006 SUVs (Jeeps, Trail blazers, Equinoxs & Explorers mostly) fitting nicely in my budget. So they were not ruled out.

I know a lot of Indians living here temporarily. And one thing common with ALL of them when buying a car - They don't look beyond Toyota, Honda and Nissan, in that order. Their favourite for some reason is the late 90s Camry. The resale values of used Camry, Corolla, Civic and accord is through the roof. And rightly so. They are easy on your pocket to up keep, very reliable and easy to get rid of when you want to. There I said it. That's exactly what I was looking for. Those were my primary criteria in choosing a car. But my personal opinion is, they're also very boring!
While I'm taking about what I wanted, here is the other shortlisting criteria apart from what I've mentioned above.
- Should have 4 doors
- Mileage should be under 100K, the lesser the better
- Any Japanese car, American & Korean SUVs are ok, preferably something NOT available in India
- Should be reasonably powerful and should handle well
- Good history report
- Should be atleast 2004 or newer
- The price quoted should be considerably below the KBB value (This made the short list really short)
- MPG was not a problem. With a 4 mile commute to office I don't mind a gas guzzler (I know, I'll rot in hell)

I was not interested in testing out a lot of cars. So the shortlisting had to be precise. Getting to this stage involved a tedious thought process and a LOT of research. I need to get into a car quick. Was already feeling crippled without one. After dal-chawal-every-day budget for 2 months it was time for car hunting! With a good friend in tow, cash in hand with the fingers in the hand crossed of course, out we went on fine Saturday morning.

First one on the list was silver 2004 Rav4 with 90K miles on it. It was a V6 4x4. 1 owner, well maintained and it showed. Test drive blew my mind away. It flew from stand still and handled like a car. I was sold! But here is the problem. The dealer was quoting 9.5K. My strategy was to show him the green and bargain it down to 8. At KBB retail value indicating 14K, I was pushing it. The dealer was not willing to give an inch. At a little over 10G on road, I thought I will beg-borrow-steal and take this baby home if didn't find a better deal over the weekend. But it had to wait.

While I was there, another tempation in the lot. 2004 Jag X-type with just 70K on the Odo. One owner and documented showroom maintainance records. I thought "what the heck? a test drive wouldn't cost a thing!". Big mistake! It was 3.0 L V6 with 230 BHP, black with camel brown leather interiors. This thing was L-O-A-D-E-D to the gills sun roof, ACC, 18" alloys, et all. And boy oh boy does it fly. It was tight, no leaks no smokes not a rattle. I was growing horns and a pointy tail by the end of the test drive. At 7.5K it was sitting nicely in my budget. To give you an idea of how excited I was - I was a driving a Chevrolet Spark till 2 months back and before that a humble 96 Esteem. But at the end common sense prevailed. Didn't plonk down the money. I thought i will sleep over it. Later that evening did some research online. All reviews said one thing - Unless for some reason you "have to" buy a Jag don't buy an x-type. I realized I didn't "have to" buy a Jag! Remember my logic about buying an used European car? It was one of the toughest "pass" for me in my entire life.

That day ended after checking out a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee that had one of the cylinders misfiring and a Isuzu rodeo that was all dirty inside and a AC that was going out. It was a good day overall. I had the Rav4 as my Plan B vehicle. The problem with hunting for "good deals" is the genuine ones get sold in no time and the ones that are available has a high chance of something fishy. Sundays most of the used car dealers are closed. Spotted a red 2006 Mazda 6 Grand Touring edition for 8K by a private party in caraigslist. It had 98K on the odo. This one is the top end V6. My heart was racing. Its too good to be true! Thats like 4-5K less than KBB value. Got there and took it for a spin. This was the best handling car I have ever driven so far. Honestly, it didn't feel like a sedan at all. The power to weight ratio made it a rocket. I almost bought it. Ran a carfax on the VIN and I was in for a rude shock. It had 5 previous owners and there were 2 accidents reported one front end impact and another rear end impact. You could never say that it had 2 major accidents by looking at it not even after driving it. I walked out of the deal. $45 well spent!

I gave myself one more day before exceeding my budget. Wrapped my work Monday early to check out a 2005 Altima with 85K on the odo from a dealer. The sticker price was 7.5K. The KKB retail value was 9K. This was a 2.5 S, which is the mid variant in the Altima line up. Took it for a longish test drive. It felt tight, no vibrations or squeaking, the power train was working as it should, the AC was good. It's 4 Cyl engine churning out a modest 175 BHP. I would have loved it, if it was the 3.5 V6. I like the car, but it didn't have the bells & whistles - no alloys, no leather, no sunroof.
The dealership was a shack. This was the nicest car he had in the lot. But it was still a good deal. I thought real hard. I posed the question - "6200?". He goes - "Cash?". No bargaining, no haggling, no nothing! The private party value in fair condition for this is 6.5K. He agreed to let me do a 80 point inspection as well. Carfax indicated a genuine odo reading and 2 owners. The second owner had it for just 3 months before it was repo'd and auctioned. God bless auctions! The 80 point check came out with a leak in wiper washer tank and blown out center break light. The dealer gladly agreed to fix those. The entire transaction took about 3 hours, before I was on my way home on my brand spanking new (old) car.

2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-20120128-13.59.43.jpg

It's been almost a month with the Altima. The dealer had changed all the fluids. So far I have just gotten the worn out wiperblades replaced with Bosch. It has been a fun 500 miles. She'll need new shoes though in a few months. I guess 90K service will be a major one. Here are my first impressions of the car.

2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-20120128-14.02.29.jpg

2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-20120128-14.02.06.jpg

2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-20120128-14.00.39.jpg

2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-20120128-14.02.52.jpg

Its one of the nicest looking cars in its class. The creases and the lines give it a very stylish and not so bulky look. I simply love the tail lamp design. Its got just the right amount of chrome treatment. The chrome around the windows look classy. From the inside its very spacious. There's more legroom at the back than the Accord. This one's got the black interior. Most of the 2005 & 2006 Altimas had beige interior. I prefer the black any day. It has plenty of compartments for the knick knacks. All those compartments open up in slow motion. looks really cool. They have a soft styrofoam kind of lining inside all the storage area. Very thoughtful. Even the center armrest has couple of storage units and a 12 V charger. The seats and trims are Black/dark grey cloth material and the carpet is also black. Has 2 reading lights up front and center interior light. It has steering controls for audio, MID and cruise control. I was surprised to see that my car had the optional OEM Bose system. It plays just the CDs/FM. No MP3, USB, Aux, etc.., But I am not complaining. It has 2 door speakers, 2 tweeters integrated into the A-Pillar and 2 speakers at the back in the parcel tray. This is the best sounding system OEM I have ever heard! I bought a FM transmitter from ebay to play off my USB collections. Not the greatest of the quality, but it works!

The engine is a gem. Its very silent in idle at 800 RPM. Post 3000 RPM it sounds sweet. The growl is awesome. Its not a scorcher from stand still. But once you put it through its paces, it performs really well at highway speeds. But they messed up when they decided on the transmission. You plonk a 175 BHP engine and you give it a 4 speed transmission?
The transmission spoils the experience to quiet an extent. Especially the first 2 ratios. Whip it at low speeds, it thinks for second or 2 to drop a gear. Its not very smooth either. Its a decent handler. Its shod with 215R60 rubber on 16" steel wheels. The steering weighs up pretty well at speed. The body roll is also well controlled. But its not a patch on the Mazda 6. At little over 1.5 tonnes its a heavy sedan with a front wheel drive. For what it is, it does well. Over all, except for the lousy transmission I'm happy with the car.

I know its a lengthy rambling. I don't know for how many of you its relevant. But I still felt like sharing my experience. Hope you enjoyed reading!

Last edited by thegame : 11th February 2012 at 04:43.
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Old 11th February 2012, 05:03   #2
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Default Re: 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Lovely writing, i was glued to the screen from start to finish. One good thing about buying used cars in US is you get all the details of the car. Services like Carfax help you enormously.

In the end a lovely no nonsense car to own, Toyoya, Honda and Nissan are cars that are always trouble free and easy on pocket. Congratulations on buying this well thought after machine. Surely it will serve you well for the length of your stay, and will return some when the time comes to sell it off .
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Old 11th February 2012, 10:59   #3
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Default Re: 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Congratulations. I drove the Altima a few years ago, but the hybrid one. With an 'E-CVT'. They detune this engine for FE and plonk a 40hp motor assist. Even with the additional weight of the batteries, that car just had super initial acceleration, very good for merging into ramps/traffic. Highway MPG was not that much better, but city was super as it just ran on the electric motor. Handling was also very nice. The ECVT was also very nice, no rubber band effect, simply kept accelerating.

Sadly boot space was compromised as well as it had an annoying vibration at 70 mph. The rental co. did not have another Altima and gave me a new Accord (1.8k miles) instead. Just did not feel the same. But the Accord had acres of space, inside & boot and decent MPG.

Nissan have such nice cars in the US/UK but they get their terrible models here.
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Old 11th February 2012, 19:50   #4
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Default Re: 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Lovely writing, i was glued to the screen from start to finish.
Thank you mayanjha!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeep108 View Post
Congratulations. I drove the Altima a few years ago, but the hybrid one. With an 'E-CVT'. They detune this engine for FE and plonk a 40hp motor assist. Even with the additional weight of the batteries, that car just had super initial acceleration, very good for merging into ramps/traffic. Highway MPG was not that much better, but city was super as it just ran on the electric motor. Handling was also very nice. The ECVT was also very nice, no rubber band effect, simply kept accelerating.

Sadly boot space was compromised as well as it had an annoying vibration at 70 mph. The rental co. did not have another Altima and gave me a new Accord (1.8k miles) instead. Just did not feel the same. But the Accord had acres of space, inside & boot and decent MPG.

Nissan have such nice cars in the US/UK but they get their terrible models here.
I have never seen a the hybrid one around. It don't think they've sold a lot many of those. But now they launched Leaf which is a complete electric model. Looks a little bit like the micra. Regular Altimas are not great on mileage. I am getting roughly about 21 MPG in city. But the boot is quiet big and the rear legroom is awesome.


Sentra was the smallest car for Nissan in the US till a few years back. Recently they've launched the Versa, which I guess is the same as the Sunny. And the Micra has been doing duty in europe for ever now. But yea it will be really good if the launch the Murano or the Maxima in India at a competetive price. They are good products.
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Old 11th February 2012, 21:58   #5
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Default Re: 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

ALTIMA - Good car, congratulations !
I had owned 2 ALTIMA's [1994 and 2001] when I was there in 2 terms. Excellent space, Decent power, a stable @ 80-80 MPH [almost the maximum you can drive in any free-ways there], a no non-sense car.

Enjoy the time !

Prem.
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Old 11th February 2012, 22:08   #6
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Default Re: 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Clean, no non sense design. I like it. Surprising it has no alloy wheels! Even in India when the camry, accord, and the Skoda superb were launched they had alloy wheels as standard.
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Old 11th February 2012, 22:59   #7
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Default Re: 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Nice. I have been in your position couple of times. Desi choice always been honda, toyota,nissan, mazda. But i always loved hondas so no matter what i was looking for honda accord V6 only. So got a sweet deal on 2005 accord V6. Njoy more miles on your altima.
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Old 12th February 2012, 06:47   #8
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Default Re: 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

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Originally Posted by Ford5 View Post
Clean, no non sense design. I like it. Surprising it has no alloy wheels! Even in India when the camry, accord, and the Skoda superb were launched they had alloy wheels as standard.
In the US everything comes as additional package. This one is plain jane except the Bose. Even ABS is an extra. I need to be extra careful with the rains here in Florida. Next tire change I'm planning to get some nice set of rims.

Last edited by thegame : 12th February 2012 at 06:49.
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