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Old 24th June 2016, 22:49   #1
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Default My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Howdy fellow BHPians. Hope the monsoons in India are providing everyone a respite from the heatwave from this summer. I can tell you things are pretty hot on the other side of the world and I really miss the monsoons back home.

Living in the US makes you miss the little things back home, like getting drenched in the rain, enjoying fresh sea food (I'm a Goa native, and am now living in the Midwest part of the US) and the incessant honking of cars and bustle of life in an Indian city. Driving, however is a different story. I really enjoyed driving in India, and carried that passion for cars to the US. The manner in which you drive in both the countries are worlds apart. Here honking at someone is like slapping them right across the face . And you better stick to speed limits!
Anyway, I decided I wanted a nice new(er) car this summer. I decided to shop around to finally make the biggest financial decision with my own cash this far. After a month of searching, I decided to buy a used 2015 Nissan Altima(The closest thing my fellow Indians back home can relate to would be the Teana which never really hit the mark). It wasn't a simple decision and took a lot of research.

Here's my journey from the decision on which car to get, to the driving experience to date.

The Decision
The car market in the US is crazier than in India, I kid you not. The options you have on hand are exhaustive. Take the sporty Mazda's, the value for money Kia's and Hyundai's, the Reliable Japanese Honda & Toyota workhorses and the stylish American top sellers in Ford and Chevy. Take in the other players like Buick, Chrysler, Jeep, Nissan, Subaru...the list is endless. As a student, my options were somewhat limited by budget. The plus side is it is far easier to Finance a car in the US than in most other places, because of the credit based economy here. Simply use your income as a means of saying you can pay for a car and you are one step closer to owning a nice car. Due to budget limitations, financing a new car was out of the picture. I could lease a car, the equivalent of a long term rental, paying only for depreciation and paying lower EMI's. I could drive out a new car every 3 years, turning the old vehicle in every time my lease ended, but the pride of ownership made me settle for a used car. I wouldn't go too far back in terms of vehicle age. 2013 or older is what I decided.
Depreciation played an important factor too. I was hell bent on a Honda. The Civic and the Accord were both fun to drive cars, but were priced upwards of $15k on the road(Sticker plus tax, title and license). The Civic was maybe a bit in reach, with a $15500 price tag on the road, but I kept my options open for something better.
Used rental cars are a nice way to get bang for your buck in the US. Yes, they take some gloss of ownership to know that at least 50 people sat in the same car that you now own, but most rental car companies take really good care of their fleet and usually sell them still in good condition. Looking at used rental vehicles, I had the following options:

1. 2014 VW Passats: Selling at $14500 sticker, the Passat looks great, and drives even better, but has a poor reliability record, and VW's after sales service in the US is questionable. I didnt actually test drive the 2014 but drove a 2012 a year ago which is pretty similar.

2. 2014 Toyota Corolla: Selling at $13500, this was one of the best selling cars in the world. The Corolla boasts of climate control and a newly appointed interior with nice materials. It has a nice comfy ride, but the handling of the car is nothing short of vanilla. I didnt like the lazy CVT either.

The car on sale was the base LE trim. Sportier 'S' trims came with paddle shifters and a sport mode but didnt to much to improve driving dynamics according to online first drive reports.

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My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-2014toyotacorollaleecointerior.jpg

3. 2015 Hyundai Elantra: At $13K, this car was a killer deal. Great interiors and comfortable ride with Hyundai's driver selectable steering modes. However the cars on sale were the base model SE's with no bluetooth or steering mounted audio controls. Major turn off.
My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-maxresdefault.jpg

4. 2015 Chrysler 200: $14500: This one was a looker. The most expensive kid on the block but boy this one really looked the price. The interiors were drop dead gorgeous and the gearshift lever was swapped for a dial on the dash. However, Chrysler has had major issues with the 9 speed ZF transmission that they imported from Germany. Too many reliability issues meant this was a deal breaker. It was hard to turn down the 200, since I drove it to Tennessee for Spring break only in March this year and really loved the way it drove.

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My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-2015chrysler200limitedinterior02.jpg

5. 2015 Nissan Sentra: $13000 sticker, This car has a mixed bag of reviews in the US. Some call it a midsize sedan at an entry level price, with its large and upscale interiors, but others blasted it for its poor performance and handling. The car had all the bells and whistles I wanted but I couldnt get over the poor acceleration and loud CVT. Also, Nissan faced major flack from owners about the CVT giving out at under 20K miles on a number of instances, killing Nissan's reliability ratings. This car could come to India next year as the 2017 Nissan Sylphy. You have been warned.

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My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-2015nissansentrainteriorreviewsspecsfeatureconcept.jpg

6: 2013 Chevy Cruze: Looks exactly like the India model, albeit with the steering wheel on the left. The car on sale had the 1.4L Turbocharged Petrol engine, which got a lot of praise from critics. This was also the only non-rental car of the lot, with a previous personal vehicle registration. Still, I wanted better long term quality, and didnt feel like buying American.

7. 2015 Nissan Altima: $14000 sticker, this car caught my attention the most. The local Nissan dealer had just gotten a new stock of rental vehicles from Enterprise(One of the largest rental companies in the US, and they maintain their cars impeccably well). They even had my preferred color, Black. The car had about 42K miles on he odometer, about 62K kilometers. That was a lot for one year, but these are mostly highway miles. Americans drive a lot and its not uncommon to see high miles on rental cars. The Altima's on sale were all Nissan Certified Pre Owner vehicles. That means the dealers put the car through a comprehensive 162 point(For Nissans) quality check and reconditioning process, and also extend the warranty on the powertrain to 7 years and 100K miles, whichever comes first. To add to that, the cars came with free roadside assistance for 7 years, travel and rental reimbursement in case my car broke down and I needed a replacement rental. A pretty good deal if you ask me.

My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0750.jpg
My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0751.jpg

Test driving the Altima was a good experience. The local Nissan Salesperson was friendly, though pushy with the sale, and I was clear that I wanted to take my time with the purchase. I did a mix of city driving around the blocks near the dealership and took it for a small sprint on the local US highway. The car seemed nice to drive, but I didnt want to rely on a small 20 minute test drive to make the final choice. I told the dealer I would come back in a weeks time if I liked the car and decided to buy it. Back home I googled and looked up the following.
1. The vehicles Carfax and VIN report: The best part about purchasing a car in the US is each car has a unique VIN. Almost everything the car has been through will reflect on a VIN report that online businesses like Carfax provide reports for. The dealers website let me check this for free. Any accidents or open recalls show up here, as well as service history and the number of owners etc.

2. Consumer reviews: I had heard Nissan was having trouble with CVT's. Even though the car had a long warranty, I still didnt want a troublesome CVT on my hands. Consumer complaints were mainly on the Sentra (Sylphy in Indonesia and soon to be launched in India apparently) and the Pathfinder(Nissan XTrail in India).
3. Reviews of the Nissan Altima online: All the reviews seemed to tell the same story. Promising car leaning on the sportier side but not to the level of the Accord or Camry. I was ok with the trade-off. Both the Accord and Camry were more expensive.

So after a week of debating, I decided to go with the Nissan, though I almost went in for the Toyota Corolla because of Toyota's reliability. The fact that the Toyota was situated in Des Moines which was 40 miles away and because I wanted a car that I would actually enjoy driving, I made the decision with my heart and not my head.

So on the 4th of May, I walked out of the Nissan showroom with a new(ish) 2015 Nissan Altima. It felt really good to finally make a major purchase and own a nice car.

First Impressions, an overview:
In the coming weeks, I did quite a bit of driving both around town and on the highway. The car lived up to what I had read about online. The exterior looks sharp, but not intimidating. A little understated too, compared to the Accord and the new Camry. The rear looks a lot nicer than the competition and the side view of the car with the angled headlights really gives it a sleek feel

My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0755.jpg
My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0763.jpg

Smooth acceleration and confident handling, with a ride definitely on the firmer side. A few highway jaunts proved that the car is extremely comfy for long rides. The car is equipped with cruise control, though I dont use it much. On a 350 mile, 6 hour trip to St Louis, Missouri, I hit stormy weather, but the car kept fantastic poise through gusty winds and wet slippery roads to keep me as fresh as a daisy when I got to my destination. Road noise is on the lower side as compared to the other cars listed above which I test drove. The Altima comes with 4 wheel ABS and all 4 disc brakes, so the icy winters of Iowa should be no big deal. The car is equipped with vehicle stability control and also comes with active understeer control which brakes the inner wheels while hard cornering. I tried hard corners and this kicks in nicely. The steering wheel is comfy and houses a plethora of buttons, including volume control, phone and voice command controls, cruise control and MID display control. The materials are a mixed bag, with soft touch on the surfaces around the clusters and above the glove box, while the top dash gets hard touch. A step back from the Accord and Camry. Buttons for AC and music are large and simple to use, and so is Nissan's superb Infotainment system: NissanConnect, that lets you connect your phone to your car for an enhanced multimedia experience. This includes Bluetooth music streaming, Phonebook and Messages integration, Voice commands for telephone functions, Pandora and iHeartRadio capability and Facebook and Twitter integration(seriously, they've put in in cars too? Like your phone wasn't enough...)

My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0753.jpg
My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0764.jpg

The Altima also lets you monitor vehicle stats like real time fuel economy, oil life, real time tire pressure and distance to empty, pretty standard on any midsize sedan. You also have automatic headlights that turn on sensing dusk and also 4 turns of your windshield wipers in heavy rain. The car has a unique way of telling alerting you about optimum air pressure when you fill air, the car honks its horn and flashes its lights to alert you to stop filling air in your tires. Pretty nifty. Nissan claims that the seats in the car use foam designed by NASA to simulate zero gravity. I certainly find them very very comfortable, though zero gravity is taking things a bit too far.

The Altima employs a CVT to work the 2.5 Liter inline 4, and though I never liked the CVT experience on other cars I test drove prior to this (The Corolla was a nightmare), the Altima does a stellar job of marrying the transmission to the engine. Granted, there is a lag between the time you put your foot down and the car actually gets going, but this is barely noticeable. And i mean barely. The car does not drone like other CVT equipped cars and is really quiet in its operation. And if you do want sporty, Nissan equipped the Altima with a sport mode that acutally works( The Corolla sport mode was a pure gimmick). Throttle response is much sharper and the car actually mimics gearshifts. 0-60mph (0-100Kmph) timings are about 8 seconds in sport mode on a nice flat stretch from standstill, pretty good if you ask me. Merging on freeways are a breeze. Mileage is outstanding. 26mpg in the city(10.63kmpl) and 39mpg(16.5kmpl) out on the highway make for a segment best according to reviewers. I do mostly city driving and dont have to visit the gas station for 3 weeks after tanking up full. I do about 10 miles per day for the school commute.

The Nissan Altima is so far a joy to drive each day, be it to school or the highway trip with friends. Certainly looking forward to a lot of memories from her. Here's a summary of what I like and what I wish Nissan could have done better, plus what Nissan needs to work on if they want this car to be more of a success than the Teana.

What I like:

1. Engine: The 2.5 L inline 4 is adequate for most jaunts. It gets a 0-60mph(0-100Kph) of about 8.8 seconds real world(Nissan claims 7.8s) which is decent for merging on to freeways

2. Ride and Handling: The Nissan Altima rides on the firm side. You can feel everything the car goes over, but the ride is really composed. Cornering is great and the engine never lets you down as you come out of a corner. This car really makes you want to hit the corners harder. Brakes are also pretty precise.

3. Seats: The car uses NASA's 'zero gravity' foam which gives you the sense of weightlessness. While 'zero gravity' might be an exaggeration, the seats are very very comfortable. My trip to St Louis was a 6 hour long drive. I reached my destination as fresh as a daisy.

4. Road noise: Again, minimal as can be. The Accord is quieter, but this beats the Camry hands down. The cabin really isolates you nicely.

5. Gas mileage: The Altima is a clear winner here in the midsize segment in the US. The 2.5 inline 4 gets me 26mpg in the city(10.63Kmpl) and a staggering 39mpg on the highway(16.5kmpl). Combine that and you have about 30mpg average (13kmpl). I bet thats more than your 2.4L Honda accord gives you. This is thanks to the xtronic CVT which Nissan has across all its cars.

6. Tire pressure alert: You monitor tire pressure on the MID real time, and when you fill air in your tires, the car will honk its horn and flash its lights to tell you you've got the right tire pressure.

7. NissanConnect & multimedia: I love the number of music options I get when I drive. In addition to the 3 month free Sirius XM connetion(satellite radio in the US),y ou get Bluetooth for audio streaming and making calls, a 6 CD changer, an AUX port, A USB port with Ipod recognition with all multimedia info all displayed on a nice 5 inch screen. Its not a touchscreen sadly, but higher versions do get a touchscreen with navigation.

My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0766.jpg
The interiors look great at night, and the MID on the instrument cluster has a host of intuitive features.

What could have been better

1. The CVT: I'm not a fan of them, but the CVT is mated to the engine pretty well, and remains quiet most of the time. Plus, the gas mileage is a HUGE plus. Still miss gear shifts. Nissan has programmed a 'Sport mode' in the CVT which increases engine response and mimics shifts. This actually works nicely, if a tad bit loudly, and really makes for sporty acceleration.

2. The steering: Feels a bit too light. Would be great for Indian driving. The steering is electrically assisted and most drivers will be fine with it. To me, a slightly heavier steering with a little more preciseness would have made the car all the more sportier

3. Nissan's resale value: The fact that I got a year old car with $10K knocked off the original sticker price makes me wonder how much it would be worth 6 years down the road. Planning on driving this one till the wheels fall off.

4. Reliability issues: Nissan is having a lot of trouble with their CVT's of late, more on the Nissan Pathfinder (Xtrail in India) and the Sentra (supposed to be launched as the Sylphy in India). So far the Altima hasn't been hit as hard, but there have been a few owners who have had CVT's replaced at 10K miles. I hope mine has already been through the mill there.

So should India get the Altima? It's a promising car, with good looks. The 2016 model got a few upgrades cosmetically, but mechanically remains the same. The ride is going to be a bit harsh for Indian conditions, and for that price point, rear seat passengers would appreciate more head room, considering that this would primarily be a chauffeur driven car in India (oh the agony!). Nissan also needs to better their service in the country. Honda and Toyota are still the top brands, and are considerably more reliable in the long term. For the small pocket of people who like sporty sedans and don't mind spending the cash on it, this one takes the game right to the Accord and the Camry. Its got the looks and the features to be a game changer. If only Nissan India ups its game...

Some more pictures:
My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0870.jpg
My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_0889.jpg

Note: Some of the images on this post were obtained from the internet and sources other than my own. I do not own rights to these images and am merely using them for representational purposes

Last edited by Aditya : 28th June 2016 at 07:54. Reason: Typo
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Old 27th June 2016, 10:33   #2
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Default Re: My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27th June 2016, 10:53   #3
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Originally Posted by studentonwheels View Post
The Nissan Altima is so far a joy to drive each day
Congratulations on your new car. I travel a lot in US and Canada and have got a rental Altima from Enterprise/Avis/Hertz et al. Drive wise this car is a pleasure and comfortable. Agree with you on your observations and suggest you to keep an eye on CVT. In addition to 7 years AAA, you should have negotiated with the dealer on extended warranty. Car deals are flexible at the dealer's end in most cases there. Congrats again and enjoy the comfy ride.

PS. Student at ISU? Which school? (pardon me, I asked the same question in my ownership thread as well). I do travel to Ames sometimes during my business trips in Mid-West.

A pic of an Altima from one of my trips in Canada there.
My 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S-img_1330.jpg
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Old 27th June 2016, 21:20   #4
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Originally Posted by Ace F355 View Post

PS. Student at ISU? Which school? (pardon me, I asked the same question in my ownership thread as well). I do travel to Ames sometimes during my business trips in Mid-West.

A pic of an Altima from one of my trips in Canada there.
Attachment 1521745
Doing my PhD in Civil Engineering here at ISU. Ames is a fantastic college town. If you do come down here again give me a shout out. The beer is on me!
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Old 30th June 2016, 21:32   #5
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Doing my PhD in Civil Engineering here at ISU. Ames is a fantastic college town. If you do come down here again give me a shout out. The beer is on me!


Thanks, will take you up for that next time I am in Ames. Good luck with your studies and enjoy the Altima.
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Old 30th June 2016, 21:56   #6
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@studentonwheels, congratulations on your purchase. I have driven rented Altimas a couple of times. That was a few years back though. I am pretty sure the Altimas that I had driven back then would have had conventional auto transmissions (not CVT). They had very sharp throttle responses. It is a fun car to drive. Have you driven an older Altima any time, if so could you compare the throttle responses? Also I have felt that the front seats are much lower than what I would have liked. How did you feel about the seating position on long drives?
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Old 30th June 2016, 22:54   #7
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Awsome buy studentonwheels. I have rented similar Altima many times from Enterprise. I totally agree with the vanilla driving experience of the Corolla's. Would love to hear more about your experience in buying a used rental car.

PS. I am doing my PhD in Electrical Engineering from Florida State University and I drive a 2000 Camry V6.
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Old 6th July 2016, 01:18   #8
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Originally Posted by MinivanDriver View Post
@studentonwheels, congratulations on your purchase. I have driven rented Altimas a couple of times. That was a few years back though. I am pretty sure the Altimas that I had driven back then would have had conventional auto transmissions (not CVT). They had very sharp throttle responses. It is a fun car to drive. Have you driven an older Altima any time, if so could you compare the throttle responses? Also I have felt that the front seats are much lower than what I would have liked. How did you feel about the seating position on long drives?
Two of my friends have 2006 Altima's. Gonna do a comparison some time soon!

The seating position is good for me since Im 6'2". The seating position is really good with more than decent under thigh support for me. The seats are really comfy too. And the drivers side seat is electrically adjustable(except for lumbar support) so its easy to find a nice position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rachitagarwal View Post
Awsome buy studentonwheels. I have rented similar Altima many times from Enterprise. I totally agree with the vanilla driving experience of the Corolla's. Would love to hear more about your experience in buying a used rental car.

PS. I am doing my PhD in Electrical Engineering from Florida State University and I drive a 2000 Camry V6.
I've heard a lot of positives from Enterprise car sales about the quality of their used vehicles. However Hertz car sales are considerably cheaper and will let you have an 'extended' test drive of the car you are considering for up to 3 days to see if you like it. You can even get it checked by a professional mechanic in this time. Hertz isnt as widespread as enterprise(at least their sales dept). The other place to buy used rentals are dealers car lots. Nissan and Honda regularly buy from enterprise and Hertz

Last edited by benbsb29 : 6th July 2016 at 05:37. Reason: Merged back-to-back posts. Please use the Multi-Quote button to reply to more than one post at a time. Thanks.
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