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2014 Nissan Altima: Hard to beat this sedan

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Nissan Altima

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The Nissan Altima is a sedan that's been around for quite awhile, but in recent years, it has seemed to get better with age.

The current version is a bit bigger than before, but is also lighter and offers improved fuel economy. The design has gotten a bit sportier, also.

The current design is similar to its attractive large sedan sibling, the Maxima, which Nissan likes to call the four-door sports car.

Under the hood there is a 2.5-liter four cylinder that makes 182 horsepower or a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 270 ponies. The transmission is continuously variable (CVT) and functions effectively as part of this drivetrain.

Some nifty engineering tricks allowed Nissan to increase the Altima’s overall size while dropping its weight.

The result was better fuel economy, and the Altima now posts impressive numbers of 27 mpg city, 38 highway with the four-cylinder engine and 22 and 31 with the V-6.

Nissan also added a huge 18-gallon tank to the Altima, which allows it to go more than 680 miles when it’s full.

The interior has seen some improvements too, with better quality materials and a pleasantly designed layout of the dash.

Options for comfort and convenience include NissanConnectSM, which allows the user access to audio from Pandora, an iPod connection and verbal text messaging, as well as leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and navigation with touch screen.

The Altima also has a Nissan feature that is one of the best innovations of the past few years: the Easy Fill tire system. When you are inflating the tire, the horn will sound when you achieve the proper amount of pressure.

On the road, the Altima is no slouch either. It handles and accelerates nicely, and braking is firm and sure.

With all of this technology and styling, you might expect the Altima to be a bit pricey. It starts at around $23,000 and ranges to nearly $33,000. The higher end of that range might make it a little difficult to sell to value-conscious consumers in this competitive sedan segment.

But for those who appreciate the outstanding qualities the Altima has to offer, it should be a great choice.

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