Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — If you're looking for a four-door car that feels sharp and precise, this is the one for you.
It's the 2011 Nissan Altima, and while it doesn't receive any changes this year, it does retain that nimble, edgy feel that gives it such a playful personality.
Compared to its chief competition at Honda and Toyota, the Altima has more dramatic styling and a sportier driving feel. Even with the base engine — a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 175 horsepower — it has a zippy, anxious, highly caffeinated driving feel that demands your attention.
This isn't a car you'll buy and forget about. It's more of a toy you'll want to play with, a machine designed for fun rather than basic transportation.
The Altima feels like a lightweight car, even if it's actually quite roomy on the inside. It sends power to the front wheels, so it's not a classic sports sedan, but it can develop plenty of grunt if you opt for the 3.5-liter V6 that makes 270 horses.
Its best feature, though, has to be the body. It's a sexy sedan, one that looks sleek, aggressive and sophisticated all at the same time.
It's more expressive than the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, with a high-tech look that should age well.
Inside, it's not as impressive.
The cabin is nice enough, with a spacious, airy feeling even in the back seat, but the materials and construction don't feel as upscale as you'll find in today's Korean and American cars. They've actually been beating Japanese cars, hands down, for the past couple of years.
Entertainment options are plentiful, though, including a hard-drive navigation system that lets you store music and see extra information on the nav map, including the Zagat Survey restaurant guide and traffic and weather data.