"What a comfortable ride. What ruins it for me are the seats."
As the calendar flips from winter to spring, our Four Seasons Nissan Altima moves into the second half of its yearlong test with Automobile Magazine. In recent months, the car has taken us to auto shows, to the airport, to the train station, to Kentucky, and across southern Michigan.
The best-selling Nissan in America is a very spacious mid-size sedan, but we can't agree about how comfortable the car is. After his first long drive in the Altima, graphic designer John Kalmar wasn't very happy with the perches on his journey to Kentucky. "I just couldn't get comfortable, and I was constantly fidgeting with the seat controls throughout the trip," he says. "I was finally able to settle into a good position, but after driving the car for four days, I left feeling less than impressed with the seats."
Road test editor Christopher Nelson echoes Kalmar: "What a comfortable ride. What ruins it for me are the seats. They're too soft, although I love how the head restraints feel. My girlfriend couldn't disagree more; she says the seats are far better than those in our departed Four Seasons BMW 328i."
Associate web editor Jake Holmes agrees with Nelson's sweetheart. "Boy, are these seats ever comfortable and accommodating when I slip into them after a day at work," Holmes says. "They're soft, plush, exceedingly comfortable, and have just the right amount of support."
Associate web editor Donny Nordlicht is a huge fan of the Altima as a generally comfortable conveyance. "The Altima is a great airport car -- it deals well with traffic, has supremely comfortable chairs, boasts neat features that don't overwhelm, and takes zero thought to drive. It has remote start to help warm the cabin upon your approach in the shuttle van, burn-your-buns-hot seat warmers, and a heated steering wheel. The driving experience is pretty isolating and artificial, but who wants to deal with heavy steering and a stiff suspension after a long plane trip?"
The Altima is a desirable ride even after returning from a long ride on a train, as associate web editor Evan McCausland found out. "Seeking a means to travel to the Chicago auto show that didn't involve me racking up outrageous parking fees, I ditched the car at the Ann Arbor Amtrak station and hopped a train to the Windy City." Two days later, he returned to find the car covered with a few inches of snow. In the time it took him to cross a pedestrian bridge over the tracks, the remote-start system had warmed the engine enough that "it didn't take long to dial up a hot, 90-degree blast of heat from the defroster. The ice on the windshield quickly softened to a point where I could scrape it off without using two hands and all of my might."
Executive editor Todd Lassa further elaborates on the red Nissan's pleasantness and ease of use. "This has to be one of the nicer interiors in a mid-size sedan," he writes. "Its controls are logically laid out, and overall, the Altima is pretty easy to drive. Avoiding trying to make it look 'sporty' means that the car has a low cowl and comfortable rear seats, making it perfectly useful for its intended audience. Being so innocuous and user-friendly makes it one of the top contenders in this class."
Even seat cynic Kalmar was impressed with the Altima's straightforwardness. "I had never driven a car with so many options on the center console, but it was very easy for me to pick up on all of the controls," he notes.
Deputy editor Joe DeMatio agrees: "As others have noted, the Altima aims squarely at the middle of the market -- and does quite a fine job of it. Handsome, comfortable, roomy, refined, powerful, and predictable: these are the attributes upon which multiple-hundred-thousand-unit sales figures are built."
A quick check of the Altima's sales results prove that the approach is working well.