Had I not recently driven a 3.5-liter Altima on Florida's straight roads, I would think the rest of you were smoking a little crack. But it's true--on flat surfaces, the Altima is quite able to put its power down without yanking the wheel out of your hand.

That is most definitely not the case when the roads turn twisty and hilly. This is a lot of power for a front-wheel drive car, and the Altima's super-soft suspension does it no favors. I'm not sure I'd use the word "sporty" to describe it - "fast" is enough. Body control is pretty awful when you push it.

From a non-performance point of view, though, the Altima makes for a nice commuter car. As others have noted, the transmission does a great job of keeping the VQ-series V-6 away from its vibration-riddled trouble spots. It's as smooth as silk, and perhaps because it has so much torque, you never notice extended periods of high-revs like in other CVT-equipped cars.

Jason Cammisa, West Coast Editor

"The only way to get a stick-shift V-6 Altima, it should be noted, is to spring for the $5000 more expensive Altima coupe, but the sedan's CVT does its job very well."There it is, the dreaded, life-sucking shiftless CVT. I remember the days when Nissan was the standout, the sporty alternative to a field of blandmobiles that still offered a truly slick manual shifter. Perhaps those days are gone for good, but because of this, the Altima is no longer a stand out for me.

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