If you want your front-wheel-drive family sedan with a strong dose of "oomph," the Altima is your ride. With a 270-hp V-6, acceleration is very strong and immediate. Yep, it's possible to spin the front wheels, but I didn't find torque steer to be a problem. At least not on Michigan's flat roads.

Within the Japanese family-sedan triumvirate of Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima, the Altima is by far the sportiest and most aggressive entry, especially when equipped with the optional V-6. And while some earlier applications of Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT) left me cold, this Xtronic CVT seemed to make good use of the V-6 and enables this car to achieve a respectable 27-mpg highway EPA rating.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy 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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