This is my first time behind the wheel of the Nissan Altima in over a year and, although the exterior styling is still a bit generic, it's clear that Nissan has upgraded some of its interior materials in this 2010 model. I'm not keen on the metallic trim in this 3.5 SR, but most of the plastics have a nice texture and the BMW-like matte finish on the upper dash virtually eliminates sun glare. The navigation display - a large 6.5-inch screen is part of the $1780 technology package - is colorful, bright, and easy to read and the system is straightforward to use.

The Altima's interior has a sportier character than many its competitors and the engine backs up that atmosphere with attitude. The 270 horsepower V-6 provides excellent straight-line acceleration and the 253 lb -ft of torque makes for neck-snapping take-offs. Unfortunately, Nissan still hasn't managed to give the Altima a sporty driving demeanor as body motions are not well controlled even without much provocation. Still, the overall sporting intentions of the Altima shine through making it a decent alternative to the more mainstream offerings from Toyota and Honda.

Jennifer Misaros, Production 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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