I never cease to be amazed by how quickly the options add up on a Monroney. This Altima felt to me like a relatively sparsely equipped model, with its cloth seats, four-cylinder engine, and lack of navigation. The only readily apparent option was the CVT automatic, which I'd skip. In this form, the Altima coupe isn't a bad choice, with styling cool enough to drive on a date, decent steering and handling, and Japanese reliability all for less than $24,000.
And yet now I look at the price sheet and see that this car has another $5000 worth of options; among the extra-cost items are a the Bose stereo and the sunroof. And in keeping with the Japanese philosophy on options, everything is bundled such that you can't get Bluetooth and an iPod connector, for instance, without also adding a sunroof, backup camera, and automatic transmission. Suddenly, we're talking about enough money to buy a very handsomely equipped Volkswagen GTI, Chevrolet Camaro, or Hyundai Genesis coupe, all cars with the performance to back up their looks.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor