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Intrepidation

2003 Nissan Altima 3.5

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So I swung by the auto auction Wednesday for fun and to see what they had. Most of teh stuff wasn't of any interest, but an `03 Nissan Altima 2.5 V6 did catch my eye.

I decided to spend some quality time with it and see what it was like.

Overall the car was in good shape. Engine ran well, interior was clean and in good shape besides a cubby door forward of the shifter that wouldn't close. Exterior was in good shape save the yellowed headlights.

Fired it up, revved it some, pooped the hood and gave it a walk around. Everything looked and sounded good.

They have a pretty big area where you can test drive the cars, and get them up o 40-50 mph at full throttle before having to stop. It's also wide enough to test the handling.

I pulled out of the parking spot and drove it towards the track. When I got to the entrance I came to s stop, then mashed the throttle. This sucker ca move! I also didn't notice any torque steer. Plenty of wheel spin before the tires found traction, but once they did it was off like a rocket. I made it to 56mph before running out of space, so I did an emergency stop. Brake feel is good and the car felt well controlled as it came to a stop with no fuss or drama. The ABS worked well without being bothersome.

After I did a coupe more runs (for fun), I tossed it around to see how the body motions were controlled. Pretty good I would say, certainly better than most family sedans of the era and better than some now. The ride is pretty firm but not harsh. Steering has actual feedback and good weighting, as well as being pretty accurate. Brake and accelerator pedals are easy to modulate and have good feel too. It's definitely a car for people who like to drive.

After I was done flogging it I poked around the interior. First thing I'll say is that it's cheap. I know it was a big complaint with the pre MCE Altima like this one. Most of the dash is hard plastic as are the door panels, and it looks and feels cheap. Being gray didn't help matters either. However there was fabric padding where it mattered. Also, while being cheap, it was no where near as cheap as the horrible interior of the Grand Prix I drove that day. The seats were comfortable and ergonomic were generally good. All of the controls were easy to reach and intuitive to use. I especially liked the auto up and down windows for both the driver and passenger. The gauges were easy to read and looked pretty cool. Stereo sounded fine...nothing amazing but not bad either. Backseat room is pretty good too, although at 6"1 my knees did touch the seatback of the driver's seat when it was moved all the way back. Trunk space is ample.

As for the exterior, I have no complaints really. I've always liked the look of this generation and the dual exhausts are a nice touch.

Overall I would recommend this car if you're looking for a used family hauler and place driving enjoyment and power over the nicest interior.

Pros:

Acceleration

Handling

Exterior Styling

Roomy

Cons:

Cheap interior

Back seat a little tight for taller people.

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The VQ is probably my favorite Japanese engine. Smooth, yet with a nice sound to it (except in the Infiniti G and the Z car). Other Asian makes have made it a point to mute the engine's sound.

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They seem to hold up pretty well...neighbor has one with 157k on it..still sounds good.

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I like alot of Nissans designs. Seems like they have the best looking stuff from the Foreign automakers.

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