– By Marc Sibbald –
I have never understood why this car hasn’t been more popular with fleets. It has everything a fleet driver needs and recently I had the chance to drive one again as a hire car which reignited my curiosity.
In June this year Vehicle Remarketing reported that the Nissan Altima was named the most popular used car for the second year by CarMax which operates 140 used car centres and sells over 550,000 used cars each year in the US.
Americans purchased 335,644 new Altimas were in 2014. They must like it. It’s a market of 16 million cars so this gave it sixth place in the new car sales race behind the other mid-sized competitors (Camry 3rd, Accord 4th and the top selling SUV was the Honda CR-V in 7th place with the Corolla ranked 5th as the only small car in the top ten).
And what happened to the old “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mantra. The Nissan Altima is a V8 Supercar!
I know it doesn’t win many races but it has won some; and been competitive on several occasions. This pedigree should provide fleet drivers some status in suburban driveways around the nation.
So I thought I’d share my experience after spending three days in the Nissan Altima ST while travelling around Melbourne. The first thing I noticed was the space. The interior felt so roomy. It’s classed as a medium passenger vehicle by VFACTS so it’s in the same category as the Camry, but it just felt bigger inside.
It was pleasant to drive. Comfortable driver’s seat and a quiet cabin. Plenty of power from the four cylinder engine and it reminded me of Nissan’s reputation for reliable smooth running engines (does anyone still remember the VL Commodore?).
I was also impressed with the interior features that you take for granted in higher spec models. Cruise is standard on every car now but the Altima ST came with climate control which should also be standard in all fleet cars. There’s nothing more annoying (especially during the four seasons Melbourne can produce in one day) then trying to maintain cabin temperature at the right level while you’re in and out of the car all day.
The boot was huge. It comes with keyless entry and push button start. There are enough USB plugs (but not multiple like other models) to charge everything you need in the car.
And as a hire car it was great that you could connect your phone via Bluetooth in less than three minutes.
You’ll need to talk to Nissan about service schedules and look at the historical used values to determine whole of life costs against competitors in the same class. But as an indication it runs 215/60R16 tyres which are one of the most popular sizes in Australia and very well priced.
So its clear – this isn’t an advertisement or a sponsored article by Nissan.
I just think the Altima is underrated and more fleet managers should look at it as an option for the medium or large car vehicle in their fleet.