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2005 Nissan Altima

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.0

Reviewed by 39 users

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Build Quality
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Reviews written: 2
View all reviews by mchan1




2005 Pre-Owned Nissan Altima S


by mchan1:      Mar 13, 2006 - Updated May 19, 2007


Product Rating: 2.0 Recommended: No 

Pros: Roomy Interior
Cons: Noisy tires/engine; Poor fuel efficiency; terrible auto transmission, No ABS
The Bottom Line: Not recommended: ABS not standard, Very noisy, bad fuel economy, terrible automatic transmission, poor center airflow design Only redeeming quality: roomy interior


4-speed automatic transmission, came with 20,090 miles.
Power windows/door locks with alarm, a/c


Seats Grade: B

1. Cushions are soft, too narrow and not supportive especially the thigh and lumbar area. I'm six feet tall and of average build but the seats are a bit narrow for me. At least the driver’s seat has an adjustable lumbar support though the plastic lever is a cheap plastic piece that's waiting to be snapped off! The lumbar seat control needs to have a Rotary dial used by other car companies like VW! The seats basically need to be wider and comfortable.

2. Tilt feature is missing in the headrest though the headrest is forward-tilted.

3. Rear seats lack adjustable and removable headrests found in their competitors. This Altima is one generation behind competitors in design. How pitiful! At least it offers a 60/40 seat split feature instead of the full bench feature found in other cars. Seat back pockets are also found in both seat backs instead of just the passenger seat. The interior has on “outdated” design found in the previous generation of the Accord/Camry. How Antiquated!

Styling & Ergonomics Grade: C-

1. Dashboard is composed of about 5 separate parts (probably makes manufacturing very expensive, hence the excess use of cheap plastic)! It needs an all-inclusive one-piece design. The dashboard slopes downward and is designed to include a middle storage compartment. This compartment is Replaced by a separate DVD Navigation system that's Only available in the top-line model. Most other auto makers combine the DVD unit with the radio so having two separate locations distort the dash board space!

2. The stereo CD system has 6 speakers, two tiny ones in the A-pillar (column between front windshield and front doors), two in the front doors and two in the rear shelf. The rear door has makeshift storage bins where speakers should be located! How terrible!!

The stereo is actually composed of 3 levels, the size of 2 regular stereos stacked upon one another. The top has an Orange display which also shows the time. Unfortunately, it does NOT have a Hood Cover to block the sun’s glare so actually reading the display during the day is Very difficult (especially since I also own polarized, reflective sunglasses so I can't even read the display on sunny days)!

Also, the AM button does NOT work properly. If you push the AM button, You'd think the AM stations would be displayed! Not quite. Only the Last AM station would be displayed and played. But if you press the scan/seek button, the radio Reverts Back to FM! The ONLY way of listening to AM stations is to use the Preset A-B-C button and preset some AM stations. The radio is Defaulted to FM stations but the Owner's manual does NOT state this nor does it point out this problem! The only AM stations I listen to are the News and Sports stations but I do NOT want the radio to keep switching back to FM when I switch AM stations!! It should STAY on the AM or FM frequency!! How Frustrating!! Why the Heck did Clarion design this feature into the radio?!

I like the Big buttons but the sound isn't that good. The music is heard via a surround-sound-like positioning of the speakers but, unfortunately, the stereo system lacks bass and is quite shallow. Also, it's quite weak as I had to raise the volume midway just to get some decent tone from the music. The maximum sound level is 30 but I have to use 15 to get some decent sound, usually just to drown out the road/tire noise. I'm going to have problems with my hearing from this!!

By the way, the stereo system and speakers are made by Clarion, a company which I will Never buy anything now or in the future!! What CRAPPY quality of a stereo system that Clarion built for Nissan Altimas!!

3. Door rests should be curved-in more for room. Grab bar door handles is preferred over the current standard cup door handles but is only available in the Maxima. The window/door controls could be moved forward about 1-2 inches for more room on the handle sill.

4. The gas latch should be integrated into the door or left side of the dashboard as found in most other cars. Instead, it's a cheap piece of plastic on the left side under the driver's seat. A gas lock mechanism is not available, though it's found in most other Japanese and some European cars!

5. Storage bins are available in the front doors and a fold-down rear sear cushion bin for drinks. A center storage bin is also located between the front seats and under the front center dash board to add storage versatility. Unfortunately, the middle dashboard storage bins also obstructs the proper position of the center air vents! Unfortunately, this designed affected the center vents in that they are placed on each side of the storage compartment and the vents are positioned to blow air Directly at the faces of either the driver or passenger in the front. It's TERRIBLY designed as I MUST close the driver’s (left center) vent or else have air blown into my face!!! I wear contact lenses which really makes it worse as the air dries the lenses!! Also, the vents are installed at a 45 degree angle and does Not adjust Upward so vent adjustment is very limited. Also, the rear doors have bins where the stereo speakers should also appear. That space is can barely hold anything! What were the engineers thinking when designed the rear door storage bins?!

6. The trunk is relatively big and has a low liftover opening so it's relatively easy to lift luggage into the truck. Sadly, the trunk hinge will crush anything underneath it once the trunk is closed. Also, the trunk has an inside lever that could be pulled from the inside to open the trunk but, Unfortunately, it’s a Cheap, fragile piece of plastic that comes out of position every time and is waiting to be broken!

7. The wheelbase is pretty long and wide so leg room is very good. There's even knee room up front to move my knees during long trips!

8. Rear seat leg room and head room is relatively generous as the cabin is relatively roomy compared to other cars. I could fit into the back seats with enough leg room and head room to move around. Forget the center rear seat! Why do car makers insist of telling people that it could be used as an actual seat?!

9. Head room is barely adequate. I wanted a sunroof but since this is a Pre-owned car, I didn't have any choice of getting one. I have about 1-2 inches left of valuable head room. My eye sight is on the same level as the rear view mirror so more head room is needed! The driver's seat had to be adjusted to the Lowest setting for the most room.

10. The S model trim is an Overpriced Econocar. It doesn't include much but the basics: power windows/locks, CD stereo, manual seat height adjustment, interior map lights and remote keyless entry/alarm. The Only missing is the Antilock Braking System (ABS) found in competitors' cars like Honda, Toyota and VW! How Cheap can Nissan be by Excluding ABS? To make up for this screw up, Nissan included Front/Rear Disc brakes for better stopping power but it still does Not make up for the lack of ABS!!

11. Stalks/Function at the steering wheel feature cruise control which is integrated into the right steering wheel spoke while cheap plastic is used for the stalks! Why is metallic plastic covering the spokes of the steering wheel??

11. Dash board lights- The only adjustment is to reduce the intensity of the light not to increase it. What good is it when a person can't increase the intensify more? Orange is used because, as I read in many auto review columns, racing drivers prefer the bright color. Unfortunately, the color is washed out in bright daylight especially the clock/radio display, esp. since there's no overhead cover over the clock/radio display!! Poor design!!

12. The rear defroster setting Only allows the user to SHUT OFF the air conditioner! It's defaulted to turn ON automatically when the defroster is on (as noted in the owner's manual) and can's be shut off during the use of the defroster. How annoying!

13. Extensive use of cheap, low quality plastic and upholstery fabric is used! Even after the 2005's interior upgrade, the interior is still Tacky. The interior is also still comparable to the competitors' previous model design such as No interior grab bar door handles or rear adjustable head rests.

14. The upholstery is composed of a 2-piece fabric: the interior is a woven cloth with checker-like appearance and the exterior is a spongy, velvet-like material. One auto review in a prominent auto magazine stated that the upholstery material is quite commonly found in econocars. That does Not surprise me!! The Civic or Corolla has MUCH better upholstery in their cars!!

15. The transmission has a zig-zag gated design which is bothersome at times! Reading news release from Nissan, it was used to make the interior racy and stylish! WRONG!!

16. Can Nissan make the steering wheel any Bigger?! It could be smaller!!

The interior is relatively roomy when compared to other cars.. There is a small plastic "lip" that's between the arm rest and B-pillar which is very annoying since I bump into that very often. The arm rest should be converted into one with a grab bar handle as that found in the Maxima and competitors' cars instead of a cup. Head room is adequate but can be increased if Nissan would increase the angle of the windshield! Again , the interior has an outdated design found in the previous 2 generations of the Accord/Camry.

II. Exterior Grade: B

1. The exterior styling of the car is stylish. It stands out from the dull styles of Honda and Toyota. The Altima borrows the design of the rear head lights from the VW Passat but unfortunately, that’s it! The Altima still uses the old flushed door handles instead of the grab bar handles found on the Maxima and those found on their competitors like the VW Passat or Honda Accord !

2. The stereo antenna is installed into the rear window and works relatively well so no worries about the antenna getting bent or broken!

3. Fold-away side mirrors are Missing! The fold-away mirrors are NECESSARY IF NOT REQUIRED when parking in crowded areas such as parking lots or parking on narrow city streets. All cars should have Fold-away side mirrors!

4. The Altima lacks ABS, Anti-lock Braking System!!! This adds to the safety of the car but is available Only as an option when other cars like the Accord or Camry include it as STANDARD!!

Noise, Harshness, Vibration (NVH) Grade: C-

The engine is Noisy but bearable. It does quiet down somewhat once the engine warms up. It’s mostly noisy during acceleration. Road/tire noise penetrates the cabin and can be quite harsh on bumpy or rough roads and on the highway. Some wind noise is apparent especially on the highway. Better use rubber moldings and seals as well as insulation to reduce the noises are needed! Engine Vibration is felt through out the cabin especially the floor and steering wheel! The engine needs to be isolated as well as isolating the wheels so it does not travel through the steering column or the cabin! The 2005 Nissan Altima catalog notes that the engine is built on engine mounts to better control vibration from the engine BUT based on the Actual usage of the car, there seems to be NO vibration control present!

The Toyota Camry is known for it's refinement in smoothness and quietness while the Honda Accord is slowly catching up to the Camry. The VW Passat has a stiff suspension and relatively lively and power engine which does generate noise but it's Not harsh or loud and rides relatively smooth compared to the noisy and jittery ride of the Altima. The Nissan Altima supposedly is meant to be compared to a sports car though, realistically, it’s more like of an Oversized and Overpriced Econocar.

Performance Grade: C-

The ride is very jittery as every bump and road irregularity is felt throughout the floor. It's NOT surprised to learn that the Altima is considered an (Overpriced) economy car! The engine is NOT peppy. Having a 175 horsepower engine is Not worth bragging about if the engine's performance is NOT that good! The engine is Weak when traveling up hills and is Very noisy during acceleration. It's also very SLOW during acceleration though it does travel relatively well at cruising speeds.

The car handles decently but leans heavily on corners even though it has both front and rear stabilizer bars. The disc brakes work well and the tire grip is decent but the tires are VERY NOISY. There is some vibrations felt through the steering wheel and the cabin floor especially during acceleration. Where is the ABS? It's NOT included so emergency braking may not be that good. The tires Do spin even with the slightest wet spot on the road. This car NEEDS ABS and Traction control despite what Nissan thinks!

The major weakness is in the automatic transmission. I must admit one thing: I HATE automatic transmissions and this is the FIRST car I've owned that has one. The automatic transmission SUCK as it does NOT know WHEN to properly shift especially in the lower gears. Up-shifting is SLOW and Pauses are present between the first thru fourth gears. I can not step on the accelerator and expect it to go but Must SLOWLY accelerate so the gears can change properly and smoothly, Or else, the shifts ABRUPTLY and Noisily as the car SLOWLY accelerations.

All my other cars I've owned or leased had a Manual Transmission (aka Stick shifts). Unfortunately, NONE of the 7-8 MA Nissan dealerships had any cars with stick shifts and ALL pre-owned cars ONLY came with an automatic transmission when I was car shopping! I did read in various auto reviews that the Manual transmission in the Altima wasn't that good anyway so I'm not really missing out anything except quicker shifting and better control of car!

Damn Nissan for NOT building many Altimas with Manual Transmissions! I may have bought a New car instead! I can shift quickly and smoothly with my other cars but not with the Altima with an automatic transmission!! I’m ALWAYS having problems with the Altima in the 2nd and 3rd gears in that it’s taking TOO LONG to shift upward!!!

Another major weakness is that the engine is NOT designed for cold weather. I have to warm up the engine for about 5or 10 minutes (especially during the cold winter here in New England). My driving style has NOT changed yet I only get on average ~18MPG!!! I've read on many Nissan websites maintained by other Nissan owners that the Altima really isn’t fuel efficient during the winter and may not handle as well. If I had Known that beforehand, I would NOT have bought the Altima!! At least I know that I’m not the Only person frustrated with Nissan!! It makes sense that the car does NOT handle well in the winter weather since it was designed and tested in CALIFORNIA and built in the southern states (read: warm weather states)!! Basically, the engine is NOT fuel efficient during cold weather. Somehow, though, when the weather warms up, I get near ~22mpg which proves my point that the engine is really meant for warm weather conditions!!

This car has much potential since it has a variable-valve 175hp engine but unfortunately, the automatic transmission does Not know how or when to use the engine’s power properly! It appears the engineers just built an engine without properly synchronizing the transmission to the engine. The engine and transmission are very Unrefined unlike other cars like a VW Passat with a 1.8liter Turbo engine that really wants to be driven. One can look down at the odometer and not notice that the car is traveling at 85mph with the Passat but NOT with the Altima which is Sluggish! The Passat's engine is MUCH better than the Altima's engine in performance AND has better Fuel efficiency!!

The tires aren't bad and had decent grip but it's VERY NOISY!!

Overall View Grade: C-

The Nissan Altima isn't a bad car but it's not very good either. It is not sturdily built, leans during cornering, has a WIDE turning radius, is SLOW in shifting and in accelerating, vibration is felt throughout the cabin’s and is Very noisy. It still handles relatively well as long as it's not used for performance, just everyday driving! The ONLY redeeming quality is the roominess of the interior! That's it!

It's Definitely NOT refined and mature like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or VW Passat.

On a scale, the Camry and Passat are opposites of one another. The Camry is well-built and roomy but rides softly and conservative in appearance while the Passat has a tight suspension, performs like an affordable sports car but lacks interior space. The Honda Accord is in the middle and has the best and worst of both worlds. The Accord is stylish, has a peppy engine and decent room (though it feels like it's getting cramped as the design is getting more rounded and smaller). The Nissan Altima has an Identity crises. It really doesn't know where to fit in. It may have a relatively powerful engine but it doesn't handle that well while the quality and finish of the interior is Sub-par to the others. I'd put the Altima between the Accord and Passat but closer to the Accord. The Altima currently will Never equal the high quality materials used nor does it perform as well by any of its competitors. Maybe the next model design in 2007. Too bad the changes didn't occur in the 2002 model change considering that the Accord changed model design in 2003 and the Camry in 2002(?).

Another bad thing about the Altima is that Nissan has started to "phase out" the Manual transmissions as I've tried about 7-8 major Nissan dealers in MA and NONE had stick shifts. Apparently, Nissan is hardly producing Altimas with stick shifts similar to Toyota in that almost every Camry now comes only with an automatic transmission! This is another reason why I will NOT buy another Altima! I'm staying with a manual transmission which offers CONTROL and Better fuel efficiency!

I plan to keep it for at least 3 years, though, as I can't afford another car. Next time, I’ll consider cars from the following companies: Subaru, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Maybe a Ford. Yes, Ford as in Ford Fusion which looks pretty good. I'm going to try other cars before, GASP, going back to a Honda Accord, most likely!

The Altima lacks the simple ergonomics of its competitors. It also has an identity crisis in that it doesn't know where it belongs. It’s really a disguised econocar since it's not fun to drive but I guess that's the purpose of the Altima, a car meant just for commuting by the general public.

I bought a base 2005 Pre-owned Nissan Altima S because I came off a lease of a 2003 VW Passat GLS. This change was a Downgrade in quality and refinement as I had to live with less amenities that was standard in the Passat. At least the price was right when I bought the car though I had to buy an extended warranty since it already had 20,080 miles on it!

The Altima does Not include the good quality upholstery or plastic found in the Passat but it's livable considering that the Altima is really known as an Overpriced Econocar!! I've read that the Nissan Altima had interior quality problems with using cheap plastic but since the 2005 model had upgraded the upholstery and interior, I thought it would make it better. The change was better than the previous 2004 version but still NOT up to the standard of Toyota or VW!

The Altima does NOT have ABS, traction control or a sunroof or the high-quality soft-touch plastic interior, manual transmission or the soft yet durable upholstery found in the VW but at least it has power windows/locks and air conditioning but, most importantly, was affordable and within my budget.

The car handles relatively well and the finish is decent but again, the quality is still lacking! Toyota, Honda and VW will NOT have any competition from Nissan EVER if Nissan keeps using Cheap materials in their cars!

The seats needs more cushioning and support especially at the thighs and lumbar area. At least an adjustable lumbar support is available. I'm six feet tall and of average build but the seats are somewhat flimsy for me. The back seats are actually roomy enough to fit actual people with plenty of legroom and decent headroom. I miss the adjustable head rests found in other cars! The interior is relatively roomy.

The cabin gets VERY NOISY. Some wind noise protruded into the cabin when traveling at highway speeds. The engine is LOUD especially during acceleration when it roars. Road noise is also LOUD as the ROAR of the tires are heard especially on course road surfaces.

The exterior styling of the car is nice and stylish! It’s the best thing about this car!

The S model lacks ABS which is found on most other cars like the Accord, Camry and Passat! Nissan is Definitely NOT thinking about the safety of the owners/passengers of their cars! The seat height is rather high even after adjusting the seat to its lowest position! The cruise control should Always be considered an option not as standard equipment. I'd rather have ABS than cruise control.

Forget the Base model as it doesn't have most options found in the S model such as power options, a/c and only a radio. As many auto reviewers note, the Base model is ONLY made so Nissan can Brag about having a low cost model available for those who value getting a Basic car for transportation than anything else! One should consider another car instead of an Altima Base model! What a waste of resources!

The S model as power options, a/c, automatic transmission option and some other minor features. Still, it's a Base model with power options and Still considered an Overpriced Econocar because Honda provides the mid-trim LX model with more features for a LOWER price. The ONLY thing the Nissan Altima offers better than the Accord is Room and a slightly more powerful engine. That's it!

I'm somewhat of an auto enthusiast so I pay more attention to details of a car than the average driver. The Altima is a Decent car but is ONLY meant as an Econocar to be driven as a workhorse and NOT for fun! Believe me, I tried and I still do NOT get any thrills from driving this car! The car Lacks Spirit and Handling! The automatic transmission also sucks up the power and control as it really doesn’t know when to shift and sucks up gas, hence, poorer fuel efficiency compared to the Accord or Camry!

I wished it had better handling, a quiet interior, Good quality interior materials but it does NOT! At least it works and is roomy but that’s it! Not much consolation!

Nissan tried to make the Altima affordable and in a way, it has. If you consider the S model compared to the Honda LX, it does cost less BUT you MUST ADD the ABS option to the S model when comparing Similar equipped vehicles! By adding ABS, the Accord LX is now More affordable than the Altima S. Nissan is very deceiving at their website when it tries to compare the Altima to other brand cars since it does not compare it with similar equipment!
You must look closely at the Standard equipment each vehicle includes to properly compare them.

I gave reports to Honda when I bought their Civic DX Coupe and to Toyota about their Corolla LE and now am giving you an initial report on my 2005 Altima SE. I will send an update on the car after one year of ownership on its handling and behavior.

Update:

Cold weather does affect this vehicle's fuel efficiency. It's gone through 2 cold New England winters and the fuel economy has dropped to ~18mpg city driving. Mixed mileage driving yielded ~24mpg, which are both terrible!

The handling and performance is also affected by the gas grade used as the car handles and sounds much better with at least mid-grade, if not premium grade, gasoline. The mileage improved but it's also due to the weather warmup in the Spring/Summer months.

Still, I won't buy another Nissan Altima, even though the new remodeled 2007 model "supposed changed" all the faults mentioned in my review. One exception not changed in the new model is the lack of ABS which is a terrible decision by Nissan and shows that the company really doesn't care about the safety of the driver but the cost of the car!


Amount Paid (US$): 16300.00
Condition: Used
Model Year: 2005
Model and Options: Altima S, Auto & A/C
Product Rating: 2.0
Recommended: No 
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