Altima hybrid is a lot like a Camry, but sexier
The 2007 Nissan Altima hybrid is like that. The company's first effort at a gas-electric auto, using parts and technology licensed from Toyota, drives like a Nissan with a Prius soul transplant: The same ninja-in-the-night silence at low speeds; the same tremble when the gas engine lights up; the same bubbly, torque-infused acceleration as the gas and electric motors pull on the oars, only quite a bit more so.
Anybody who has driven a hybridized Toyota Camry will recognize the company's power-management graphics displayed on the Altima's center-dash LCD screen. In fact, the Altima hybrid -- nearly a numerical dead ringer for the Camry hybrid (wheelbase, height, weight, horsepower, acceleration) -- might be thought of as a Camry hybrid with sex appeal. Let us not underestimate the magnitude of that achievement.
This is not a car that Nissan wanted to build, particularly. Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has long argued that hybrid cars were a money-losing proposition with little consumer demand -- of course, this was before Toyota started selling more than 100,000 Priuses annually.