The 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid is a five-passenger, front-wheel-drive gas/electric hybrid sedan that remains essentially unheralded. No special badging or oddball design quirks differentiate the ’09 Altima Hybrid from its conventionally powered siblings, thus, unless a close look is taken at each Altima on a lot, chances are the hybrid will be missed. Of course, one other reason the Altima Hybrid is relatively unknown may be the fact that it’s sold only in the nine states with California emissions standards. Only speed-sensitive door locks and a few more exterior color choices differentiate the ’09 Altima Hybrid from the ’08 model.
The ’09 Altima Hybrid is, however, among the greenest vehicles in the growing hybrid segment, not to mention one of the more economical, at least mileage-wise. Conventional wisdom has it that the ’09 Altima Hybrid is so much more expensive than the non-hybrid Altima that it must be owned for years to realize any real savings. Green does well, though, with the EPA rating the ’09 Altima Hybrid an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PEV), a distinction that few in its class can claim.
The 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid borrows its green technology from Toyota, but the foundation of its gas/electric powertrain is Nissan's 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine. By itself, the inline four-cylinder (I4) puts out 158 hp, while the Altima Hybrid's electric motor provides an additional 40 hp. The electric motor is fed by a nickel metal hydride battery that’s recharged by the gas engine and by regenerative braking. Both gas and electric power are managed with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that will run both systems together, or each separately, depending on driving conditions. The entire combination results in 198 total horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. Testers claim the ’09 Altima Hybrid jumps from 0-60 in an amazing 7.6 seconds, and the EPA estimates 35/33 mpg.
The ’09 Altima Hybrid is described as a blast to drive, with better-than-decent acceleration, alert and responsive steering, and a comfortable ride over the long haul.
Standard comfort, convenience, and appearance features for the 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid include 16-inch painted aluminum wheels, remote power door locks, power windows and mirrors, cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted buttons, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, simulated alloy trim on the center console, and a single-CD player with six speakers. Option packages can jack the price of the ’09 Altima Hybrid up considerably, but include such things as a power sunroof, DVD-based navigation system, Bluetooth technology, satellite radio, a universal remote, rear backup monitor, power-adjustable seats, and a Bose 6-CD player with nine premium speakers.
The ’09 Altima has racked up an impressive five stars in virtually all government crash tests, helped by such standard safety features as four-wheel ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assist, traction and stability control, dual front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags, and a remote anti-theft alarm system.
A few owners of the ’09 Altima Hybrid find the CVT allows the gasoline motor to cut in a bit too soon and that its brakes seem somewhat touchy. An annoying lack of trunk space, as well as the lack of standard fog/driving lights also draws some frowns. However, value, interior and exterior appearance, acceleration, handling, comfort, safety, and, above all, fuel economy and emissions restrictions have virtually all owners lauding the 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid as a lean, mean, green machine.