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Buying used: Nissan Altima Coupe well appointed, economical

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It may look like the Altima sedan but the Altima Coupe, according to Nissan, is a different vehicle in almost every way.

Hitting the market in 2008 and discontinued in early 2013, it was and is one of the more stylish cars on the road – nice to look at from just about every angle. Although it resembles Infiniti’s G37 two-door, it has virtually nothing in common with it.

Featuring a front-drive drivetrain, the 2010 to 2012 edition of the Altima Coupe has two engine choices: a 2.5-litre four-cylinder or a 3.5-litre V6. These powerplants were also found in the four-door sedan version of this car.

A six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are the only choices. By this stage of the game, Nissan was committed to this gearless transmission, and people got it whether they liked it or not.

The Altima Coupe is not really a high-octane hot rod. It’s more of a nicely-appointed, moderately-upscale two-door with a good standard equipment level. The V6 offers reasonably lively – but not road-ripping – performance. Much like contemporary rivals such as the Honda Accord Coupe or Toyota Solara, it has enough power to keep things moving but not enough to get drivers in over their heads.


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Nissan has always marketed its cars in packages. The 3.5 SR version, for example, can be had with the Technology Package, which includes a voice-recognition navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity and a rear-view camera, among other things.

When buying new, you could also order things like leather interior, heated front seats, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and a dynamic vehicle control system. A power sunroof and push-button start are standard. All versions come with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and a full roster of safety equipment.

Being a two-door, the Altima Coupe isn’t big on backseat elbow room. Small children and dogs may like it back there, but it’s snug behind the front seats, even though Nissan claimed it could accommodate up to five adults. On the other hand, the backseat has a 60/40 folding feature, which is handy since the trunk has a scant 210 litres of cargo capacity.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a few recalls on record. One concerns the Garmin navigation system that may be part of the Technology Package. The 750 Nuvi model of this item apparently has lithium batteries that are prone to overheat and could burst into flames. This glitch is widespread throughout the industry and not confined to Nissan products. NHTSA also has recalls for airbag issues on the 2012 models and a faulty transverse link bolt in the suspension.

NHTSA also has a number of technical service bulletins listed, though they aren’t explicitly aimed at the Coupe. They include cooling system glitches, brake master cylinder advisory, issues with the rain-sensing wipers, possible problems with the CVT, unpredictable engine knock and problems with the push-button start.

Aside from issues with the electrical system and brakes, the Altima Coupe fared reasonably well with Consumer Reports. It gave it a “good bet” designation and an above-average used car prediction rating. Comments from owners include:

From a base price of almost $24,000 in 2011, the Altima Coupe has dropped in value by about $12,000, depending on the year, model and equipment level. The four-cylinder S version seems to be fetching about $3,000 less than the SR V6, and there’s no real difference in value between the CVT and the six-speed manual transmission versions.

Nissan Altima Coupe, 2010-2012

Original base price: $23,880 (2011)
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder or 3.5-litre V6
Horsepower: 175 or 270
Torque: 180 or 258-foot pounds
Transmission: six-speed manual or continuously variable
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.2 city and 7.3 highway, with V6 and CVT), with regular gas

Alternatives: Honda Accord Coupe, Toyota Solara, Ford Mustang, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Mazda RX-8

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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