2000 Nissan Altima Review
The sportier side of mid-size.
The Altima has always been a highly refined sedan, with smooth steering and good behavior over bumps. The new car is better, especially on rough pavement. When you push the new Altima around a corner, the steering actually feels lighter than last year's car, yet it retains good feel of the road surface. This a tight and nimble sedan and it corners with confidence. If you hit a bump in the middle of a corner, the outside wheel doesn't make the crashing noise that normally happens when a suspension bottoms. Honda solves this problem with finely tuned rubber bump stops; Toyota doesn't solve this problem. This newest Altima feels lighter on its feet than the larger mid-sized cars.
There are now four different suspensions available on the Altima. The base XE gets firmer anti-roll bars front and rear -- a rare feature for any entry-level sedan. The GXE gets its own separate shock absorber tuning to take advantage of its stiffer body, made so by the addition of bracing in the floor; it also gets larger and slightly lower-profile tires than the XE. The SE gets the sportiest pieces, including the stiffest springs, stiffest shocks and thickest anti-roll bars. The SE's tires ride a bit harsher than the GLE's, but promise more grip. Both the SE and GLE get new blow-off valve shock technology, which softens big bumps; they also get an upper front strut brace.
Displacing 2.4-liters, Altima's engine is large for a four-cylinder. By not offering a V6, Nissan was able to achieve the Altima's trim lines and low hood. Still, this engine won't help you win drag races against V6-powered sedans. But it's a very smooth engine, even when you rev it up to its 6600 rpm redline; that's where many four-cylinders scream and rattle and where the best ones, like this one, shine. It pumps out adequate torque at lower revs, but fails to make the nearly 3000-pound Altima a speed machine, especially when attached to the automatic transmission. Nissan's four-cylinder engine gains 5 horsepower for 2000, due to a bit of hot-rod tuning to the valves and a new exhaust manifold. In addition, Nissan claims 11 significant changes it made to the reduce engine vibration and harshness.
The overall gearing of both the five-speed manual and the four-speed automatic have been altered for better acceleration. The shift schedule of the automatic was reprogrammed so it hunts less when you're in the mountains. The five-speed transmission feels tight and direct, all good for fans of manual transmission cars. This unit has always felt like a sports car shifter, and for 2000 the lever has been shortened slightly for faster shifting. It feels great, and could change your mind about needing an automatic transmission for your boring commute. Acceleration feels noticeably quicker than before and Nissan claims the new gearbox lowers the time required to get from 0 to 60 mph by almost a second.
Back in 1996, the Altima came with a viscous limited-slip differential that helped keep the front wheels from spinning if you accelerated quickly out of a corner. That's no longer available. Now the cure for wheelspin is to lift your foot off the throttle, which the otherwise slick manners of the Altima don't encourage you to do very often.
All SE models get rear disc brakes, and you can feel the improvement over rear drums when you hustle the Altima down hilly curves. The brake pedal feels tight, like the rest of the Altima's controls, and it makes you feel confident you can slow the car down in any unexpected circumstance.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2000 Nissan Altima, click here: 2000 Nissan Altima.