I like to think of myself as a logical person. I understand that any car company that only makes exotic super cars won't have enough money at the end of the month to pay the rent, so a fleet of generic grocery-getters are a necessary evil to balance the books.
I also like to think of myself as a positive person and car enthusiast. I've found some positives and genuinely enjoyed some vanilla or even generally bad cars - hell, I contemplate owning a Prius on occasions just so I can bask in its economic responsibility and reliability. Unfortunately, both of these personal traits were tested and broken when I encountered the Nissan Altima.
Experiencing the Altima
Earlier this year, I found myself needing to drive a modern Nissan Altima for just a few short miles. My time with the Altima was luckily contained within a rainy evening a month ago, but the experience has kept me pondering since. I still can't grasp how a car can be so passably bad and yet still sell in numbers over 7 per year. My rants come as a surprise to most people I know, but let me explain.
The 2016 Nissan Altima interior is so sad that this is the only interior picture Nissan supplies of the interior. Photo Credit: Nissan.
Soon after getting into the car, I was surprised to find the interior to be something out of a car from easily fifteen years prior. The dash pad had actually come unglued from its home under the front windshield and had started to shrivel and retreat from the sun's rays. I was surrounded on all fronts by a grade of plastic that I thought was only legally usable in a dystopian correctional facility furnished by IKEA.
To my surprise, the Altima did have Bluetooth connectivity. Unfortunately, the Bluetooth integration and the rest of the infotainment system appeared to have been sourced from the Fisher-Price "Baby's First Mass Market Car" kit. The screen layout was clunky and confusing, the delay from any input was staggering, and the entire system seems to have been designed with the sole purpose of infuriating the user.
Trying to connect my phone for the sole purpose of music proved to be a task much harder than it deserved to be. The car actually demanded for me to use voice commands to simply connect a phone using Bluetooth. As a matter of principle, I refused to give in to the Altima's demand for me to speak, so I starting looking for the conventional button controls. This is around the time when I realized all of the Altima's infotainment controls make exactly no sense to any humanoid being since they seem to have been placed by a Nissan designer applying glue to a fistful of cheap plastic buttons and throwing them at the blank interior of a prototype.
The Driving Experience
Looking at this picture is literally more exciting than driving a Nissan Altima. Photo Credit: Nissan
After ten minutes spent fighting with the interior and infotainment, I was finally able to start my journey. To give the car and Nissan credit, the 3.5 Liter V6 under the hood was adequate and even remotely entertaining to use. I'm sure this was a design oversight that ended someone's career in the car industry.
Unfortunately, this is where the positives end. The ride was understandably boring, the brakes and steering were adequate, and the dreaded Nissan CVT delivering power from the engine to the wheels avoided blowing up for at least the night I was using the car. Of course, these characteristics were all immediately negated because the car wouldn't start. I literally only asked the car to start three times throughout the evening, which was apparently one time too many. Still, 2 starts out of 3 ain't bad, I suppose.
When the car finally started, I realized that perhaps the failure to fire was a safety feature. I set off from a dark parking lot on a rainy evening only to find that the headlights are nothing short of useless. They emitted a usable amount of light in front of the car, but nowhere else. If I turned my vision more than a few degrees to my left or right, I was met exclusively with darkness, which made turning on this dark and rainy night a royal pain.
It's a Mediocre Car, But Why Do I Care?
It begs repeating that I understand the need for lackluster cars that exist to sell to people just don't care about what they drive. They are a necessity for any car company looking to move units and make profits. The Nissan Altima is not the worst modern car I've ever driven, but when you look at it from a financial perspective, it's nothing short of an abomination.
Buying a less than perfect car because your options are limited in the budgetary department is perfectly normal. Going without heated seats or the flashy colors or engine options of a new car is OK. However, the 2019 Nissan Altima has a base MSRP of $24,100.
$24,100 is a lot of money for the physical manifestation of a nightmare. The Altima asking price is higher than the starting price of a Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Sonata, or enough stock to seize control of Mitsubishi's automotive operations.
The car market is very competitive, and any manufacturer that believes you are foolish enough to give up your money for a substandard product should learn a very painful lesson in their sales graphs. There is literally no good reason to buy a brand new Nissan Altima.
Change my mind in the comments.