The LAYAR edition
Road Trip: Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Family cruiser hits all the right notes on a late-summer journey to band camp
The Layar Edition of Wheels appears in the Thursday, Sept. 19 Toronto Star. Download the Layar app and scan the logo that appears in the paper for fun extra content and videos.
Nothing says family car like a trip to band camp.
Buying a car to trek your kids to and from baseball practice, out-of-town soccer tournaments, doctor?s appointments and everything in between is an important decision.
I?m no parent yet, but a roomy, comfortable vehicle with excellent safety features and reliability would top the priority checklist ? not to mention a good navigation system for road trips to band camp in the middle of the country. (Note: I made one wrong turn)
So on a hot, humid Friday morning, I hopped into a black 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL at my home in Scarborough and headed for the Mono Cliffs Outdoor Education Centre on the outskirts of Orangeville.
Expecting a stop-start kind of drive along the Gardiner Expressway and Highway 427 near the end of rush hour, I was worried I wouldn?t be able to test the car?s handling. But a quieter-than-normal morning allowed for clear sailing.
Although it looks big on the outside for a four-door sedan, it?s a different experience when you?re behind the wheel. The front end of the car angles downward, giving it a sleek and almost compact feel.
The car handles very well, and the 17-inch wheels keep it well-balanced on hard turns and lane changes.
I took a short detour along Highway 10 north to the Forks of the Credit Road in Caledon. The winding, rolling hills of this scenic stretch of road gave me a chance to experience the Altima?s sportier side.
Sure, it?s a family car, but with a sleek look, plenty of power and a nine-speaker Bose sound system ? just open the windows, crank up the volume and enjoy the ride!
The 2.5-L, four-cylinder engine puts out 182 hp, so this car has some pop. But the ride is so quiet and smooth that we had to watch our speed as we followed the twists and turns along the river on our way into the quaint town of Belfountain.
The leather seats are comfortable and don?t seem hold the heat like most leather interiors do. Winter driving will be comfortable, too, with a heated steering wheel and front seats (yes, I tried them both, despite the hot weather).
In addition to all the expected safety features, the Altima boasts a rearview camera to help you back up and a monitoring system to alert you if you drift too close to the centre line.
I couldn?t complain about the gas mileage, which averaged 7.5 L/100 km on the highway and 9.0 in the city.
From fuel economy and safety to loads of passenger and trunk space, the sporty Altima is the total package for the split-personality driver looking to combine family with fun.
Once we arrived at band camp, the car drew so much attention from the 80 or so campers that we decided to have a little fun with it. How many band members can you fit in the back seat of a mid-sized family sedan, complete with their instruments?
Scan the image of the car above and watch the video to find out.
The vehicle tested by Toronto Star writer Andrew Livingstone was provided by the manufacturer. Email: email@example.com.
2013 Nissan Altima
Price: $23,698 to $29,598 (4-cylinder), $29,698 to $32,598 (V6)
Engine: 2.5 L inline four, 3.5 L V6
Power/torque: 182 hp/180 lb.-ft. (4-cylinder), 270/258 (V6)
Fuel consumption L/100 km: 8.4 city, 5.9 hwy. (4-cylinder), 10.3, 7.5 (V6)
Competition: Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat
What?s best: Ultra-comfortable seats, class-leading fuel consumption, excellent interior fit and finish, high level of usable technology.
What?s worst: CVT transmission not to all tastes, four-cylinder engine gets noisy on hard acceleration.