Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2008 Nissan Altima Coupe Review - Nice Car!

I stopped by a nearby Nissan dealer recently and checked out the gorgeously styled new 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe as I was researching cars and the wheel-size and tire-size options available on various new automobiles these days (I did that for my recent environmental blog about how wasteful large wheels and tires are).

One thing that surprised me about the Altima Coupe (with the 4 cylinder engine) was how it offered decent gas mileage (23 city / 32 highway with manual transmission, and 31 highway with automatic transmission) and out of all the cars I looked at it used the least expensive OEM 16-inch tires ($71/each at TireRack) of the various cars I checked out. This surprised me, especially considering the car I looked at was rather "loaded" with an incredibly comfortable full leather interior, moonroof, and all sorts of creature-comforts. So many other automobile brands would have forced me to 17-inch (or perhaps even 18") wheels and tires just to be in a car with so many other high-end options.

I wish the price-tag for the entire car was a bit more in-line with its tire prices though, since the loaded 4-cylinder 2008 Altima Coupe I sat in was sticker-priced at nearly $27,000 (ouch!). It would take a lot of miles and tire-price-savings to make up for that price tag. Perhaps I'm just out of touch, since I expect to be able to find a nice car for under $20,000, which seems a bit of a stretch these days. I have found some that I consider decent in that range, but this 2008 Altima Coupe was certainly in a bit of a different league than the sub-20K cars I noticed. Nissan did a great job with the styling (in my opinion), both inside and out, and I guess this will allow them to command a premium price for this automobile.

At this time, my review is limited to the car's interior and exterior styling, its gas mileage specifications, and its wheel and tire size options (and other options, which are numerous and include that awesomely over-the-top comfortable form-fitting leather seats option), since I didn't bother to drive the car yet -- I don't think I can justify the price tag, though I'm rather sure I'd enjoy the car if I could. I may end up going back (on a non-rainy day, as it was this time) for a test drive just to see first hand if the 2008 Nissan Altima's road-test delivers what the styling and specifications suggest it would.

And, note to Nissan (and any other car companies interested enough to care): the only reason I even looked at the 08 Altima Coupe (4 cylinder - not the 6 cylinder) was because it had a mileage rating above 30 mpg (miles per gallon), which is my current bottom-threshold for consideration in any new automobile. And, it had reasonably-sized and reasonably-priced tires (a major consumable) that also carry with them a nice wear-rating!

Coming soon: Car Cost-of-Ownership Analysis
Car cost is one thing, but cost of ownership is another. I'll be exploring, in more detail, how expensive some consumables like tires can be in the overall cost-of-ownership equation soon. But, to give you a quick sample...

If you read yesterday's environmental blog posting I did (about tire size and wear), you'd have seen how the OEM tires on the decked out 2008 Honda Accord Coupe (18 inch low-profile sporty things) cost over $250 per tire, or well in excess of $1,000 per tire change, and were only expected to get perhaps 20,000 miles per set. Do the math: the tires alone are costing that loaded 2008 Accord Coupe owner over 5 cents per mile! By comparison, if the car manages 30 miles per gallon highway, and gas is $3.00/gallon, the gas is costing 10 cents per mile. So, those "top of the line" 18" tires can easily add a full 50 percent to the cost of driving a mile! That's some serious cost to consider.

Contrast that per-mile tire-cost to the cost for the standard 16" tires on this loaded 2008 Altima Coupe I just talked about - which were running under $300/set. Instead of budgeting 5-cents per mile for tires, you can save a ton and budget as low as a penny per mile for tires (since the smaller 16-inch tires also carried upwards of a 50% greater tread wear rating). Saving 4 cents per mile may not sounds like much, but if you drive 100,000 miles, that is $4,000 real dollars to be considered. And, when you need new tires, perhaps you won't have to go in debt to afford them.

On a related cost-of-ownership topic, you may need that extra 4 cents/mile to cover the rising gas prices! At 25 MPG, that 4 cents per mile savings covers another dollar-per-gallon gas price increase (i.e., you'll be better prepared for that four dollar per gallon gasoline that seems inevitable).

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