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2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid

2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid

Chevy Impala FlexFuel

Mercedes-Benz C-Class FlexFuel

Chevy Malibu Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz E320 BLUETEC

Chrysler Town & Country

Mercury Grand Marquis

Honda Civic Hybrid

Nissan Altima Hybrid

Lexus GS 450h Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid


A sleek, elegant car cruises down the road, turning heads, gaining appreciate glances. It has the tempting qualities a good sport sedan should have -- smooth, liquid lines that flow from hood to spoiler-mounted rear, knockout six-spoke aluminum alloy wheels, a nimble profile and authoritative rear deck as it disappears in the distance. That's probably not what people would expect from a hybrid vehicle. But if it's Nissan's Altima, they should.

Mercury Grand Marquis Interior
Nissan Altima Hybrid Interior

The 2008 Nissan Altima hybrid, which debuted in 2007, is a true, or full, hybrid auto, meaning either its 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine or 105-kilowatt, 40-horsepower motor can operate separately and be sole power of the vehicle depending on driving conditions and duration. The combination of power sources provides an estimated 198-horsepower and about 35 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. Paired with the Altima's 20-gallon fuel tank, it's expected to provide an impressive 700-mile driving range unless the driver lead-foots it.

Lead-footing it from a stop won't give that acceleration growl of traditional sport vehicles either. The Altima shuts off its engine while idling and ramps up on silent electric power alone. It takes a few times behind the wheel to become accustomed to the different vehicle sounds. And regenerative braking and other electricity capturing systems that keep recharging the battery pack are a reason mileage is better in city driving.

Like most current hybrid vehicles, the Altima isn't a plug-in variety. It does, however, sport a 244.8-volt Nickel Metal Hydride battery in its trunk area that trims available cargo space but is an integral part of the hybrid system.

Altima hybrid gains some minor updates for 2008, including the availability of XM-Satellite radio activated at the factory in Smyrna, Tennessee where it's assembled. Also new are standard splash guards and Diversity Antenna. For a base price in the $25,000 range, it provides guilt-free driving in earth-friendly, well-appointed upscale — if not actual — luxury style. (But don't suggest that to an Altima hybrid owner.)