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2005 Nissan Altima SE-R

2005 Nissan Altima SE-R New Car Review

by Bob Plunkett

First, the quest for unending curves leads us to the Blue Ridge wrinkles of northern Georgia, where the Chattahoochee River Road traces every twist and bend of a whitewater sluice rippling through the mountains.
2005 Nissan Altima SE-R

Next, we cinch our belt fast and get a grip on the leather-clad steering wheel of a souped-up Altima SE-R, Nissan's prime sedan scaled for the mid-size class. The SE-R trim designation Nissan reserves for sport-inspired special editions rigged with racy aero body elements and boosted power points. It's rarely applied but pops up in the Altima series of 2005 during a revamping with a fresh face and new interior elements applied.

Then we switch foot pedals -- off the brake and on the gas -- to move four Bridgestone Potenzas into squeal mode. That sends this SE-R Altima streaking down the narrow strip of blacktop as we push it toward the fun side of car performance.

There's a stubby stick for the optional six-speed manual shifter, and we work it in flick-flick-flick movements while wrapping the tachometer's needle around to the red line for each gear to max our momentum. And those Potenzas chew the soft asphalt but maintain a tight line around one turn after another.

Altima's suspension, independent at all posts with struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in back braces the car's stiff unibody structure around each corner but allows the tires to dance across pavement wrinkles.

Steering, feeling firm despite a power boost to the rack and pinion device, responds quickly to our input, cutting hard right in one hairpin, then quickly back to the left for a second, right again on the third, and left and right and left over a virtual slalom course. Despite this turmoil of hurling the SE-R through successive slingshot corners, we remain comfortable in a driver's two-tone bucket, which provides a hiked seat position and firm side bolsters to hold the torso in place.

Three recessed binnacles immediately ahead of the three-spoke steering wheel reveal analog gauges in vivid amber backlit display, with various controls close at hand on dash, door and console.

Altima's precise road manners emulate a nimble sports car, although this prime sedan for Nissan carves out significant space for riders in an expansive cabin, with two seats in front separated by the console and up to three on a back bench.

Nissan Altima Interior

A restyled prow and new interior designs work on all trim variations of Altima for 2005. The look is bold and strong with an aggressive face featuring a raised hood and deep front fascia plus smoked headlamps. Focal point on SE-R is a matt-black trapezoidal grille underscored by a broad rectangular air intake port and flanking recessed foglamps. Taut skin stretches over muscular shoulders and flat side panels interrupted by modest fender blisters.

Crisp and clean exterior forms foretell the athletic persona of Altima and its powerful engine option, although the spacious passenger compartment with comfortable amenities conveys a different image, one of four-door convenience and people-hauling capability.

Nissan arranges Altima in five standard trim treatments for 2005 as designated by the size of two different engines.

An entry model and two upgraded issues -- Altima 2.5, mid-grade 2.5 S and deluxe 2.5 with SL Package -- carry a dual-cam 2.5-liter inline-four plant, which generates 175 hp at 6000 rpm and 180 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm.

Altima 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL earn Nissan's 3.5-liter V6 that's good for 250 hp at 5800-rpm torque of 249 lb-ft at 4400-rpm.

A five-speed manual shifter works with either plant, but the four-cylinder transmission option is a four-speed automatic while the V6 offers a five-speed electronically-controlled automatic with manual shift mode (MSM).

For the Altima SE-R special issue, a modular cylinder head design, continuously variable valve timing and variable induction system come together to produce a boost in power for the V6. Output increases to 260 hp at 6000 rpm with the torque pegged to 251 lb-ft at 3600 rpm. Also, the shifter upgrades to a six-speed manual or the five-speed automatic/MSM.

Suspension enhancements for SE-R include the addition of tuned front struts and rear shocks with stiffer springs and thicker stabilizer bars.

Altima SE-R on the Road

Four-cylinder Altima trims roll on 16-inch wheels with Continental all-season touring tires. Altima SE V6 uses 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels and Bridgestone Turanza all-season tires, but the SE-R increases to 18-inch alloys with the Potenza S-03 Pole Position summer tires.

The brake design pins a disc at each wheel, and a four-wheel anti-lock system (ABS) is available for all issues. The computer-controlled ABS package adds electronic brake distribution (EBD) to modulate the force of braking against various load factors and Brake Assist (BS) that goes to work during a panic stop with full-force braking effort to reduce the emergency stopping distance.

Other safety systems include a sturdy steel cage surrounding the passenger compartment and dual-stage frontal air bags. Side-impact air bags mounted in front seat bolsters plus curtain-style air bags tucked in the roof above front and back side windows cluster in an optional package.

Altima SE-R edition adds special bodywork like front and rear fascias, xenon high intensity discharge (HID) headlights, side sill spoilers and tail spoiler plus dual chrome exhaust tips.

In the cabin, SE-R upgrades to sport bucket seating with perforated leather inserts in red or gray, aluminum pedals, a three-pod cluster of analog gauges posed atop the center dash stack, and a Bose premium audio kit with eight speakers and 6-disc, in-dash CD changer.


Midsize sports sedan
Model options:
Altima 3.5 SE-R
110.2 inches
Overall length:
192.5 inches
Engine size:
DOHC 3.5-L V6
Manual/6 - Auto/5/MSM
Power rack and pinion
Power 4-disc, ABS/EBS/BA
Air bags:
2 (fr) opt.2 (side) opt.4 (side curtain)
Fuel mileage city/hwy:

Manual/6: 21/27 mpg
Automatic/5: 20/30 mpg

Manual/6: $ 29,200
Automatic/5: $ 29,200

For More Information Click : Nissan Altima SE-R
For the Nissan 2005 Model Guide : Click Here