Two years ago I wrote of Al Hirt, famed New Orleans trumpeter and bandleader, owning a bar on Bourbon Street in the 60’s, and that I was sure that I had been in it at some point while serving in the Air Force nearby. My favorite watering hole, however, was Larry & Katz (pictured), an establishment a few blocks away from the French Quarter, where only white patrons were allowed inside. Everyone else had to drink outside on the sidewalk in front of the bar. That wasn’t my attraction to the place; that’s just the way it was all over Louisiana in 1967.
Al Hirt closed his Bourbon Street Club in 1983 because, as he said, the area had become “too dirty and dangerous”. His career, on the other hand, was illustrious, and included production of such hits as “Java” and the theme song to TV’s “The Green Hornet”. Java, and its accompanying album “Honey in the Horn”, sold a million copies.
What does all this have to do with my latest test car, the 2014 Nissan Altima? Not much, really, except that the color was called “Java”, and I had never seen that name associated with factory paint. The car, as you can see, looked a little like black coffee and this Altima had the charcoal cloth interior. It was the SV model, next the top of the Altima lineup. Their SL, perched at the top, has leather seating and a Bose stereo.
Power for the front-wheel-drive Altima SV is supplied by a 2.5 liter, four cylinder engine with 182 horsepower (6,000 rpm) and 180 lb. ft. of torque (4,000 rpm). Nissan gave in to the 4-cylinder trend with this car, and my week was pleasurable, even though two years ago I drove the V-6. A continuously variable automatic transmission is mated to the four cylinder engine, and acceleration was acceptable. EPA mileage figures are 27/38 mpg for city and highway (18 gallon tank), and during the week with the car, I averaged 32.4 miles per gallon.
The Altima SV I tested had as options a convenience package ($1,350.00), carpeting floor and trunk mats ($185.00), and technology package ($1,090.00). Total M.S.R.P., counting the $810.00 for freight, came to $27,615.00. With rear backup camera, moon roof, navigation system, keeping this sedan under twenty-eight grand is an accomplishment. Of course it had key-in-your-pocket ignition, tilt/telescope, power locks and windows, cruise control, satellite radio/CD, Bluetooth, and UBS connection. Seating was for five, and the trunk held 15.4 cubic feet of cargo.
Styling for the new Altima, introduced in July of 2012, is an improvement over prior Altimas. It looks bigger than it actually is, which is 191.5 “ in length and 3,177 lbs. in weight. Chrome door handles are attached to the Nissan, and dual fog lights are up front along with a bold grill. Ride is great, and it’s quiet in the cabin (71 decibels). Ten-spoke, 17” alloy wheels are surrounded by P215/55R17 Michelin Primacy MXV4 all season radials.
Nissan’s best seller, this Altima, should hold up well in the sales wars with Honda’s Accord and Toyota’s Camry, as it doesn’t offer a person many opportunities to complain. I spent a long day condo-hunting in Denver with it, and the driving didn’t “Hirt” too bad because I had a “Honey” of a car to accomplish the task.