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DesktopWeb FormText   test drives round 1Tue, 05 Feb 2008 23:30:54 GMT # 

Nissan Altima - tried the 4 cylinder model. there is a 6 cylinder model for about 2K more, but i'd rather have the gas mileage. like the size and that it has 2 fake back seats. sunroof available. smooth shifting. the one problem was side rear-window visibility ... it needs bigger windows. so this one is still on the table. there is a hybrid version available in 8 states (TX not being one of them) ... if the hybrid version was available here, i'd probably be sold. i believe Nissan has licensed Toyota's hybrid tech?

Nissan 350z - 6 cylinder only. this was definitely a bumpier ride and the engine was louder ... its a sports car. rode great, but it would be totally wasted on me. i'd rather have the smoother ride, more space, and quiet of the Altima. there is even less visibility too. but the seat was more comfortable than the Altima. oh yeah, only 2 seats and no sunroof. there is a convertible model, but i'd rather have the coupe.

Toyota Prius - i wish this wasnt a sedan. i knew about the silent start, but it was still cool. the seat wasnt exactly comfortable (manual only), and the steering wheel doesnt telescope. had to sit-up more than usual to drive comfortably. after driving the 350z it felt underpowered at first, but that feeling went away and it felt fine. no sunroof here either ... i love sunroofs. the car is kind of ugly, but i noticed a black one on the drive home and it looked good.

Toyota Camry - wish this wasnt a sedan either. its noticeably bigger and heavier than what i'm used to. it was also more powerful than the Prius, and just felt more like a standard car. the steering wheel telescoped, so it drove more comfortably.

so my test drives didnt help that much. the only thing i learned is that the 350z isnt for me. if i could get the Nissan Altima Hybrid ... then it would be my pick out of round 1. but since that isnt an option, its still a toss up ... not in love with any of them. i really dont like that the Prius and Camry are sedans, but they are still on the table for reliability, high rankings for owner customer satisfaction, and potential resell value.