By G. Chambers Williams III, San Antonio Express-News Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 4--A sportier Altima?
It's hard to imagine Nissan making its great midsize sedan any snazzier than it already was. But hold on -- that's exactly what's happened with the introduction of the Altima 3.5 SE-R sport model for 2005 (base price $29,200 plus $560 freight).
This is the top-of-the-line model for the midsize sedan Nissan introduced in the mid-'90s and then completely restyled for the 2002 model year, making it larger, more powerful and definitely more appealing.
In fact, unlike Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota, Nissan put some real edgy styling in the Altima, giving consumers something other than an appliance to choose from when they go shopping for a midsize sedan.
Besides the addition of the sporty SE-R model, the entire Altima line moved up a notch or two with a partial redesign for 2005.
This time, not having to mess much with an exterior that already was best in class by far, Nissan's designers turned their talents inward. The result is an interior for the 2005 Altima that makes it look more like a luxury car than a family sedan whose prices begin just under $20,000.
Here's a well-kept secret: The new Altima's interior looks more like that of an upscale Infiniti sedan, finally putting to rest the only real complaints I had with the 2002 Altima: that its …