For the 2005/2006 model year Nissan created a special Altima. I remember the first time I saw the Nissan Altima SE-R. It was the best looking Altima I had ever seen and with an SE-R badge on it I knew it had to be something special.
I am a sucker for special cars, however when I saw the sticker for the Altima SE-R I was disappointed in the nearly $30,000 price tag. This put the best Altima within a couple grand of its corporate cousin the Infiniti G35.
The Altima SE-R has been simply called a Nissan with a trim package and that can only be said by someone who has never driven the SE-R.
Nissan did a great job of tempting me with this vehicle. It was my legitimate car of the day for several months, after an impressive spin behind the wheel. When I took the driver’s seat of the SE-R I was really skeptical of how well a 260hp FWD Altima would handle. I had the good fortune going on the test drive with a cool saleperson who allowed me really wind out the Nissan.
The Altima SE-R is basically a front-wheel drive 350Z with 4 doors. The SE-R has a lot of the interior cues from the 350Z. It has an upgraded exhaust and suspension bits and some of the coolest wheels to show up on a sedan. Through all that in with a close ratio 6-speed transmission and you have yourself a very special car that is a great sleeper sedan.
Now the SE-R isn’t the perfect car it does have a couple of flaws.
· The first was its original MSRP which put it within $2000 of the G35. However, in 2008, depreciation was little rougher on the Altima and that is good news for you. The current going rate for a 2005/06 SE-R vs a similar G35 may be as much as $6,000.
· The second is it is a front wheel drive. This car steers and drives with the same two wheels. So no matter how good it is you can always say “for a FWD car” at the end of it.
· Third is it is still just an Altima. There a lot of Altimas out there, very few SE-Rs, but a ton of Altimas.
· Fourth was the super lame ad campaign that claimed that the Altima SE-R was the “Official Car of Funkytown.” Somewhere there is a SE-R project manager that is rolling over in his figurative grave because some ad guru made the highest performance 4 door from Nissan the official car of funkytown.
A friend is looking at buying a new sporty sedan and the SE-R has made it on to his short list and it has brought it to top of mind for me. So the Car of the Day is a gently used 2005/2006 Altima SE-R for less than $18k.