Al Hirt, famed New Orleans trumpeter and bandleader, owned a bar on Bourbon Street in the 60’s, and I’m sure I was 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 2013 Nissan Altima? Not much, really. The Altima paint was called “Java”, however, and the car was a honey, in my estimation. The color, as you can see, was a little like black coffee and this Altima had the beige 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 3.5 liter V-6 with 270 horsepower and 251 lb. ft. of torque. Nissan bucked the 4-cylinder trend with this car, and my week was more enjoyable because of it. A continuously variable automatic transmission is mated to the V-6, but with all the power on hand, it works nicely. Zero to 60 acceleration is reportedly 6.1 seconds and paddle shifters are mounted on the steering column for shifting gears in the manual mode. EPA mileage figures are 22/31 for city and highway (18 gallon tank), and on a trip to Nebraska, I averaged 33 mpg.
The Altima SV I tested had as options a navigation package ($590 – reasonable), splash guards ($145), and floor mats ($130). Total M.S.R.P., counting the $780 for freight, came to $29,425.00. With rear backup camera, moon roof, and the aforementioned nav, keeping this sedan under thirty 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, is an improvement over last year’s model. It looks bigger than it actually is, which is 191.5 “ in length and 3,376 lbs. in weight. Dual exhausts peek out of the back, the chrome is enhanced there, and dual fog lights are up front. Ride is great, and it’s quiet in the cabin (71 decibels). Ten-spoke, 18” alloy wheels are surrounded by P235/45VR18 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. It doesn’t offer a person many opportunities to complain, and my trip to Nebraska didn’t “Hirt” too bad because I had a “Honey” of a car to travel in.