COAL: 2014 Nissan Altima – The Family Truckster

This photo of the car was taken right after purchase in early March 2015.

Perhaps you recall from my red Hardbody story, I was caught selling my truck in the dead of winter without having a reliable backup vehicle. I obviously knew I wanted to replace the Hardbody with something a little nicer, but I hadn’t had luck landing anything just yet. I knew I wanted another sedan and was hoping to get into a MKVI Jetta again, this time with the nicer trim and new 1.8T engine. I had a line up on one in Chicago but it sold before I could do much. Another option I liked was the recently released fifth-generation Nissan Altima, which was much more common in my area.

I was able to look at a few Altimas locally since there’s a dealer in my town but continued to hem and haw on buttoning down a specific one. I was also keeping my eyes online in other towns for better prices, knowing that my dad would drive me somewhere to pick up a car – within reason. In late February a 2014 Altima was listed at a dealer in Omaha. It was the mid-range SV model but had many features over the simple S model I had been looking at. It had only about 6,000 miles on it and it had a rebuilt title from an accident in Iowa, where it was sold new.

So the following Saturday morning my dad picked me up bright and early and we went to check it out. The car showed very well and drove wonderfully, we were blown away – my dad drove Cadillacs through the 90s and said this car was every bit as nice if not nicer and I believed him from what I recall of our Sedan Deville and Seville. The repairs seemed to have been performed to a high standard but if I looked very closely, I could see what was replaced. The price was a very reasonable $12,700 for essentially a new car that booked for over $28,000 just a year before. I had initiated financing from my bank but they were dragging their feet as a big institution with bureaucracy is known to do – so when it came time to pay I just pulled cash out from savings.

I enjoyed it immensely that spring – I was in heaven driving that nice, new car and this was my first time having a sunroof to enjoy the sun, views and fresh air. Features like Bluetooth, cruise control and the powerful 2.5 liter four-cylinder were also appreciated. The CVT took some getting used to – the small lag, noise, vibration, etc but I found driving in sport mode helped. It does return some great fuel mileage for a conventional ICE vehicle, I must say.

There’s not much else to say about this car, it’s a bit of appliance – something you just kind of get in and drive, which can be nice. I took it on the occasional business trip or to see family in Illinois. December of that year we drove it to Kansas City to buy a turntable off Craigslist and a flying rock from a passing truck cracked the windshield. A replacement was readily available in short order. My wife (girlfriend at the time) still have memories of that trip – Korean BBQ, the windshield ordeal and driving through a downpour, standing water most of the day. I still have the Marantz.

The following year my girlfriend and I bought a house together and I had an inclination to trade the car in for a nice pickup to have around. I test drove an ’09 Tacoma, which I liked, but they were only going to give me $7,000 on trade – which was likely par for the course given the title situation but still seemed low. She was still driving her original car she got when she was 17! And though it was still in excellent and reliable condition (a 2003 Ford Focus sedan bought new) she liked the features and updates the Altima provided. It was her brilliant idea for me to sell her the car for trade-in value. Her mint, low mileage five-speed Focus sold in record time and the Altima is her car to this very day.

I ultimately bought a pickup, but a cheaper, older truck to be covered in future COALs. Her foresight to buy the car has proven beneficial for both of us and the Altima has served us VERY WELL, needing nothing aside from regular oil changes in the six years and 45,000 miles since I originally bought it. It still even has the original battery, which perplexes me! In the end, she got a much newer car and we both gained access to a reliable, comfortable and fuel-efficient vehicle for long trips (hence the blog title). The pickup I bought has helped us around the house and proved versatile in its use. She’s lamented it was a win-win to have this variety of vehicle types around.

The Altima today. Usually it is garaged but we had some interference on the driveway this week…


The Storm Blue color is often mistaken for black, it’s very dark. I like it well enough but my favorite color for this model was Saharan Stone, with Pearl White being a close second.

Since then, I’ve had numerous vehicles come and go but the Altima remains. It has been so trouble-free and efficient that it is hard to find any valid reason to get rid of it or update. Her dream car is a white Toyota Prius but for now, and at least a few more years to come, the plan is to keep going with this car.