Nissan Altima (1998)
We fell in love with this car. We liked this car as much, if not more than, the Camry we recently had a chance to drive. We test drove the four-cylinder version, and (swearing on Tara Lipinski's tutu) we actually had to open the hood and look at the engine. Why? Because we didn't believe there was just a little four-cylinder engine in there. This car has enough power to go any place you want--and you'll never have to worry about having to force your mother-in-law to get out and push on hills.
The Altima is quiet and very comfortable. There's plenty of room up front,and there's also a surprising amount of room in the back seat. In our estimation, the Altima measures up to the Camry in every way. Of course, the Camry has had a great reputation for reliability for many years and, in that sense, might be a wiser purchase. But, heck, if it were one of us and we had to choose between the Camry and the Altima, we wouldn't hesitate to snag the Altima and pocket the change. (Then again, we're pretty much self-professed cheapskates.)
It's our guess that the Altima is going to prove to be as good a car as the Camry. Nissan builds good cars and good engines, and the Altima will probably run for 150,000 miles without any major headaches. The Altima is almost a couple thousand dollars less than the Camry, and on that basis alone we'd have to give this a "strong buy" indication.
View cars.com model report on this vehicle.