Nissan's mainstream family sedan, the Altima receives a midlife makeover to bolster its appeal in this hotly contest segment. Even so, its key virtues are actually carryover, namely strong engine performance and efficiency.
What's New for 2016
The Altima receives a substantially reworked nose and new exterior lighting. The cabin gets additional sound insulation, and adaptive cruise control and a collision mitigation system are available for the first time. A sporty RS model joins the lineup.
Choosing Your Nissan Altima
While the updates to the Altima are hardly startling, the new V-shaped grille and sleeker headlamps do have an appreciable effect on its overall appearance. No one will mistake it for anything but a brand new car.
The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces 182 horsepower and achieves 31 mpg in combined driving, and a terrific 39 mpg on the highway. The available 3.5-liter V6 is good for 270 horsepower and delivers 26 mpg combined. Zero to 60 mph times for the 2.5-liter and 3.5-liter are 7.8 and 6.2 seconds respectively, strong showings for this class. Both engines are paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Trim levels correspond to engine size:
- 2.5: Carries the four-cylinder engine and features such as keyless ignition, a split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio, a tire inflation monitor, and a four-speaker sound system. The 2.5 rolls on 16-inch steel wheels with full covers.
- 2.5 S: Adds a load of popular equipment, including cruise control, automatic headlamps, a rearview camera, two additional audio speakers, keyless access, and integrated smartphone apps. A power driver seat is optional.
- 2.5 SR: Builds on the S with sport-themed equipment such as a more aggressive suspension setup, paddle shifters, a rear spoiler, sport seats with driver power, and 18-inch alloy wheels. You also get foglamps and daytime running lights.
- 2.5 SV: Also builds on the S, but with a different set of extra features: remote start, automatic climate control, a power driver seat, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, satellite radio, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
- 2.5 SL: Adds creature comforts to the SV, including leather upholstery, heated front seats with passenger power, rear air vents, ambient interior lighting, and a premium Bose nine-speaker sound system. The SL's available Technology package tacks on adaptive cruise control, front collision alert with automatic braking, and emergency telematics services.
- 3.5 SR: Like the sporty 2.5 SR, but with the V6 engine and LED headlamps.
- 3.5 SL: Includes the 2.5 SL equipment, plus the V6 engine, 18-inch wheels, paddle shifters, parking sensors, LED headlamps, a sunroof, and a navigation system. The Technology package continues as an option.
Some of features found on the line-topping SL 3.5 are available on the SL 2.5, SR, and SV trims as options, either individually or in packages.
We would avoid the base 2.5, which is sparsely equipped for this class (no cruise control!) and isn't eligible for options. The S is a better starting point, even if cost is your chief concern.