Nissan's top seller in the U.S., the Altima remains a strong competitor in the hotly contested midsize sedan segment. Buyers should take note of this year's efficiency gains and styling tweaks that make the Altima look more expensive than it really is.

Pricing and Equipment

The sporty SR is new this year, bringing the number of trims to seven:

  • The 2.5 model ($22,500) is basically equipped, but does include keyless ignition and Bluetooth phone and audio. The 2.5 designation stands for the 2.5-liter four-cylinder under the hood.
  • Next up is the $22,900 2.5 S, which adds popular equipment like cruise control, automatic headlamps, and a rearview camera. A power driver seat is optional.
  • Priced at $24,470, the 2.5 SR adds sport-themed equipment such as a more aggressive suspension, larger wheels, paddle shifters, and front sport seats.
  • The $25,460 2.5 SV also builds on the S, but with a different set of extras: remote start, automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and satellite radio.
  • Stepping up to the 2.5 SL at $28,570 gets you an upgraded interior with leather seating and a Bose sound system. The SL's available Technology package tacks on additional safety technology, including adaptive cruise control, for $1,700.
  • The $27,990 3.5 SR adds a 3.5-liter V6 engine to the existing SR equipment.
  • At the top of line, the 3.5 SL ($32,690) combines the SL and SR features (except the firmer suspension), and then adds a sunroof and navigation. The Technology package remains optional.

Some of the features found on the SL 3.5 are available on lesser trims, either individually or in packages.

Performance Pros

Nissan Altima

The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces 182 horsepower, while the available 3.5-liter V6 is good for 270 horsepower. Both engines are paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Performance highlights include:

  • Fuel Efficiency: The four-cylinder and V6 achieve 31 mpg and 26 mpg respectively in combined city and highway driving. Make no mistake, these are strong showings for a gas-powered family sedan.
  • Steering/Handling: With their upgraded suspension, the SR models feel downright athletic.
  • Acceleration: Even with the base engine, the Altima goes from zero to 60 mph in a quick 7.8 seconds. V6 models do it in a class-leading 6.2 seconds.

Performance Cons

  • Although they ride smoothly, non-SR models aren't particularly engaging to drive.
  • Under full throttle, the four-cylinder engine can produce some unsettling racket.

Interior Pros

Nissan Altima
  • The front seats, which Nissan claims were designed using NASA research, are indeed very comfortable on long trips.
  • This year's extra sound-deadening measures have really paid off. The cabin is exceptionally quiet for this class.

Interior Cons

  • The Altima's inspired exterior styling doesn't carry over to the inside. The overall design is rather conventional.
  • The sloping roofline cuts into rear headroom more than it should in a family sedan.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

This Altima is now the cruiser of its class, adept at smooth, quiet running over the long haul.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Standard equipment is decidedly stingy for this class (no cruise control!), rendering the Altima's base price meaningless.

The Bottom Line

The Altima delivers traditional family values in a sleek and contemporary wrapper.