A car for highways, not hairpin bends. While Nissan has previously tested the limits of physics in its hermetically-sealed GT-R factories, the Altima is a far more prosaic offering. This spacious sedan is aimed at one thing – transporting five people in comfort and serenity. And in that limited brief, it does a pretty good job.

From the well-padded and power-adjusted driver’s seat, every Altima driver takes command of a cabin with generous head and legroom. Large door bins complement a 15.4 cu ft trunk, while that slippery body keeps wind noise down. The ride is composed and unruffled, while the steering tracks are straight and true without providing much high-speed feedback. This is a car made for long journeys, delivering its occupants without aches or complaints.

Higher trims make more sense. Even the base Altima S has remote engine start, a power driver’s seat and full smartphone mirroring through a seven-inch touchscreen. That’s not bad on a $25,000 sedan, especially when you consider its safety roster extends to automatic emergency braking. However, you’ll need to move up the range to benefit from adaptive cruise with active lane control or blind-spot monitoring. It is worth noting that both the NHTSA and IIHS have given this car their top rating, and only rear outward vision is of any concern.

Higher Altima trims are far more appealing, with SV models offering a larger touchscreen as well as additional safety aids. Platinum comes with navigation and a premium audio system. Despite costing $35,000, this would be our choice, since it also delivers a sunroof, leather upholstery, a surround-view camera system, and grippy 19-inch wheels. Best of all, Platinum comes as standard with the all-wheel-drive system that’s optional on lesser trims, ensuring those unruffled road manners aren’t disturbed by snow or ice.

It belongs in the company car park. Nobody will see you arrive for work in your Altima and say “wow, it’s a Nissan”, but this is still an attractive sedan. The 2022 model has been on a strict diet, losing the bulges of previous models to deliver a sleek profile with a hint of BMW in the rear window kink and a touch of Toyota at the back. Casual observers would struggle to differentiate this from rivals like Toyota’s Camry or the Honda Accord, though the revised nose is a bit more assertive.

Inside, you’ll feel like you belong on the junior rungs of the executive management ladder. There are no surprise-and-delight features, and the materials are solid without being exceptional. Even with red-stitched leather seating, the Altima’s cabin is indistinguishable from many other sedans around this price point. The digital dash and touchscreen are fine, but they lack excitement compared to other manufacturers’ offerings. We also feel the all-black interior of base models is too dull, which is another reason to move up the range.

A comfortable, if lazy performer. Our main complaint with the Altima surrounds the CVT transmission, which can’t respond quickly enough to realize the two-liter turbocharged engine’s potential. It’s happier mated to the 2.5-liter inline-4 fitted to more affordable models, and even the paddle shifters in SR models don’t provide the gearbox with sufficient responsiveness.

The more powerful engine is wasted, so save your money and plump for the 2.5-liter with front-wheel drive. In this configuration, the combined economy is 32 mpg, which is impressive for a car that can carry five people across continents without breaking a sweat.

Final thoughts. The Altima executes its functions very well. It has no spirit or character – nothing you’d miss if you traded it in for another car – and nothing that really elevates it above the snarling pack of mid-sized Eastern sedans snapping at its heels. It’s forgettable to drive, sit in and look at, without causing any offense or imposing any restrictions. It’s not for purists, or for people who believe every car has a soul – they’ll question that belief after a week of Altima ownership.

That said, this is a highly competent car, screwed together with care and finished in materials that should last. It’s a comfortable long-distance cruiser with impeccable road manners, and the cabin is practical and spacious even if it’s lacking in X-factor. Add in good gas mileage, generous specifications (on higher models) and a complete lack of compromise, and the Altima will provide thousands of miles of trouble-free service – even if you won’t be inclined to give it a name.

Check prices for the 2022 Nissan Altima »