The Nissan Altima is the C-list celebrity among mid-size sedans. It’s really good, but it’s overshadowed by giants. What do you need to know before you buy a Nissan Altima? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.
Everyone shopping for mid-size sedans is drooling over Camrys and Accords, and for good reason: they’re tough as nails and sip fuel like it’s piping hot tea. Meanwhile, Nissan’s Altima has been wallflower waiting to get asked to take a spin on the dance floor (or, in this case, a spin to Babies-R-Us).
But the Altima is right near the top of the class with 31 MPG combined on the base 182 horsepower 2.5-liter inline four model. You can also get a Too Powerful For Its Own Good 270 horsepower V6. These engine offers and fuel efficiency numbers are right in lie with the big guns from Honda and Toyota. Unfortunately, interior quality isn’t the best in the class, and the only available transmission option is a fun-sucking continuously variable transmission.
But while it might not cut a rug quite like the big boys, there are deals out there that could make the Altima the best choice among its peers.
The year 2012 brought us the fifth generation “L33” Altima. As a 2013 model year, the new car brought more aerodynamic styling, a fresh interior, a revised CVT transmission, a lighter chassis, larger exterior dimension, and revised suspension tuning.
The engine options remained largely carryover from the previous generation Altima, but fuel economy improved dramatically over the previous generation thanks to aerodynamic tweaks, weight reduction, and the revised transmission.
Nissan added their NissanConnect infotainment system for 2014, while 2015 brought some shuffling to the standard features. So, the 2015 model is really not much different than the car that launched in New York in 2012.
The Altima can be had in five different flavors: 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 SV, 2.5 SL, and 3.5 SL. They all come with a strut-type independent front suspension, a multi-link rear setup in the back, and electro-hydraulic power steering. Brake discs are 11.7 inches and vented up front, while the rears are 11.5 inches and solid.
If it’s us, we’d wait for the 2016 Nissan Altima, as the company promises a slew of changes including new styling, a revised interior, more safety features, and a new SR sports model.
But we’d also keep an eye out for deals on the outgoing model, especially the 2.5 SV, which offers a good blend of standard features and fuel economy a reasonable $24,720 MSRP. The 2.5 and S are a bit spartan, with the S lacking alloy wheels and the 2.5 lacking both cruise control and alloy wheels. The SL, with its leather-appointed power seats and Bose radio is is a bit too rich for our blood, and the 3.5 SL is down on fuel economy. That leaves the SV with its power seats, auto headlights, fog lights, automatic climate control, 5-inch touchscreen display, proximity keyless entry, and plentiful safety tech. That’s the one we’d be hunting down to find a killer deal.
MSRP: $22,300 - $32,350 Top Speed: ~130 MPH (3.5L estimated)
Acceleration: ~6.0s to 60 [3.5L]
MPG: 27 city/ 38 hwy / 31 combined [2.5L]
Engines: 2.5L I4, 3.5L V6
Max Horsepower/Torque: 270 hp/251 lb-ft [3.5L]
Curb Weight: ~3,177-3,447 pounds IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick
Transmissions: CVT Automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD
Photo credit: Nissan