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12 Best Family Cars: 2014 Nissan Altima

By Keith Buglewicz on February 11, 2014 8:42 AM
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Surprisingly spacious

The 2014 Nissan Altima sedan did nothing to attract attention to itself in our family-car test. Yet at the end of the day, the midsize Altima made enough friends to land it as a finalist on our list.

So what won us over? Substance. The Altima is roomy, surprisingly so, and it packs a lot inside, too. The layout's easy to use, the front and rear seats are comfortable, and it's easy to install and uninstall child booster seats. More importantly, it doesn't do anything really wrong, either. The features you need are standard, and if they aren't, they're probably on the options list.

Yet it's not as if all that substance lacks any style. Sure, the Altima's not one of those high-concept styling exercises that turns the world slow motion in commercials. But it's a good looking family car, one that echoes its more expensive Infiniti brethren, never a bad thing. Throw in some solid driving dynamics -- some of us even called it fun -- and you have a winning combination.

Key Family Car Strength

Space. The Nissan Altima sedan somehow seems able to stuff more cabin space between its front and rear wheels than physics should allow. Even with a baby seat in the rear, there's ample legroom for front passengers. The Altima also had great room for full-grown adults, regardless of where they sat.

Key Family Car Weakness

There's one nifty family-car item you can't get on the 2014 Altima, and that's Nissan's Around View Monitor system. This helpful gadget can be had on numerous other Nissan products, including the super-saver Nissan Versa subcompact. Making it available on the Altima would give Nissan bragging rights against Honda's Lane Watch camera.

Model Range

The 2014 Nissan Altima lineup boasts seven different trim levels that stair-step each other, equipment-wise, depending on if you want the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine or the 3.5-liter V6. Both engines connect to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The base 2.5 -- it has no special letter combination -- starts at $22,820 and comes with air conditioning, Bluetooth, push-button ignition, and Nissan's nifty Easy-Fill tire alert, which honks the horn when you've filled the tire to the right pressure. The base model comes only with the 182-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. The next step up is the $23,340 Altima 2.5 S, which adds keyless entry, a power driver's seat, an upgraded audio system, and cruise control. Moving up to the $26,970 V6-powered 3.5S also gets you a rearview camera, bigger wheels and tires, and a USB port. The 2.5 SV costs $24,990, and gets the USB connection and camera, plus dual-zone climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Opt for the V6-powered 3.5 SV, and you'll spend $29,170 to add a power moonroof, rear-passengers vents, fog lights, and LED turn signals. The $28,570 2.5 SL -- which we drove -- adds leather seats, an even better audio system, a heated steering wheel, and those LED turn signals. Then there's the top-level $31,470 3.5 SL, which of course adds the V6, plus high-intensity-discharge headlights, and a few other minor goodies. A navigation package is available on SV models, and a technology package -- which includes navigation -- is available on SV and SL models.  Prices include an $810 destination charge.

Family Friendliness
Even though the Nissan Altima's exterior dimensions aren't much different than the rest of the midsize-sedan class, there's a surprising amount of room inside. This is most apparent when you install a rear-facing infant seat behind the front passenger. Most midsize sedans end up cramping that front passenger. In the Altima, however, there was plenty of room. The lower anchors and upper tethers were also easy to reach, but sadly, there wasn't enough room to fit a third person between the two installed boosters.

Front passengers were perfectly comfortable though, as the Altima offers up an inviting cockpit. Some of the controls felt as if they weren't different enough from the previous-generation car. Others thought that the Altima could use a bigger LCD screen on its dash. Still, it's easy enough to get used to, and for a family of four, the Altima's a solid pick.

Cargo and Storage

The Altima's trunk is deep, and can hold as many grocery bag or other objects you're likely to stuff its way. The opening was on the narrow side though, meaning that whatever you put back there can't be too wide, either. We were particularly impressed by the dual releases for the rear seatbacks; they can be released either from the trunk, or in the main cabin.

Small storage space in the Altima was good, but not particularly outstanding. There are no clever hidden compartments as there are in the Chevy Impala, but what's there is well done. If you manage to fill them all up on a daily basis, you probably just need to carry less stuff with you.

On the Road

Largely due to Nissan's efforts, we're mostly over our bias against continuously variable automatic transmissions. The CVT-equipped 4-cylinder drivetrain in the Altima has no problem getting this midsize sedan moving, good thing, since at full throttle the engine's noise gets annoying fast. The steering and suspension are also responsive for a family sedan, and the view out the rear is quite good. Overall, we found little to dislike about the car, as well as a sporty nature that won us over.

The one exception: the Altima's lane-departure warning system. It beeps frequently, even when you aren't near to one of the lane markers. On the flip side, when we intentionally drifted out of our lane, it would frequently not warn us. We shut it off.

Final Word

Perfect for a little one, a tall front passenger, and a driver who likes to drive.

More 2014 Nissan Altima

More than just family-friendly, the Altima also claimed a lofty spot on our list of 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000. If you're ready to run the numbers, build and price your own 2014 Nissan Altima right here at KBB.com to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more.

 

12 Best Family Cars 2014