By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
Now entering its fifth generation of production, the Nissan Altima remains a strong – albeit aging – contender in the lucrative family sedan segment. Spun from Nissan/Renault's robust D-Platform architecture, this stylish front-drive four-door continues as the volume leader in the division's lineup, having been joined by a limited-production, gasoline-electric Hybrid variant as well as a sporty Coupe model (both reviewed separately). Even in conventional form, the Altima Sedan covers a lot of competitive ground, offering three trim levels, both four- and six-cylinder power and an advanced Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). That wide selection helps it face off against the current best-seller, Toyota's popular Camry, as well as the Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord – both formidable foes.
The Altima's breadth of powertrain and packaging choices opens the door for lots of comparatively affordable variations on the theme that can meet and exceed the needs of all manner of mid-size sedan buyers – whether they're seeking basic transportation or want something with a more sporting character.
Anyone who regularly plans to carry adults in the rear seat will find the Chevy Malibu, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry all offer a bit more usable "stretch space" in the aft quarters than the slightly smaller Altima package. And those who prefer a manual transmission might be better suited shopping Mazda's MAZDA6 or Kia Optima.
For 2011, the Altima gains a new Special Edition trim (Altima 2.5 S) adding an aerodynamic rear spoiler, front fog lights, auto on/off headlamps, 16-inch alloy wheels and a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with audio controls.
Driving Impressions An extremely rigid body structure serves as a great foundation for all Altima models. Even with their smaller wheel-and-tire packages, the four-cylinder variants have a semi-sporty feel, and things get...more overtly engaging when you step up to an SR V6 variant. While not quite as dynamically sophisticated as the Honda Accord, the Altima's suspension soaks up minor road imperfections while delivering a comfortable and well-controlled ride over most surfaces. The four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are competent and consistent stoppers, and the standard Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) adds both driver-selectable stability and traction controls to deliver an extra measure of confidence.
Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Xtronic is Nissan's third-generation CVT. This computer-controlled stepless shifter helps improve performance, economy and emissions. In "Sport" mode, it even creates six "virtual" gears that closely approximate the response of a conventional manual gearbox.
Optional 2.5 SL Package
This fashionable extras group gives buyers who want a more fuel-efficient four-cylinder Altima 2.5 S virtually all of the main upscale trappings of a 3.5 SR, adding leather upholstery, power and heated front seats, rear air vents, HomeLink universal garage-door opener and numerous lesser luxury touches.
The Altima's airy cabin has a contemporary appearance supported by nicely textured plastic, lots of stow space and numerous soft-touch surfaces that contribute to its welcoming character. White-on-black main gauges are easy to read, the ancillary controls and center-stack switchgear is logically arrayed and the Altima's generous glass area provides the driver with good sightlines to the outside world. The front buckets, although comfortable, could use a bit more lateral support. Even though the Altima skews to the smaller side of the official EPA "mid-size" category, its 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat can still accommodate two average adults or three kids while enhancing the flexibility and utility of its 15.3 cubic feet of trunk capacity.Exterior
Even a quick glance shows that the Altima is rich in Nissan family cues, most notably in its grille, headlamp and taillamp treatments. However, the lines and contours of its crisply rendered sheetmetal display a bit more aggressive edge than you'll find in the Sentra or Maxima. A well-defined shoulder ridge complements bold flaring on fenderwells that house 16-inch 215/60 tires on 2.5 and 2.5 S models and 215/55 rubber on 17-inch cast-alloy wheels on the 3.5 SR.
Even the low-volume, Altima 2.5 base model includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, power locks, air conditioning and push button start/stop. The 2.5 S, which accounts for the majority of all Altima sales, adds an audio system with CD player, Intelligent Key keyless entry and offers the luxury-oriented SL Package as an option. In addition to V6 power, the 3.5 SR appeals to enthusiasts with a sport-tuned suspension and performance tires. On the safety front, all Altimas feature front, front-side and side-curtain airbags.
An impressive array of upgrade packages are offered for all but the base 2.5. Even the 2.5 S can be outfitted with leather upholstery, a dual-zone climate control system, power moonroof, voice-activated navigation system, premium Bose audio system, XM Satellite Radio, rearview camera and lots more. The 3.5 SR offers a Premium Package that adds heated front seats, driver's side power lumbar support, rearview monitor and Bose audio with nine speakers. The Technology Package adds Nissan's next generation hard-drive navigation and audio unit complete with streaming Bluetooth, real-time traffic and weather updates and Zagat restaurant review guide.
Conventional Altima Sedans offer the choice of an inline-4 or a V6. Both engines are made from lightweight aluminum, have four valves per cylinder and use continuously-variable valve timing to improve response and efficiency across their entire operating ranges. The 2.5-liter four develops a solid 175 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque while the 3.5-liter V6 raises those figures to 270 and 258, respectively. Nissan's Xtronic CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission), is the only transmission choice.
2.5-liter in-line 4
175 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
170 horsepower @ 5600 rpm (California)
180 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpm
175 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpm (California)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32
270 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27
By HAIL (KS) on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,100overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very Strong and quiet Engine, Very Fuel Efficient"
Cons: "Wish it was leather for its high class"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"+ Sporty 2.5 Engine + Quieter then its rival competitors on Road and when Idle + Great Gas Millage 28 City / 34.5 HWY (70MPH) + Comfortable and Roomy interior and Large Truck + Larger Fuel Tank then other sedans + Very Quick Acceleration and Option to Switch to Sport manual Shifting + Very Dependable Car + You cant go wrong with Altima/Accord/Camry they are all Japanese built only difference in your preference + This car is like Cash in your pocket, you can sell it anytime you like"
By Lauren (CA) on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Acceleration, Keyless Entry, A Pleasure to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is absolutely the best car for your money. The interior is slick and high quality, the drive is smooth, the acceleration is amazing. It is just all around a really nice car. I was looking at Nissan Maxima when I bought this and went for the cheaper model because I didn't feel like I lost much in downgrading. The Maxima was not worth the large price jump. Do yourself a favor. Buy an Altima."
By Butigli (KY) on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas mileage, quite, sporty lines and pick-up"
Cons: "Can be a bit snug for larger/taller people."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"A couple of years ago, I went to the fair,took my daughter and left the car running to finish eating as it was too hot to sit without the air cond. well after we finished eating, we unloaded her outfits and gown and pretty her up stuff for the pageant, getting in the back seat and trunk. Hours later like at least 4 hours we left. when we got back to the car it was still running! this has happened more than once, a couple of times at the mall, it is just so quiet when parked and running you really can barely hear it. Even though it is a four cylinder, it has fantastic pick up, I regularly pass when stuck behind pokey folks on our 2 lane highway where you have to be fast or the chance to pass is gone due to blind spots and cars coming the other direction. It can merge onto interstate withoutdisturbing traffic flow what so ever 0 to 70 in a flash... There is plenty of room for my daughter and 3 of her teenage friends, and me driving (I am 5'5" <130lbs.) there are only 2 cons that I have found after owning it for over five years (I bought it new like 38 miles on it)... my husband is like 6'2" 220lb ... he fits ok and has driven the car on several 13 hour trips to FL, but it could stand like 2 or 3 more inches arm and leg space, if we don't leave the front console closed it pokes his leg. The trunk is spacious, but now that our daughter is older and wants to take her own suitcases, itis packed to the brim, as is the other side of the back seat, so she is a bit cramped in the back. Maybe next time we will try the maxima. One issue that we finnally figured out is... several times I would go to my car after work and the battery would be dead. I couldn't figure out what I was leaving on, after a couple of times I bacame really carfule of checking everything before I got out... well it happened on our last trip, so I could finnally say "see honey I wasn't lieing about making sure eveything was off..." I had got to where I NEVER left the Auto-Headlight feature on when leaving the car, and it hadn't happened in a while. Well, he was driving and it happened, we went into the grocery, came out... the car was dead.... then it happened at the condo... he was using the Auto-Headlight feature. I read more carefully through the manual and figured out that he was covering the sensor on the dash with his cap... never happened again...and he started turning it off... never happened again... I don't know if it was happening to me because of it being cloudy, or if I was tossing something on the dash ... but it turns out it is on the opposite side than what I thought... When I drove up to the school yard to pick up my daughter, the boys (12 & 13 at the time) really noticed it and thought it was so cool they were impressed...which I also think it a bit more streamlined than it's competitors Camry & Accord... though along with these cars there is about 10 or 15 cars in the lot at work exactally like mine, some with out spoiler & moonroof but the same color -White... the white four door has to be the most common car in USA!!!"
By Milli (NY) on Thursday, May 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,500overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very reliable."
Cons: "Everything else. No more Nissan's"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I purchased this car on an impulse. I had sworn that I wasn't going to by another Nissan. It is very small and I'm a small person ( 5'7") If the seat isn't down all the way, I hit my head getting in and out. It is difficult to see out and judge for parking. Power plugs and usb plugs very inconvenient. Difficult to put CD's in storage because the shift is in the way. Overall, the car is very noisy! i.e road noise and bumps, especially over expansion joints on a concrete highway. When driving in the rain, It's like you riding in a tin can."
By Andrew (NJ) on Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Really fun and exciting to drive!"
Cons: "Trunk is very small."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I absolutely love my Altima Coupe. It is a fun to drive car that really has pep. Comfortable drive and really impressive pick up power. Great look inside that makes this look like a very high end car. Quite sensitive steering and pedals make this truly a responsive car. Space in the back is better than what you would expect in a coupe. Only thing I wish was better gas mileage but that is what comes with the car (I get about 22 combined mpg). I highly recommend this car."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By andy (TX) on Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price ,seats,brakes,hadling"
Cons: "cvt noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought a 2012 4cly last year with a discount of 6k. I had a love hate thing with this car. The cvt was the culprit' T he noise I was not use too. When you have radio or air on you don"t notice it even with windows down but if you drive with everything off you can really hear noise with simple accellerstion and with very hard accellation a loud whine.But I have finally got to a point I know how to drive this car.I like my leather seats and the power the 4 banger has and of course the quiet cabin on long trips.The noise is only on acceration."