By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
In the crowded mid-size family sedan segment, Nissan's 2012 Altima remains a viable alternative to the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat. Although starting to show its age, the 2012 Altima Sedan still has much to offer. While it's not as sleek or modern as the Kia Optima or Hyundai Sonata, the Altima is still an attractive car with a very sporty side that makes it a favorite among enthusiast-oriented drivers who need four doors. With a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder engines, and even a hybrid model, the 2012 Altima Sedan covers a wide price bracket with features ranging from basic needs to cutting edge. Regrettably, Nissan has chosen to drop its manual transmission, even from the V6 cars, leaving a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) as the only choice. The CVT is excellent for maximizing fuel economy and power, and it even features a program to make it feel as though it is shifting gears like a traditional transmission. But, if you want to know the joy of shifting for yourself, you'll have to look to the Honda Accord, Kia Optima or Mazda Mazda6 for that thrill.
The 2012 Nissan Altima Sedan is a car with multiple personalities. In base form, it serves those seeking a low-cost source of secure transportation while still enjoying some nice standard features. Go big, and you can be driving a potent V6-powered sport sedan loaded with everything from a Bose audio system to voice-activated navigation.
If the "newest and the latest" are a big part of your car-buying criteria, the aging 2012 Nissan Altima probably won't excite you. The Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata offer fresher skin and cost less when comparably equipped. Others worth considering include the VW Passat, Dodge Charger and Toyota Camry.
Changes for 2012 are limited to a new Value Package that includes Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, auto on/off headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and HomeLink. Bluetooth is now standard on the 3.5 SR and available on the 2.5 S.
Driving Impressions The key to the 2012 Nissan Altima Sedan's longevity is a rigid body structure that helps boost the car's sporty driving characteristics. Even the base cars with their smaller wheel...and tire packages and 4-cylinder engines are fun to drive. The action gets more intense when you move the V6-powered 3.5 SR, which offers 270 horses under the hood, bigger wheels, and a performance suspension. Again, there are newer and better suspensions out there, but the Altima still offers a pleasant combination of comfortable ride and good handling that should satisfy all but the most hard-core drivers. The Altima Sedan's 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) deliver competent and consistent stops, 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 and economy and lessen 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 4-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 2012 Nissan Altima Sedan's cabin is a handsome design that has stood the test of time well. Nissan adds a generous helping of quality plastics and soft-touch surfaces, as well as numerous storage spots for drinks, cell phones and valuables. Controls are logically placed and easy to view, backlit with white or red lighting. The instrument cluster houses the tachometer, speedometer, fuel and temp gauges, again with white font and bright red needles. As for comfort, we found the Altima Sedan's seats a bit soft, needing more in the way of lateral and lower back support. Rear-seat accommodations are fine for two adults, but those needing maximum head or legroom will probably want to look elsewhere, perhaps at the Dodge Charger or Honda Accord. The Altima's 60/40 rear split-bench seat can be folded down, accessing the 15.3-cubic-foot trunk.Exterior
Covered in traditional Nissan styling details, the 2012 Altima Sedan is trying to keep pace with a rapidly expanding field of newer, fresher competitors, but it's getting tougher every year. New wheel designs help the car look current, as do little touches such as the available rear spoiler and bright metallic paint. Upper-end trims include foglights, chrome trim around the deck lid and tailpipes, and integrated turn signals in the side mirrors.
Even the low-volume, 2012 Nissan 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 its V6 power the 3.5 SR appeals to driving enthusiasts with its 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 is 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 2012 Altima Sedans offer the choice of an in-line-4 cylinder engine 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 @ 5,600 rpm
170 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm (California)
180 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
175 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm (California)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32
270 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27
By visu on Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,300overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great control, confident on the turns, Awesome CVT"
Cons: "blind spot, you have to adjust the mirror right"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The design of the car centered on the driver. The control is awesome, turning as if on track. The CVT is so smooth that you do not notice the change of gears. The sound quality is great. I always enjoy the music from the premium sound. The key less feature is so convenient and will not allow key be locked inside."
By Joey on Monday, December 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "like it"
Cons: "so far none"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Its a nice car even though I am barely 4'9". I am very short but yet this car is nice to drive, carry passengers and some cargo like a wheel chair or walker. The V6 makes it feel sporty but the issue with the car for me is that I had to give up my money to my brother so he can buy himself one even though this car was a gift to him. I was going to trade it in but I am reconsidering of just keeping it for at least 6 years. Its my first car, even though it was a hand down in mint condition (inside) from my brother to me. Now that I have it, I am taking care of it and now I have it so clean that my brother is regretting getting a new car."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Sadie on Tuesday, December 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive comfortable"
Cons: "Needs transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"The car runs great drives nice and is extremely comfortable but needs a new transmission. It's great on gas getting about 25 miles to the gallon"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Jaz on Monday, December 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very comfortable and reliable; fun to drive sedan"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned my 2010 Altima SL for 5 years and have had NO problems whatsoever. It is fun to drive (great pick-up) and very comfortable - even for my 6'3" 200 lb. husband. I recently had a 100k mile check-up, and the only things the mechanic did were to replace the spark plugs and a serpentine belt, and check everything out. He reported that it was in GREAT condition. I actually had to ask friends for a recommendation for a good mechanic because I have never needed one since owning this vehicle. I recently moved to a slightly rural area, and find that I need a vehicle capable of transporting various items that will not fit in the trunk (even though my Altima has a very good-sized one). I am now interested in purchasing a mid-size SUV."
4 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Billy on Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The 2007 Altima 2.5 SL is a great car for the money. It is one of the most reliable vehicles on the market. With the exceptional interior quality and plenty of power (for a 4-cylinder) I would not hesitate to buy this vehhicle again."
15 people out of 27 found this review helpful
By Jon on Wednesday, November 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "blind spot"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"only negative in 7 yrs. of ownership is a blind spot on drivers side. brakes lasted over 70000 miles."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful