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 LegalBeagle on Monday, January 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "16,000 miles"
Cons: "It is over 36 months, there is no warranty"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased the vehicle in July of 2011 and have literally only driven it to work and back for the past 3 1/2 years. It has cloth seats and is in excellent condition."
By Dave on Thursday, January 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good acceleration"
Cons: "Poor engineering of suspension"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The car does not hold it's alignment which means tire life is poor. 5 alignments in 4 years! My third set of tires are worn out. My 11 year old car that I still own is only on its 4th alignment and third set of tires with over 135K miles. All four breaks and rotors gone. The 11 year old finally had to put rear breaks on it and I tow a camper with it. 3 out of 4 air pressure sensors have already gone bad. All 4 still work in the 11 year old. The clock constantly gains time. It has been replaced 4 times with each having the same issue. It will be my first car I trade in before I hit over 140K miles. I usually can get 10+ years out of them."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Happyfeet on Saturday, January 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "very afordable."
Cons: "every one on the road have one."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"My experience with my Altima has been a fill me up and go ,It is fun to drive very stylish and and overall well made car."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By thomas on Friday, January 16, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 123,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fast, fun to drive"
Cons: "poor paint job"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"While I love my Altima I was disappointed in the quality of paint used on my model. The paint chipped quickly and I had to get my hood and front bumper re painted from normal wear and tear after 1 yr. My car had the mass air flow sensor go out right at 65000 which is a pretty hefty expense which left my mpg stuck at 27.2 not the 38 they advertise. After it was replaced it never got good gas mileage again. :("
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By AbbyDee on Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good price, sleek body style"
Cons: "no power seats, sound system could be better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car is beautiful on the outside. I would recommend to get the 3.5L instead of the 4cyl since there is not much get up and go compared to a V6 but it is a great car none the less."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By HeadGasketS on Friday, January 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "great power and lower price point"
Cons: "Requires PREMIUM gas which is more expensive!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"We have had 2 head gaskets replaced in 2 years. between 62,000 and 82,000 miles....spent Approx $5,500 and 5 weeks in the DEALER's shop. This car is not built for longevity. 3.5L motor is fast and furious, but head / block design is inferior."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful