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 Ben2All50 on Saturday, October 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great styling, comfortable"
Cons: "CVT, so-so gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I've had this Altima for 3 years. Here's a list of pros and cons. PROS * Nice styling inside and out * Comfortable seats * Lots of legroom front and back * Quiet, comfortable ride * Push button ignition. Keep the keys in your pocket, purse, etc. (You'll find yourself walking up to any other car and forgetting to hunt for the keys.) * Good handling in snow and slippery roads * Controls feel solid and intuitive * Vents high in center dash vent cold A/C air above your hands so they don't get cold CONS * So-so mpg. 24 winter 26 summer 28-30 if all highway * Expensive CVT trans fluid changes. Min. $200. Kind of wipes out whatever fuel savings the CVT is supposed to create. * CVT has a somewhat annoying motorboat sound when accelerating--high steady throttle gradually tapers off as car speed increases. * Very touchy gas pedal makes smooth starts difficult * Heat comes forward from under dash so the hot air comes up to your face but can leave your feet cold * Plastic center console creaks when your arm is resting on it"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By HENry on Saturday, October 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Affordable, awesome to drive.. smooth when driven."
Cons: "dashboard has cracks from heat. cover will fix it"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"the car is smooth when driven.. only issue is the dashboard has been slightly melted and small cracks.. the rest of the interior still like new... i guess the heat is what ruined the dashboard.. to me it is still minor.. a dashboard cover can fix the problem.."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By DragonWrathChylde151 on Saturday, October 11, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"This was my first brand new off the lot ever purchase. It had maybe 100 miles give or take a few as I drove away. Payments were extreme, but given $0 down and not to good of credit -- can you blame them? When I was deemed disabled due to multiple diagnosis and lost my job, I filed for a disability claim with the disability insurance I had purchased with the car. Only to have it repossessed in the middle of the night, where the repo company dropped it causing damage to the vehicle that the Nissan Motor Finance Company tried to bill me for. Financial institution aside this is a very fun, energetic, luxurious, sporty little sedan."
By Snake on Saturday, September 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well appointed and comfortable. Drives nice."
Cons: "Front end too low, body parts not sturdy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"It's a comfortable, well appointed car but the front end is too low and always getting damaged. The body doesn't hold together well, minor bumps and scrapes cause parts to detach. The interior is very nice, convenient and comfortable."
9 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By speedfan on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Affordable to own and maintain."
Cons: "Engine noise, headroom, fuel milage."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Has been affordable to maintain, no large expenses for repairs. Dealer has taken care of a couple of small problems at minimal cost. Car should use more headroom, I am 5'10" and it is still tight. Fuel milage is average, 26 hwy on trips, should be a little higher on a 4 cylinder. Interior has held up well and paint is as new after 80,000 miles. Overall room in vehicle is excellent, keyless is pretty handy for daily use."
13 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By rlcox on Sunday, September 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "It's beauty, it's performance, etc."
Cons: "The seat gets a tad bit hard after LONG drives"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this model of the Altima. It is sporty, sexy, just a beautiful car. What a disappointment the new model is. I think they think they made it better but it is ugly. My hope is that we can keep my car going with regular maintenance. I LOVE it!"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful