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2012 Nissan Altima

Overview
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2012 Nissan Altima Review

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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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2012

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 the Altima

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.
Favorite Features

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.

2012 Nissan Altima Details
2012 Nissan Altima photo Interior

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
2012 Nissan Altima photo

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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

3.5-liter V6
270 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27

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2012 Nissan Altima Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 931 Ratings for the 2007 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    9.2/10

Love this car!

By on Sunday, April 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fairly uncommon car, super reliable"

Cons: "Tire pressure light is always on"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This was my first Nissan (former Honda Civic owner and fan). Bought it mostly for the look - super pleased with the reliability!"

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Best car

By on Sunday, March 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "everything"

Cons: "seat too hard & long for someone with short legs"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is the only car I have ever owned that I still like 4 years later! I usually want something different within the first year. It has a comfortable ride, excellent horse power. Something I never would have thought of as a "perk" is it has a lot of drink holders. My friends car doesn't and it actually makes a difference. My only negative to this car is that I find the drivers seat uncomfortable but then I have short legs. Other than wishing the seat was softer and didn't hit the back of my knees...this car rocks!"

2 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Best Vehicle ever owned

By on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,600

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "best value for price"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"It hardly had 1500o miles on it since i bought it july 2012. I maintained it single handedly and its brand new. check out by yourself with no scratches."

Rented a 2014 Nissan Altima and my 2011 was better

By on Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 92,321

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Stops on a dime, great handling and suspension"

Cons: "The salesman told me it had bluetooth-false"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is a great car with some of the best handling and long trip ease I have ever enjoyed. The suspension keeps you from getting tired on long trips and it will stop on a dime! Love my car! It always feels new though I have had it since the end of 2010!"

very fair price buy used and save money

By on Saturday, March 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "smooth transmission great gas mileage"

Cons: "engine is a little noisy`"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Excellent driving CAR. reliable and safe very good on gas the hybrid model gets high 30's in town and the same on the highway .This is one of three Nissan cars I have owned for sure one of my favorites."

Very Nice Efficient Vehicle

By on Saturday, March 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"2010 Hybrid that we have owned for 2 years. Great driving and riding car, quiet, smooth, good acceleration, no problems. We have gone on 2500 mile trip and love the car. We average 33 mpg, got over 35 on the trip @ 70 plus. Also owned a 2008 Prius so I know hybrids and this is a good one. Only complaint is the bottom of the power driver's seat is too thinly padded. If you can find one, buy it."

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