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2012 Nissan Altima

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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.

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 1046 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
    9.1/10

I love this car

By on Monday, January 25, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun to drive, reliable, comfortable, stylish"

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

"I have had this car for the past 4 years and bought it from my parents who drove it off the lot. I love it. It has been a reliable car, no major issues or concerns. I am just starting to have to change brakes and some of the other more expensive but basically maintenance stuff. I had to replace a weird switch for the push button start a couple of years ago, but it wasn't expensive or difficult. It is a very comfortable and stylish car that still looks as good as new. It has aged really well already. I'm looking forward to how well it does for the next 100k miles."

Best Vehicle I've Owned

By on Friday, January 15, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 132,000

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: "Reliable"

Cons: "4 cylinder....should have got V6"

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

"I have owned a chevy cavalier and Mazda 6. I purchased this car new in Nov. 2010. I've have never had an issue with this car."

Solid midsize sedan

By on Thursday, December 31, 2015

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
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Quiet, smooth, solid handling, reliable, fuel econ"

Cons: "Rear leg room, CVT refinement, passenger seat"

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

"Top trim level 2.5SL with leather & Bose stereo. Quiet, smooth ride. Sharp handling for its class. Excellent factory stereo. Large trunk. Folding rear seatback. Very comfortable driver's seat with multiple power adjustments, BUT passenger front seat not adjustable (only fore-aft/seatback tilt. CVT calibrated for max fuel efficiency so can 'lug' a bit at times. Outstanding mileage for this much room (actual ave 24-27mpg city/suburban,33-35mpg highway @ 70-75mph). 100% reliable with nothing but routine maintenance."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Fun to drive, comfy and reliable car

By on Thursday, November 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Gas saver, reliable, good looks"

Cons: "bad after sales service"

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

"I love this car. The style was better than the boring Camry and Accord. My first Nissan car and I am pleasantly surprised with the great reliability and performance. It's a hybrid and saves me a lot on gas. It has room and power same as a regular sedan unlike the Prius. I took it only one time to the shop for a major engine repair but it was still under warranty so no worries. The only problem is the after sales service by Nissan. The dealer have only few people and could not catch up with the growing number of Altima and Leaf owners. It takes an hour and a half just to drop off your car so it is like losing 3 hours (including pick-up) of your precious weekend just to have it serviced."

10 people out of 15 found this review helpful

I was a nice ride even after 120K

By on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 121,000

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
6/10
Comfort
10/10

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

"Love this vehicle...wouldn't have sold it had I not been pregnant...it had a sporty ride, transmission is not noisy at all"

13 people out of 24 found this review helpful

Best experience I have ever had with an automobile

By on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000

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: "Drives smooth, great on the hwy, 18 gallon tan"

Cons: "None"

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

"Having retired from GM after 30 years in 1999, I have owned a lot of cars. Not saying I haven't had some great experiences with those, especially since I bought a new car every 6 months. I bought my Nissan used and have had it for 5 years and, other than normal maintenance, I have not any problems with this car whatsoever. When I look at it, I forget that it is 7 years old. It still feels new to me."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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