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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 1053 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

2.5 SL Sedan - Disappointing Reliability

By on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 101,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Comfort, gas mileage, style"

Cons: "The Key FOB sets off alarm by accident. Quality"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"I have owned my Altima since new. Like the driving dynamics, Roomy Interior, and Gas Mileage. Unfortunately, I have had 2 major things go wrong. 1) the A/C compressor went after about 70,000 miles. 2) the CVT transmission went and stranded my daughter at 98,000 miles. Fortunately, Nissan recently doubled the CVT warranty due to so many problems but it still quit way too soon. I guess it was too much to ask for 100K miles of trouble free driving like I've seen with many other vehicles."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Best &most reliable vehicle ever!

By on Sunday, June 19, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

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: "outsatnding vehicle in every aspect!!"

Cons: "newer models size reduced"

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

"Outstanding car! the inside has soooo much room and trunk as well! But nissan made the models(altima 3.5 sr) after 2010 smaller to compete with the mileage and the roominess was drastically reduced!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Love

By on Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

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

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

"I own this car and love it. 2007 white with only 65,000 miles. I'm keeping her until she dies her last breath. With regular check ups you couldn't ask for a better car. If you find one with low miles buy it! You won't be sorry."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Effortless Ownership

By on Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

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
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "value, responsive, comfort, interior, spacious"

Cons: "none"

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

"I purchased this car for my son. Wanted the most reliable and safest car out there. Also wanted something with enough zip that he could easily avoid trouble, but not so much zip that he'd be spinning the wheels. I ended up driving the car myself for a year before he got his license. I hated to give it up and since then the car has not disappointed. Just make sure you change the oil and rotate the tires. That is about all the maintenance that is required. This car has not disappointed and I imagine it will last another 70K miles minimum. Can't recommend it enough."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Hybrid technology works!

By on Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 155,535

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Easy driver, great economy 29-32 MPG"

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

"This car has required new tires, brakes all around, new engine battery, Serpentine belt, fluids changed, new wipers and dealer safety check. Total out of pocket over 9 years is about $433.00/yr. Not bad for a family and commute car. I would do it again."

5 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Silver Bullet

By on Thursday, April 28, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 101,000

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
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, great gas mileage, leather"

Cons: "I can't think of any...."

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

"I bought this car 4 years ago to save on gas as I commuted 140 miles a day. My commute was a "set it and forget it" commute - I set my cruise control at 74 mph and didn't have to touch the brakes until I arrived at my exit....so, all the miles are highway, easy miles. I have consistently had the car serviced and don't drive it near enough now....I work from home and have not commuted for the last 10 months. I am looking to purchase a SUV and either trade my car or sell it. My silver bullet has been fun to drive - it has many bells/whistles for comfort and entertainment."

9 people out of 14 found this review helpful

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