By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.2
Being one of the best-selling vehicles in one of the best-selling segments – midsize sedans – can be a double-edged sword. It's great to be a leader, but the pressure is always on to outdo your rivals. Amid this scenario, the 2016 Nissan Altima continues to command respect for its comfort, spaciousness and efficiency. Thanks to a significant update inside and out, the latest Altima remains competitive with stalwarts such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, as well as ever-better players like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. The new, sportier Altima SR trim that is available with both 4- or 6-cylinder variants should also help Nissan's midsize sedan by widening its appeal.
If you want a roomy, comfortable family sedan with excellent fuel economy, handsome looks and easy manners, the Nissan Altima checks all the right boxes. Its starting price of just over $23,000 is also attractive.
KBB Expert Ratings
The Altima sedan undergoes a substantial mid-cycle refresh for 2016, with new sheet metal for the hood and fenders, redesigned headlights, new taillight design and an updated interior. Active grille shutters enhance fuel efficiency, and gee-whiz safety features are also available. The sporty Altima SR is a new trim.
The new SR trim notwithstanding, the 2016 Nissan Altima keeps its focus on offering a comfortable, quiet ride. In this regard it's more on par with a Chevrolet Malibu and Toyota Camry than the athletic and nimble Mazda6. For drivers desiring slightly better handling, the Altima SR grants that with a stiffer suspension and larger, 18-inch wheels (but no extra horsepower). Power itself from the 4-cylinder engine that most buyers opt for is adequate, while the 270-horsepower V6 used in 3.5 models makes the Altima surprisingly spry. The Altima continues to use a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It returns excellent fuel economy, but takes some getting used since it forgoes the predictable shift points of a traditional automatic. SR models and the top-line 3.5 SL include paddle shifters that enable the driver to mimic gear changes.
PREDICTIVE FORWARD COLLISION WARNING (PFCW)
Ever wish you could sense what the car ahead of the car ahead is doing? This feature – deemed a world's first when it debuted for luxury division Infiniti – can sense two vehicles ahead. If that car suddenly brakes, the Altima alerts the driver so a collision can be averted.
EASY FILL TIRE ALERT
Falling squarely into the why-didn't-anybody-think-of-this-before category is the Nissan Altima's Easy Fill Tire Alert. Using the tire-pressure-monitoring system – standard on all cars since 2007 – the Altima's horn honks and the lights flash to let you know you've added enough air to the tires.
The 2016 Altima has room for five and good legroom in back. Up front all come with Nissan's zero gravity seats. Said to be inspired by NASA, the seats are indeed comfortable for a variety of body shapes, whether outfitted in the standard cloth or optional leather. The most notable difference in 2016 Altimas is a tidier, C-shaped center stack that in all but base models houses a color information screen. The front cup holders can now accommodate cups with handles. With 15.4 cubic feet of space, the Altima's trunk is spacious, and the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split.
2016 brings a new, good-looking V-shaped grille design and sleek headlight housing to the front of the Altima, while the rear is endeared with a more expressive bumper and taillight housings that extend horizontally into the trunk door. SR variants of the Altima are distinguished with a subtle integrated spoiler. All models feature a pair of chrome exhaust housings for an athletic vibe. Overall, we'll call the Altima's shape handsome and still on the conservative end of the sedan spectrum. It may not pop as much as others, but the design should hold up well in the years ahead.
The Altima is available in seven trims, from the base 2.5 to the top-line 3.5 SL. Spring for the least expensive and you'll get an automatic transmission (optional on some rivals) and basic amenities like power doors, windows and air conditioning, along with push-button ignition, keyless entry and Bluetooth connectivity. The base audio system is a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary input but no USB port. We suggest spending the extra $400 to step up to the Altima 2.5 S, which includes a rearview monitor, cruise control, hands-free text-messaging assistant, NissanConnect suite of mobile apps, automatic headlights and 5-inch color monitor.
Continuing to climb trims brings amenities like a power driver's seat, leather interior, aluminum-alloy wheels, power moonroof and LED headlights. Many extras are bundled into packages and vary by trim. Highlights include a navigation system with upgraded 7-inch touch screen, a cold-weather package with heated front seats and steering wheel, and technology packages with everything from blind-spot monitoring and dynamic cruise control to the Predictive Forward Collision Warning we praised in Favorite Features. Audio buffs can delight their ears with a 9-speaker Bose premium sound system.
Unlike many rivals that offer hybrid, diesel and various turbocharged gasoline powerplants, the Altima keeps it simple with two offerings: a 4-cylinder in 2.5 models and a V6 in the 3.5. Both use a CVT automatic transmission. Thanks to active grille shutters, revised engine compression ratio and less internal friction, the already-efficient 4-cylinder Altima gains another mpg for 2016: It now earns 39 mpg on the highway. V6 models, meanwhile, still post a respectable 32 mpg, and both engines run just fine on regular unleaded.
182 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
180 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/39 mpg, 26/37 mpg (SR models)
270 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
251 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg
The 2016 Nissan Altima has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $23,335 for the base model. But for $400 more, it's a no-brainer to step up to the 2.5 S, which boasts significant features like a rearview camera, cruise control and 5-inch color display. The sporty SR variant is still a good deal at $25,305. A V6 Altima starts just over $28,000. Fully loaded, a 3.5 SL Altima can reach the mid-$30,000 mark. These prices are in line with major rivals like the Camry, Accord and Ford Fusion, and are slightly above the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and all-wheel-drive Subaru Legacy. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Nissan. As for the Altima's resale value, we expect it to be about average, trailing leaders like the Subaru Legacy, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.