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2016 nissan altima
EPA est City/Hwy
27/39
Starting at
$22,500
Engine
2.5L I4
Power
182 hp
Powered by Nissan
Starting at
$22,500
Engine
2.5L I4

Power
182 hp
EPA - est City/Hwy
27/39
Seats
5


2016 Nissan Altima The Car Connection


MSRP Starting From

$22,500


The Car Connection Expert Review
Christian Gulliksen

Christian Gulliksen

Editor

MSRP Starting From

$22,500


DISLIKES
  • Borderline bland interior
  • CVT is the only transmission available
  • Less sporty handling than previous models

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The Altima has adopted some of the sleek Maxima's styling cues; it's more traditional inside.

The Altima gets a fresh new look at its nose and tail for the 2016 model year. Its hood and fenders have been reshaped, its front fascia lowered, and its grille now features an up-to-date Nissan look. At the rear, wider taillights join a new fascia, trunk lid, and bumper. Sheet metal in between remains the same, but that isn't a bad thing. The overall effect is of a less spectacular Maxima. You won't, for instance, find a canopy-effect roofline at the Altima's C-pillar—here, it just flows smoothly into the rear fender.

Nissan added a sport-oriented SR model to the lineup, and it's notable for smoked headlight housings, daytime running lights, fog lights, a rear decklid spoiler, and aluminum-alloy wheels. Inside the SR, blue stitching on the seats, steering wheel, and shift knob gives contrast to the black upholstery.

The design-heavy exterior doesn't translate into a rather straightforward cabin layout. There are some nice undulations in the shape of the dashboard, but they're restrained and symmetrical. A center stack places controls where they're easy to access and use; beneath is a large cubby, and there's also a usefully large storage bin in a wide center console, where you'll also find the gear selector and cup holders.

Finishes are generally good, and soft-touch plastics dominate—except at the door pulls, where it's hard, wide-grain plastic. It's probably as durable as possible.

The Altima has adopted some of the sleek Maxima's styling cues; it's more traditional inside.

360° Exterior View

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With its new priority on a quiet ride and high fuel economy, the Altima's athletic feel is subdued—except in the sporty SR trim.

Recent generations of Altima sedans had an immediacy of steering feel and a more tightly damped ride that made them feel like the sports coupes of the class. Like the Ford Fusion, the Altima was the "other" choice in a class full of softly sprung four-doors. But with its move to a luxury-car level of shock performance and a plush ride, the current generation had surrendered that "other" status and its resolutely firm, taut ride to the VW Passat and Ford Fusion.

That may be about to change, though, as Nissan redesigns the Altima's independent suspension for 2016 with new Sachs shock absorbers, rear springs, and bushings chosen for their ability to deliver more dynamic handling. Active Understeer Control applies braking to inside front wheels to tighten cornering lines. Sixteen-inch wheels are now standard on the Altima; 17- and 18-inch wheels and tires are available.

We've spent time in the commuter-queen SL and the performance-oriented SR. About the SR: It's not just a styling exercise. In addition to revised damper tuning, Nissan has increase stiffness in front and rear stabilizer bars—by a full 258 percent at the rear. It's also fitted with 18-inch tires, and a manual mode with paddle shifters for the continuously variable transmission (CVT). The result is a sedan with a strongly sporty feel that feels confident and planted in the daily maneuvers encountered by the drivers of family cars. It's a nice approximation of a sport sedan. The one drawback is overly light steering that may be the result of tires chosen for optimal fuel economy.

In the SL, the ride is relatively soft but not so much that the suspension bottoms out over hard bumps or wallows excessively in transient handling maneuvers. On a winding road, it crisply steers from left to right and back to left without hesitation and it's stable and steady at speed, not requiring small steering inputs to go straight. The Altima does not achieve the crispness or refinement of the current Honda Accord, but it appears to offer a good value.

Altima buyers choose between two engines. Those looking to save money will love the base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. It produces 182 hp, and gets to 60 mph in just under eight seconds. The CVT has been heavily reworked, and it's considerably more responsive than it has been in the past—especially in sport-shift mode, where it moves more quickly in the rev range, making the most of the smaller engine's power. This engine is loud, though, and the CVT doesn't do it any favors there. Drivers will be discouraged from running it all the way toward the redline, even though it's surprisingly refined at those engine speeds.

The CVT that comes on all models is smooth and responsive. It works so well in everyday usage that it goes unnoticed and many drivers may not even become aware that it is a continuously variable transmission. Nissan has been a leader in this technology for quite some time and it shows.

The swift Altima comes with a 270-hp 3.5-liter V-6. It's fitted with a CVT too, but to go with its manual-shift mode, it also gets paddle shifters and simulated gear ratios that click the engine down a few hundred rpm once it flies too close to the redline. It's effortlessly smooth compared to the inline-4, very quick (60 mph in about 7.1 seconds), and not too thirsty.

With its new priority on a quiet ride and high fuel economy, the Altima's athletic feel is subdued—except in the sporty SR trim.

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The Altima's cabin has supremely comfortable front seats and good rear-seat space.

The Altima's priority on comfort reaps benefits in the cabin, where road noise is almost successfully muted. For instance, the Altima does a far better job than the Passat or Sonata of filtering out tire drone on the highway. The exhaust note of the four-cylinder makes its presence known, but the V-6 is rarely more than a mellow hum.

Fit and finish is mostly successful, though some plastic trim looks cheap—if, perhaps, durable. The shiny upholstery in the all-black interior in our test SR looked almost cheap, but woven mats countered with an upscale look.

The cabin feels spacious for four adults—five in a pinch. With 45 inches of leg room and 40 inches of head room, the front seat has more than adequate space for taller drivers. The rear seat looks cavernous, but even with a fairly steep rake headroom drops to 37.1 inches—just enough to keep tall passengers from making contact with the headliner; rear legroom of 36.1 inches is about average for the class, but there isn't much room for feet under the front seats. Rear seatbacks are split 60/40, and fold down for access to the trunk.

Nissan claims that the shape and compression of their "Zero Gravity" seats were inspired by NASA research, and we've found them to be comfortable on trips short and long. The Altima's dash cuts into a little of the knee room, though, leaving cars like the Passat with an advantage there. The driver's seat is a standard power six-way adjustable seat, with the option to upgrade to eight ways, but the passenger seat remains manual in most trims.

The Altima's 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space is about average for the class. We're disappointed by some unfinished areas ahead of the hinges—exposed speakers and the like—although the Sonata has also been a culprit. As a nice touch, Nissan has seatback releases inside the cabin and in the trunk—they're made of lightweight fabric rather than plastic, and we admire the mix of ingenuity and cost-cutting.

The Altima's cabin has supremely comfortable front seats and good rear-seat space.

Excellent crash-test scores should carry over with the new Altima.

The new Altima has more safety gear than ever, starting with the requisite dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; and tire pressure monitors. Nissan uses those monitors cleverly for Easy Fill, a system that lets you put air into the tires until the horn sounds—your signal that the tire pressure's reached the recommended level, no gauge required.

The 2016 Altima has expanded its suite of available safety features to include alerts for blind spots, and rear cross traffic; adaptive cruise control; and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. Sensors in the optional forward-collision warning system can detect unexpected slowing from vehicles traveling in front of the vehicle you're following, even if they're not in your view.

Nissan restricts automatic emergency braking to the range-topping Altima SL, however, where it is optional. We would prefer to see this important technology available on more trim levels.

The 2016 Altima earns a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS with top "Good" marks across the board in its various crash tests. It's also rated "Superior" for front crash protection, with optional equipment.

And the NHTSA largely agrees, awarding the Altima five stars overall.

Excellent crash-test scores should carry over with the new Altima.


NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2016 Nissan Altima Models

Overall Rating

5/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (4/5)



Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2016 Nissan Altima Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Good
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Good
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good


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The Altima's missing some tech features, but base models are competitively equipped.

Nissan offers an inline-4 or V-6 Altima. All get an enhanced trip computer and related functions with a 4.0-inch LCD screen between the gauges, depicting the car—in the correct color—in a 3-D-like effect. The display shows information on fuel economy, trip distance, tire pressures, audio functions, and directions when a navigation system is included.

Bluetooth now comes standard on the sedan, as does audio streaming and incoming text-to-voice translation, along with a CD player, an auxiliary jack, and a 5.0-inch audio display. The Altima's infotainment system also permits streaming from Pandora, and accepts mapping information from Google Maps, too. A larger 7.0-inch touchscreen comes on pricier models, along with navigation and real-time traffic data. All but the base model now come with Siri Eyes Free, which offers voice control for Apple devices.

Key features on the 2.5 S include a rearview camera, steering wheel-mounted controls, automatic headlights, and keyless ignition. A 2.5 SV comes with blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, 17-inch wheels, and satellite radio. The 2.5 SR adds a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, and special exterior and interior trim. Upgrading to a 2.5 SL brings leather upholstery, Bose audio, heated front seats and steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The 3.5 SR adds LED headlights to the 2.5 SR's standard features. The range-topping 3.5 SL builds on the 2.5 SL's features with equipment like navigation, an eight-way power driver seat and four-way power passenger seat, a moonroof, rear air conditioning vents, and front and rear sonar sensors.

Many features from higher-spec Altimas are available in optional packages for the rest of the range.

The Altima's missing some tech features, but base models are competitively equipped.


Vehicle Incentives and Rebates

8 Incentives Available for 2016 Nissan Altima


1

Payment Waiver

2

Finance

2

Lease Rate

1

Balloon Rate

2

Residual

4

Cash


Get Incentives


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The Altima's real-world fuel economy nearly matches its sky-high EPA ratings.

The Nissan Altima's frugal four-cylinder powertrain simply delivers better economy than any mid-size sedan can. Its EPA-rated gas mileage this year rises to 27 mpg city, 39 highway, 31 combined.

On the sporty SR model, however, it drops to 26/37/30 mpg. With the V-6 and continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Altima is rated at 22/32/26 mpg.

Both the four-cylinder Altima and the V-6 version come equipped with a single transmission. The CVT uses a set of pulleys and a belt to simulate an infinite number of gear ratios—on V-6 drivetrains, with some electronically constructed "gears" programmed in along the way for a more conventional driving feel. The CVT has seen progress over the years: in 2013 Nissan changed out 70 percent of its parts in the name of efficiency, for a reduction in friction of 40 percent, which helped the Altima reach its current sky-high EPA ratings, which outpoint perennial economy winners like the Accord and Camry (at least, in non-hybrid versions).

The Altima's real-world fuel economy nearly matches its sky-high EPA ratings.


Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2.5 L, CVT

31

Combined

3.2 gals/100 miles

27

City


39

Highway


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