Overall: A significant visual makeover for Nissan’s bread-and-butter sedan should get buyers’ attention; new SR added to the existing trim levels.
Drivetrain: Four-cylinder and V6 engines with continuously variable transmissions remain unchanged, except for a slight improvement in four-cylinder fuel economy.
Mid-cycle refreshes aren’t what they used to be. For example, instead if a nip here and tuck there, Honda gave the 2016 Accord coupe and sedan major styling updates. Not to be outdone, Nissan is following suit with similar changes for the Altima sedan. The grille is bolder than before, although not quite to the same degree as the latest Murano and Maxima. The headlights, hood and front fenders are also new as are the trunk lid and taillights. The revised body structure has been strengthened around the roof pillars and additional sound-deadening measures result, says Nissan, in a quieter cabin. Unchanged is the Altima’s base 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, while a 270-horsepower V6 remains optional. Each is linked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). According to Nissan, aerodynamic improvements and active grille shutters (that force air to move around the vehicle instead of being trapped inside the engine bay) results in a one-mpg fuel-economy-rating improvement for the 2.5, to 39 mpg from 38. Along with the existing S, SV and SL models, a new SR trim, which slots between the S and SV, is available with either the four-cylinder or V6. It includes all of the S basics plus sportier suspension tuning, paddle shifters that control the CVT, fog lights, a deck-lid spoiler and unique 18-inch alloy wheels (16-inch steelies are standard for the S). On the safety front, all models come with “Active Understeer Control” that applies light braking pressure to the inside front wheel in a corner. This counteracts a vehicle’s natural tendency to continue in a straight line when the front wheels are turned. Also assisting the driver is Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire Alert that sounds the car’s horn when the correct tire inflation has been reached. As well, the Altima’s headlights automatically turn on after the wipers have completed four cycles, which helps other drivers see you during downpour conditions.