Four-cylinder and V6 engines with continuously variable transmissions and impressively low fuel consumption.
Once upon a time, automakers used to wait two or three models years before introducing changes to their products but the increasingly popular philosophy of continual improvement is working well for Nissan. Its popular mid-size Altima has a graceful shape that’s sure to find favor with potential owners, while the well-appointed interior has NASA-inspired “zero-gravity” front seats for greater comfort. Cabin noise is reduced thanks to sound-absorbing materials around the instrument panel, floor and roof areas and the upgraded engine mounts that improve isolation. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers 182 horsepower while a continuously variable transmission (CVT) has fewer moving parts, significantly reduced friction and electronic-control improvements so that it more closely mimics a traditional multi-speed automatic (with less noise). Nissan claims fuel performance of 27 mpg city and 38 highway, compared with 23/32 for the previous Altima. While the output of the optional 3.5-liter V6 still makes 270 horsepower output remains unchanged, it now gains one mpg on the highway cycle. That means 22 mpg in the city and 31 highway, which is pretty decent. Altima boasts “Active Understeer Control” that applies light braking pressure to the inside wheel in a corner to counteract a vehicle’s natural tendency to continue in a straight line. Also assisting the driver is Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire Alert that was initially installed in the Quest minivan. Instead of trying to decipher your tire pressure gauge (especially daunting at night), the horn will sound when the correct amount of inflation has been reached. Finally, the Altima’s headlights automatically turn on after the wipers have completed four cycles, which helps other drivers see you during downpour conditions. There are actually seven Altima trims, but for 2015 several add-on packages have been introduced, renamed or had their contents changed, with the most dramatic being the addition of navigation, Bluetooth integration, blind-spot warning, moving-object detection and lane-departure warning as standard equipment in most V6 models.