The Nissan Altima is a good midsize sedan and coupe, offered with four- and six-cylinder engines that balance power with fuel efficiency. Nissan's build quality and sporty character set it apart from most competitors, though this segment is particularly crowded.
Both sedan and coupe models come with an available 270-hp V-6, while only the coupe offers a six-speed manual as well as the sedan's continuously variable automatic transmission. Most buyers opt for the more restrained 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Each model features a suspension tuned for decent handling characteristics, adequate stopping power, and highway mileage up to 32 mpg for the four-cylinder and 27 mpg for the V-6.
Inside, the Altima is comfortable and uncluttered. Basic necessities are standard, and a premium Bose audio package is optional. The Altima has ample space for feet and groceries and kids.
Sedan models start at $20,410, $22,570 for S, and $25,430 for 3.5 SR, while coupes begin at $23,600 and $28,430, taxes and fees excluded.
With the usual assortment of safety features plus inspired ride and performance, it's not difficult to see why Nissan sells 200,000 Altimas a year
Body style: five-passenger, four-door sedan and five-passenger, two-door coupe
Engines: 175-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 270-hp 3.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: six-speed manual or CVT
Models: 2.5 sedan, 2.5 S sedan, 3.5 SR sedan, 2.5 S coupe, 3.5 SR coupe
Nissan dropped the Hybrid for 2012, instead focusing on packages to supplement sedan and coupe models. A new Value Package is added to last year's Special Edition Package, both for the 2.5 S sedan, while the Convenience Package, Premium Package, and Leather Package all return for 2012 coupes.
In addition, a Dark Slate exterior color replaces the previous Metallic Slate offered on sedans.
Heightened by the chrome "T-shaped" grill, the mini-Maxima's exterior is unchanged for 2012. For the most part, that's okay--if your interest is piqued by a hood bulge and chrome exhaust tips. The sedan's plastic-bubble shape is safe and unassuming at all trims with huge wheel arches and undersized wheel/tire package. The coupe still looks like a smaller, less aggressive Infiniti G37 coupe.
Nothing new here, just a quiet, high-visibility cockpit with sufficient head/leg/shoulder space, dual-zone automatic temperature control and rear-passenger air. Available leather seats with front-seat heaters are available, and well-suited for comfortable everyday driving, doable but not great for the weekend canyon-carver.
Controls are well laid out, easy to use and feature an available Premium nine-speaker Bose Audio Package with 6.5-inch color display, Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System, USB port, Bluetooth support, and an available DVD player with RCA input for auxiliary audio/video connectivity.
There are also nine beverage holders, and an available rearview camera.
Performance & Handling
The Altima, although bland on the outside and simple but comfortable inside, is in most cases, a rewarding family-hauler. Motor Trend says the steering is firm and crisp on turn-in, that the tuned-suspension pleases, and can handle most bumps and corners with ease.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder's 175 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque is sufficient around town, but when coupled with CVT, offers an annoying high-RPM whine and requires a little coaxing for more spirited driving sessions.
It takes only 6.3 seconds for the 3.5 SR's 270-horsepower V-6 to hit 60 mph, among the best for similarly equipped competition. Overall, says Motor Trend, "the Altima impresses with an exciting mix of speed and agility."
There are no optional safety and security features for the Altima; every model is equipped with the same short list of standard features, like driver and passenger front and side airbags, roof-mounted airbags for front and rear occupants, and Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control System (VDC and TCS). Along with the Tire Pressure Monitoring System, all models come with a standard vehicle immobilizer and security system.
EPA Fuel Economy
2.5: 23/32 mpg city/highway (CVT)
2.5 S: 23/32 mpg city/highway (CVT)
3.5 SR: 20/27 mpg city/highway (CVT)
- Well-tuned suspension
- Comfortable interior
- The V-6
You Won't Like
- Engine drone
- Generic styling
Looks better from the inside
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda Accord
- Toyota Camry
- Ford Fusion
- Hyundai Sonata