2018 Altima New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Altima is a roomy midsize sedan. Still one of America's top-selling cars in the segment, the Altima has been part of Nissan's lineup since 1993. Except for some infotainment upgrades, nothing has changed for the 2017 model year. A Midnight Edition package, including black wheels and rear spoiler, is now available.
Unlike some midsize sedans, the Altima can have either four-cylinder or V6 power. Five trim levels are offered: base, S, SV, sporty SR, and top-shelf SL. Each comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, making 179 horsepower. Fuel economy on the highway is rated by EPA at an impressive 39 mpg.
Only Altima SR and Altima SL sedans offer the 3.5-liter V6, which develops 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque.
Both engines mate with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is tuned for peak efficiency. With V6 power, the CVT can provide virtual gear ratios, mimicking a conventional automatic.
Not much is included with the base sedan, but the S model adds a proximity key and a 5-inch color LCD screen for the audio system. Altima SR features upgraded suspension tuning and bigger alloy wheels, suggesting a modest revival of the sporty nature that marked early Altimas. SV, the mainstream model, adds blind-spot monitoring and remote engine start. Leather upholstery and Bose speakers are among the premium extras in SL trim level.
All Altimas have a 4-inch LCD information screen ahead of the driver, as well as Bluetooth audio streaming. Nissan's navigation system, available for SV and SL versions, gets a 7-inch video screen and a selection of smartphone apps.
Named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Altima earned five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its frontal and side-impact crash testing. A four-star rating was given for rollover resistance (a calculated figure).
Availability of advanced safety technology isn't quite as impressive. Only the SL edition can be equipped with forward-collision warning that includes automatic emergency braking, for instance, and it comes in a costly option group. With the optional Tech Package, the Altima earned a Superior score from IIHS for frontal crash protection.
Still, Nissan offers a number of safety items, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. A rearview camera is standard on all but the base model.
Altima 2.5 ($22,500), the base sedan, comes with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, four-speaker audio, woven fabric seats, power windows/locks, and 16-inch steel wheels. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.) Altima 2.5 S ($22,900) adds a rearview camera, steering-wheel controls, six-speaker audio, and pushbutton start.
Altima 2.5 SR ($24,470), the sporty trim level, includes special suspension tuning, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a power driver's seat. Design upgrades give the SR a somewhat distinctive appearance. Altima 3.5 SR ($27,990) is equipped similar to 2.5 SR, but with the V6 and LED headlights.
Altima 2.5 SV ($25,460) adds to S-model equipment such features as a power driver's seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Altima 2.5 SL ($28,570) features leather seat trim, a power passenger's seat, 18-inch alloy wheels, and Bose speakers. Adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and navigation come in a Technology Package. Altima 3.5 SL ($32,690) is similar to 2.5 SL, but with V6 engine.