Nissan’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. just got better. For the 2016 model year, the automaker has given its Altima midsize sedan a mid-cycle refresh inside and out. The new look embraces Nissan’s new Energetic Flow design language first seen in Murano and Maxima, and Altima also receives some significant technology upgrades as well.
Everything from the A-pillar forward is new on the 2016 Altima – fenders, hood, grille, headlights – and the new design also makes the sedan more aerodynamic, thus helping fuel economy, which sees a rise of 1 mpg thanks to Nissan’s efforts. The new Altima also features predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, intelligent cruise control, and rear cross traffic alert.
Nissan says no area was left untouched in the significant redesign and they wanted to show they do not only pay attention to the growth in the crossover marketplace. They said the Altima has seen significant sales growth since 2009 and they want to keep that momentum going.
“The enhancements were made with input from our customers – a quieter ride, so we added extensive noise isolation features such as an acoustic-glass windshield,” said Pierre Loing, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. “They wanted more standard features, a more responsive driving feel, and more personal style – check, check, and check. This new Altima is the most dynamic, comfortable, and best-equipped midsize sedan we’ve ever built.”
Nissan says they put extensive time into reducing noise, vibration, and harshness but in our real-world testing we found the drive to be noisier than what would be expected in a midsize sedan. There was tire noise slightly above an acceptable level and we got wind noise from the front door side window frames where some rubber lining did not maintain its intended location (where the front of the glass meets the blind spot monitor indicator blocks). Aside from this we found the drive to be quite pleasant and the vehicle handles very stable and solid. One of the biggest surprises was just how well the four-cylinder engine holds up to real world driving situations.
Consumers can purchase the Altima with either a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that generates 182hp and 180 lb. ft. torque or move up to a 270hp 3.5-liter V-6. Our recent tester arrived with the 2.5 in SL trim. The engine was mated to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT gearbox and thankfully Nissan engineers have improved the response and performance of this transmission over the years. It no longer winds the engine up to an annoying rpm and hangs there like grandpa trying to clear his throat. The driving experience is smooth, quiet, and very responsive. We never found a need for more performance whether passing slower traffic or merging onto freeways.
Inside the 2016 Altima we find the new zero gravity design seats, although I still have yet to feel like an astronaut sitting in any of these new chairs. Despite that, the seating is very comfortable even on lengthy road trips and there is more than ample space for rear seat occupants. Our SL tester arrived with leather surfaces everywhere and some unique new wood pattern trim pieces. We enjoyed all the latest creature comforts expected in a sedan including 7-inch color touchscreen with navigation and SiriusXM satellite radio and TravelLink (I love to watch live weather radar inside the cars I test). A Bose premium audio system kept us entertained on our weekend road trip but I never found a need for the heated steering wheel as summer has not officially left the northern hemisphere yet. If there was one more thing I would have wanted in the Altima that would have been ventilated seats.
Pricing for the 2016 Nissan Altima sedan begins at $22,500 for the base 2.5 model. Our 2.5 SL tester arrived with a final sticker of $32,115 thanks to the power sliding sunroof add-on as well as the extensive technology package upgrade to include all the latest NissanConnect driver assistance services. Fuel economy is one of the highest in its class at 27 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. We drove for well over an hour before the gas gauge began to creep off of full.
Nissan has updated just about everything in the 2016 Altima with the exception of the powertrain and chassis, stopping just short of calling this a next-generation model. It is easy to see why this is the automaker’s best-selling vehicle here and with the improvements to styling, content, technology, and other areas it should remain a sales champ while also giving competitors a real run for their money.