Nissan’s Altima has been redesigned for 2014. And their top-line 2.5 SL is probably the most under considered mid-size sedan on the market. More car buyers need to consider it since it’s a compelling alternative to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the top two selling mid-size sedans.
Altima definitely deserves a look because it’s a well-rounded, spacious front drive sedan with impressive fuel economy.
Altima is offered in S, SV, and SL 2.5 models. And within these trim choices, car shoppers can chose between a 3.5L, 270-hp V6 or 2.5L, 182-hp four cylinder that was tested. When coupled to a standard CVT transmission, acceleration was energetic and lively. There’s no want for power since Nissan managed to trim Altima’s weight by 124 pounds thanks to the use of aluminum for the trunk lid, hood and roof. As such, EPA mileage estimates are an impressive 27 city, 38-highway mpg.
Slip into the cockpit of a 2.5 SL and you’ll be treated to an expanse of perforated leather seats with door panels that are swoopy and suave and more suited to a higher priced and posh Infinity sedan.
The vertical stack employs conventional and easy to use HVAC controls and a sizeable LCD displays audio, GPS nav and rearview camera functions. There is a small LCD display, that Nissan calls Advanced Drive Assist, which provides constant driver information between the white on black speedometer/tachometer gauges.
Everything in the cabin blends and melds so nicely and tastefully. And the front seats are especially soft with just the right amount of side bolstering. Not too tight, not too lose. The back seat is not quite as cushy but still comfortable for two sizable adults or three tweens since rear legroom and headroom are exceptionally spacious.
Low profile rear headrests provide a clear and unobstructed view rearward. They also give the interior a clean uncluttered look.
Trunk space appears to handle a pair of large roll-a-longs or two golf bags once the 60/40 rear seatbacks are folded. Only problem here is the bulging bulkhead cuts into the pass-through opening.
Altima’s ride on 17-inch tires compares to the best of them. It’s comfortable, smooth and quiet with only a smidgen of perceptible engine noise at idle.
Handling is secure and typical of a sedan in this class. It displays some body lean in tight turns but the suspension retains control.
The only quirk that sticks out is that although the LCD screen shows parking assist lines while in reverse gear, it’s void of the beeping sound as the car nears an object. Trivial as it may seem, the beep is helpful.
As the top-line model, the SL comes loaded with an impressive array of standard features like keyless ignition, heated front seats, 9 speaker Bose audio, heated leather wrapped steering wheel, tire pressure display, auto dimming rearview mirror, heated outside mirrors, fog lights, Auto On/Off headlights and more.
The only options were a moonroof ($800), carpeted trunk and floor mats ($210) and a Technology Package ($1,090) that contains the 7-inch display with nav, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection. The latter trio should garner an insurance premium discount.
For all this, the SL priced out at $30,830 including delivery, after a base of $27,920.
Price aside, the Altima received five stars from the governments 5-star safety ratings, scoring five for driver frontal crash, four for passenger, four for front seat crash, five for rear side crash while rollover received four stars.
If considering a vehicle change, consider the Altima.
The only reason Nissan doesn’t sell more, in my humble opinion, is because they don’t strongly advertise Altima’s attributes.