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    Quick Drive: 2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL


    • The wonder bread of midsize sedans

    Three years might not seem like a long time. But in the automotive industry, it is an eternity. In that short amount time, a vehicle may be surpassed by competitors and sales may take a dive. Take for example the Nissan Altima. When the redesigned model was launched back in 2013, it was considered to be above-average and some key advantages over rivals. But time has passed and the Altima has been surpassed in a number of key areas by refreshed/redesigned competitors. Nissan knew they needed to do something to get the Altima back in contention. Last year, they introduced a refreshed Altima that would hopefully give them a fighting chance in the class. Let's see if it does.

    If you were expecting some big changes to the Altima’s exterior in this mid-cycle refresh, then you’ll be disappointed. The front end features a new V-shaped grille and revised headlights to bring the model in line with the current Nissan design language. Updated taillights and new wheel choices finish off the changes. The interior is mostly left alone in this refresh aside from some new choices of trim pieces. That isn’t a bad thing as the Altima’s interior is a nice place to be in with ample space for passengers, a fair amount of soft-touch materials used throughout, and a simple dash layout. 

    One item we do wish Nissan would have addressed in this refresh is the NissanConnect infotainment system. All Altimas come with a five-inch touchscreen as standard, while our SL tester featured the optional seven-inch screen. This system has a number of issues ranging from an interface that makes it look older than it really is to the system crashing our iPod on a regular basis. More worrying was the system crashing and rebooting twice during our week-long test. It would be nice for Nissan to take the system out of the Maxima and Murano and put it into the rest of their lineup as it doesn’t have the issues listed here.

    Under the hood of the Altima are the same engines that have powered it since 2013. Our Altima SL tester came with the standard 2.5L four-cylinder with 183 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. No matter which engine you pick, a Xtronic CVT routes the power to the front wheels. The 2.5 does quite well around town as the engine gets up to speed at a decent rate. Getting onto the highway is another story as you’ll need to almost floor the gas pedal to get up to speed at a somewhat decent rate. This also brings forth an abundance of engine noise, something we complained about in our 2014 Nissan Altima SL review. At least the Xtronic CVT is responsive when you step on the accelerator and the illusion of the stepped gears can make most buyers believe they’re driving an automatic.

    The EPA rates the Altima’s fuel economy at 27 City/39 Highway/31 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 31.7 MPG.

    The Altima’s ride and handling characteristics are in the middle. The suspension does a decent job of soaking up most bumps, but some larger ones will make their way inside. The recently redesigned Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat do a better job in this regard. In the bends, the Altima feels composed and shows little body roll. But the steering is way too light and doesn’t offer enough feel to feel sporty. If you want that, a Mazda6 or Ford Fusion should be on the list.

    How do you sum up the 2016 Nissan Altima? It is a competent midsize sedan. But competent isn’t a strong selling point to a midsize sedan as you can apply to any model in the class. What you need is something that makes your model stand out whether in terms of design or features. The Altima doesn’t have anything like that.

    Picking the Altima may be the safe choice, but it be might a choice you regret.

    Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Altima, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2016
    Make: Nissan
    Model: Altima
    Trim: 2.5 SL
    Engine: 2.5L DOHC Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Xtronic CVT
    Horsepower @ RPM: 182 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 180 @ 4,000
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/39/31
    Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, TN
    Base Price: $28,570
    As Tested Price: $32,115 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Technology Package - $1,700
    Moonroof Package - $800.00
    Carpeted Floormats and Trunk Mat - $210.00

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    1 hour ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Decent, cheap, efficient, long distance car and that's about that.  Get it up to speed on the highway and just leave it there.

    Yes, but for the money better alternatives exist.  Still a pretty decent automobile.

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    1 minute ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Yes, but for the money better alternatives exist.  Still a pretty decent automobile.

    Eh, configured the way @William Maley got it for review, these are the king of the $199 a month leases and they're big cars for the segment.  That's why they sell. 

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    25 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Eh, configured the way @William Maley got it for review, these are the king of the $199 a month leases and they're big cars for the segment.  That's why they sell. 

    I could see how that would work out for them.  Still I would prefer even a Chrysler 200 or a base Camry for even so much as a rental.  Really though, not a bad car.  Nissan does get maroon right.  The color on the same just nails it IMHO.

    GM is still the king of maroon though....from Firethorn red in the seventies to the modern maroons...YOWZA!

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    7 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    I could see how that would work out for them.  Still I would prefer even a Chrysler 200 or a base Camry for even so much as a rental.  Really though, not a bad car.  Nissan does get maroon right.  The color on the same just nails it IMHO.

    GM is still the king of maroon though....from Firethorn red in the seventies to the modern maroons...YOWZA!

    Oh absolutely would I pick a Chrysler 200 (even as rough as the Chrysler 2.4 is, it is no worse than the Altima), but if you need space, the only thing that beats the Altima at this price for interior cubic feet is the Passat.   Also not a bad choice, but not for everyone either. 

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    3 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Oh absolutely would I pick a Chrysler 200 (even as rough as the Chrysler 2.4 is, it is no worse than the Altima), but if you need space, the only thing that beats the Altima at this price for interior cubic feet is the Passat.   Also not a bad choice, but not for everyone either. 

    The 1.8T in the Passat is a little bit more fuel efficient from what I have seen, but not as reliable as the Nissan unit.  I could really see just needing a decent family car and buying the Nissan. Thankfully, I am down to just one kid at home out of five...perhaps I can talk my wife into a 370Z instead of an Altima....(or a better use for twenty grand on a used car, ATS has become downright affordable.)

    Edited by A Horse With No Name
    Stang can't spell
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    1 hour ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Oh absolutely would I pick a Chrysler 200 (even as rough as the Chrysler 2.4 is, it is no worse than the Altima), but if you need space, the only thing that beats the Altima at this price for interior cubic feet is the Passat.   Also not a bad choice, but not for everyone either. 

    There's no way I'd opt for or recommend a Chrysler 200 unless it was a V6. Drove a 2016 2.4L model for around 500-ish miles as a rental while visiting Texas, the 9-speed transmission paired with the 4-cylinder is an absolute deal breaker. Drives like complete garbage around town, it constantly falls all over itself finding gears below 30 mph. Does alright on the highway, but there is moderate road/wind noise.

    It's not a one-off issue either. I drove a 2015 200 w/2.4L powertrain for around 10 minutes at a driving event and among myself and 4 other car enthusiasts, it was unanimously the worst driving midsize car in the bunch. My fiance also got another 2016 200 4-cylinder rental last month and it drove just like the one we had in Texas.

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    20 minutes ago, cp-the-nerd said:

    There's no way I'd opt for or recommend a Chrysler 200 unless it was a V6. Drove a 2016 2.4L model for around 500-ish miles as a rental while visiting Texas, the 9-speed transmission paired with the 4-cylinder is an absolute deal breaker. Drives like complete garbage around town, it constantly falls all over itself finding gears below 30 mph. Does alright on the highway, but there is moderate road/wind noise.

    It's not a one-off issue either. I drove a 2015 200 w/2.4L powertrain for around 10 minutes at a driving event and among myself and 4 other car enthusiasts, it was unanimously the worst driving midsize car in the bunch. My fiance also got another 2016 200 4-cylinder rental last month and it drove just like the one we had in Texas.

    My experience was not quite that negative.....but the Malibu and Fusion look very, very polished by comparison to either the Altima or 200.

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    20 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    I've had the 200 with the 2.4 and 9 speed, drove it from Baltimore to Boston. It was tolerable.

    I do like the styling and the interior Materials in the 200 better than the Altima, and the information system in the 200 seemed better to me also.

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    4 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    I do like the styling and the interior Materials in the 200 better than the Altima, and the information system in the 200 seemed better to me also.

    uConnect, while one of the older systems on the market, is actually one of the best because everything "just works" and it is easy to use. 

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    1 minute ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    uConnect, while one of the older systems on the market, is actually one of the best because everything "just works" and it is easy to use. 

    That was my experience anyways.

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    3 hours ago, regfootball said:

    I've read to stay away from most early chrysler products with that 9 speed auto. Horror stories abound on forums. 

    Those who may not want an Altima, get this.... 2017 Sentra SR 1.6 turbo plus choice of stick  sounds crazy but I would consider one 

    http://nissannews.com/en-US/nissan/usa/presskits/us-2017-nissan-sentra-sr-turbo-press-kit/photos/2017-nissan-sentra-sr-turbo-53

     

     

    Yup I mentioned the SR Turbo with stick over onto the sedan thread.  If only it came in a hatch...

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    On 9/13/2016 at 10:03 AM, Drew Dowdell said:

    Decent, cheap, efficient, long distance car and that's about that.  Get it up to speed on the highway and just leave it there.

    Pretty much....not very excited at all...

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    • By William Maley
      Summertime means something different for everyone. For some, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. For others, it is the time to take that trip you have been thinking about for awhile. If you’re an automotive writer like myself, summertime means convertible season. The feeling of having the roof down and enjoying the expanded view of the sky is something quite special. This summer saw two of GM’s latest convertibles roll into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit garage, the new Buick Cascada and recently redesigned Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible. How did these two droptops fare in the summer heat?
      Exterior:
      There is no denying the Opel/Vauxhall roots of the Buick Cascada as it is just basically the Cascada sold in Europe with Buick basing. But that isn’t a bad thing since the Cascada is handsome for the most part. The front features a new grille design and headlights with LED accents. The side profile reveals short overhangs for the front and rear. These overhangs make the side look somewhat oddly proportioned. A set 20-inch wheels come standard. Around back, a long chrome bar runs along the trunk lid into the taillights. 
      On the opposite end is the Chevrolet Camaro. If you’re looking for something quiet and doesn’t bring attention, then maybe you should pass on it. Redesigned last year, Chevrolet retained the Camaro’s basic profile with its sharp lines and rounded corners. But major work was done on the front and rear ends. The front features a narrow top grille and slim headlights. A massive grille sits underneath between a set of deep cuts into the front bumper. The back has been cleaned up with a new trunk lid design, rectangular headlights, and quad-exhaust tips. 
      One item both the Cascada and Camaro share is a fabric top. Putting the top down or up takes under 20 seconds for both vehicles. With the tops down, both vehicles look quite good. But put the tops up and the Cascada is the better looking of the two. I can’t put my finger as to why, but I think it deals with how the Cascada has a little bit more glass than the Camaro. 
      Interior:
      Unfortunately, both the Cascada and Camaro fall on their face when it comes to the interior for different reasons.
      In the case of the Cascada, it features the dash from the outgoing Verano and Encore. This reveals that the Cascada is older despite what Buick may have you think. For example, the center stack is laden with buttons and it will take you a few moments to find the specific one you’re looking for. Not helping is the Cascada using GM’s last-generation infotainment system. While the system is easy to use, the interface is looking very dated. It would have been nice if Buick could have slipped in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascade, but that would have likely introduced more problems than solutions.
      On the upside, the Cascada’s interior is well-built and features decent quality materials. A fair amount of dash and door panels feature some soft touch material. The front seats are comfortable for short and long distance trips. Power adjustments for the driver’s seat make it easy to find a position that works. One touch Buick deserves applause for is the seat belt presenter. The front seat belts are nestled away when the Cascada is turned off to make it easier to get in and out of the back seat. But when you start it up, the presenter extends for both the driver and passenger to buckle in. The back seat provides enough space for kids or small adults. Taller folks like myself will find minimal legroom. With the top up, anyone sitting back here will feel very confined. With the top down, this feeling goes away. 
      Step into the 2016 Camaro Convertible’s interior and you’ll find the same retro ideas from the previous model such as the shape of the dash and circular vents. But Chevrolet improved the overall usability of the Camaro’s interior. For example, the retro-inspired engine information gauges that were placed ahead of the shifter in the previous generation are gone. In its place are a set of air vents that also control the temperature of the climate control system. 
      Our tester featured the optional Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation. We know we’re beating a dead horse with our complaints with MyLink such as a slow response when going from various screens and recognizing devices plugged into the USB ports. But you would think that GM would maybe issue an update or something by now to fix some of these issues? Like other Chevrolet models we have driven this year, the Camaro’s MyLink system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We tried CarPlay and found it to be easier to use than most automaker’s infotainment systems. But, we had issues with apps crashing and the system not always recognizing our phone.
      The front bucket seats are quite comfortable and will hold you in if you decide to tackle that special road aggressively. A set of power adjustments makes it easy for anyone to find a comfortable position. The back seat is best reserved for small kids or extra storage as legroom is nonexistent. You would think that the Camaro Convertible wouldn’t feel as claustrophobic as the coupe since you can put the top down, but it isn’t. Sitting in the Camaro convertible with the top down, I felt like I was being contained in a small box. Blame the high belt line for this.
      Powertrain:
      Power for the Buick Cascada comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The figures are impressive for this engine. But drop it into the Cascada and it is quite disappointing. Performance is very lethargic as the engine has to overcome the nearly two tons of Cascada. It feels like an eternity getting up to speed and you’ll find yourself putting the pedal to the floor to get the vehicle moving at a sufficient rate. EPA figures for the Cascada stand at 20 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. My average for the week landed at 21 mpg. 
      The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.
      Ride & Handling:
      Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.
      The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.
      Price:
      The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.
      If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 
      Verdict:
      Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.
      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
      Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the Cascada and Camaro; Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
      As Tested Price: $37,385 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Deep Sky Metallic - $395.00
      Year: 2016
      Make: Chevrolet
      Model: Camaro Convertible
      Trim: SS
      Engine: 6.2L VVT DI V8
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/28/20
      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
      Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
      Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
      Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
      20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00
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