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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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      That was the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata as it would not be only driven in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Michigan, but it would also be taking me to and from the Detroit Auto Show. Crazy? Of course. But the MX-5 Miata was wearing a set of winter tires which helped it stick to the road. Despite the cold temps and snow that would fall during the latter half of the week, the MX-5 Miata proved to be just as fun as it would have been in warmer weather. Sharp handling, an engine that loved to rev, and a slick six-speed manual transmission. It didn’t hurt that I could actually fit my suitcase into the trunk of the Miata for the show.
      2016 Scion iA
      I have a trend of driving brands or vehicles that will be ending. Most infamously was the time when I drove a Suzuki SX4 for review and then hearing the news of the brand leaving a couple of days after returning it. That was the case of the Scion iA. A few months after driving the iA, Toyota announced that it was shuttering the brand. Some of the vehicles, like the iA would continue as Toyotas. This was a smart move as the iA proved to be a winner. Being a rebadged Mazda2 was a big reason as to why I liked the iA. It was a fun vehicle to drive around town or on a special road. But it also featured a lot of standard equipment including automatic emergency braking. While the brand is gone, it is good to see the iA lives on.
      2016 Toyota Prius Three
      I have never been a fan of the Prius family. Every Prius that I have reviewed left me wondering who decided to start selling a science experiment and not an actual vehicle. But the 2016 Prius is my biggest shock of the year. Yes, the Prius will take its time getting up to speed on the freeway. But around town, the Prius was a spritely performer. More surprising was how well the Prius drove. Taking a corner, I was expecting to experience motion sickness because of how much body roll previous models had. But the Prius took it like a champ showing little body and some decent steering - thank the new TGNA architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I got 60.2 mpg as my average for the week. Well done Toyota.
      2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
      If there is one shining light at Volkswagen, it would have to be the Golf family. Last year, I named the Golf GTI as one of my favorites. This year, that honor falls to the SportWagen. Yes, it isn’t the sharpest looking vehicle in the class and the DSG transmission needs some more work. But Volkswagen got the basics right. The 1.8T is powerful and delivers excellent fuel economy. The interior spacious for both passengers and cargo - I was able to fit two massive Ikea boxes into it. Volkswagen also mastered the dark art of balancing fun to drive with comfort. I could take the Golf SportWagen down a windy road and be entertained. Afterward, I could drive it around town and not feel any road imperfections. 
      There you go, the eight vehicles that earned a coveted spot on my favorites list. Now it should be noted that some vehicles we’re close to getting onto this list, but were kicked off for one reason or another. Here are those vehicles,
      Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Chevrolet did an excellent job with the new Malibu with fixing a number of issues that plagued the old model. But the 2LT introduced a new set of problems - questionable materials, poor road noise isolation, and the lack of options. I really do like the new Malibu, just not in 2LT form. Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible: Loved the V8 performance and noise. Hate the $54,000 pricetag. This might explain why GM has such a large amount of Camaros sitting on dealers. Hyundai Elantra: Hyundai played it safe with the updated Elantra and this would have been ok a couple of years ago. But in light of the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, it wasn’t enough for the Elantra to be a strong contender as it once was. Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X: This was a truck I really wanted to like. Nissan was trying something different with the Titan XD - offer something between a light-duty and heavy-duty pickup. Plus, a nice Cummins V8 diesel could have been the cheery on top. But trying to convince someone that your truck is the best is difficult since truck buyers tend to stick with one brand. Not helping is the lack of cab and bed sizes. At the time of our original review, the XD was only available as a crew cab. A regular cab has been since introduced. But it seems Nissan doesn’t fully understand the truck market. You need to have a lot of options available to buyers at launch, not down the road.
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