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    Review: 2014 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL


    • It's Not Easy Being Number 3


    It's not easy being number three. Especially in the class of the midsize sedan where the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry rule the roost. But there is a model which has been making itself at home in third place. That model would be the Nissan Altima. In its current incarnation, the Altima has been making a name for itself among the likes of the Accord and Camry. But why does the Altima end up sitting in third place in sales at the end of year? Well I spent a week with a 2014 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL and I think I have an answer to that.

    The Altima’s exterior sits somewhere in the middle of the midsize sedan design spectrum. It isn’t as exciting as a Kia Optima or a Mazda6, but it isn’t as bland as the Toyota Camry or Volkswagen Passat. The Altima’s front has has a trapezoidal-shaped grille and front headlights that carry a boomerang-shape as seen on 370Z. The boomerang light idea continues in the back where the rear taillights carry the same design. One other cue to take note of on the Altima is the flowing front fenders.

    2014 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL 2

    The Altima’s interior follows the same design as the exterior. Nothing too flashy, nor too bland. The layout is very simple with leather, fake wood and metal trim lining parts of the interior. This makes it feel very upscale when compared to competitors. One of the big selling points on the Altima its zero-gravity seats which they say helps put less of a load on on the spine, pelvis and muscles on long trips. Now I cannot say whether or not the seats provided less stress to my back, but I can say they were comfortable. Back seat passengers will find a surprising amount of head and legroom.

    2014 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL 13

    The center stack featured a seven-inch touchscreen which comes as part of the SL Tech package. The touchscreen features the latest version of the automaker’s infotainment system which includes NissanConnect, a way for certain apps such as Facebook to be used in the vehicle via your smartphone. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to play around with this. What I did get to play around with was the system itself. The interface looks somewhat old, despite it being a brand new system. However, the system is really easy to comprehend with large touch points, hard buttons on either side of the screen, and simple layout. But in my tester, the system had some problems that ranged from slowness to the entire system doing a reboot. I don’t know if this was an odd occurrence or a common problem at the time I had the vehicle. I need to spend some more time with Nissan’s system before I can really answer this.

    For Thoughts On The Powertrain and Ride, See Page 2


    Like Honda and Toyota, Nissan is sticking with a four-cylinder and V6 engine lineup for the Altima. My tester, was equipped with the 2.5L four-cylinder which makes 182 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. It's paired up with the company’s Xtronic CVT. The 2.5 is pretty peppy with power being always there and offering decent acceleration. What I wished for was a bit more refinement from the engine. Apparently Nissan’s engineers had listed on engine requirements was to make sure everyone in the interior knew the engine was working. Well that has been accomplished. The CVT for the most part is unobtrusive and is able to deliver the power smoothly. The only downside is that when you push down on the accelerator pedal, the CVT makes itself known. On the fuel economy front, the EPA rates the Altima equipped with the 2.5 at 27 City/38 Highway/31 combined. I averaged 30.5 during my week-long test.

    2014 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL 10

    Taking the Altima out on the open roads, it proved to be a fine cruiser. Whether on the freeway, in the city, or out in the suburbs;, the suspension does a very good job of smoothing out the bumps and imperfections. As for noise isolation, the Altima sits in the middle once again. A decent amount of road and wind noise is contained, but it cannot compare to the likes of the Chevrolet Malibu. Out on the curvy stuff, the Altima once again sits in the middle. The suspension is capable enough to keep the Altima level and the steering has a nice response and feel.

    2014 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL 7

    To go back to the question I asked earlier about why the Altima sits in third place, I think I have the answer. Nissan has most of the pieces together with the Altima. But there are a couple of stumbling blocks for the model with the engine needing some more refinement and the buggy infotainment system. Because of these problems, it puts the Altima right in the number three spot. If Nissan were to fix these problems, then we might have a three-horse race for #1.

    Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Altima 2.5 SL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Nissan

    Model: Altima

    Trim: 2.5 SL

    Engine: 2.5L DOHC Inline-Four

    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT

    Horsepower @ RPM: 182 @ 6000

    Torque @ RPM: 180 @ 4000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/38/31

    Curb Weight: 3,206 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Smyrna, Tennessee

    Base Price: $27,760.00

    As Tested Price: $30,625.00 (Includes $790.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Technology Package - $1,090.00

    Moonroof Package - $890.00

    Carpeted Floor and Trunk Mats - $185.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Nice write up, enjoyed reading it and the comparison to the top two japan competitors.

    Question, how does this line up against what American auto companies offer?

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    I actually like this car. I've recently rented it twice in California. The only place it has trouble, for me, is on highways with twisty roads - especially over broken pavement. It doesn't feel safe at all. It's just not well enough connected to the road. I haven't driven a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord but I imagine they have a very similar feel...

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    it was nice enough, but to me had some things to work on yet.

    http://www.cheersandgears.com/topic/80394-2013-nissan-altima-sv/

    HIGHS

    Wise refinements to the Altima franchise
    Big mpg boosts
    Nicely improved CVT
    Room and space abounds
    Good acceleration, cruises effortlessly
    Soft and warm interior with some hand me down luxury feel
    Stable and secure ride and handling
    Decent noise isolation when the rpms are down
    Lots of features and tech for the price

    LOWS

    The honking ducks and vacuum cleaners under the hood when you rev it up
    Just a bit of rubber bandiness left in the CVT
    Bit of a dated feel already, some faux luxury feel
    Some styling elements a bit awkward
    Starting to feel less youthful, 'softened up'
    On a path to a lack of identity
    Doesn't excel.....or fail.......at any one thing.
    Is the car trying to do what Toyota has done for so many years? (i.e. inoffensive appliance)
    Edited by regfootball
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    There is nothing to draw me personally to this. Fusion has best in class styling and fantastic build quality, Passat has a diesel nth a does an honest 45 on the highway, Mazda Six is a looker with class leading chassis dynamics, Honda has the sweet 6 MT in the Accord sport, CPO Benz and BMW are not much more and they crush the Altima in every way imaginable. Not to mention Verano and Regal both make the Altima look stuuuupid in comparison.

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    The Altima has a lot of nice touches, mileage, seats and some tech included...but still suffers from lacking dynamics, and some issues with the CVT/engine/noise combination. They have had some issues. Overall, though some nice details, this car is never polished and refined in the way an Accord or Mazda 6 are, and they give some strange sensations and noise. Or as Honda/Acura clients I've had that have moved to an Altima/Maxima as a spare or "let's try one" car, they just aren't as refined.

    Every car in this class is unique in its own way, for sure, whether it be styling, driving dynamics, or power train. Altima, meh. There are better cars. But they do sell a metric ton (Nissan's "discount central and crazy production levels" manner helps), and I see the latest new one everywhere all day long in Philly.

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    The Altima has a lot of nice touches, mileage, seats and some tech included...but still suffers from lacking dynamics, and some issues with the CVT/engine/noise combination. They have had some issues. Overall, though some nice details, this car is never polished and refined in the way an Accord or Mazda 6 are, and they give some strange sensations and noise. Or as Honda/Acura clients I've had that have moved to an Altima/Maxima as a spare or "let's try one" car, they just aren't as refined.

    Every car in this class is unique in its own way, for sure, whether it be styling, driving dynamics, or power train. Altima, meh. There are better cars. But they do sell a metric ton (Nissan's "discount central and crazy production levels" manner helps), and I see the latest new one everywhere all day long in Philly.

    This is very well written, and the damned truth. They sell this thing based largely on marketing and pricing, not on the inherent value of the car itself in comparison to its competition.

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    Altima is one of the cheap lease kings. They whore them out on cheap low money down and sign and drive stuff. BUt someone I know, kept re-leasing a new Altima every two or three years, no issues, just kept turning in keys and getting a new one.

    I know Ford makes leasing easy. GM still doesn't have a lot of models they really go to the mat and lease cheap to start.

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    Altima is one of the cheap lease kings. They whore them out on cheap low money down and sign and drive stuff. BUt someone I know, kept re-leasing a new Altima every two or three years, no issues, just kept turning in keys and getting a new one.

    I know Ford makes leasing easy. GM still doesn't have a lot of models they really go to the mat and lease cheap to start.

    This is very true, especially with the Altima in the city and lower income population. It used to be stereotypical, but when our Acura store was located in the city, we could count weekly how many times someone would say "but an Altima has push button..." no matter what Acura they were looking at, at the time. Didn't matter how it drove, what kind of hubcaps were on it, etc., "but it has push button start!".

    Cheap deals, techy features, it sells in volume, even if there are better cars out there. And in many cases, these are the cars someone with issues can get approved on, due to the incentives.

    They are everywhere, to the point I almost see less of the previous gen now, but there are better cars to choose from. Unless the tech gizmo's and cheapness make you not care about how it drives, which for many, it doesn't. Same reason you end up in a Camry, plus reputation that car promises.

    Lots and lots of choices in this class. Something for everyone, which is good.

    Edited by caddycruiser
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    The most important option box to check when buying an Altima is the one that says 3.5 V6... not just because it is a V6 but because it gets you away from the terribly unrefined 2.5. Why Nissan still hasn't replaced the 2.5 engine is beyond me.... the Altima with the V6 and CVT is a very nice drive.

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