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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 NISSAN ALTIMA REVIEW


PHOTO
2014 Nissan Altima


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Katrina Says: Well-tuned and ready to compete, the 2014 Nissan Altima offers a sporty ride and 31 miles-per-gallon combined under the impressive 2.5-liter engine.

INTRO TO THE ALTIMA VEHICLE

To keep up with the redesigned Camry, the Altima also underwent major changes last model year for a sedan with bolder style and racing-inspired performance. For 2014, the focus is on improved in-car technology with the addition of NissanConnect Apps, a smartphone integration platform with Pandora and Facebook connectivity; and generally more tech features available for all trims.

I drove a 2014 Nissan Altima with the revised 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with Nissan’s Xtronic, a six-speed automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with manual mode. Available in four main trims defined by two engine choices, my more loaded 2.5 SL trim came with the following standard features: eight-way power driver’s seat; upgraded nine-speaker sound system; leather upholstery; heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls; 5-inch color display; rearview monitor; XM Radio; dual-zone climate control; Bluetooth; remote start; push-button start; LED taillights; fog lights. Total price as described came to $27,760.

For 2014, the coupe version has been dropped. Competitors include the Kia Optima and sister vehicle Hyundai Sonata – thorns in the sides of the Altima due to their very sleek sedan styling, in-car technology and overall value.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Optional equipment included an $800 sunroof and a $1,090 Technology Package (navigation with an upgraded seven-inch display; and safety features like Blind Sport Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection). The Altima continues to deliver secured seating support with my upgraded light tan interior making it feel airy and sleek. The touchscreen navigation lacks sensitivity to touch, however, with the overall layout not very intuitive to use or thorough despite this year’s additions – for example, with the upgraded tech package you won’t receive traffic updates or points of interest on the map. I’ve always found it necessary to include Nissan packages to not so much achieve an upscale cabin feel as much as to try to avoid a sense the interior has been sparingly put together.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Altima ratings of “Good” all impact tests, but “Acceptable” small overlap front (you can view the results on the website). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 5-Stars.

Cost Issues: Low prices remain an attraction for the Altima, with the base starting at $22,110. Additional packages to my 2.5 SL test drive raised the overall price to $29,835, and represented the segment well with what you can get in a sedan for under $30k.

Activity & Performance Ability: Acceleration with the four-cylinder is the Altima’s major performance asset, as the Altima behaves sprightly with vigorous uphill and on-ramp results. The cabin has gotten quieter compared to previous models. The Altima has improved handling characteristics, mimicking what the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry delivers.

The Green Concern: Nissan dropped the Altima Hybrid version, so no more green choice here. The four-cylinder has undergone some major improves over the years to achieve 27 miles-per-gallon city, 38 highway and 31 combined with the CVT.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2014 Nissan Altima has grown more refined and contemporary, offering a smooth ride with excellent fuel economy at 31 miles-per-gallon combined. Performance is on target with competitors, but in-car technology isn’t as inviting to use and master.

2014 Katrina Ramser