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2016 Nissan Altima Review By Larry Nutson +VIDEO

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2016 Nissan Altima
Re-sculpted and refined

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Altima is Nissan’s biggest selling car model with increased sales in each of the last five years. My last Altima test drive was in a 2013 model. Now for 2016 Nissan gave the Altima a fairly significant mid-cycle facelift and it was time for me to revisit this model.

Although all we hear is how every new vehicle shopper wants an SUV or car-based crossover, there are still folks out there who want a traditional 4-door sedan. In my way of thinking, you really don’t need two SUVs in a household. Have one and if you need a second vehicle a nice sedan will do the job.

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On the outside, the 2016 Altima has a refreshed exterior following the new Nissan "Energetic Flow" design language introduced on the all-new 2015 Murano and 2016 Maxima as well as Sentra. The redesign includes a new front fascia, V-motion grille, new hood and fenders with tailored character lines, and available signature LED boomerang headlights and Daytime Running Lights. The rear has a new fascia and trunk lid.

On the inside, the new Altima upgrades include a new center stack and cupholder design, available 5.0-inch and 7.0-inch displays, Zero Gravity seats, soft-touch seat and door panel materials and custom finishers.

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Under the skin there’s retuned steering and suspension for better ride comfort, handling and quietness. Performance has been refined with the Xtronic CVT transmission’s third-generation D-step logic, which simulates conventional automatic transmission shift points.

The five-passenger Altima is offered in five trim levels…base, S, SR, SV, and SL with two engine choices making for a total of seven models. Five are powered by a 182HP 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder engine and a 270HP 3.5-liter DOHC V6 can be had in SR and SL trims.


The front–wheel drive Altima prices start at $22,500 and go up to $32,090.

I had a week to drive around in a 2016 Altima 2.5 SL model with a base price of $28,570. Options fitted on my test car included a $800 moonroof, $210 for carpeted floor and trunk mats, and $1700 for a Technology Package which includes Nissan’s Safety Shield technologies and a navigation system. With the $835 destination charge the bottom line hit $32,115.

EPA test-cycle estimated fuel economy ratings for my Altima 2.5SL are 27 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined. Nissan says the 39 mpg highway rating is best-in-class. I didn’t get to take a long road trip with my Altima-tester but my around town fuel consumption was hovering in the high 20s. The CVT does pay off in lowering fuel consumption.

Driver-assistance Safety Shield items in the Technology Package includes Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking and Intelligent Cruise Control. The Altima is a leader in the midsize segment in offering this equipment typically only found on higher priced cars. Three other features are standard equipped, namely Radar-based Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a rear view monitor.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2016 Nissan Altima its highest rating of "Top Safety Pick Plus" when equipped with optional Forward Emergency Braking technology. For this year, IIHS has tightened its standards by requiring a "Good" or better rating in all five of the crashworthiness categories to earn a "Top Safety Pick" and making an available front crash prevention system mandatory for all awards.

All this new driver-assistance technology can be difficult to comprehend and understand how it is beneficial and worth the added cost. The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa have teamed up to provide an online, mobile- and tablet-friendly resource to help educate consumers. The website’s homepage lists the 28 technology and safety features present on vehicles today. Keep in mind that 95 percent of crashes are due to driver error.

The Altima is nicely appointed and gave me a good impression both outside and in. Overall driving dynamics are quite comfortable with no noticeable shortcomings in performance. I’m not a big fan of CVTs and quite frankly would not be inclined to buy a car with one. That said, in the Altima the larger 2.5-L four-cylinder did work well with the CVT to alleviate the annoying, often buzzy, constant rpm engine operation. Nissan’s work on the overall structure of the Altima and the addition of acoustic laminated glass paid off with a relatively quiet ride.

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Nice-to-have features like heated seats and steering wheel make me like the Altima. One of my pet peeves is the location of the power mirror switch and the Altima’s is conveniently placed on the door pull handle so you can adjust the mirrors while in your proper driving position. And of course Altima has all the latest in connectivity including SIRI eyes free voice recognition.

More specs and information on the 2016 Altima can be found at Comparing the Altima to other mid-size sedans can be done right here at

The 2016 Nissan Altima is a candidate for the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s (MAMA) Family Vehicle of the Year award. We’ll find out who the winner is at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show.

The midsize sedan segment is chock full of really good entries giving the car buying public lots of choices to meet their wishes, desires, needs and transportation expense goals.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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