2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL Road Test Review

 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.


Comfort, refinement, efficiency and loads of style make new Altima a winner   

Like what you see? You're looking at the nicely updated Altima, a car that took on a number of Nissan's new brand-wide design enhancements last year for a mix between the subtle Sentra and sultry Maxima.

The response from family sedan buyers has been excellent, the Altima being only one of two mid-size models to have already surpassed its 2015 calendar year totals after just 11 months of year-to-date sales, with 7,458 down the road compared to 7,293 all of last year.

Just looking at it gives reason enough to understand why. The new Altima incorporates Nissan's trademark V-motion chromed grille and unique new boomerang headlight design to good effect, these updates joining a new sculpted hood and more muscular fenders up front, plus a new rear deck lid and reshaped LED boomerang taillights in back. Standard active grille shutters combine with underbody panels for a drag coefficient equaling just 0.26, which goes far to minimize highway fuel consumption while reducing interior wind noise.


 

Two engines for max efficiency or optimal power 

The Altima was redesigned for the 2016 model year, so it carries forward unchanged for 2017. Likewise its two well-proven powertrains remain the same as well. You can upgrade the Altima with a 3.5-litre V6 that's good for 270 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a fuel-efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT), just like the base 2.5-litre four-cylinder version I drove. That base engine makes a fully capable and truly refined 182 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, a good choice for a relatively lightweight mid-size model.

The Altima provides nice controlled handling through corners even when pushed hard, but I must say this car is a lot more about comfortable, relaxed, fuel-efficient refinement. To that end my 2.5 SL trimmed tester delivers excellent fuel economy at 8.7 L/100 km in the city and 6.0 on the highway, has a sublime ride, and includes front seats with deep, cushy, memory-foam comfort yet good support in the lower back and even decent side bolstering. Really, if you want a very agreeable four-door sedan that delivers smooth, capable performance, this Altima SL is a good way to go.


 

Quiet and refined interior makes for luxurious experience 

Due to an acoustic laminated windshield, more sound insulation, new engine mounts and a bigger muffler its quieter than the already subdued outgoing 2015 version, while it pampers yet further with a soft-touch synthetic dash pad that goes right down to the bottom reaches of the centre stack, plus near identical padded synthetic strips across the door uppers front and back. The door inserts are made from stitched, padded leatherette that melds seamlessly into comfortable armrests, while the centre armrest appears more leather-like with a French-stitched, comfortably padded lid that conceals a large console bin. The Altima is very nicely finished, near the top of the mid-size mainstream volume branded class.

Other attractive details include satin silver trim on the steering wheel spokes, the entirety of the steering wheel's switchgear, tastefully applied to the door panels, and also subtly added around the centre events and centre stack's infotainment and dual-zone auto HVAC interfaces, plus the shifter surround and cupholders on the lower console. Nissan includes a small piece of patterned black and grey glossy composite trim ahead of the front passenger, with the same application blitzing up the lower console facing. It looks good, with a rich, modern appearance that's purposely not wood-like. I like this a lot better than faux woodgrain, because it's not trying to be something it's not.


 

The latest infotainment and top-tier active safety 

An attractive electroluminescent primary gauge cluster positions traditional analog dials to each side of a large high-resolution colour multi-information display, the latter controlled with a pages toggle on the left steering wheel spoke. The rest of the steering wheel switchgear includes audio source, station, and volume controls, as well as buttons for Bluetooth, adaptive cruise control, etc. 

Yes, radar-based cruise control was new for 2016, as was forward-collision warning and emergency autonomous braking, both helping to improve the Altima's safety status with an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating when equipped with optional front crash prevention technologies, while the previous year's lane-departure warning and moving object detection is included as well.


 

A techie that's easy to figure out 

Over on the centre stack the standard 5.0-inch display audio system gets replaced by a high-resolution colour 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen in my tester's top-line SL trim, bookended by two sets of quick access buttons for the audio system, navigation and mapping system, camera settings, and app section with features such as SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, My Apps for downloading personal applications, preloaded apps already including Facebook and Google search, Voice Commands, Settings, and NissanConnect Services, where you can also set up your phone, dim the screen, and perform the usual audio functions. iPhone users benefit from Siri Eyes-Free, while you can stream your music via Bluetooth audio and the usual wired USB and aux ports plus a 12-volt charger, all situated under the centre stack in a separate bin that's large enough for a big smartphone on its back or multiple phones side-by-side.


 

The nine-speaker Bose audio system is especially good for dance tracks and other kinds of popular music thanks to deep, resonant bass tones, strong mids, and plenty of bright high sibilance, while it also worked well for talk radio.

A handy felt-lined sunglasses holder sits in the overhead console, while controls for the powered glass moonroof and others for LED reading lights are also part of the package.


 

No shortage of premium-level features 

Items specific to top-tier SL trim include gorgeous LED headlights with signature LED DRLs, LED turn signal indicators within the side mirror housings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the aforementioned adaptive cruise control and active safety improvements plus the navigation-equipped 7.0-inch infotainment upgrade with Bose audio, a Homelink garage door opener, a powered moonroof, mood lighting, a four-way powered passenger seat, leather upholstery, and premium interior trim, while features pulled up from lesser trims include 17-inch alloys on 215/55VR17 all-seasons, auto on/off headlight control, fog lamps, heatable powered side mirrors, dual chrome exhaust, remote start, proximity access with pushbutton ignition, a heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a multi-info display, dual-zone auto HVAC, an eight-way powered driver's seat with two-way powered lumbar support, heatable front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks expanding on the already large 436-litre carpeted trunk, blindspot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring with a display, all the usual active and passive safety features, plus plenty more.


 

The Altima ultimately drives great value 

Last year's Altima started at a very reasonable $23,998 and Nissan managed to keep the base 2017 model at the same low price. The model's trim lines are identical too, with base trim followed by S, SV, SR and SL, the latter available with four-cylinder and V6 power. The 2.5 SL tested is also well priced at $32,358 plus freight and fees, while a sportier SR can be had for just $27,858, and includes firmer dampers and thicker anti-roll bars front and back, plus larger 18-inch alloys, a rear spoiler, and some other styling enhancements.

It's quite apparent mid-size sedan buyers like what they see in the new Altima, as well as the car's overall value proposition, or at least it seems so based on those numbers mentioned earlier. I'm convinced you'll be very satisfied with Nissan's latest Altima too.

 


Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.