The 2016 Nissan Altima lineup features revised styling inside and out, retuned suspension and steering, and updated technology. Also, a sporty new Altima SR model joins the lineup for 2016.
Altima is a midsize sedan that competes with Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, and other midsize sedans. It’s more affordable but less interesting than the sportier, more luxurious Nissan Maxima.
Last redesigned for 2013, the Altima has been extensively updated for 2016. Buyers can choose between a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers excellent fuel economy and a proven, powerful 3.5-liter V6.
Restyled front and rear, the 2016 Altima embraces Nissan’s latest design theme, called Energetic Flow, to complement the Maxima and Murano. Likewise, the interior has been updated to echo the themes of those two models, bringing a little more pizazz to the Altima cabin.
A slew of safety features is available for the 2016 Altima. Among them: Predictive Forward Collision Warning and Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 182 horsepower and comes with Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 27/39 mpg City/Highway.
The 3.5-liter V6 produces 270 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque. Fuel economy is rated 22/32 mpg City/Highway. Its CVT includes paddle shifters and a manual mode that simulates gear ratios.
The electro-hydraulic steering has been reprogrammed for better response and feel for 2016. We found it steers nicely and had no issues with it. Nissan has also switched shock absorbers, springs, and tires for 2016 with the goal of more dynamic handling. The 2016 Altima SL we drove was comfortable, with a nice ride for highway commuting and running errands, but there is nothing sporty about it.
The sporty 2016 Altima SR brings a bit more sportiness to the equation. Available with either engine, the new Altima SR has stiffer dampers and thicker stabilizer bars. The Altima SR handles with authority and it leans less in turns than the standard Altima models.
Altima’s front seats promise long-lasting comfort and we found them relatively soft. Fold-down rear seats are split 60/40. Additional acoustic glass and sound-deadening material have been added to quiet the cabin, and we did find it to be a quiet, serene place to sit while rolling down the highway.
On the infotainment front, the Altima moves ahead with new audio features connected to Bluetooth, which now is standard. Included are audio streaming and text-to-voice translation, using a 5-inch color display. A 7-inch touchscreen goes into models with navigation and real-time traffic data.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2015 Altima a five-star overall rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2016 Altima Good marks in each test, with Top Safety Pick+ honors.
The 2016 Nissan Altima comes with a choice of engines. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination.)
Altima 2.5 ($22,500) comes with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, air conditioning, Bluetooth streaming audio/phone, CD player, and 16-inch steel wheels. Altima 2.5 S ($22,900) includes a rearview camera, Intelligent Key, automatic headlights, cruise control, and NissanConnect with mobile apps. Altima 2.5 SV ($25,460) has blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 17-inch wheels.
Altima 2.5 SR ($24,470) features a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, 18-inch alloy wheels, power driver’s seat, and special exterior/interior trim. Altima 3.5 SR ($27,390) gets the 3.5-liter V6 engine and LED headlights.
Altima 2.5 SL ($28,570) features leather upholstery, Bose audio, heated front seats and steering wheel, power passenger seat, and auto-dimming mirror. Altima 3.5 SL ($32,090) adds the V6 engine, navigation, a moonroof, and front/rear sonar sensors.
Adopting some of the styling cues introduced on the sleek Maxima sedan, the Nissan Altima gets a fresh new look at both front and rear for 2016. Fenders and the hood have been reshaped, and the front fascia sits lower. Appearance of the V-shaped grille now reflects the latest Nissan theme.
At the rear, wider taillamps fit into a new fascia, bumper, and trunk lid, and bumper, while basic sheetmetal is essentially unchanged. LED headlights are newly available.
Altima SR is distinguished by smoked headlight housings, fog lights, and a decklid spoiler.
The 2016 Altima cabin has straightforward layout and is improved over the 2015 model. The dashboard has pleasing shapes, though symmetrical and restrained. The shape of the new dashboard shrinks knee room slightly.
Controls on the center stack are easy to use, and the wide console holds a big storage bin. Although interior fits and finishes are mostly good, soft-touch plastics predominate. Inside the SR, blue stitching on the seats, steering wheel, and shift knob contrasts with black upholstery.
Front seats are impressively comfortable. Taller drivers shouldn’t feel cramped, considering the Altima’s 45-inch legroom and 40-inch head space. While the rear seat appears cavernous, head clearance barely prevents tall passengers from contacting the headliner. Rear legroom ranks near average, but foot space is limited.
At 15.4 cubic feet, trunk space is roughly average.
For 2016, Nissan’s independent suspension has new Sachs shock absorbers and rear springs, designed to provide a more dynamic level of handling than that of the 2015 model. Active Understeer Control applies braking to inside front wheels to tighten cornering, while improved programming for the CVT improves low-speed acceleration.
In addition to revised damper-tuning, the new performance-oriented Altima SR benefits from increased stiffness in its stabilizer bars, as well as 18-inch tires. The end result is a decidedly sporty, confident feel. The steering is on the lighter side of our preference.
Road noise is largely muted, and the Altima suppresses tire drone better than a Hyundai Sonata or Volkswagen Passat. You can expect to hear exhaust sound from the four-cylinder engine, but little more than a mellow hum emanates from the V6.
For far fewer dollars, a four-cylinder base model can reach 60 mph in just under 8 seconds. Reworking of the CVT yields significantly greater responses, especially in sport-shift mode, though the refined 2.5-liter engine can be loud when pushed. The four-cylinder feels considerably more eager than its horsepower rating suggests.
In addition to delivering quicker acceleration, the V6 models feel effortlessly smooth.
Nissan Altima is a comfortable, smooth-riding car, good for commuting. Altima comes nicely equipped and appears to represent a good value. Nissan has long been a leader in CVT technology and the Altima’s transmission works so well that we rarely think about it.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report. NCTD editor Mitch McCullough reported on the Altima SL.