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The just-right porridge of midsize sedans
2016 Nissan Altima review:
The just-right porridge of midsize sedans
Reviewed: May 12, 2016
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- Engine 4 Cylinder Engine
- Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
- MPG 31 MPG
- Passenger Capacity 5
- Body Type Sedans
Roadshow Editors’ Rating
Media Connectivity 7
The Good The Altima’s so-good-it’s-nearly-invisible CVT provides a smooth drive with solid fuel economy, and the car is quite the looker, too.
The Bad The infotainment system lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, and the interior gets a bit drab when ordered in black.
The Bottom Line If you can’t decide between sporty or cushy, the 2016 Nissan Altima is a wonderful middle ground that can give drivers a bit of both.
Roadshow’s spent some time in the past few weeks with midsizers both sporty and soft, but after a week behind the wheel of Nissan’s refreshed Altima, I’ve come to find that the Altima strikes a good balance between those two extremes.
It’s not too soft, and it’s not too harsh. It’s not too racy, and it’s not a complete snooze fest. I’ll spare you the full Goldilocks analogy. I’m sure you get where this is headed.
One heck of a refresh
Nissan threw everything but the kitchen sink at its venerable middle grounder as part of a mid-cycle refresh for the 2016 model year. While the rear end has been sharpened a bit, most of the action is in front of the A-pillars, where the Altima’s countenance is reminiscent of the new Maxima.
The Altima’s rocking one of the best looks in the segment.
Personally, I think the coalescing of styles under Maxima is a very good thing. The “V Motion” grille gives the front end a nice shape, and the contours on both the headlights and front fenders give the car a much stronger look than before. In a segment rich with competition, not all of which possess style points, Nissan’s done a good job here giving the Altima a beefier look that puts it close to other sportier-looking cars, such as the Mazda6.
There have been far fewer updates to the interior than I’ve seen on the exterior, but that’s because it didn’t need much. It’s a straightforward affair, with just a bit of dashboard layering to give it a premium sheen. The plastics are all on the harder side, and if you order the entire interior in black, as my test car’s was, it’s going to be a bit drab and cavernous.
That said, the cloth seats are comfortable — not too hard, not too firm — and they heat up quick in conjunction with the SV trim’s optional front heated seats. Storage is ample, too, with a small-purse-sized center console cubby and another one under the center stack. The interior is just a bit more boring than the exterior would have you expect.
Plenty tech-y for the average buyer
Whether you prefer to access in-car tech through the infotainment system or your smartphone, there’s plenty to dig on the Altima, even if you’re not vying for the top trim with all the options possible.
Some simple map controls, like zooming in and out, are hidden behind other buttons, which can be a little counterintuitive.
There’s one USB port and two 12-volt outlets up front, but nothing for rear-seat occupants. Plug your phone in with the USB connection, and it will start charging even before the car is turned on. That’s a nice little touch.
Speaking of touch, the touchscreen infotainment system is quick to respond to both button and finger presses. I tested the optional 7-inch screen, but 5 inches is standard. Switching between functions is easy, thanks to the physical navigation buttons flanking the screen. Bluetooth phone pairing is initiated through the screen and it takes about 30 seconds to complete.
The infotainment system has a wealth of on-board apps that rely on the satellite-radio antenna. These include traffic and weather alerts, sports scores and movie-ticket information. Using your phone’s connection, you can also access Google search, Pandora and TripAdvisor.
You can also connect the car with your phone thanks to the NissanConnect app. That gives you access to the car’s functions (locking, unlocking, starting) and information. It also allows you to manage in-vehicle destinations and reassures overprotective owners with warnings such as the speed alert and a valet alert, which notifies you if the car travels more than 0.2 miles away. It’s not the flashiest app, but it’s effective.
Finally, there’s an information display nestled between the gauges that delivers loads of information. Using the steering wheel controls, you can access tire pressures, fuel economy readouts, navigation directions, audio information, vehicle warnings and settings. It’s big, colorful and easy to read.
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