We really hate having to criticize a vehicle, especially one which isn’t particularly bad, but such is the case with the Altima. On the face of it, it doesn’t look so bad, but dig deeper and you find small nuisances and issues. The Altima hasn’t had a full makeover in four years, an extremely long time in the automotive sector. It almost seems like Nissan isn’t aware of the fact that Mazda, Kia, Honda and the rest of the brands are updating their cars annually or every two years, let alone four. The Altima isn’t as bad as the competition is good. It simply can’t stack up against its rivals, not with the current configuration anyway.
The 2017 Altima remains unchanged, yet again.
The midsize sedan from Nissan is offered in five trims: Base, S, SR, SV and SL. The trims are further separated by the engine prefix: 2.5 and 3.5. The Base Altima gets keyless entry, power accessories, A/C, push-button ignition, Bluetooth phone and audio and a decent four-speaker sound system. The S gives you automatic headlights, cruise control, a rearview camera and a better sound system with six speakers. The sportier SR offers bigger 18-inch alloys, DRLs, a small rear spoiler and sports suspension. It’s a little harsher than the standard one, but if you can live with it, it’s okay. We wouldn’t take it, as it doesn’t really transform the car. Besides, the Altima isn’t meant to be “sporty” in any way. The remaining SV offers some creature comfort as well as the usual safety tech such as blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert, with the SL adding heated seats and steering wheel, leather upholstery, a premium Bose sound system and LED headlights. It is the nicest as it gets all the toys, but it may burn a slightly larger hole in your pocket.
Like we said, the Altima can be had with two different engines. The base one is a 2.5 liter four-cylinder with 182 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT. To counter the tedious noise created by the CVT, Nissan added simulated gears, just to make it feel like a standard auto a little bit more. Although it isn’t fast, reaching 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, an Altima with a 2.5-liter unit will return 31 mpg combined.
The larger 3.5 liter V6 is a powerhouse with 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. With a time of 6.2 seconds to 60 miles per hour, it’s a lot more acceptable than the smaller engine. It feels quick too, because the same unit can basically be found in the older Maxima and 350Z, so you can imagine what it does in a small chassis like the Altima. IT returns 26 mpg on the combined cycle, which is just better than average.
The base Altima starts at $22,500, and for that you get the Base trim with the 2.4-liter unit. Should you want more, you’ll have to shell out extra cash for the 3.5 V6.