The 2016 Nissan Altima SV has svelte body lines – Anne Proffit photo
It’s been a while since I’ve evaluated a Nissan Altima – can’t remember the last time, in fact – so when the 2016 Altima 2.5 SV was offered for a trip to Aguanga, CA and on to Gilbert, AZ (just google them), I jumped at the chance to experience the fifth generation of this mid-size, front-wheel-drive, four-door sedan.
The Altima has Nissan’s extended V-shape grille – Anne Proffit photo
No doubt about it, the newest Altima has looks that state it’s a Nissan, with cues from the upmarket Maxima sedan and Murano SUV. Nissan calls this “Energetic Flow” styling; to this eye it’s a cohesive design platform that’s really quite appealing, from its modified V-shaped grille that’s become part of the genetics of this and other Nissan vehicles, the husky forward shoulders and upper body line strake that delineates the flow from front to rear as the strong arching tail lamps lead to a pair of twin pipes.
The engine has older technology but works quite well – Anne Proffit photo
The looks of this Brilliant Silver on charcoal sedan scream performance but the mechanicals, alas, do not. Nissan fits its old-style port-injected 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder engine that puts out 179 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 177 lb-ft of torque at 4,000; redline is at 6,500 rpm. Nissan, as it does with nearly every vehicle, uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that never seems to know what gear it’s in.
Suspension is through struts and multi-links, with upgraded shocks and struts for 2016. Nissan fits electrically controlled hydraulic steering on the Altima, which gives it somewhat better feedback than a pure electric unit. The disc brake system works as expected and the Continental 215/55R rubber mounted on twinned, five-spoke polished and flat 17-inch alloy rims are pretty but a wee bit on the noisy side.
The Altima’s business-like interior is actually quite welcoming – Anne Proffit photo
While the running gear on his car is boring, and not terribly proficient in a vehicle that weighs at least 3233 pounds (we didn’t go to a scale, but figure with many options, it’s got to be heavier than stated), one feature everyone can appreciate is the mileage achieved, using regular unleaded from the 2016 Nissan Altima SV with this four-cylinder engine.
Rated at 27/39/31 from its large 18-gallon tank, the Altima regularly returned figures in the 40-mpg range over the long trips and even as we worked our way up the Rte 74 grade from Palm Springs to Anza. After more than 900 miles, the average for our trip was more than 38mpg, easily beating the federal estimate. For highway runs, we’d estimate an easy 550 to maybe 600 miles, even with a heavier right foot.
Plenty of space in the rear of this sedan – Anne Proffit photo
Inside the cabin this refreshed Altima feels a bit more upmarket than it used to and has quite a few soft touch materials on the upper dash. The cabin has an airy feel, thanks to the fairly low dash. “Zero gravity” front seats are power-operated for the driver and manual for the passenger. They were comfy for three-plus hours behind the wheel, thanks to the lumbar adjustments, but the seat bottom could use better bolsters to these cloth seats. There’s plenty of rear legroom and the backseat trio have their own air flow and complement of cup holders in doors and pull-down armrest.
Steering wheel operation is excellent – Anne Proffit photo
The 2016 Nissan Altima SV sedan has an inviting interior. The steering wheel offers audio and trip computer operation on the left with cruise control and phone operation on the right. Pairing the phone was a 20-second operation. The trip information system gives both average mpg and mph as well as driving miles and time. Below that the screen shows dual trip odometers and range.
This was a an excellent environment for the traveler – Anne Proffit photo
At the base of the central stack lie a single USB, auxiliary and 12-volt plug with a grippy floor for the phone. There are high/low seat heaters at the central tunnel, together with a bilevel armrest and storage; another 12-volt plug is on the lower level or the central storage. Both front windows offer one-touch operation in both directions.
One aesthetic note: I just love the door handles and locks with their chromed triangulated buttons. So pretty. Of course the fob stays in your pocket as this is a true proximity key; operation to release the trunk and fuel filler are on the lower left of the dash, along with trip odometer operation. The trunk offers 15.4 cubic feet of space with the ability to lower the rear seats.
Nissan Connect is the manufacturer’s hands-free technology, connecting mobile apps, the SiriusXM travel link and SiriusXM traffic. There’s a hands-free text messaging assistant and one can access streaming audio through Bluetooth. It all works seamlessly. The navigation system is quite good on the 2016 Altima SV. The map offers points of interest that are viable and helped me find my way through the Phoenix area and in Palm Springs on the way back. The rear camera is excellent and crisp.
The cost of this technology in a motor-driven package is $28,935. Moving from a base of $26,295, Nissan gives this Altima SV carpeted floor mats and trunk mat, a cold weather package (two-position heated front seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated outside mirrors), a convenience package of a rather tiny power tilt/slide sunroof, rear-seat vents, passenger’s one-touch window, auto-dimming inside mirror and other inessential items like manual folding exterior mirrors with imbedded LED turn signals and Homelink. There is also a navigation package that includes Nissan Connect.
While the Nissan Altima’s ride is on the soft side, that works well on the highway when you want comfort. Body control is much improved on this vehicle and it doesn’t seem to want to roll on itself in cornering. Noise isolation is pretty darn good in this car as well.
The 2016 version of Altima is much improved from earlier versions and is meeting little resistance in the marketplace – we see them everywhere. For comfort, styling and over-the-road panache, this Nissan has what it takes. And for the tech-savvy driver, it’ll make the long rides even more enjoyable with its capabilities to amuse and entertain.
Words and Photos By Anne Proffit