The most clear updates to the new Altima come in its new front and rear fascias, which now resemble those of the Murano and the new Maxima. Fresh head and taillights required sheet-metal changes to the hood, fenders, and trunk by making this more of an renovation than is common in the industry.
Surely, the look works to give the Altima a more current family resemblance, even though the language of style appears awkward to our eyes. Particularly if there is a Mazda 6 parked nearby. The Altima-specific design looks something like fossilized leaves preserved in amber, and it is bound to foil owners in the way it appears dirty when it catches the light just so.
But the cabin remains a quiet and comfy place to while away a commute, thanks to amended insularity and acoustic laminated glass. The horsepower and torque are unchanged at 182 and 180 lb-ft, respectively, as is the coarse groan of the ancient engine whenever it is really pushed. But combined with under-body panels, active grille shutters, and the fuel sipping transmission, the tweaked 4 cylinder allows the Altima to attain a 1-mpg gain in highway fuel economy testing.
Nissan did not have any V-6 cars of any trim level available to drive at its launch event, but we got to try out the 4 cylinder SR and came away encouraged. Being saddled with an old engine and a CVT, Nissan’s engineers were constrained in what they could do to make a sportier Altima. By taking that into consideration, the SR comes off as well as can be imagined.
The Altima’s electrohydraulic power steering has been reprogrammed across the lineup for a weightier feel and a bit more feedback, and on the street the SR feels poised and well planted. The SR is surely the most appealing Altima, even if it falls short of being a true mainstream sports sedan.
Whether or not it remains third in the sales race, the updated Altima should leave its legions of buyers satisfied.