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Nissan Altima Performance

Critics report that a strong base engine, a potent V6 option and sharp handling make the 2015 Nissan Altima more fun to drive than the average affordable midsize car.

  • "The 2015 Nissan Altima's key selling point may be its driving dynamics. Without giving up any of its mainstream family-car duties, this midsize sedan nonetheless manages to impart a measure of driving fun that's uncommon in the segment." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Altima isn't the sportiest family sedan, nor the most luxurious, but if you're looking for both traits in the same package, it's hard to think of a competitor that does it better." -- Edmunds
  • "The new Altima is one of the sportiest cars in a sedate crowd." -- Popular Mechanics (2013)
  • "All of that is designed to add up to a slightly more sporty than average driving experience, though we found on our preview drives that the Altima continues to prioritize the kind of comfort and space buyers tend to want in this segment. In short, don't expect to find a cut-rate M3 and you'll be satisfied." -- Left Lane News (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower. A 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine is available. Every Altima comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). According to the EPA, the four-cylinder 2015 Nissan Altima gets 27/38 mpg city/highway, which is superb for the class. The V6-powered Altima’s fuel economy is up slightly this year to 22/32 mpg, which is high for a six-cylinder affordable midsize car.

The automotive press writes that the four-cylinder Altima has no trouble passing and merging on the highway, which some note is especially impressive in light of its stellar fuel economy. According to reviewers, the V6 model delivers a nicer exhaust note than the four-cylinder and strong acceleration that can push you into the back of your seat. Critics say the CVT is responsive, though it sometimes makes the engine drone noisily.

  • "The four-cylinder engine provides good power for passing and merging, which is particularly laudable given its exceptional fuel economy. The CVT does leave room for improvement when matched to the inline-4 -- we've found it too eager at times during moderate acceleration, causing needless engine noise, only to settle into a cruise at an rpm that feels too low -- but on the bright side, its gearless operation means you'll never feel a shift." -- Edmunds
  • "The powerful 3.5-liter V6 is the obvious enthusiast choice, but the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is more than adequate for light loads and level roads." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Some people might not like the unusual engine cadence one experiences with a CVT, but you can't beat it for instant response. Need to move into a gap on the freeway? Step on the gas and hold on. Then, on the open road, you can dial back and let the revs drop to a discreet purr as the CVT spools to its long-striding high ratio." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "The V-6 is no slouch. There's much more power in reserve to push you back in the seat when accelerating hard, and the engine makes much nicer music than the four-cylinder." -- Cars.com (2013)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers write that the 2015 Nissan Altima’s agile handling makes it fun to drive on a twisty road, and many argue that it handles better than most rivals. Several reviewers also praise the Altima’s accurate steering, though some wish it provided better feedback. Most automotive writers say the Altima has a composed ride, but a few note that it rides a bit roughly on broken pavement.

  • "While a bit stiff on the harshest surfaces, the Nissan Altima won't beat you up around town while remaining nimble enough on mountain roads to be, dare we say, fun." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In real-world driving, it's the Altima's well-roundedness that stands out. The ride is hushed and compliant, even on rough surfaces, but there's a sense of control that you don't get in some similarly smooth-riding competitors. Should you find yourself alone on a winding road, the precise steering and well-tuned suspension will quickly make themselves known." -- Edmunds
  • "Unfortunately, the car's steering is a significant letdown, particularly in the V6 version. In turns, the steering provides no feel for the road, and steering effort remains exactly the same no matter how hard the car is turning or how much grip the tires find. This gives the Altima's steering a disconnected, artificial feeling." -- AutoTrader
  • "As before, the Altima quickly outs itself as one of the best-handling cars in the segment, with well-controlled primary and secondary impacts and nicely snubbed body control." -- Autoblog (2013)
Review Last Updated: 8/26/15

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