First Drive Review 2016 Nissan Altima SL: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes

The 2016 Altima 2.5 SL (Nissan)

The 2016 Altima 2.5 SL (Nissan)

There is comfort in familiar things. Those things that we know, like a comfortable pair of pants worn and somewhat tattered but that still fit and serve the purpose of keeping you from getting arrested for running around in public in your undershorts.  Or comfort food. The kind mama used to make.

One of the most popular restaurants in my town doesn’t serve any sort of fusion cuisine, nothing fancy, with some sort of weird garnish that you’re never quite sure you can eat.  I’ve been to places run by some “world-class” chef that refuses to use anything put his first name, as if he were a rock star or some sort of royalty; the sort of chef that takes something and tries to put some sort of “fresh” twist to it.  Then serves up a tiny portion on a fancy plate and charges a price nearing what an average monthly house payment costs.

I have those sorts of places in our town,  and people do go there, but the most popular restaurant doesn’t “fuse” anything except perhaps their lights. No, my favorite restaurant serves comfort food; things like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and they do a damn fine job of it.

This thought came to me this past week as I tooled around our town in the 2016 Nissan Altima. It’s a popular sedan and for good reason.  The Altima has been around since the 1990s. It’s never been fancy, nor pretentious; it’s not a tiny portion on a fancy plate with an expensive price tag. What the Altima is, is a well build sedan with plenty of nice features and priced reasonably.  And for 2016 that story remains the same.  It’s like comfort food; simple, well made, and familiar.

The Altima had a full remake in 2013 and for 2016 gets mid-cycle refresh with a new grille, more angular head and tail lights along with new advanced safety features (adaptive cruise control, forward collision warnings and automatic braking) and a SR trim level.

The five seat Nissan Altima has five trim levels, base, S, SR, SV and SL. The 2.5 or 3.5 designation refers to the engine size, 4-cylinder or V6, with the latter available only on the SR or SL trims.

The base trim has full power accessories, AC, keyless remote entry, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth, atop of 16-inch steel wheels.  The 2.5 S trim adds cruise control, a 5-inch display, rearview camera, USB port and basic NissanConnect smartphone app integration. The new SR trim is a sport package that adds daytime running lights, sport-tuned suspension,  foglights, rear spoiler, paddle shifters sport seats with an eight-way power adjustable driver seat on 18-inch allow wheels.  The SV trim mirrors the S trim but adds the eight way power adjustable driver’s seat, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, duel zone climate control, satellite radio on 17-inch allow wheels.
The top of the line SL, adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a four way power adjustable passenger seat, upgraded ambient interior lighting and a premium Bose sound system.  The 3.5 SL has LED headlights, parking sensors, a 7-inch color touchscreen, voice commands and a navigation system with Google connectivity, paddle shifters and 18-inch wheels.

You can add options such as a sunroof, and the Technology package that has adaptive cruise control, forward collision warnings with automatic braking and an enhanced NissanConnect services with emergency telematics.

My tester for the week was the 2.5 SL with a sunroof and Technology package. Our tester also had the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder powerplant under the hood delivering 182 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque thorough a CVT transmission to the front wheels (the available V6 delivers 270 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque).

The interior of the Altima is one of the reasons for its success. It’s well laid out and functional. The upgraded 7-inch screen is easy to navigate but does require most drivers to look down and away from the road while driving.  We had a beige interior with black accents that looked really sharp with the exception of the console and door trim which looked like a fake bamboo leaf sort of pattern, that frankly just didn’t make sense. That made no real difference however, as the comfort of the drive on the road overshadowed the trim.

Nissan’s CVT transmission, which for the uninitiated is constantly variable and never really shifts, is one of the better ones on the market. We have never really been fans of the CVT, but at least Nissan’s mimics shifts via paddle shifters, on in our case when the Sport mode is selected on the transmission.

I knew our week with the Altima would be a good one, and it was.  There is a reason that it’s among the top 10 selling cars in America.  It has plenty of features, looks good, and drives even better.  Like mama and her meat loaf, Nissan makes a good sedan with the Altima, and does a damn fine job of it.

The 2016 Altima 2.5 SL
MSRP: $28,570
MSRP (as tested with sunroof and Technology package: $32,115
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder 182 hp @ 6000 rpm, 180 ft-lbs torque. @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: Constantly Variable (CVT)
Fuel Mileage (EPA estimated): 27 city, 39 highway, 31 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions):  38 mpg
Base curb weight: 3463 lbs.

Exterior measurements
Wheelbase     109.3
Overall length     191.9
Overall width     72.0
Overall height     57.9

Interior measurements
Head room (w/o moonroof)     40.0f     37.1b
Head room (with moonroof)     39.1f     37.1b
Leg room     45.0f     36.1b
Hip room     5.0f     52.1b
Shoulder room     56.4f     56.4b

Basic: 3 Yr./ 36000 Mi.
Drivetrain: 5 Yr./ 60000 Mi.
Roadside: 3 yr./ 36000 mi.



Greg Engle