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2017 Nissan Altima Road Test and Review

Scott Oldham
by Scott Oldham
March 5, 2017
5 min. Reading Time
2017 Nissan Altima exterior profile ・  Photo by Nissan

2017 Nissan Altima exterior profile ・ Photo by Nissan

One of America’s bestselling cars year after year, the popular and sporty 2017 Nissan Altima is a consistent favorite in the extremely competitive mid-size sedan segment. Fresh off an extensive makeover just last year, the Altima, now in its sixth-generation, received measurable improvements in style, luxury, performance, and technology. The result is the absolute best Altima Nissan has ever created.

Built exclusively in Smyrna, Tennessee, the Altima successfully competes against a long list of popular, high-quality, high-value family sedans including the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion and Chevy Malibu. Some critics, bored by the segments uniformity and uninteresting design, have scalded the class for decades, calling it a bunch of vanilla cars with no personality. Appliances people need but few want.

But the Nissan Altima has successfully bucked that trend. Since it first appeared in 1992 the Altima has stood out with inspired style, upscale interiors, and a fun-to-drive character.

Let's take a closer look at the 2017 Nissan Altima.

Models and Pricing

There are seven models to choose from: 2.5; 2.5 S; 2.5 SR; 2.5 SV; 2.5 SL; 3.5 SR; and 3.5 SL. The five 2.5-liter models feature a 179-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, while 3.5-liter Altima models offer a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. No manual transmission is available, and every Altima uses a CVT automatic transmission. No hybrid model is available and every Altima is front-wheel drive.

Prices start at $22,500 and top out at $32,690. The base price of our test vehicle, a 2.5 SL, was $28,570. Add its optional $800 Moonroof Package and the $2,190 Technology Package, and the vehicle’s sticker price jumped to $32,650, including an $865 destination charge.

The 2.5 SL comes very nicely equipped, which is why it is a popular trim level. Standard features include Blind Spot Warning system, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, leather upholstery, power heated front seats, Bluetooth, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, and remote engine start.

Drivers want the Altima SR, which starts at $24,470 with the 2.5-liter engine. This trim level adds a little performance and attitude to the mix. It includes manual mode and paddle shifters for the transmission, sport interior accents, a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch machine-finished alloy wheels with Dunlop 235/45R18 tires.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Curb Appeal

Nissan’s designers don’t hold back. They’ve earned a well-deserved reputation for pushing the envelope and creating daring designs that set trends and break barriers. The exterior design of the 2017 Altima isn’t as radical as some, but its combination of athletic curves, low, racy roofline and wide stance keep it from getting lost in the mall parking lot.

The Altima is handsome from every angle. It gets noticed, looks sporty, and no one can call its shape generic. From its aggressive front end with its V-shaped grille to its muscular rear view with large dual exhaust pipes and a beautifully integrated rear spoiler, the Altima has plenty of attitude without coming across as sophomoric.

The intricate use of brightwork and unique oversized headlamps make Altima look like a car costing much more, and the artistic character line running down its flanks adds motion.  The SR model is particularly striking thanks to its more aggressive smoked headlight and taillight housings, Daytime Running Lights, fog lights, rear spoiler, and its more aggressive wheel design.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Interior Opulence

The Altima’s interior is one of the best in its class. Open the door and you’re met with beautiful materials, dynamic design and near perfect build quality. The interior of our 2.5 SL test vehicle felt like a luxury car, but there was nothing passé about it.

When it comes to interiors, Nissan’s designers sweat the details, and the interior of the Altima is loaded with artistic touches that keep it from feeling "off the rack" or built without bother. Most knobs and switches wear a small piece of trim and each functions with precision. Control placement is near perfect.

The leather seats in our test vehicle were extremely comfortable. The supportive driver’s seat holds you in place and it’s adjustable for height to accommodate shorter drivers. In combination with the tilt and telescopic steering wheel there’s a perfect driving position for everyone.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Technologically Speaking

In base trim, the Altima isn’t exactly going to satisfy a tech junkie, although Bluetooth is standard. There’s also a standard 4.3-inch screen centered in the instrument cluster that displays call interactions and service warnings. The S model also gets a small 5-inch screen on the dash.

Move up a trim level or two, however, and add the optional Technology package, and the Altima brings the tech gadgets and gizmos many buyers are looking for. The touch-screen on the dash jumps to 7-inches. There’s navigation with traffic information, voice recognition, hands-free text messaging, streaming audio, mobile apps and intelligent cruise control, which can maintain a selected distance from the car in front of you.

The best part is it’s all very intuitive to use.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Advanced Safety Systems

Further advanced technology is found in the Altima’s many active safety systems. Standard equipment on our 2.5 SL test vehicle included Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which warns the driver if vehicles are approaching from the side when backing out of a parking space. 

The optional Technology Package added a Forward Collision Warning and Forward Emergency Braking. These systems warn you if they sense a vehicle or object is blocking you path. If you don’t brake to avoid an accident and a collision is unavoidable, the Forward Emergency Braking System will engage the brakes to help reduce the speed of the impact and the severity of a collision.

Additional safety-related systems in the Tech Package are LED headlamps and Emergency Call, which alerts first responders if your vehicle’s air bags deploy. If you’re involved in an accident and the air bags do not employ but you’re in need of help pressing the SOS button will send your GPS coordinates to an agent who can dispatch emergency services to your location.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

How it Drives

Where does it say that a midsize family sedan like the Altima has to be boring? Has to be forgetable? Well, the Altima is neither. It’s comfortable and effortless when you want it to be, but it’s also engaging to drive. Entertaining even.

Unlike some of its competitors over the years, the Altima doesn’t feel like generic car. Like it’s built just to get you from A to B. The Altima has life. No, it’s not a sports sedan and it isn’t going to thrill like a Ferrari, but it never puts you to sleep either -- especially if you choose the 270-hp V6, which provides enough acceleration to scare grandma.

The ride is compliant and the interior is very quiet on the highway. The steering is nicely communicative and a bit heavy, but you get used to it. The brakes provide great feel and awesome stopping ability.

Fuel economy is also very good for this class. With the 179-hp four-cylinder engine, the Altima is rated 27 mpg city and 39 mpg highway and with the V6 engine it’s rated 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Cargo and Cupholders

The 2017 Nissan Altima offers 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space, which is about average for its class. If more is needed, every Altima comes standard with a 60/40 split fold down rear seats, which are easily manipulated for your needs.

Storage inside the Altima’s interior is also sizable and well thought out. The center console bin is large, as are the door pockets, and the two front seat cupholders are commodious and accommodate mugs with handles. The cupholders are also perfectly placed, so tall drinks don’t interfere with any of the switchgear. Your Starbucks nonfat decaf iced Vanillamochafrapiato will not be a problem in this sedan.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Family Friendly

As most cars in this class have gotten grown bigger and bigger, so has the Nissan Altima. The new 2017 offers a large interior and more rear seat room than many of its competitors. It will seat five easily, as long as they’re not New York Jets. For four, this is a very spacious small sedan, and three preteens can spread out and enjoy the rear air-conditioning vents. Unfortunately they’re sure to complain there’s no onboard WiFi, which is standard in the Chevy Malibu.  

Parents with younger kids will appreciate the Altima’s easy to reach LATCH connectors in the outboard seats and three easily accessed upper tether anchors.

And the Altima scored a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and it earned the highest crash test rating from for 5-stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Final Thoughts

Brimming with comfort, style, and family-friendly functionality, both inside and out, the sixth-generation Nissan Altima is a front-runner in the very competitive midsize sedan category. The Altima delivers extremely high levels of style, features and technology for its price, and its fun to drive personality makes it something special in a class that’s often considered too boring.   

Although the 179 hp four-cylinder engine is enough for most buyers, if you can, step up to the more powerful 3.5-liter V6. It gives the Altima outstanding acceleration, and you’ll appreciate the additional performance. The fuel economy penalty is worth it.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan


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