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2018 Nissan Altima Overview
Nissan revamped the Altima back in 2013, and unlike competitors like the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, the Altima only had a modest refresh in 2016 in lieu of a complete overhaul. The 2016 updates addressed some of the driving complaints on earlier models and brought the exterior design up to par with newer Nissans, so for 2018, Nissan has largely left the Altima alone while planning a major redesign for the 2019 model year.
Despite the relatively recent refresh, the Altima’s styling remains relatively unexciting. The steeply-slanted grille, L-shaped headlamp accents, and strong shoulder-line crease add some aggression, but the Altima otherwise looks like most other mid-size sedans on the market. However, this somewhat bland exterior has aged well, retaining a mostly modern look.
The bland-but-modern exterior represents the Altima’s middle-of-the-road approach; it’s a competent package full of thoughtful touches that family sedan buyers will appreciate. The seats, for example, feature Nissan’s Zero Gravity technology inspired by the weightlessness of space. Though the name sounds fairly gimmicky, the seats are actually extremely comfortable even for long drives. The Altima also offers a handy feature called Easy-Fill Tire Alert, which honks the car’s horn as you fill each tire to let you know when you’ve reached the correct pressure level.
The Altima features two engine choices. The first is a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder that delivers 179 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can also select a more powerful 3.5-liter V6, which raises output to 270 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. Both engines route power to the front wheels via a continuously-variable automatic transmission (CVT), and drivers can opt for paddle-shifters that allow them to shift at pre-set points. Fuel economy is definitely one of the Altima’s strong suits, averaging 27 city, 38 highway, and 31 combined MPG for the 2.5-liter and 22, 32, and 26, respectively, for the 3.5-liter.
Nissan splits the Altima into five basic trims, which each receive unique wheel options and progressively nicer features. The entry-level 2.5 S comes standard with a 5” color infotainment setup, Bluetooth, keyless access and start, and Siri EyesFree. The next trim, the 2.5 SR adds items like 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, paddle-shifters, fog lamps and a rear spoiler. Among the higher trim levels, the SR Special Edition has unique 18-inch alloy wheels, leatherette seating, navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Next, the 2.5 SV offers 17-inch alloy wheels, remote engine start with intelligent climate control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The second-highest trim, the 2.5 SL, adds leather upholstery, Bose premium audio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and vents for the rear passengers. Lastly, the range-topping 3.5 SL bundles the aforementioned 2.5 SL features with the V6 engine, paddle-shifters, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and front and rear parking sensors.
Like its exterior, the Altima’s interior is practical and modern but notably unexciting. All controls remain in their traditional positions, making the car incredibly easy to operate. The instrument cluster features a large color LCD that displays important information about the vehicle, including directions (when equipped with navigation) and cell-phone interactions in a clean, crisp fashion.
Similarly, buttons in the center stack are grouped logically according to their function. The fake wood veneers in the upper trims will fool no one, but they’re not offensive or cheap-looking. Standard tech features include a 5-inch color infotainment display, rear-view camera, and USB port with upgrades such as a powered driver’s seat, remote start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and Bose premium audio. In terms of comfort, even backseat occupants have plenty of room, whcih should help minimize family battles to ride up front.
On the safety front, the Altima comes standard with a full suite of airbags, including front and side-mounted airbags for the driver and passenger and side-curtain airbags for all outboard positions. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking come standard. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) last tested the Altima in 2017 and bestowed the model with its Top Safety Pick award.
Even into its sixth model year on the market, the Nissan Altima continues to offer an attractive mix of economy, convenience items, and safety features. Those looking for a bit more style, excitement, or advanced tech features like automatic parallel parking may want to wait for the 2019 revamp.
Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.
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2018 Nissan Altima Top Comparisons
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