Bottom line: The Nissan Altima, in almost any trim level, is one of the best family sedans available in the U.S. auto market. The caveat is this: If you get all of the options available on the 3.5-liter V-6 Altima, you might as well move up the company’s product line and buy a Nissan Maxima.
Ride, acceleration and handling: The Altima 2.5 SL gets good marks in all three. The car is highway-competent and easily maneuverable in tight city traffic. Driven carefully with fresh all-season radials or, preferably, with genuine winter tires, it also moves with confidence in moderate snow (three to four inches).
Head-turning quotient: It has an attractive exterior and a well-designed interior featuring quality materials.
Body style/layout: This is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive compact family sedan with four side doors and a traditional notchback trunk.
Engines/transmission: The Altima comes standard with a 2.4-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing (182 horsepower, 180 pound-feet of torque) linked to a continuously variable automatic transmission. A 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine (270 horsepower, 250 pound-feet of torque) is available.
Capacities: Seating for five people. Cargo capacity is 15.4 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 18 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade works just fine.
Mileage: I averaged 37 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; stability and traction control; and side and head air bags.
Price: This sedan starts at $27,860, with a dealer’s invoice price of $25,467. Price as tested is $31,150, including $2,480 in options (Bose premium sound system and technology package including onboard navigation and rearview camera, among other items) and an $810 factory-to-dealer transportation charge.