Nissan has given its top-selling Altima mid-size sedan a heavy refresh for 2016 for a model that has found a niche mostly among pharmaceutical fleets looking to provide their sales personnel a reliable, fuel efficient model with a bit of pizzazz.
Among commercial fleet purchasers, the Altima regularly outsells other Nissan models, including its vans and trucks. It has become a fixture in the North American fleets of Pfizer and AstraZeneca. We drove the refreshed Altima at a press event in Malibu, Calif., that showed off the vehicle's agile handling on curving and sloping mountainous roadways.
The Altima has been known for a somewhat subdued driving experience in part because of the quiet operation of its Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission, but this model handles most of what you throw at it with a confident ease. Body roll is minimal, and responsive power-assisted hydraulic steering complete an impressive package.
The 2016 model adds simulated revving (using a feature known as D-step logic) to suggest gear shifting. The Altima's relatively quiet operation may provide a benefit to traveling sales associates making hands-free calls.
Engines carry over from 2015, including a 2.5L four cylinder and 3.5L V-6 that make 182 hp and 270 hp respectively.
Nissan has increased the fuel efficiency for the Altima, raising it to an EPA-rated 39 mpg highway, which equates to a nearly 3% improvement over the earlier model. City fuel economy matches the 2015 model at 27 mpg.
The Altima also gets an exterior styling revamp with Nissan's new design language that aligns it with the Maxima and Murano that came before it. The vehicle's prominent V-shape grille makes an immediate impression.
Interior updates focus on the details that can make small yet notable improvement, including textured surfaces in cup-holders and storage areas to keep pens, water bottles, and other objects from rattling around. Our SL model arrived included handsome and comfortable synthetic leather surfaces.
Nissan isn't implementing Apple CarPlay or Android Auto initially and instead is pairing Apple's Siri Eyes Free voice-recognition with its NissanConnect infotainment system. Mobile apps available above the 2.5 grade enhance the connectivity.
The 2016 Altima starts at $23,325 and offers seven trim grades.