2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL Road Test Review

By : Trevor Hofmann
  Nissan gave its mid-size Altima family sedan a mid-cycle redo last year and therefore its status quo for 2017, but it still represents good value. While the base model offers a lot for just over $23k, our $32k 2.5 SL included LED headlamps, proximity access, pushbutton start, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone auto HVAC, 7-inch infotainment, a backup camera, navigation, Bose audio, leather upholstery, powered heated seats, and enough active safety kit for IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus status. Check out our detailed review now.......
 
Like what you see? You're looking at the nicely updated Altima, a car that took on a number of Nissan's new brand-wide design
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
enhancements last year for a mix between the subtle Sentra and sultry Maxima. I suppose it makes sense for any mid-size family sedan to find the middle ground with respect to styling, something the Altima also does with respect to performance.

The more wildly penned Maxima, Nissan's self-proclaimed 4DSC (four-door sports car), is the Japanese brand's four-door performance leader, and while a new Sentra with more get up and go has just hit the streets this Altima is more competitive within its mid-size family sedan segment.

The Altima is only one of two mid-size models that have already surpassed their 2015 calendar year totals after just 11 months of year-to-date sales, with 7,458 down
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
the road compared to 7,293 all of last year; the other car is the redesigned Chevy Malibu. Even so December's sales won't be able to push the Altima near the 9,475 sold in 2014, 10,488 in 2013, 12,793 in 2012 and so on. That's a sign of the weakening car sector mind you, and no fault of the Altima itself. A similar scenario gets played out by most competitors including the all-powerful Toyota Camry that's experiencing slower sales this year than last; ditto for the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, while Hyundai Sonata and Chrysler 200 sales have driven off the proverbial cliff. Thanks to the performance of that last model the new Altima has actually moved up one place from seventh most popular out of 11 mid-size sedan competitors to sixth.

Just
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
looking at it gives reason enough to understand why. It's a great looking four-door, Nissan returning some much needed style to a model that was one of the best looking in the segment when the third generation was introduced way back in 2002. I was on that press launch and remember how it impressed, that sleek sedan endowed with a sizeable 2.5-litre four-cylinder base engine and a downright soul-seducing 240 horsepower 3.5-litre V6 in top-line trim, both engines standard with a sporty five-speed manual. The latter was increased to 246 horsepower a year later and 250 hp in 2005, while an even more potent 260 hp V6 could be had with a six-speed manual in SE-R trim the same year. That, Nissan, was a four-door sports car.

Last
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
year's redesigned Altima, which carries forward unchanged for 2017, is of course fully modernized and therefore more attractive to would-be buyers today, although I wouldn't say it has class-leading style like that third-gen car did in its time. Still, I was hardly ashamed to be seen at the wheel, as long as I didn't try to race anyone away from a stoplight. The thought actually entered my mind, but more out of curiosity than any machismo bragging rights. After all, I just happened to pull up to a stoplight beside a 2010 or so Altima SR 3.5, although by that point the six-speed manual was only available with the V6 in the now discontinued Altima Coupe; the 2009 Altima Sedan SE was last to get the sporty combo. You can buy the current 2017 Altima with an updated version of the same 3.5-litre V6, now good for 270 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque, albeit like most fourth- and all fifth-generation models it's harnessed to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
now there's no performance-oriented SE or SR model with the V6, just the same SL luxury trim I'm reviewing here in 2.5-litre four-cylinder guise.

Anyway, try all I could the Altima SR 3.5 next to me nonchalantly sped away as if I was standing still, the Altima having long since relinquished its mojo to fuel economy regulators. Don't get me wrong as the four-cylinder is now more capable than ever with 182 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, although a gain of seven horsepower and zero torque over 15 years is hardly much to get excited about, especially when base curb weight is up 82 kilos (181 lbs) from 1,371 kg (3,022 lbs) to 1,453 kg (3,203 lbs).

Really, despite nice controlled handling through corners even when pushed hard, this car is a lot more about comfort and economy than speed. Even in Sport mode it
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
merely makes more noise or so it seems, the transmission hunting around for some sort of pseudo gear in a quest for higher engine revs. To add insult to injury the model's once sporty SR trim is now only available with this drivetrain, albeit with paddles behind the steering wheel spokes. How far the Altima has fallen from its once class dominating performance, and don't even get me going about the Maxima.

Yes I know that such talk of performance is hardly why folks flock to the Altima by the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. and thousands in Canada, this car specifically about comfortable, relaxed, fuel-efficient transportation. To that end my 2.5 SL trimmed tester delivers excellent fuel economy at 8.7 L/100 km in the city and 6.0 on the highway, has a sublime ride, and includes front seats with deep, cushy grandma's couch memory-foam comfort yet good support in the lower
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
back and even decent side bolstering. Really, if you want a very comfortable four-door sedan that delivers smooth, capable performance, this Altima SL is a good way to go.

Due to an acoustic laminated windshield, more sound insulation, new engine mounts and a bigger muffler its quieter than the already subdued outgoing model, while it pampers yet further with a soft-touch synthetic dash pad that goes right down to the bottom reaches of the centre stack, plus near identical padded synthetic strips across the door uppers front and back. The door inserts are made from stitched, padded leatherette that melds seamlessly into comfortable armrests, while the centre armrest appears more leather-like with a French-stitched, comfortably padded lid that conceals a large console bin. I wouldn't call the SL luxurious, but the Altima is very nicely finished, near the top of the mid-size mainstream volume branded class.

Other
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
nice details include satin silver trim on the steering wheel spokes, the entirety of the steering wheel's switchgear, tastefully applied to the door panels, and also subtly added around the centre events and centre stack's infotainment and dual-zone auto HVAC interfaces, plus the shifter surround and cupholders on the lower console. Nissan includes a small piece of patterned black and grey glossy plastic trim ahead of the front passenger, with the same application blitzing up the lower console facing. It looks nice, with a pseudo wood appearance that's purposely not fully wood-like. I like this a lot better than faux woodgrain, because it's not trying to be something it's not.

An attractive electroluminescent primary gauge cluster positions traditional analog dials to each side of a large high-resolution
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
colour multi-information display, the latter controlled with a pages toggle on the left steering wheel spoke. The rest of the steering wheel switchgear includes audio source, station, and volume controls, as well as buttons for Bluetooth phone, the adaptive cruise control, etc.

Yes, radar-based cruise control was new for 2016, as was forward-collision warning and emergency autonomous braking, both helping to improve the Altima's safety status with an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating when equipped with optional front crash prevention technologies, while the previous year's lane-departure warning and moving object detection is included as well.

Over
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
on the centre stack the standard 5.0-inch display audio system gets replaced by a fairly high-resolution colour 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen in my tester's top-line SL trim, bookended by two sets of quick access buttons for the audio system, navigation and mapping system, camera settings, and app section with features such as SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, My Apps for downloading personal applications, preloaded apps already including Facebook and Google search, Voice Commands, Settings, and NissanConnect Services, where you can also set up your phone, dim the screen, and perform the usual audio functions. Don't try to connect your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as they're not yet part of the package, although iPhone users benefit from Siri Eyes-Free and you can also stream your music via Bluetooth audio and the usual wired USB and aux ports plus a 12-volt charger, all situated
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
under the centre stack in a separate bin that's large enough for a big smartphone on its back or multiple phones side-by-side, but there's no wireless charging system included.

The nine-speaker Bose audio system is especially good for dance tracks and other kinds of popular music thanks to deep, resonant bass tones, strong mids, and plenty of bright high sibilance, while it also worked well for talk radio.

A handy felt-lined sunglasses holder sits in the overhead console, but as usual with Nissan (and Infiniti) models its nosepiece is too large to fit a regular pair of sunglasses, while controls for the powered glass moonroof and others for LED reading lights are also part of the package.

Lights
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
in mind, when you open the driver's door at night the powered lock button doesn't light up so you can't find it to let a passenger in via another door. This left me poking around in the dark pushing every possible button and hoping I'd find the right one, and then once you both finally get seated inside, close the door and turn on the ignition it lights up, which is absolutely useless. Now that I'm complaining, the heatable steering wheel only heats up from two to four o'clock and eight to ten, not the top or bottom of the wheel.

Items specific to top-tier SL trim include LED headlights with signature LED DRLs, LED turn signal indicators within the side mirror housings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the aforementioned adaptive cruise control and active safety improvements plus the navigation-equipped 7.0-inch infotainment upgrade with Bose audio, a Homelink garage door opener, a powered moonroof, mood lighting, a four-way powered passenger seat, leather upholstery, and premium interior trim,
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
while features pulled up from lesser trims include 17-inch alloys on 215/55VR17 all-seasons, active grille shutters, auto on/off headlight control, fog lamps, heatable powered side mirrors, dual chrome exhaust, remote start, proximity access with pushbutton ignition, a heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a multi-info display, dual-zone auto HVAC, an eight-way powered driver's seat with two-way powered lumbar support, heatable front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks expanding on the 436-litre (15.4 cubic-foot) carpeted trunk, blindspot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring with display, all the usual active and passive safety features, and more.

Last year's Altima started at $23,998 and despite our tanking dollar Nissan has kept the base 2017 model at the same reasonable price. The model's trim lines are
2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
identical too, with a base model followed by S, SV, SR and SL, the latter available with four-cylinder and V6 power. The 2.5 SL tested is well priced at $32,358 plus freight and fees, while that sportier SR noted earlier can be had for just $27,858, and includes firmer dampers and thicker anti-roll bars front and back, plus larger 18-inch alloys, a rear spoiler, and some other styling enhancements.

Styling in mind, the new Altima incorporates Nissan's trademark V-motion chromed grille and unique new boomerang headlight design to good effect, these updates joining a new sculpted hood and more muscular fenders up front, plus a new rear deck lid and reshaped LED boomerang taillights in back. Those active grille shutters combine with underbody panels for a drag coefficient of just 0.26, which really helps to minimize highway fuel consumption while reducing wind noise.

It's quite apparent mid-size sedan buyers like what they see as well as the car's overall value proposition, or at least it seems so based on those numbers mentioned earlier, and as long as you're not trying to relive old six-speed manual 3.5 SE glory days you'll likely be very satisfied with Nissan's latest Altima.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)
 
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