2016 Nissan Altima SL Test Drive: Bows with Revised Styling and Enhanced Performance [Review]


Last year, after two decades, Nissan’s top-selling model, the Altima, entered its fifth generation with an all-new model lineup that included 6 specific choices, with two engine options and two distinctively different feeling Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT).

2016 Nissan Altima

Engine Power Torque Transmission MSRP Price As-Tested Rating
2.5L DOHC, 4-cylinder 182 hp @ 6,000 rpm 180 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm Xtronic CVT with manual shift mode $28,570 $32,595 Buy it!

For the 2016 model year, the Nissan Altima represents one of the most extensive mid-cycle product makeovers in the Japanese manufacturer’s history, and adds an SR trim level. The new Nissan will be available in a choice of seven models: 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 are powered by a 182 horsepower 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder engine, while the 3.5-liter Altimas draw their motive force from a 270 horsepower 3.5-liter DOHC V6. The coefficient of drag has been improved from 0.29 to 0.26 through use of active grille shutters, underfloor aero cover additions and new front and rear fascia and windshield designs.

Both engines are transversely mounted up front, and are coupled to a standard Xtronic CVT transmission with enhanced third-generation D-Step Shift logic. Fuel economy for 2.5-liter models is rated at an estimated 27 mpg city, 39-mpg highway and 31 mpg combined (26 city/37 highway/30 combined 2.5 SR). Altima 3.5-liter V6-equipped models offer estimated fuel economy of 22-mpg city, 32-mpg highway and 26 mpg combined.


All 2016 Altima models are equipped with a re-engineered 4-wheel independent suspension featuring new struts and bushings for a more comfortable and controlled ride and handling. A special sport-tuned suspension with revised struts and springs is offered on Altima SR models. Active Understeer Control is standard on all grades, along with 4-wheel disc brakes with standard anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, and electronic hydraulic power-assisted steering.

Exterior styling changes for the new Altima incorporate Nissan’s “Energetic Flow” design language, which includes: the V-motion grille, boomerang head and tail lights, LED “signature” Daytime Running Lights (DRL), LED projector headlamps, 17 and 18-inch machine-finish aluminum alloy wheels, sculpted hood and front fenders, revised front and rear fascias and a sculpted bumper. The sweeping accent shoulder line carries in a graceful rising rearward slope, while the greenhouse arches gently from the hood, over the sharply raked windshield and into the abbreviated rear deck lid. In profile, the new Altima reflects a coupe-like image with its blacked-out “B” pillars and reverse kink “C” pillar, outlined by a chrome window surround.


The new interior displays an “Information-Centric” cabin execution with NASA-inspired ‘zero-gravity’ front seats that aid in the increase of blood flow, decreased muscular load and a lower fatigue factor. The ambience delivers an enhanced premium look and feel done in silver and satin black, with a “gliding wing” effect and a horizontal console. All grades include Bluetooth® hands-free phone system, streaming audio via Bluetooth and an Advanced Drive-Assist™ display in the center of the instrument cluster that integrates key information – including available navigation, text messaging notification and audio data – directly in front of the driver.



Altima’s connectivity is courtesy of NissanConnectSM with Mobile Apps connected car services, a global smartphone integration platform that includes in vehicle smartphone integration for Android and iPhone® operating systems. Apps include online search powered by Google™ (navigation equipped vehicles only), Pandora (Android only) and Facebook, and are planned to include iHeart Radio* and Pandora (iOS) at a later date.

For 2016, the Altima 2.5 S grade and higher, Siri Eyes-Free and NissanConnect with Mobile Apps are standard equipment. All grades (except 2.5) include a 5.0-inch color audio display, hands-free text messaging assistant and USB connection port for iPod® interface and other compatible devices.


Safety features include: Nissan’s advanced air bag system with dual stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt sensors and an occupant classification sensor; driver and front passenger side-impact supplemental air bags; roof-mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags for front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection; front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters; LATCH System; zone body construction; standard Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control System; tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and Easy-Fill Tire Alert.


My test 2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL was finished outside in Cayenne Red and inside in Charcoal, with a base price of $28,570 and a final sticker of $32,595 after adding a Moonroof Package, carpeted floor and trunk mats, the SL Tech with LED Package and destination and handling charge. I was also able to experience wheel time in a 2.5 SR model with a Deep Blue Pearl metallic exterior with an MSRP of $ 24,470. And a final sticker of $26,445. After adding for the LED appearance package, power driver’s seat, floor mats and destination and handling.


SUMMARY: The design philosophy employed in producing this year’s Altima models delivers a rewarding visual appeal in a longer, wider and lower vehicle, while maintaining a similar footprint to its predecessor. It is the most innovative Altima ever. It is also quieter, with enhanced and improved insulation.

Driving the 2.5-liter version Nissan Altima delivers totally adequate acceleration except in extreme situations, such as passing on a hill, in which scenario, a stepped CVT and manual control paddle shifters would be beneficial. The 3.5-liter powered Altima will obviously provide a more pleasing level of power with less effort, and the stepped, manually shiftable CVT is more closely akin to driving a conventional automatic with the same properties. The CVT belt represents a substantial reduction in friction, and is expected to last for the life of the car.


The 2016 Nissan Altima is sure to continue as one of Nissan’s most popular vehicles, with a host of standard equipment and features as well as an impressive portfolio of safety gear to enhance one’s driving experience at an affordable price, with an appearance that still ranks as a “class above”. It is good looking, comfortable and handles with an air of sportiness.

  • Buy itOn the TFLcar scale of:
  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2016 Nissan Altima a Buy It! for an affordable, practical and economical sedan.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Nissan Altima SL

  • Base Price: $28,570.
  • Price as Tested: $32,595.
  • Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve 4-cylinder with sequential
    multi-port fuel injection.
  • Horsepower (bhp): 182 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (ft./ lbs.): 180 @ 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission: Xtronic CVT with manual shift mode
  • Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
  •  Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs.
  •  EPA-estimated fuel economy (city/highway mpg): 27 / 39

The 2016 Nissan Altima has been refreshed with a more sporty look and new SR model added to the line-up as Nathan and Roman discovered in this TFL 2016 Nissan Altima SR First Drive review.

arv voss Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.