Nissan notes that for the 2016 model year, its mid-size Altima features the company’s new “Energetic Flow” design language that launched with the Murano and Maxima. Also for 2016, Nissan has introduced the Altima SR model which it calls an “affordable sports” version of the car with “enhanced handling, unique exterior and interior accents.”
Sounds great, except the Altima 2.5 SL I’ve been driving doesn’t offer much in the way of energetic flow from its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission.
There are two versions of the new SR. One comes with a 3.5-liter V6 good for 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque, while the four-banger in the 2.5 provides only 182 hp and 180 pound-feet, and a little less if you’re buying yours in California. There is a 2.5 SR with the same engine as in the SL I’ve been driving, but it also gets a “7 virtual gears” setup for its CVT as well as manual-mode paddle shifters to take advantage of those virtual gear changes.
The 2.5 SR also gets ZF Sachs shocks, active understeer control and 24.2mm front stabilizer bar, 26.5mm rear bar, and revised damping and bushings, as well as 18-inch alloy Sport-design wheels wrapped with Dunlop 235/45 rubber.
Cosmetically, the 2.5 SR also gets smoked headlamp housings, fog lamps, optional LED headlamps, a rear decklid spoiler, “Sport” cloth seating with power lumbar on the driver’s side.
The 3.5 SR also gets the 7 virtual gears with paddle shifters, revised dampers and bushings, the 18-inch wheels, the spoiler, etc.
Also new this model year for the Altima are what Nissan claims to be best-in-class highway fuel economy and new safety features.
Both SR versions sound like they’d be fun to drive. On the other hand, the 2.5 SL seems set up for people who want their drive to be as uninspiring as their bumper-to-bumper rush-hour commute, albeit with good gas mileage: 27 in the city and a whopping 39 on the highway.
For the $28,570 base price you also get blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and other safety and stability features, leather seating with 8-way power on the driver’s side and 4-way power for the front passenger, Bose premium audio, NissanConnect, a 5-inch color display screen, dual-zone climate control, push-button ignition, auto-on headlamps, etc.
Our car came with optional ($396) premium pearl white paint, a moonroof ($800), carpeted floor and trunk mats ($210), and a technology package ($1,700) with forward collision warning and emergency braking, intelligent cruise control, NissanConnect with navigation and mobile apps, 7-inch screen with voice recognition, satellite radio, remote start emergency call, automatic collision notification and stolen vehicle locator.
As tested price with destination was $32,510.
Perhaps that’s affordable these days for a well-equipped mid-size sedan, but we’re pretty sure we’d prefer the “affordable sports” version of this vehicle.
2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Vehicle type: 5-passenger, four-door sedan, front-wheel drive
Base price: $28,570 Price as tested: $32,510
Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 182-horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, 180 pound-feet of torque @ 4,000 rpm Transmission: continuously variable
Wheelbase: 109.3 inches Overall length/width: 191.9 inches / 72 inches
Curb weight: 3,233 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 27 city / 39 highway / 31 combined
Assembled in: Smyrna, Tennessee