2017 Nissan Altima Driving Impressions

A few years back, Altimas were known for relatively sporty behavior. Nowadays, they promise refined ride quality, but don’t stray far from the midsize pack in terms of driving dynamics. Most buyers aren’t likely to feel deprived, appreciating the sedan’s quiet comfort.

Even in SR trim; an Altima cannot accurately be called sporty or particularly stimulating. Still, the SR, turbocharged or not, differs markedly from other Altima models. Stabilizers bars are thicker on the SR, and dampers stiffer. The suspension provides a welcome balance between passenger comfort and firm handling, without turning stiff. Other versions can yield a sense of floatiness when rolling through rough pavement.

Electro-hydraulic power steering tends to be slow, with excessive slack, though sufficiently precise. Brakes are effective, with good pedal feel.

The four-cylinder engine is wholly adequate and impressively thrifty. Acceleration is swifter with the V6, but that engine can sound a bit hoarse at lower speeds. On the highway, it’s louder than expected in a sedan that’s known for sedate travel.

Nissan has been a leader in CVTs, and the Altima version is impressively smooth as well as responsive. Using the virtual gear ratios in V6 and 2.5 SR models can reduce the tendency of the engine to run at high rpm, which otherwise yields a droning sensation.

Nissan’s frugal four-cylinder powertrain is EPA-rated at 27/39 mpg City/Highway, or 31 mpg Combined. The SR drops to 26/37/30 mpg. A V6 Altima is EPA-rated at 22/32 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined.

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