This week, we drive the 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5, delivered in SL trim and featuring a fuel efficient four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Altima comes in four distinct 2.5, from an entry 2.5 at just $22,300 to our tester’s top class SL at $28,150. A 3.5 V6 powered Altima SL is available, starting at $31,950.
As for our tester, the 27 city and 38 highway EPA numbers are some of the best in class, and when it comes to aesthetics Nissans are still ahead of its peers when discussing design initiatives.
Test Drive admits it has always been impressed with Nissan’s ingenuity, even as far back to the 1960s when Nissans were called Datsuns. New for 2015 are a few package and interior upgrades, but our SL is virtually the same as the ultra-popular 2014 model. Thus, when it comes to delivering in every category from safety to looks, Nissan Altima still rates a Test Drive “Best Buy,” delivering a mid-sized sedan that is both cost efficient and a leader in the category.
All Altima 2.5 models come with the aforementioned 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which puts out 182 horsepower and 180 lb. ft. of torque. This engine should prove powerful enough for most consumer needs, as it will accelerate to 60 mph in less than eight seconds while delivering outstanding fuel mileage. Test Drive recommends driving the 2.5 first, and if you want more go and are willing to handle the fuel economy drop, then drive the 3.5 V6 which delivers 270 horses and 22/32 EPA numbers.
Our top line Altima 2.5 SL came with a bevy of standard equipment including heated steering wheel, heated and power front seats, leather interior, and great sounding Bose stereo with nine speakers. We especially enjoyed the $1,090 Technology package, which features a voice activated navigation system and the very important safety features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning. A seven-inch touch screen let’s you know what’s going on, although I’m happy to report that the stereo and climate controls are either knob or push button functions. (Well done Nissan).
All Altima SLs come with traction control, stability control, brakeforce distribution, all the airbags, vehicle dynamic control and the rearview camera, the latter which is optional on 2.5 entry and S versions. Government crash tests find Altima sedans receiving top ratings.
One area where Altima either surpasses competitors or equals them is the cabin, where you’ll find comfortable seating, easy to read gauges and a secure feeling when driving. Further, the leather interior really finishes off the motif, so if you can afford to move up, it’s worth every penny. As with other mid-size sedans we tested, rear seat head and legroom are compromised only if six-footers are the norm. Other than that, most everyone will be happy with interior dimensions.
There are a few concerns, however. Being that we just finished driving the 2015 Chrysler 200, we found that for the same money the Chrysler 200 comes better equipped, including an optional and recommended safety package that offers lane assist and front/rear crash avoidance. There’s also Chrysler’s new nine-speed transmission, which is more desirable than a CVT as the latter still takes some getting used to.
Specifically, CVT power distribution is totally different than automatics that offer “gears,” and to this day CVTs rely on what I call a “high rpm catch up” torque distribution. Those who own a car with a CVT know what I mean, yet no one can challenge the CVT’s economy capabilities which are indeed better than Chrysler 200.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 109.3 inches, 3,187 lb. curb weight, 5.4 inch ground clearance, 15.4 cu. ft. of cargo area and an 18 gallon fuel tank.
Overall, you can’t go wrong if you buy a 2015 Altima, be it the entry model four-cylinder or top line V6. It’s a great car for the money and will deliver many years of care free, excellent fuel mileage driving.
2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Entry Price: $22,300
Price as Tested: $31,060
Roomy leather interior
Engine noisy under acceleration
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who writes weekly for BestRide.com and GateHouse Media).)