The Altima is a stylish, well-equipped car available in sedan or coupe form. Both versions are attractive and have upscale interiors; from some angles, the voluptuous Altima coupe somewhat resembles the pricier Infiniti G37. The coupe’s sporty styling cues include dual exhaust tips, clear taillight housings, and an optional trunk spoiler. Unfortunately, the driving experience doesn’t live up to the athletic design’s promise. The chassis is soft and the steering feel poor, making the Altima better for commuting and highway cruising than aggressive driving. All Altimas drive competently, and models with the V-6 engine are remarkably quick. Coupes can be equipped with a six-speed manual, but sedans are offered only with a continuously variable transmission. That’s no downfall, as the CVT is one of the best and smoothest such transmissions on the market. The four-cylinder engine is quite efficient for a car of this size, returning 31 or 32 mpg on the highway depending on transmission choice. All Altimas have Intelligent Key push-button start, nine cupholders, lots of safety equipment, and a vehicle alarm. Options include iPod connectivity, heated mirrors, a backup camera, Bluetooth, and a touch-screen navigation system. The Altima has plenty of style, and the sedan is plenty roomy–factors that keep the sedan near the top of the sales chart for mid-size cars. It’s too bad that the driving experience of the sportier-looking coupe doesn’t match up to its striking design.

Drive: Front-wheel

Trim levels: 2.5, 2.5 S, 3.5 SR

Body styles: Sedan, coupe, 5-passenger

Engines: 2.5L I-4, 175 hp, 180 lb-ft
3.5L V-6, 270 hp, 258 lb-ft

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, continuously variable

Passenger volume: (sedan/coupe) 100.7/89.3 cu ft

Cargo space: (sedan/coupe) 15.3/8.2 cu ft

The 2012 Nissan Altima sedan receives a new value package for 2.5 S models that includes Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and automatic headlights. Bluetooth phone connectivity is now standard on the 3.5 SR and is part of the convenience package for the 2.5 S. For the Nissan Altima coupe, a new paint color, dark slate, replaces metallic slate. The Nissan Altima Hybrid has been discontinued for 2012.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are stability control, traction control, ABS with brake assist, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

All: 18-23 mpg city/27-32 mpg highway

  • Sedan is roomy
  • Decent fuel economy
  • Quick with V-6 engine
  • Not as sporty as styling
  • suggests

  • Torque steer with V-6

Nissan’s mid-size stalwart works better as a sedan than a coupe.

  • Ford Fusion
  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Toyota Camry

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