The 2016 Nissan Altima gets a through mid-cycle refresh that not only includes some styling borrowed from big brother Maxima, but also some mechanical and tech upgrades to keep it competitive in the ruthless midsize sedan field.
The most significant design changes are at the front, where the Altima adopts the new Nissan corporate face, with a prominent V-shaped grille and “boomerang” headlights with available LED elements. There are similarly-shaped “boomerang” taillights at the back, along with a reshaped trunk lid to further alter the appearance of the rear end.
Nissan claims the changes aren’t limited to aesthetics. The new front and rear fascia designs, along with active grille shutters, an under-body cover, and a new windshield help lower the Altima’s coefficient of drag from 0.29 to 0.26. That in turn may help improve fuel economy.
Unlike the body, powertrain offerings remain unchanged. Base models still get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which sends 182 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. a 3.5-liter V6 with 270 hp and 251 lb-ft is available as an option. A CVT is the only available transmission, with the upgraded “D-Step Shift” logic Nissan claims improves the experience.
For 2016, both the four-cylinder and V6 are available with a sportier SR trim. It features specially-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, and some cosmetic differentiators like smoked headlights, fog lights, a rear spoiler, and black interior trim with blue stitching. It’s probably too much to ask for Nissan to offer anything more substantial, like it did with the boy racer Altima SE-R in the early 2000s.
Like the exterior, the 2016 Altima’s interior gets a restyle inspired by the Murano and Maxima, with a new center stack, center console, and other elements that adopt the same “gliding wing” design. The NASA-inspire “Zero Gravity” front seats that were probably the outgoing model’s most distinguishing feature remain.
Notable tech features include available Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, the NissanConnect with Mobile Apps system (including a Google search app for navigation-equipped models), and Bose premium audio system. All models also get a reconfigurable 4.0-inch information display in the gauge cluster.
Nissan also expanded the Altima’s suite of available electronic driver aids, which now includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, forward emergency braking, and rear cross traffic alert. There’s also a Predictive Forward Collision Warning system, which can detect whether the vehicle preceding the one immediately in front suddenly brakes, and warns the driver of a potential collision.
That’s a lot of changes, but will it all add up to a midsize sedan worth buying? We’ll find out when the refreshed 2016 Nissan Altima hits showrooms.