As an auto journalist who is just getting started in the business, I was running out of cars to review. So what did I do? I found a rental car.
It was a 2016 Nissan Altima: a slick looking 4-door sedan that a family man would use to go to work and maybe make a stop at Safeway on the way back home for groceries. I’d seen quite a bit of Altimas roaming around, so I thought I’d take it for a spin.
Above all, I am a fan of the way it looks. The front end somewhat resembles a dragonfly (Perhaps because of the chrome accent bits in the grille), and overall seems very business-y and sophisticated. The software on the car isn’t too bad either. I like the way Nissan took the time to implement siri into the voice recognition system by allowing the users to either press the voice command button a short/long amount of time to activate siri. I like the fact that the process to connect your phone via bluetooth is very easy and self-explanatory. In the dashboard there are various different screens where you an monitor what your mileage is, or even check your air pressure in all four of your tires on the go. I even like the audio quality of the stock system which is quite rare for me.
Where I have a problem with the car is the performance and the price aspect. Altima, for anywhere between $24k and $34k, comes with either a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that is good for 182 hp, or a 3.5L V6 that spits out 270 hp. Furthermore it has a front wheel drive oriented drivetrain, and a CVT(Continuously Variable Transmission). Now, the V6’s power figures are really not too shabby. Unfortunately, I only got to test the 4-cylinder version of the car, so that’s what I’ll be reviewing. For a car that weighs over a ton, 182 horsepower just simply is not enough. Even when I put the car into the sport mode, which provides a “later” gear-shifting timing so that the engine is ready for you to step on it, the throttle response is simply not satisfactory. As far as I can tell, the throttle response is about as immediate as the throttle response on a 2006 Toyota Sienna or a rock. Also, the CVT’s response time is way too sluggish; when it comes time for the gear to change, there’s a clear gap in time when I can hear myself wondering ‘Why hasn’t the gear changed yet?’. And to top it all off, the steering wheel is too “loose” and has too much wiggle room for my liking. Perhaps the V6 version of the car has faster gear changes and more responsive throttle, but I feel as though I would much rather get a Chevy Malibu which is in the same price range with better performance in my opinion. And speaking of competitors of the car, compared to other cars that are in the same price range such as the Mazda 6, Chevrolet Malibu or the Honda Accord, the Altima just does not pull its own weight.
I guess the conclusion I’ve come to about this car is that, is it a decent car for a “normal” dad to drive around? Sure. If you’re a loyal customer of Nissans and you sit in a cubicle day-in-day-out slightly hating your job or a 20-something year old buying his first car? Go for it, I’m not going to stop you. But would I personally go any buy it if I had $30k? Most definitely not.