Quality standards and features evolve quickly in the family-sedan segment. A feature that was limited or exclusive just a few years ago — adaptive cruise control, for example — might now be essential for most shoppers looking for a midsize family sedan, and each new entry or fresh overhaul raises the bar.
It's been four years since the Altima got a full redesign, and it shows when it comes to the look and feel of its interior and technology interface. Just a few years ago, the Altima's cabin and entertainment features seemed fresh and hip. But in the wake of updates from Mazda, Honda and Kia, the Nissan is already a step behind.
For 2017, the Altima carries over unchanged from last year's minor update, which included enhancements to the grille and headlight and taillight designs and new safety features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. The Altima's engine lineup remains the same, and that's a good thing as the Altima offers some of the highest mileage figures in the class. And although the Altima's overall interior feels stale, its uniquely designed front seats remain as sublimely comfortable today as when they debuted on the Altima back in 2013.
Overall, today's Altima isn't quite the contender it once was. It's still adequate on its own, but there's not enough to lift it above some of the top vehicles in the class such as the Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima.
The 2017 Nissan Altima is a midsize sedan that seats five passengers. It's available in five main trim levels: base, S, SR, SV and SL. These trims are further distinguished by an engine size prefix: 2.5 for the four-cylinder and 3.5 for the V6. The 3.5 is available only in SR and SL trims. In the second half of the model year (also referred to as 2017.5 by Nissan), the base and 3.5 SR trims were discontinued and some extra safety features were added to the remaining trims (detailed below).
The Altima 2.5 in base trim includes 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, keyless remote entry, push-button ignition, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver seat (four-way-adjustable front passenger seat), 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, and Nissan's Easy-Fill Tire Alert system that flashes the lights and beeps the horn to indicate when the tires reach the correct pressure.
The 2.5 S trim adds automatic headlights, cruise control, keyless ignition and entry, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition for iPhone users, a rearview camera, and a six-speaker sound system with a 5-inch display, a USB port and basic NissanConnect smartphone app integration.
The sporty SR trim upgrades the 2.5 S with 18-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, foglights, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, sport seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with two-way power lumbar adjustment).
Compared to the 2.5 S, the SV trim has 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, remote engine start, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control and satellite radio.
The 2.5 SL adds a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated front seats, air vents for the rear seats, a four-way power front passenger seat, two-way adjustable front headrests, ambient interior lighting and a premium Bose nine-speaker sound system. The 3.5 SL gets 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, paddle shifters, front and rear parking sensors, a larger 7-inch color touchscreen, voice commands, and a navigation system with Google connectivity.
Some features are available on lower trims as options, either in packages or as stand-alone items, and include a sunroof, heated mirrors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. SL trims can add bundled Technology packages that include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and enhanced NissanConnect services with emergency telematics.
As mentioned, the trim levels for the Altima are broken up into two halves of the year: 2017 and 2017.5. They're mostly the same, but for 2017.5 models (Altimas built after June 2017), trims SV and above get forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking as standard.