Though small crossovers have become more popular in recent years, midsize sedans are still one of the top choices for family-friendly transportation. This segment is so important to automakers that a few of the most popular models have been redesigned or notably freshened for the 2018 model year. Unfortunately, the 2018 Nissan Altima is not one of them.
We've generally like the Altima over the years, but this particular generation is getting on in years. The newest crop of rival sedans further highlights the Altima's deficiencies in the areas of technology, interior quality and performance.
To Nissan's credit, the 2018 Altima does have some useful enhancements. A forward collision notification system with automatic emergency braking is standard on all trim levels, and the upgraded infotainment display now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. But the segment has so many strong competitors that even a decent choice like the Nissan Altima has a hard time differentiating itself.
The 2018 Nissan Altima comes in five trim levels: 2.5 S, 2.5 SR, 2.5 SV, 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL. All Altimas (except the 3.5 SL) are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (179 horsepower, 177 pound-feet of torque) that routes power through the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Standard features for the 2.5 S include 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, a rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth, a 5-inch display screen, and a six-speaker audio system with a USB port. Also standard for 2018 is a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.
The sporty 2.5 SR trim upgrades the 2.5 S with 18-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, foglights, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned suspension, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, paddle shifters (with seven simulated shift points), upgraded upholstery and a power-adjustable driver seat.
Compared to the 2.5 S, the 2.5 SV trim has 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, remote engine start, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and the SR's foglights, power driver seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 2.5 SL adds LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated front seats, air vents for the rear seats, a power front passenger seat and a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system.
The 3.5 SL is the only model not powered by the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Instead, a 3.5-liter V6 lies underhood, developing a healthy 270 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. It also gets 18-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof, heated mirrors, paddle shifters, adaptive cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, and NissanConnect services with emergency telematics.
All four-cylinder trims can be ordered with a single package that adds features from upper levels. For example, the Convenience package for the 2.5 S only adds a power driver seat and remote engine start, while the 2.5 SR's Special Edition package includes satellite radio, heated front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, and the 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.