2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL gas mileage review

Nissan made big waves a few years ago when it introduced its then-new 2013 Altima.

On the side of a barn not too far from its Franklin, Tennessee, headquarters, the automaker painted “38 mpg”—referring not to its combined EPA rating, but its highway number.

And then it took a bunch of pictures of the 2013 Altima in front of the barn.

We’re not sure what that barn looks like today, but it just became outdated.

That’s because the 2016 Altima, a relatively mild refresh, is now rated at 39 mpg highway.

You can’t buy a midsize sedan with a higher fuel economy rating unless you opt for either a hybrid or a Mazda6 with the company’s costly i-ELOOP regenerative braking.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Nissan Altima nominated a “best car to buy”

To squeeze out that extra 1 mpg, Nissan focused on aerodynamics rather than adding more powertrain technology.

The company’s engineers say they have dropped the car’s drag coefficient to just 0.26 Cd (down from 0.29, now identical to that of the GT-R sport coupe).

To get there, stylists revised the car’s front fascia and hood, although you might not immediately notice the aero effects given the change in grille shape.

Then the engineers added underbody aero coverings, along active grille shutters that close off the lower inlet at higher speeds.

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Additionally, the engine team made some internal changes to the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder to reduce internal friction.

Finally, the car’s CVT gained some software updates to cut engine speed and improve drivability.

Now, all 2.5-liter Altimas are rated at 27 mpg city, 39 highway, 31 combined.

Output is still rated at 182 horsepower, while torque remains 180 pound-feet.

A carryover 3.5-liter V-6 is optional, but it’s only offered in two trim levels and it makes up only a small percentage of Altima sales.

Other updates for 2016 include a laminated windshield to reduce road noise, some suspension changes, new tire specifications, and revised interior trim.

A new SR trim level is offered with either engine and it adds sportier suspension and steering tuning.

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