Sportier SR model is a play to increase sales
Strange as it may seem, sport variants of midsize sedans are extremely popular–about 20 percent of Honda Accords sold are the Sport model, and about 40 percent of Toyota Camrys are SE models. Since introducing the fifth-generation Altima in 2013, Nissan has been absent from this game, so adding a sporty Altima trim was a big priority for this midcycle update. As such, the new 2016 Nissan Altima SR gets the expected visual changes, like 18-inch alloy wheels, a decklid spoiler, and blue stitching accents for the interior. But Nissan is quick to point out that the changes go deeper than that; the SR also gets a thicker rear anti-roll bar and different tuning for the suspension springs and dampers, and paddle shifters for both four-cylinder and V-6 versions.
Improved aerodynamics result in better highway MPG
Nissan estimates that all 2016 four-cylinder Altima models (save for the SR and its larger wheels and tires) will gain 1 mpg in the EPA highway rating. The new 39 mpg rating is thanks to aerodynamic improvements that bring the car from its previous 0.29 drag coefficient to a sleeker 0.26—the same as the Nissan GT-R. There are also active grille shutters for four-cylinder models, tuning changes for the CVT, and a few tweaks to the 182-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder for lower friction. The only other non-hybrid, non-diesel midsize sedan that can beat 39 mpg is the Mazda6, which gets 40 mpg highway when it’s equipped with the i-ELOOP regenerative braking system.
Additional sound deadening quells engine noise
The outgoing Nissan Altima’s four-cylinder had an unrefined engine note, and the droning nature of the CVT only further exaggerated this. As such, Nissan got to work adding more sound deadening material and an acoustic windshield to further isolate engine noise in the 2016 model. The revised transmission also has artificial shift points to make for more linear acceleration, rather than the sustained high RPMs typical of continuously variable transmissions.
New active safety tech, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto…yet
The 2016 Altima has a few new active safety features that were previously unavailable, including predictive forward collision warning, rear cross-path detection, and adaptive cruise control. But while other updated midsize sedans like the 2016 Honda Accord and 2016 Volkswagen Passat have added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, Nissan isn’t quite there yet. Product planner Ken Kcomt says that Nissan is working on adding these features soon, but didn’t provide a specific timeline. In the meantime, the 2016 Altima does include Siri integration for iPhones, and the infotainment system supports certain apps like Pandora.
Base price goes up $200, on sale in November
All of these changes do come with a slight price hike, as the 2016 Nissan Altima’s starting price increases $200 to $23,325 with destination. That’s for the base Altima 2.5 model, and we don’t yet have full pricing for the Altima S, SR, SV, and SL trim levels. Stay tuned for more information to come before the new Altima goes on sale November 11.