2014 Nissan Altima Review

Tony O'Kane | 8 Comments

2014 NISSAN ALTIMA REVIEW

What’s Hot: Sweet V6, plenty of rear legroom, value for money
What’s Not: Coarse-sounding inline four, average dynamics
X-FACTOR: It’s the largest non-large car around. Plenty of metal for your money

Vehicle Style: Medium sedan
Engine/trans:
127kW/230Nm 2.5 petrol 4cyl / CVT auto
183kW/312Nm petrol 6cyl / CVT auto

Price: $29,990 to $45,390
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.5 l/100km (4cyl), 9.3 l/100km (6cyl)

OVERVIEW

At long last, the Nissan Altima is finally here. Or rather, an Altima that you can actually buy is finally here.

Nissan’s new lar... - I mean midsized sedan - has been orbiting race tracks as a RWD V8 supercar since late last year, building buzz for the eventual arrival of its road-going brother.

And though the front-drive road car that’s just arrived in showrooms doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the V8, it’s a plenty capable family sedan.

But is it a small car, or a large car? Nissan is at pains to stress that the Altima is not a replacement for the now-departed Maxima, but the Altima is 35mm longer overall, 35mm wider and only 15mm shorter in height.

Its interior is also just as spacious as the Maxima, but rather than pitting the Altima against big cars like the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, Nissan sees its new sedan as being a Camry-fighter.

Does it have what it takes to topple Toyota’s top-selling Camry - let alone more polished machinery like the Mazda6? We went to the Altima’s local launch in Victoria to find out.

THE INTERIOR

The quality of materials is up to Nissan’s usual standards. There are soft-touch plastics on the dash and door trims, and everything is bolted together snugly.

Though sourced from Thailand, the Altima’s build-quality is similar to Nissan’s Japanese and European-sourced products. In other words, hard to fault.

However one complaint concerns the glossy piano-black panel that frames the radio and ventilation controls. It shows up fingerprints and light scratches too easily, and only looks good when it’s absolutely spotless.

The fact that the flagship Ti-S model shares the same cross-hatched dash trim as the base model will perhaps be another negative for buyers.

So it’s not terribly exciting visually, but it is a comfortable and functional interior. The button layout on the centre console is easy to interpret at a glance, and the instruments are clear and legible.

It’s also easy to get settled behind the steering wheel. There’s a wide range of adjustment to both the seat and the steering column, and headroom and elbowroom are in good supply.

The seats themselves were designed using research data from NASA, and they do indeed give good support to the lumbar region.

What they don’t do is give much lateral support, and we found ourselves sliding around the seat when cornering hard.

The back seat is roomy, with a very generous amount of rear legroom for a mid-sizer.

Rear headroom is in relatively short supply though, with the slope of the roof cutting into noggin-space for passengers around the 6ft mark.

Boot capacity measures 488 litres, which is a touch smaller than the Maxima’s 506 litre load area.

The 60-40 split rear seats fold down to boost carrying capacity, but the passthrough under the parcel shelf is quite narrow, limiting the ability to ability to accept wide objects.

ON THE ROAD

The Altima range is powered by two engines, with Nissan’s 2.5 litre QR25DE naturally-aspirated inline-four seeing service in the Altima ST, ST-L and Ti.

The range-topping Ti-S utilises Nissan’s familiar VQ35DE, which also serves in the Murano, Pathfinder and - you guessed it - the Maxima.

With just 127kW and 230Nm to motivate 1435kg, the 2.5 litre feels like it's working hard. The CVT gearbox does its best to make the most out of the 4-cylinder’s output, but the 2.5 is far from brisk.

But while speedy overtaking requires a bit of a run-up, the 2.5 is an able cruiser. The CVT keeps revs low at a highway cruise, and the engine is fairly quiet in this mode - something it isn’t when the rpm rises.

The suspension has similar attributes. It’s not totally at ease when being pushed hard, but settles into a more comfortable groove when plodding along.

That’s not to say that it handles loosely.

Even on the base ST’s 16-inch wheels the Altima grips reasonably well in a corner, but there’s an abundance of body roll and it simply doesn’t feel as alert and dynamic as, say, a Mazda6 or Ford Mondeo.

The Altima also reacts poorly to mid-corner bumps, with the soft suspension taking a moment to rein in body movements and restore stability.

The V6-powered Altima Ti-S is a more enjoyable experience at the wheel.

The extra power and torque of the 183kW/312Nm 3.5 litre V6 does wonders for straight-line performance, and the CVT is happier when it has more power to play with.

You also gain a manual shift-mode with the V6, which can help keep the engine on the boil when pressing hard.

The steering gains a bit more weight - and seemingly a bit more authority - with the V6 up front.

As with the four-cylinder there’s not much in the way of feedback through the wheel, but the electro-hydraulic power steering is at least much more consistent from lock-to-lock than most electric power assistance systems.

TMR VERDICT

At a touch under $30k for the entry Altima ST, Nissan’s new sedan looks like a decent buy.

It’s cheaper than the Mazda, Honda and Toyota opposition, and far more appealing than Holden’s Malibu (which undercuts the Altima by $1500).

The V6 is the pick when it comes to power and refinement, but at $45,390 you need to dig a lot deeper.

Still, this top-spec Altima is more affordable than the V6 and diesel variants of the Honda Accord and Mazda6 and is packed with plenty of equipment as standard.

Will the Altima enjoy greater fortunes than the Maxima (may it rest in peace)?

The next six to eight months will tell if it makes much of an impact in the showroom. On first impressions, we think there's some appeal here for those shopping in the mid-size market.

Pricing

  • Altima ST - $29,990 ($33,513 estimated drive-away)
  • Altima ST-L - $35,890 ($39,667 estimated drive-away)
  • Altima Ti - $40,190 ($44,025 estimated drive-away)
  • Altima Ti-S - $45,390 ($50,784 estimated drive-away)

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Filed under: Featured, review, Nissan, petrol, sedan, automatic, fwd, nissan altima, CVT, family, medium, Advice, special-featured, 6cyl, 4cyl, 4door, 5seat, available, 35-40k, 25-30k, 30-35k, 45-50k, 2014my

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  • Milkman
    Milkman says,
    11 months ago
    1 like
    It'll be popular down the bowls club bleh
    • Jonty says,
      11 months ago
      Spot on milkman, target is your camry buyer...although those estimated driveaways look a bit steep.
  • Grumps
    Grumps says,
    11 months ago
    1 like
    I once owned a 2000 model Maxima and it was the smoothest and most comfortable car I have ever owned.

    It's a shame that image and re-sale will probably mean the Altima will experience the same lack lustre approach from buyers. It deserves better.

    I do agree that the price of the Ti models is too much though. Would make a good used buy.
  • FrugalOne says,
    11 months ago
    1 like
    This is nowhere, WORSE than the vehicle it replaced, how stupid can NiMoCo be? sad
    • Balthazaaaaaargh says,
      11 months ago
      4 likes
      TMR seem to think it's fine. Reckon you know better than them? I reckon they've probably driven quite a few more cars than you.
      • FrugalOne says,
        11 months ago
        2 likes
        TMR seem to think it's fine. Reckon you know better than them? I reckon they've probably driven quite a few more cars than you.


        Read between the lines, ask Julian E. of Autospeed who canned car companies products VERY FAIRLY what happened to him


        Wake up and smell the roses,,,,,,,,
        • matt says,
          11 months ago
          5 likes
          pfft, more to the point his reviews were garbage, that guy lives in his own world, doucheland, population you and julian
  • Peter says,
    11 months ago
    I would have liked TMR to have commented on ride quality of the top of the range Altima with the 18" wheels compared to the base model which is on 16".
    I understand that the bigger wheels can make quite a difference which would be important to many of the people who would consider buying this car. Also I would like to know are the seats softer than say in a Camry. I sat in a Camry recently and commented on the firmness of the seats to the owner to which the owner agreed that they were too firm for their liking.

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