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Upgraded, Not Redesigned: 2012 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

The Nissan Altima continues to be a well-mannered mid-sized sedan. It’s nice looking, has a selection of nice-to-have features, all at a price that won’t break the bank, writes automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2012 Nissan Altima.

Most manufacturers give their popular models major re-designs every few years, and call them the “next generation.” But the Nissan Altima – the best-selling model in the Nissan line-up – is now on its sixth year of its fourth generation with these 2012 cars. So, instead of totally revamping this popular car, Nissan just keeps adding sweet little tweaks each year.

There’s something really refreshing about that, actually. It can be frustrating to develop loyalty to a particular model, only to have its manufacturer totally “redesign” it into something barely recognizable.

So rest assured, Nissan Altima fans. The 2012 model is still a very family-friendly, fun-to-drive vehicle.

The Nissan Altima Sedan is available in three well-equipped models: the 2.5 CVT, the 2.5 S CVT and the 3.5 SR CVT with a V6 engine. Our test car was the Altima 2.5 S.

Enhancements for this model year include a new Value Package and the continuation of last year’s Special Edition Package. They’ve also replaced a Metallic Slate exterior color with a Dark Slate exterior.

Altimas also retain their familiar front hood and grille, front bumper, and wheel design. High Intensity Discharge headlamps and fog lamps are available as options.

The sedan has a 109.3-inch wheelbase, which gives the passenger cabin plenty of room for tall and leggy passengers.

(Above): Interior view of the 2012 Nissan Altima.

Nissan Altima’s audio package includes a Bose AM/FM audio system with nine speakers, a USB port with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System, MP3/WMA CD-ROM playback, XM Satellite Radio and a Rear View Monitor. Also available is a Hard Drive Navigation System with a 6.5-inch color touch screen display. These are some of the touches you’d find on those luxury-level sedans.

As for safety features, the Altima has a good list. It includes an advanced air bag system, side impact supplemental air bags, a roof-mounted side curtain, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control System, and Vehicle Dynamic Control, all top-flight features.

Comfort features include durable cloth seats that are firm and supportive, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel for the driver’s convenience, push-button start, cruise controls with steering wheel controls, and power mirrors and power windows with one-touch down feature.

Our test car came with a Convenience Package that included auto on/off headlights, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and a Bluetooth Handsfree Phone System. Also on board was a Convenience Plus Package, that included power sliding moon roof, manual folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and dual zone auto temperature controls. These two packages combined were an additional $2,500. The base sticker on our test model was $22,570, and once all options were added up, the car was priced at $26,320.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2012 Nissan Altima.

On the road, you will find the Nissan Altima offers a comfortable ride, good visibility and a very performance-oriented 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. Gas mileage is noteworthy, at 23 mpg for city driving and 32 for highway driving.

For those who must haul lots and lots of groceries, sporting equipment, or luggage, the rear cargo area is ample.

Overall, the Nissan Altima continues to be a well-mannered mid-sized sedan. It’s nice looking, has a selection of nice-to-have features, all at a price that won’t break the bank. No wonder it’s a top-selling model.

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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PHOTO ESSAY: India’s Republic Day
WILDLIFE: Tailing Indian Tigers
TRAVEL: Trip to Toledo, Spain
RECIPE: Chili Paneer
AUTO REVIEW: 2012 Nissan Altima 2.5 S
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