Nissan Says Altima Refresh One of Its Biggest

New exterior and interior styling, a reimagined center stack and center console and improved highway fuel economy for 2.5L models are just a few updates for ’16.

September 22, 2015

3 Min Read
rsquo16 Nissan Altima on sale in fourth quarter
’16 Nissan Altima on sale in fourth quarter.

Nissan refreshes its Altima midsize sedan for the ’16 model year by giving the car styling similar to that of its newest vehicles, adding a new grade and revising major interior components.

“Despite the remarkable success of the current Altima in the marketplace, which has seen more than a 60% increase in sales since 2009, no area was left untouched,” Pierre Loing, vice president-product planning for Nissan North America, says of what Nissan claims is one the most extensive midcycle refreshes in its history.

The Altima, like the larger Maxima sedan and Murano midsize CUV, now wears Nissan’s Energetic Flow design language, resulting in a lowered “muscular” front fascia with the brand’s V-motion grille. Also new for ’16 are the Altima’s hood and fenders, headlights, rear fascia and bumper and trunk lid, the latter with an integrated spoiler on the car’s new SR trim.

The SR is billed as an affordable sports grade and has styling differences, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, but also enhanced ride and handling.

Significantly larger front and rear stabilizer bars and 20% less body roll are changes made for the Altima SR’s suspension, Nissan says.

For most existing grades, the Altima’s coefficient of drag has been reduced from 0.29 to 0.26, thanks to active grille shutters, underfloor covers and the changed fascia designs.

Nissan credits the aero improvements, as well as reduced engine friction and an optimized oil pump, for a 1-mpg (0.4-km/L) improvement in highway fuel economy in models with a 2.5L I-4. Nissan says the resulting 39 mpg (6.0 L/100 km) estimated figure is class leading in the midsize-car segment, barring models with optional engines.

Also revised are the car’s electric power steering and suspension, wheels, tires and CVT. The Altima now uses the Murano and Maxima’s D-step shift logic, with more acceleration promised from a standing start and during reacceleration.

Nissan beefed up the car’s structure for ’16, adding more areas of high-strength steel in the A- and B-pillars.

Easier to Use Center Stack and Console

The Altima’s interior receives a variety of updates, including center stack and center console layouts billed as easier to use. Included in the center console are new fullsize cupholders and trim finishers.

Soft-touch materials have been revised, as has the interior appearance, now keeping with the “gliding wing” look of the Maxima and Murano cabins.

A variety of tech is standard or available throughout all ’16 Altima grades, including an advanced-drive-assist display between the tachometer and speedometer. High-end grades offer NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM, which includes stolen-vehicle notification and remote start via a smartphone app.

Nissan is calling the addition of predictive forward-collision warning on the ’16 Altima a class-exclusive technology that, thanks to sensors, is able to see beyond the vehicle ahead of an Altima.

Nissan is billing the ’16 model as the “quietest Altima ever,” thanks to noise, vibration and harshness improvements. Those include a new acoustic-glass windshield, more insulation and sound barriers, new engine mounts and a larger center muffler.

Nissan says 95 prototype test vehicles, equivalent to 4,500 test days, were used for quality assurance, with 350,000 real or simulated miles (563,270 km) put on the cars. Additionally the doors, hood and trunk were subjected to the equivalent of 15 years’ worth of use, including 200,000 open and close cycles for doors.

Loing says Nissan wants to grow its position in what he says is still a strong midsize-car segment in the U.S.

However, WardsAuto’s Lower Middle car segment, where the Altima lives, was down 3.6% through August to 1.6 million vs. 1.7 million deliveries year-ago.

Altima sales inched up in the period 1.2% to 238,200 from 235,260 in like-2014.

But considering the nameplate is up 60% since 2009, Jose Munoz, Nissan’s U.S. executive vice president, says he expects Altima sales growth to continue in 2016, albeit at a slower pace. Munoz predicts Altima U.S. sales should reach 350,000 in calendar 2016, up from 333,000 in 2014.

Despite a dip from year-ago, the Toyota Camry was the segment’s best-selling model through August with 291,843 sales vs. 306,471.

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