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2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL

2015 Nissan Altima

Base Price: $28,150
Price as Tested: $30,250

By Russ Heaps

Doing a lot of things well, the Nissan Altima offers value, safety and reliability in the midsize segment.

The workhorse of Nissan’s product lineup, more Altimas go over the curb than any other nameplate in the showroom. Through the first nine months of 2014, Nissan sold almost 257,000 Altimas. The brand’s next best seller was the Rogue crossover at less than 155,000 sales. So, yes, Altima is an important car for Nissan. Thanks to a spunky four-banger and an energetic V6, Altima offers a clear choice in cost and fuel economy – all good for sales.

The first choice a shopper must make is coupe or sedan. For the sake of brevity, we’ll concern ourselves here with the four-door sedan. The coupe doesn’t offer the choices of the sedan and, therefore, is a bit pricier. Having settled on the sedan, now the chore is whether to choose the more affordable and more fuel efficient 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or the higher priced, less fuel efficient 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. The 2.5L comes in four trim levels beginning with the $22,300 base model with a combined EPA fuel economy estimate of 31 mpg. There are also S, SV and SL trims. The base trim isn’t available on V6 versions, so pricing starts at $26,450 for the 3.5 S – about $4,000 more than the 2.5 S. All the V6-equipped Altimas get an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in combined driving.

Regardless of whether power comes from the four-cylinder or V6, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) hustles engine output to the front wheels. I’m not a fan of CVTs, but Nissan has been all over CVTs for years and has developed, arguably, the 2015 Nissan Altimabest in the industry.

Nissan provided an Altima 2.5 SL for this evaluation. It also added a couple of extra goodies like a power moonroof and the Technology Package with Nissan Connect with navigation, a seven-inch touchscreen, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning and Moving Object Detection, swelling the $28,150 base price to $30,250 before tacking on the $810 destination fee.

Although I’m a car guy and typically yelling for “more power,” I was quite satisfied with the 2.5L. It has plenty of get-up-and-go. Driving 100 miles a week with the price of gas averaging $3.25 a gallon over the course of a year, the 2.5L will save roughly $105 a year in fuel cost over the V6. Most owners drive much more than 5,200 miles per year. I like saving money!

Nissan did a terrific job with the Altima’s interior. Roomy in front, the seats are supportive and comfortable. Legroom is a bit cramped in the second row, but OK for anyone under six feet. Nicely arranged and not overly fussy,  the instrument panel is user 2015 Nissan Altimafriendly: Changing the radio station or even working the available nav system doesn’t require digging out the owner’s manual.

Every Altima comes with power windows, door locks and outboard mirrors, as well as six airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and a four-speaker audio system with CD player. By the time you get up to the SL like my test Altima, standard equipment includes power-adjustable driver’s seat, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, keyless ignition, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and a Bose-infused nine-speaker audio system with iPod interface.

All things considered, Altima is a well-rounded sedan, providing pretty good value.