2015 Nissan Altima

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Key Specs

of the 2015 Nissan Altima. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    27-32 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    182-hp, 2.5-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    2-speed CVT w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • V-6 power, refinement
  • Compliant ride
  • Front-seat comfort (some occupants)
  • Backseat space
  • Four-cylinder mileage
  • Bright gauges
  • Airy cabin

The Bad

  • Four-cylinder drone when accelerating
  • Inconsistent acceleration
  • Inconsistent steering feel
  • Front-seat comfort (other occupants)
  • Some interior materials
2015 Nissan Altima exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2015 Nissan Altima

  • Five-seat midsize sedan
  • Four- or six-cylinder engine
  • 4-inch color screen in gauge cluster
  • Easy Fill Tire Alert standard
  • Text-messaging assistant, Pandora integration available

2015 Nissan Altima Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

Two model years after bringing up the rear in a Cars.com comparison of midsize family sedans, the 2015 Altima has again faltered in the Cars.com $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge — despite its success as the third-best-selling midsize sedan in the U.S.

In one of the most competitive classes in the car market, the generally capable 2015 Nissan Altima is hamstrung by subpar drivability — an unrefined transmission and associated engine noise.

Our Nissan Altima test car was a 2.5 SV with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Trim levels include base, S, SV and SL, the higher three of which are offered with an optional 3.5-liter V-6 that changes the trim name to 3.5. All Altimas have front-wheel drive. (For all-wheel drive, consider the Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion and Subaru Forester, the latter of which has it standard.)

How It Drives
Granted, the experience of driving a midsize sedan doesn't, well, drive many buyers. But drivability is where the Altima stumbles. In our Challenge the car had the lowest numerical rating for handling, and judges cited a tendency to wander and a need for constant correction. One driver needed to slow down on curvy roads the other cars had handled at speed. The Altima's ride quality passed muster, though it wasn't among the top-rated.

The Nissan Altima took its lumps regarding acceleration related to its continuously variable automatic transmission, called Xtronic — the only transmission offered. Rather than ...

Two model years after bringing up the rear in a Cars.com comparison of midsize family sedans, the 2015 Altima has again faltered in the Cars.com $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge — despite its success as the third-best-selling midsize sedan in the U.S.

In one of the most competitive classes in the car market, the generally capable 2015 Nissan Altima is hamstrung by subpar drivability — an unrefined transmission and associated engine noise.

Our Nissan Altima test car was a 2.5 SV with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Trim levels include base, S, SV and SL, the higher three of which are offered with an optional 3.5-liter V-6 that changes the trim name to 3.5. All Altimas have front-wheel drive. (For all-wheel drive, consider the Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion and Subaru Forester, the latter of which has it standard.)

How It Drives
Granted, the experience of driving a midsize sedan doesn't, well, drive many buyers. But drivability is where the Altima stumbles. In our Challenge the car had the lowest numerical rating for handling, and judges cited a tendency to wander and a need for constant correction. One driver needed to slow down on curvy roads the other cars had handled at speed. The Altima's ride quality passed muster, though it wasn't among the top-rated.

The Nissan Altima took its lumps regarding acceleration related to its continuously variable automatic transmission, called Xtronic — the only transmission offered. Rather than fixed gears, CVTs use a belt and a pair of pulleys that change their diameter to provide a broad range of gear ratios with no conventional shift sensation. The main benefit is efficiency. While CVTs aren't inherently flawed, the Altima's still exhibits some of the technology's earlier drawbacks, which have been tamed in similar CVTs — including those in our test's Honda Accord and Subaru Legacy.

Specifically, there's often a delay in response when you step on the pedal before the Altima pulls forward — or speeds up proportionally when already in motion. A little bit of this is normal, especially among CVTs, but the degree here evokes a motorboat analogy, where the boat's propeller needs to churn some water before the boat really takes off.

More troubling to our drivers, though, was the noise. CVTs characteristically allow engines to rev to speeds that don't seem appropriate to the driver, simply because they try to keep the engine in its most efficient range, not its quietest. Here the resulting engine drone is loud and seems constant, even compared with other four-cylinder/CVT pairings.

Nissan attempts to familiarize the experience by programming in some artificial shift points whereby the CVT makes more pronounced ratio changes, emulating a step-gear transmission. I experienced it with the CVT in the Sport mode, marked Ds on the shifter. I get the point, but I often found the shift to be abrupt — adding the feel of an unrefined conventional transmission to an unrefined CVT. The worst of both worlds.

The tragedy here is twofold: First, once the Altima gets its shoes laced up it proves to have stout, if noisy, power. Second, it's exceptionally efficient. Its EPA-estimated gas mileage is 27/38/31 mpg city/highway/combined. Though the Honda Accord shares that combined mpg estimate, in our real-world mileage test the Altima clocked 32.4 mpg and the Accord got 30.2 mpg. (The Volkswagen Passat was closest with 32.1 mpg and the Mazda6 was in third place with 31.7 mpg.)

With numbers this high, and close to each other, my question is whether the Altima's mileage win is worthwhile. Would it not be a better car with slightly lower mileage and lower noise? I suspect our judges would say yes. For context, lest you think I'm overly sensitive, each Challenge judge reports three likes and three dislikes for each car, and all five of our drivers gave one of their dislike slots to the Altima's noise. Even our guest consumer tester said, "It feels like I'm hurting the car."

Nissan Altima shoppers who can accept lower mileage in exchange for a better experience should consider the V-6. More powerful engines make better companions for CVTs.

Interior
Comfort proved to be another issue in the Altima, primarily because of its NASA-inspired "Zero Gravity" front seats. I found them terribly uncomfortable at our 2012 Midsize Sedan Showdown and complained that, among other problems, the bottom cushion needed a tilt adjustment. I could tell these seats would be exceptionally comfortable for someone but they were varying degrees of uncomfortable for others.

In the interim, Nissan has added a tilt adjustment on the SV and higher trim level, which is an improvement, but I still suffered way too much lumbar support in the 2015. This time we found the person who loved the seats: one of our judges. Another said she became more comfortable over time. Aside from the seats, the Altima's comfort was rated pretty well thanks to good headroom and a reasonable split between front and backseat legroom. The interior volume is about average for the group, but it feels nice and airy, aided in part by our car's light color scheme.

As equipped, our Nissan Altima rated among the bottom three for interior quality. A couple of judges objected to the velour-style upholstery on the seats' side bolsters, calling it cheap. I dissent. It's a bit old-school, but at least it's soft. Some of the more modern materials used for cloth seats, including a few Challenge contestants, has a texture that's too rough and/or shiny and, in its own way, cheap-looking. There were also complaints of some flimsiness in the Altima, especially for what was the most expensive car in the test, as equipped. The extra cost came across in features like the moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror and HomeLink universal remote control, but not in materials quality.

Our SV's leather-wrapped steering wheel is a quality touch worth having, but the gear selector has a rubbery feel. To me the interior's low point is the silver plastic trim, which does a poor job mimicking metal. The car's bright, rich-looking gauges are the high.

Ergonomics & Electronics
The 
Nissan Altima proved blissfully simple to operate, mainly because our test car lacked an ambitious multimedia system. (That's not to say a base system can't confound; the Ford Fusion's was baffling.) The 5.0-inch color display is a decent size for general purposes, though a bit small and low in the dashboard for displaying the backup camera's image. The feature becomes optional on the Altima 2.5 S and is standard on higher trims.

The same is true of a USB port, though Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone support are standard on all trim levels.

Cargo & Storage
With 15.4 cubic feet of trunk volume, the 
Nissan Altima is in the middle of a group that ranges from 14.8 (Mazda6) to 16.3 cubic feet (Chevrolet Malibu and Hyundai Sonata). The trunk lid's hinges drop into the storage space, which isn't ideal, but the aperture between the trunk and cabin when the 60/40-split rear seats are folded is nice and tall.

Cabin storage is good, with highlights including larger door pockets than many competitors, a very deep glove compartment and a generous storage console underneath the center armrest. In addition to the front seat's two cupholders and a bottleholder in each door, backseat passengers get door bottleholders and a flip-down center armrest that looks like it could take either a large or a small drink, but not both at the same time.

Safety
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the 2015 Altima earned the top score of good in all but the small-overlap frontal test, where it earned a rating of acceptable. This result matches six competitors in the institute's classification of moderately priced midsize cars. Seven other models scored good in the small overlap.

Though the Altima offers optional active-safety features like blind spot and lane departure warning, it lacks the optional collision warning systems now offered by many competitors.

See all the Altima's safety features listed here.

Value in Its Class
The 
NissanAltima is usually the third-best-selling midsize sedan behind the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord — two models that took 10th and eighth place in our Challenge. The Altima came in ninth. How could this be? The Accord and Altima haven't been redesigned since the last Challenge, and the heavily reworked 2015 Camry failed to wow. The top five this time were either fresher designs or weren't included last time, or both. In today's market, cars lose their freshness — in everything from mileage to features — faster than ever.

As respectively the least and most expensive cars in the test (as equipped), the Toyota and Nissan Altima illustrate that value isn't merely about price. Judges didn't see much value in either car. The results illustrate how much a particular model's trim levels can vary, primarily based on interior quality and drivetrain. If you're looking for a loaded body-type model rather than one priced below $27,000, I suspect the Altima and Fusion, in particular, would narrow the gap versus the higher-ranked models in our results.

Send Joe an email  

 


2015 Altima Video

“The midsize segment is the best-selling car segment in the U.S. – and this class is more competitive than ever,” says Cars.com Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen. We invited experts from USA Today and “MotorWeek,” along with a regular family, to Baltimor

Latest 2015 Altima Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Love this car

by Uoklaw on June 6, 2018

The car runs like new! Very comfortable and in wonderful condition for a used car!! I love it!! I was looking to switch from a crossover to a sedan and I feel like I made the perfect choice Read full review

(5.0)

Most Reliable Care I've Owned

by KateB47 from Gainesville, FL on June 5, 2018

I purchased this vehicle in January 2018 after driving a Jeep Cherokee for 10 years. The Altima is a very smooth ride, reliable engine, amazing gas mileage. The push start engine and back up camera ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2015 Nissan Altima currently has 8 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
poor
Overall Evaluation
acceptable
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Nissan

Program Benefits

24 Hour Emergency Roadside Assistance, Towing Assistance, Trip Interruption Benefits, 3-month free subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio on properly equipped vehicles, Complimentary CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ and 3-Year CARFAX® Buy Back Guarantee

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from original in-service date; $50 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 167 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Altima received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

B

Booster

(second row)

A

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

C

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

B

Rear-facing convertible

B
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker