2016 Nissan Altima

It’s now three years since the L33 Nissan Altima, better known to us as the Nissan Teana, has been on sale in the United States, so in comes the facelift for the 2016 model year. Nissan’s stalwart D-segment sedan gets a heavily-revised look, an upgraded interior and several measures to improve refinement and handling; whether these will translate to the Teana or remain US-specific remains to be seen.

Outside, the Altima trades the old fluid, organic styling for a much harder-edged look inspired by the new Maxima. At the front, the previous hourglass-shaped “kamishimo” grille has been replaced by an imposing new V-Motion item, flanked by revised boomerang-shaped headlights – LED units with daytime running lights are available as an option.

To fit the new mask, the bonnet and front fenders have also been reshaped, with the former getting deeper definition across the top surface. The bumper is also new, with V-shaped lines flowing into the centre air intake, mirroring the large new grille. The selection of wheels has also increased with new machine-finished 17- and 18-inch alloys.

2016 Nissan Altima

More big changes in store for the rear – the broader tail lights now cut into the bootlid, emphasising the width of the car, while the bumper gets a more aggressive look with a black diffuser-like insert. Together with the new active grille shutter, underfloor aero cover additions and revised windscreen, the redesign cuts the drag coefficient figure from 0.29 Cd to 0.26 Cd.

Step inside and you’ll find a new retrimmed centre console and transmission tunnel, although the switchgear itself appears to have been mostly carried over. The fabulous Zero Gravity front seats – which we also get in our Teana, and provide impressive support, even over long distances – remains standard on all models.

Engines and transmissions have been carried over unchanged from the outgoing model. In the US, the range starts with the familiar QR25DE 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated petrol four-pot delivering 182 hp and 244 Nm (ours makes a bit less, at 171 hp and 234 Nm).

2016 Nissan Altima

Nissan quotes fuel consumption of 8.7 litres per 100 km in the city and 6.0 litres per 100 km on the highway – the latter is a 0.2 litre per 100 km improvement from before, thanks to the 10% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, a higher compression ratio (from 10.0:1 to 10.3:1), reduced internal engine friction and an optimised oil pump. Combined, 2.5 litre models achieve 7.6 litres per 100 km.

A step above that is the venerable VQ35DE 3.5 litre V6 that develops 270 hp and 340 Nm. Fuel consumption is rated at 10.7 litres per 100 km in the city, 7.4 litres per 100 km on the highway and 9.0 litres per 100 km combined. Whichever engine you choose, it’ll be mated to an Xtronic CVT, now with third-generation D-step Shift logic for a more responsive acceleration feel.

Under the new skin, there’s a revised structure that’s lighter than before, and makes increased use of high-strength steel, particularly around the A- and B-pillars. There’s also a new acoustic windscreen, added soundproofing, new engine mounts and a larger centre muffler for reduced NVH.

The chassis has also been upgraded with new shock absorbers, rear springs and bushings for more dynamic handling, while a remapped hydraulic power steering valve improves steering feedback and feel. The four-wheel disc brake system has also been recalibrated for improved stopping performance (especially in the wet), and brake feel has also been improved.

New for 2016 is a sportier SR variant for both 2.5 and 3.5 litre models, which adds smoked headlights, larger 18-inch wheels, a rear bootlid spoiler, blue interior stitching, paddle shifters for the seven virtual ratios and a more aggressive suspension setup with larger anti-roll bars and revised damping; the latter results in a more than 20% drop in body roll.

Safety-wise, the 2016 Altima adds a number of optional active safety features, including Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), radar-based Blind Spot Warning (BSW) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) on SV and SL models, and Forward Emergency Braking (FEB) and Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) as part of the SL Tech Package.