Looking for style and interior comfort on the road? The 2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL delivers.
Some cars look great and are perfect for city driving, others are roomy and comfortable with handy features for long road trip adventures, the 2016 Nissan Altima has the best of both. As a family trying to get more outdoor time, we recently planned a road trip vacation though central Oregon and had the opportunity to try out the Nissan Altima 2.5 SL.
The Nissan Altima has always been a good looking car. When shopping for a new car, I’d look at cars on the street and every time I saw one that I liked the size and shape of, it was always a Nissan Altima. This model included a power sliding glass moonroof with one-touch open/close and tilt feature, which gave it an added luxurious and sporty feel.
Tips for choosing the right color exterior and interior
The 2.5 SL model that we drove was black with beige leather appointed seats. Personally, I would not choose to own a black car because they show dirt easily and get very hot during the summer months. But if you get a dark colored car, the beige leather interior seems to stay cooler than black on black.
Size matters inside and out
The Altima was large enough to be comfortable with four passengers during long trips. For our family of three, we had ample interior space to spread out. The Altima exterior is also not so bulky which made parallel parking on the city streets of Portland easier.
Our favorite bells and whistles
The Nissan Altima 2.5 SL has lots of bells and whistles but these are what worked best during our family road trip.
The 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat (with lumbar support) is a must for long road trips especially the height adjustment option. As someone who is not very tall, being able to see what is in front of the car made me feel like I had more control.
The trunk size was respectable at 15.4 cu. feet. Translated practically, it fits two large suitcases, one carry-on suitcase and three backpacks with room for accumulated extras along the way – like Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley! The Remote Trunk Release on the Nissan Intelligent Key made getting our gear in and out easy, especially when our hands were full.
Keeping things cool in the summer heat
During our trip we frequently took advantage of the Dual Zone Automatic Temperature Control (ATC) features. As one who is somewhat colder than most people, it was luxurious to choose the temperature of the vents on my side with pure selfishness.
We also appreciated the rear passenger console vents in between the seats so we did not have to blast the air conditioning to reach our daughter in the back.
Another added comfort feature that we were grateful for in Oregon’s 85+ degree summer weather was the Remote Engine Start, so we could get the air conditioner going well before we reached the car.
Sometimes a woman needs a little heat
The dual heated seats sure came in handy after an evening canoe trip to see the stars. The front paddler (me) got drenched in glacier waters and then subsequently “caressed” by cold evening winds, while, I might add, my spouse remained dry in the back.
Under normal circumstances, heated seats are a take it or leave it feature for me but on that night I was grateful to test them out. If your family is the all-weather outdoorsy type, you are going to want these in your car.
Tools for the road warrior
You never know what features you will need in a car until you actually have the opportunity to use them and I can’t gush enough about Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC). Those with long commutes or who take frequent road trips know how driving for long periods of time can be physically and mentally exhausting. The ICC helps to alleviate some of that.
It functions by slowing down or speeding up to automatically keep pace with the car in front of you during highway driving. This means that you don’t have to keep braking and re-setting the speed with the gas pedal every time traffic changes. You can also be confident that you are staying within the speed limits. This feature is extra with the technology package but if you do a lot of highway driving it is well worth it.
How it works: Set the distance you want to keep from the car ahead of you. A radar sensor detects the car in front of you and automatically brakes, which is pretty cool to watch the first few times it happens. You set the speed exactly by increasing it at one mph increments at a time, pushing up the accelerator button on the steering wheel.
It also means backseat drivers won’t keep asking you why you are driving so close to the car in front of you on the highway. A win-win for everyone!
During our road trip around central Oregon, we traveled many winding roads that made it difficult to use the ICC because you needed to slow down manually for the curves. We solved this by driving behind another car and when they slowed for curves, our car automatically slowed also. We found out later that when using the car’s navigation system (we tended to use Google maps on our phones) the ICC will automatically slow down when approaching curves. I guess we will have to test that out next time.
Another time, a car with broken rear brake lights slowed abruptly and the ICC was able to sense it and slowed automatically, possibly preventing a crash.
The ICC is not perfect: once it slowed down when it sensed that a car was in front of us but the car was really beside us. This mistake tended toward the safer action but, as with any intelligent feature, it is not a replacement for an alert driver.
More great safety features
Included in the base price model at $28,570, the Blind Spot Warning (BSW) is a another great safety feature that – while it doesn’t replace looking in the mirrors and your blind spot – it does give you added confidence when changing lanes. It was particularly helpful when we experienced quiet motorcycles weaving through the lanes. This feature is in a lot of other cars but we liked the fact that the Altima has it on the inside of the car where it can be seen better during inclement weather.
Highway driving, especially at night, always makes me a little nervous so any feature that is designed to make driving safer appeals to me. The Advanced Drive-Assist Display system is designed to help minimize time looking away from the road. Centered in the instrument cluster, it puts the information you need in front of you on a clear 4.3 inch LCD screen.
Our thoughts on the navigation and connectivity features
This model had a 7” Touchscreen color display and voice recognition for navigation and audio, but sadly, we were not able to test out these features. We downloaded the app to our smartphones and turned on the Bluetooth but could not figure out how to use it as a guest driver. I’ve used other systems that were more intuitive and easy to use by a non-owner driver.
This model has one USB port and two 12-volt DC power outlets. As a family with lots of devices, a USB port in the middle console for backseat passengers would be a great addition.
On occasion, we did use the basic navigation system in the car and it worked well, but the system does not allow you to input driving instructions while the car is in drive. It would be nice to have an option to override this so passengers could do the navigating while the car is in motion.
Who this car is for
All in all, I would not buy the Nissan Altima model to use as my regular camping or snow sport vehicle because it is too pretty to risk damage on uneven gravel and icy road conditions. This model is great for everyday driving, drivers with long commutes and for families that take lots of road trips with some mild off-road adventures.
WHAT WE LOVED
- Overall interior and exterior styling
- A good sized trunk to lock all our luggage in when venturing out on the trails
- Overall smooth and quiet driving experience
- Convenience of Advanced Drive-Assist Display (for this nervous night driver)
- Did I mention how much I love Intelligent Cruise Control?
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Base price: $28,570; price for the model I drove, with technology package, moonroof and floor mats: $32,115
- Fuel economy: 39 miles per gallon on the highway, 27 mpg in the city
- Takes regular gasoline
Disclosure: 2016 Nissan Altima was provided for our test drive; opinions expressed here are all my own.