Nissan Altima / Teana

Debut: 2012
Maker: Nissan
Predecessor: Altima (2007) / Teana (2008)

 Published on 5 Jun 2012 All rights reserved. 

The mid-size family car segment in the USA is so huge and profitable that Toyota, Honda and Nissan can build Camry, Accord and Altima exclusively for the market yet maintain a short, 5-year model changeover cycle. In the past 21 years, Nissan sold some 3.8 million units of Altima there over 4 generations, and the trend is rising. Last year, it rose to the runner-up position just behind Camry, thanks partly to the supply issue of Honda. This year, the battle is expected to be more intense, because most of its rivals are either due for replacement or have already been renewed. These include Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord and in particular Ford Fusion / Mondeo. Fortunately, the Altima has also entered the next generation.

In terms of styling, the new Altima does not break any new ground, unlike Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima / K5 or the forthcoming Fusion. Its designers try very hard to make it stylish and different, but the result is hardly convincing. It trades the simplicity of the last two generations for a more complex, heavily twisted body shape, which unfortunately has signs of influence by Chris Bangle's flame surface theme like many other designs these days. The idea is to make it more flowing, more dynamic when the car is moving under light reflection, but in photos its shape is hard to define. Moreover, the expressive headlights and taillights look arbitrary, while the new grille looks uncomfortably close to that of Lexus. All these factors mean the new Altima is hard to recognize.

Exterior dimensions are more or less the same as before. It gets only 35 mm longer and 35 mm wider. Wheelbase stands at 2775 mm, while overall height is unchanged. As expected, the new body shell employs more than 50 percent high-strength steel to cut weight. In addition to aluminum bonnet and bumper reinforcement the car's kerb weight is reduced by 36 kg, claimed Nissan. Meanwhile, a larger front tower brace and a rear structural support built into the parcel shelf should improve chassis rigidity. Outside, by adding air deflectors and underbody panels, Cd drops from 0.31 to 0.299.

Underneath the body shell, the underpinning platform is an evolution of the existing D platform, whose roots can be traced back to the FF-L platform of the 2001 model. It continues to ride on MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup at the rear. However, there are plenty of improvements. For example, classy Sachs dampers have been adopted to improve ride quality, while the rear suspensions have revised geometry to allow passive rear-wheel steering, so to stabilize the car at high-speed bends. The wider body shell also accommodates wider tracks front and rear. A brake-actuated torque vectoring has been added to cut understeer. Up front, old-fashioned hydraulic power steering has been upgraded to electrohydraulic assistance – surprisingly, not pure EPS. No wonder it loads up naturally.

On the road, the Altima feels sportier than the class norm. Its suspension tuning is taut without punishing in ride quality. Body control is remarkable, and the steering is precise and responsive, so the car is willing to be pushed. There is a slight torque steer on the more powerful V6 model, but it is manageable. On highway, noise level is generally low. Flaws? The braking is pretty weak, and big bumps can rock its structure, which doesn't feel as solid as Volkswagen Passat NA.

As before, there are two conventional engines to choose from. The 3.5-liter VQ35DE V6 with 270 hp is carried over unchanged from the old car. It still returns the best performance of the class. However, 90 percent of buyers will opt for the cheaper QR25DE four-pot. Now it gets dual-VVT, variable intake manifold and a regenerative starter-alternator, along with 7 extra horsepower (182 hp in total). It is not the smoothest four-banger around though. Keen drivers will be disappointed with the fact that 6-speed manual gearbox is no longer available. Now both engines are mate with a heavily modified Xtronic CVT, whose wider ratio spread and revised control logic make it finally a decent companion. It also allows the otherwise unremarkable engines to register class-leading fuel economy (for non-hybrid, of course). The only complaint is rubber-band effect still present under full-throttle acceleration. It keeps the four-cylinder engine revving constantly at 6200 rpm, generating lots of unpleasant noise. In normal driving, the powertrain combos are refined enough.

Inside, the new cabin looks okay rather than desirable. Most surfaces have been upgraded to soft plastics, but the switch gears do not operate with a smoothness and sensitivity you expect – a typical flaw of Nissan products. On the plus side, the "NASA-inspired Zero-Gravity" front seats are truly comfortable, relieving your fatigue by spreading the pressure evenly. The rear seats offer good legroom, if not as generous on headroom for tall passengers.

Overall speaking, the new Altima is no ground-breaking product. However, it is well-rounded, offering a good combination of dynamics, refinement, frugality and value. Keen drivers will be delighted with its fine handling and performance, although it doesn't look very exciting.
 Published on 14 Jan 2015
All rights reserved. 

After 2 generations as an independent model, Teana becomes a rebadged version of Altima. The reason is obvious: Nissan sells 300,000 Altimas in the USA every year, versus 80,000 to 90,000 Teanas in China and only 2,000 to 3,000 Teanas in Japan. This makes the business case of Teana hard to justify. The straightforward solution is to merge it with Altima, considering that they are close in size and already shared many underpinnings. Unfortunately, the merger means it has to sacrifice the quality interior of the old car and shares the much cheaper one with Altima. The exterior design is also less elegant than executive car buyers would like. As a result, it is likely to lose some buyers.

Mechanically, the Teana is basically the same as the Altima installed with 2.5-liter QR25DE four-cylinder engine and Xtronic CVT, but it is detuned to 173 horsepower. Sadly, it no longer offers a V6 engine. In China, you can buy an entry-level model with 140 hp MR20DE engine. From these combinations you can see its market positioning has been lowered. In other words, it is no longer the Teana we used to know.

Length / width / height
Valve gears
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Altima 2.5
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4865 / 1830 / 1470 mm
2775 mm
2488 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
182 hp
180 lbft
F: strut
R: multi-link
1407 kg
130 mph (est)
Altima 3.5
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4865 / 1830 / 1470 mm
2775 mm
V6, 60-degree
3498 cc
DOHC 24 valves, VVT
270 hp
258 lbft
F: strut
R: multi-link
1522 kg
145 mph (est)
6.1* / 5.7**
14.6* / 14.1**

Performance tested by: *C&D, **R&T

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