Entering its third model year after an all-new fifth-generation version was introduced for 2013, the 2015 Nissan Altima sedan carries over with minimal changes. The popular 4-door midsize sedan borrows its good looks from Nissan’s upscale Infiniti division. It’s a bit longer and wider than previous versions, with more interior room and NASA-inspired zero-gravity front seats that fit to different body types like memory foam. Standard technology includes push-button starting and Bluetooth handsfree connectivity. Remote engine starting is available, along with turn-by-turn navigation. In addition to a thrifty 182-horsepower 4-cylinder, Nissan keeps an optional 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 in the engine lineup, and both are teamed with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The coupe version of the Altima is no longer offered.
New for 2015 on the 3.5 SL model is standard NissanConnectSM with navigation and mobile apps for smartphone integration of Pandora, iHeartRadio and others, plus standard blind spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning and Moving Object Detection. The 2015 2.5 SV model gets a standard power driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustment and fog lamps, and the 2.5 SL gains a power front passenger seat. See the 2015 Nissan Altima models for sale near you
What We Like
Compliant ride quality; comfortable front seats; spacious back seat; V6 refinement and power; 4-cylinder fuel economy
What We Don’t
CVT causes engine drone under acceleration; some less-than-premium interior materials; inconsistent steering feel; 4-cylinder models have low grip with standard tires
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
All Altima models are equipped with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is not available.
The 2015 Altima has two engine choices. Altima 2.5 models are equipped with a 2.5-liter double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. Output is 182 hp, and it develops 180 lb-ft of torque. It burns regular unleaded gas and has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with the standard CVT.
Altima 3.5 SL models are powered by a 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6, which produces a healthy 270 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It also runs on regular unleaded and is EPA-rated at 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with the standard CVT. This version of the CVT has paddle shifters and a manual mode that the driver can use to simulate the ratios of a conventional step-gear transmission for sporty driving.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Altima is available in 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 SV, 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL trims.
The Altima 2.5 model is equipped with the 180-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, push-button starting, remote keyless entry, cloth seats, air conditioning, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, intermittent wipers, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with remote audio controls, a trip computer, 16-inch steel wheels, stability and traction control, anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes and power windows, mirrors and door locks.
The 2.5 S upgrades include a 6-speaker audio system, automatic headlamps and cruise control. A power driver’s seat, 16-in alloy wheels, SiriusXM and a 5-in audio display are optional.
Next up is the 2.5 SV, which comes with a power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar, leather-wrapped steering wheel, USB and iPod connectivity, a 5-in audio display with SiriusXM and Pandora radio, handsfree text message capability, fog lamps, a rearview camera, dual-zone auto air conditioning and a remote engine starter. The 2.5 SV rolls on 17-in alloys and 215/55 tires.
The range-topping Altima is the 3.5 SL, which gains the 270-hp 3.5-liter V6, standard leather seats, a power moonroof, a 7-in audio display with navigation, LED tail lamps, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, power-folding heated side mirrors, rear ventilation ducts, a HomeLink garage door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 235/45 rubber-wrapped 18-in alloy rims, lane-departure warning and blind spot monitoring and Moving Object Detection.
The Altima has been a consistent top seller among the ranks of family midsize sedans, so there should be a good supply of clean, low-mileage examples to choose from.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2015 Altima:
An incorrect occupant classification control unit or defective front-passenger-seat sensing may deactivate or suppress the deployment of the front-passenger airbag when the seat is occupied, increasing injury risk in a crash.
Binding between the hood’s inner panel and the secondary hood latch lever may prevent the latch from engaging, allowing the hood to open while driving and increasing crash risk.
An improperly routed rear door latch cable may result in a rear door opening when its window is lowered, increasing the risk of injury to rear passengers when the car is moving.
The front brake caliper bolts may not have been properly tightened at the factory, raising the risk of the front calipers detaching and reducing braking capability and the ability to safely stop the vehicle.
On V6 models, an improperly seated O-ring may allow fuel to leak from the tank during a crash, increasing the risk of a fire.
Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car for free.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
The 2015 Nissan Altima sedan received a NHTSA rating of five stars overall, with a 5-star rating for frontal impacts, a 5-star rating for side impacts and a 4-star rating for rollovers.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2015 Altima sedan as an IIHS Top Safety Pick. It gave the Altima a Good rating for side impacts, roof strength, head-restraint and seat crash performance and moderate-overlap front impacts. It received an Acceptable rating for small-overlap front impacts.
Nissan covered the 2015 Altima with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.
Nissan certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can’t have more than 80,000 miles on the odometer and must be six years old or younger. Every CPO Altima undergoes a 150-point inspection and receives a Carfax report. The Nissan CPO warranty extends the original powertrain warranty to 7 years/100,000 miles, and it includes 24-hour roadside assistance. Additional warranty coverage on all major systems is available at extra cost.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Honda Accord — The 2015 Honda Accord is available as a roomy sedan or a stylish coupe, both fun to drive. The 278-hp 3.5-liter V6 adds zippy performance, but the base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder’s 185 horsepower provides ample acceleration and is EPA-rated at 27 mpg city/35 mpg hwy with the CVT. A hybrid version of the sedan is EPA-rated at 49 mpg city/45 mpg hwy.
2015 Chevrolet Malibu — The midsize Malibu sedan is a bit shy on rear seat legroom but offers a generous 16.3 cu ft. trunk. New for 2015 is standard OnStar 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot for cabin occupants. Powertrain offerings include a peppy 259-hp 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder and a thrifty 196-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with stop-start technology that’s EPA-rated at 25 mpg city/36 mpg hwy — both teamed with a 6-speed automatic.
Nissan in general and the Altima in particular have a reputation for being fun to drive and offering a lot of features for the money. For buyers unaccustomed to the droning engine sound associated with a CVT, the Altima driving experience takes some getting used to, but the fuel economy benefits of a CVT are real, and the ability of the transmission to tailor ratios without delay for changing driving conditions can’t be topped. The 4-cylinder delivers all the power most drivers need, but for a sportier experience, the 3.5-liter V6 delivers Infiniti-like get-up-and-go power. Make sure the Altima you’re looking at has seen obvious care and maintenance and has had any applicable safety recalls performed. Also, look for a Nissan certified pre-owned car if possible.