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2014 Nissan Altima Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Nissan Altima was new.


Performance: 8.1

Test drivers say that the Altima’s razor-sharp handling makes it a standout in a segment where many rivals aren’t very sporty. Most reviewers report that the steering is crisp, though a few note that it lacks feedback. The standard four-cylinder engine offers plenty of power and quick acceleration even if it can be loud, they say, adding that the optional V6 is even more thrilling. Reviewers especially praise the continuously variable transmission (CVT) for its smooth feel and brisk power delivery.           

  • "One important ingredient in the Altima's formula is its smartly tuned ride and handling. The Altima feels more focused and responsive than many rivals do, yet it doesn't beat you up over bumps. That's the sort of thing that stands out on a test-drive, and the same goes for the Altima's continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is a factor in the car's excellent fuel economy (31 mpg combined with the four-cylinder engine) and strong, seamless acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "Nissan's 2014 Altima may be the best driving family sedan the company has ever produced, thanks in part to the advanced multi-link rear suspension and what is arguably the industry's best continuously-variable automatic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "When you need more power to accelerate, the CVT's lack of conventional gears lets it increase engine speed more quickly than a traditional automatic; it's very responsive when you step on the gas." -- Cars.com (2013)
  • "Dynamically, the Altima lies on the sporty end of the spectrum. But that's within a segment full of boring cars that do little more than announce to the world that you've given up." -- Car and Driver (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2014 Nissan Altima comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 182 horsepower. A 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine is available. All models have a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Equipped with the four-cylinder engine, the Altima gets an EPA-estimated 27/38 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for the class.

Test drivers report that the Altima’s standard four-cylinder engine provides ample power and brisk acceleration. Upgrade to the V6 and the ride will blow your hair back, they say. Reviewers say the CVT operates seamlessly and is very quick to respond, though a few mention that it can be loud, especially when paired with the standard four-cylinder engine.  

  • "The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine offers above-average performance for this class. It revs willingly and generates more than enough acceleration for everyday driving. The CVT helps to deliver excellent fuel mileage, although it's sometimes almost too responsive to power demands, resulting in higher engine rpm and a bit more noise than we'd like." -- Edmunds
  • "Some people might not like the unusual engine cadence one experiences with a CVT, but you can't beat it for instant response. Need to move into a gap on the freeway? Step on the gas and hold on. Then, on the open road, you can dial back and let the revs drop to a discreet purr as the CVT spools to its long-striding high ratio." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "The V-6 is no slouch. There's much more power in reserve to push you back in the seat when accelerating hard, and the engine makes much nicer music than the four-cylinder." -- Cars.com (2013)
  • "CVT-equipped vehicles typically exhibit shift-free, creamy-smooth manners in normal driving, and this Altima is no exception." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers laud the 2014 Nissan Altima for its athletic handling and steady, quiet ride. Most say the steering is predictable, though some reviewers mention that the wheel lacks road feel. Reviewers generally agree that the Altima has sportier handling than most other affordable midsize cars, making for a more engaging experience behind the wheel.

  • "Around turns, the Altima boasts quick, accurate steering and capable handling. Yet ride comfort remains very good, while wind and road noise are pleasantly subdued. For a combination of agile responses and long-distance tranquility, the Altima is one of the best family sedans available." -- Edmunds
  • "The Altima is nimble and light in around-town driving, yet sufficiently aggressive in tight turns as to satisfy the most demanding enthusiast." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Unfortunately, the Altima's steering feedback feels artificial, alternating between tight and firm when driving in a straight line and light during cornering. Greater consistency throughout the steering wheel's range would be preferred. There was also more than normal play in the wheel." -- Cars.com (2013)
  • "As before, the Altima quickly outs itself as one of the best-handling cars in the segment, with well-controlled primary and secondary impacts and nicely snubbed body control." -- Autoblog (2013)
  • "What most owners will notice is a feeling of stability should they swerve or enter a bend too quickly." -- Car and Driver (2013)

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