2017 Altima blends all the best of what Nissan has to offer

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The 2017 Nissan Altima is a refreshing nod to the very best that the brand has to offer. This is not to say it is the fastest, biggest or most fuel efficient of the Japanese brand’s stable of vehicles. It is a mash-up of Nissan’s most distinct exterior features, and it delivers the dependability and value that Nissan has made part of its DNA.

The Altima is in its fifth generation, having just undergone a mid-generation refresh for 2016. The refresh melded some great exterior styling cues from sibling sedans — and sports cars — to create a truly signature sedan.

There are five trim levels for Altima: base, S, SR, SV and SL. Starting prices range from $22,500 to $32,500. Standard equipment on the base includes some very nice upgrades compared to competitors, including halogen headlights with LED inserts, a multi-function steering wheel with audio controls and voice-control buttons, Bluetooth smartphone pairing with hands-free calling, remote keyless entry and Easy Fill Tire Alert (when you’re filling the Altima’s tires, the car will honk to let you know the tire has reached its appropriate pressure).

My tester was the top-tier SL, and it provided significant upgrades with gorgeous 17-inch machined aluminum wheels with Michelin tires, remote start with intelligent climate control and dual-zone climate control.

On the outside, Altima wears new L-shaped headlights with powerful LED inserts and a new tiered front grille stack with a sleek lower front fascia. The new look blends signature 370Z sports-car and Maxima flagship sedan treatments into one handsome four-door package.

Cabin comfort

Inside the Altima’s cabin, there is little fuss, though it is a very comfortable and capable setup. 2017 does add the Advanced Drive-Assist display: simply toggle through easy-to-read menus in the vivid instrument-panel display with the push of a steering-wheel-mounted button. It’s that easy.

All Altima trims come with zero gravity bucket seats, a difference maker when compared to competitors’ offerings. The seats leverage 14 specific pressure points to get you in a position that puts the lowest amount of pressure on your spine and joints. This promises that long commutes will not require long recoveries.

My tester featured leather seating, heated front seats, a superb nine-speaker Bose premium sound system, dual power fold-away mirrors with integrated turn signals and back-seat climate-control vents. My top-tier SL also featured a large power-sliding glass moonroof and a nice 7-inch color touchscreen display, which was home to a navigation system with Sirius TravelLink (featuring real-time traffic and weather updates) and turn-by-turn navigation updates.

Performance

Altima offers two engines. The base powerplant is a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder delivering 182 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), power is pushed to the front wheels. My tester had the upgrade 3.5-liter V-6 that provides a pop with 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque sent to the front wheels through a CVT. Fuel-economy estimates are 27 mpg city/39 highway/31 combined with the I-4 and 22/32/26 with the V-6.

When it comes to safety, the Altima does not disappoint. Standard features include advanced dual-stage front airbags, a full complement of front and side airbags, front and rear crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, vehicle dynamics control, traction control and a tire-pressure monitoring system. My tester also featured a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert.

With a $10,000 variance in the price range from top to bottom trims, the Altima is made to be accommodating inside the cabin as well as adaptable to virtually any family budget.