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2012 Nissan Altima 2.5 S (photos)

Our 2012 Nissan Altima 2.5 S didn't come with much tech, but it did provide good acceleration, thanks in part to its transmission tech and handling that, while not sporty, is capable and predictable.

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Antuan Goodwin

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1 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
Our Nissan Altima 2.5 S arrived packing remarkably few standard and optional cabin amenities. However, with the right packages, you can option quite a bit of tech.
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2 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
Under the hood is the Altima's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Output is 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque.
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That power is transmitted to the front wheels via a CVT. Now, before you pull a face, Nissan's CVT technology is among the best in the business.
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This isn't the car to pull stoplight shenanigans in, but with decent tip-in on the throttle and adequate low-end torque, the Altima is no slouch, either.
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Handling in any midsize and economy-priced sedan is often described as lackluster. However, the Altima manages to feel safe and predictable without sporty pretenses.
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Our testing, which focused heavily on highway driving, came in near the top of the EPA's estimated range at 29.1 mpg.
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A rearview camera is available in one of the optional packages, but our vehicle was not so equipped.
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One thing the Altima has in spades is trunk space. A 60/40-split fold-down rear seat makes it easy to load long or bulky items as well.
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The Altima's cabin was comfortable, but quite plain. And at our 2.5 S trim level, it was also rather boring.
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Steering-wheel controls are optional on the 2012 Altima. It's an odd decision, but then again there is much oddness about this car's packaging.
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One side of the steering wheel is home to the cruise controls...
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...and the other is where you'll find the audio controls and the controls for the optional Bluetooth hands-free calling system.
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Look beyond the steering wheel and you'll find the EL illuminated instrument cluster with its white text on a black background and a pair of amber illuminated LCDs for monitoring fuel economy, gear selection, and the trip computer.
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The standard audio rig features six speakers that reproduce audio from a single-slot CD player, an AM/FM radio, or an analog audio input.
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There's only a single-line monochromatic LCD at this trim level, but keep adding option packages until you get to the Premium Audio check box and this will be replaced with a nine-speaker Bose audio rig with a color LCD and the addition of a USB port for iPod and digital audio playback.
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Check no option boxes, however, and the most high-tech bit in the sedan's cabin will be this Start button that comes as part of the Intelligent Key entry and ignition system.
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You can start the vehicle without plugging in the Intelligent Key, but plugging in the key every now and again will allow the vehicle to charge its transponder.

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