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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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.
Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET
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.
Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET
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