Auto, Reviews

2014 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL: Standard Midsize Fare

The choice of whether to buy an SUV, family sedan or ultra-compact may not be entirely a simple choice, as it is one that is dictated by your context. Different markets have different approaches to automobiles, and factors like fuel prices, road conditions and family income come into play. In the US, for instance, where petrol is cheap, big-displacement engines are still popular. In Europe, with exorbitant petrol costs, car owners prefer diesel-powered cars or small-displacement subompacts.

The same trends can also be observed in Asia. Take for example the very high cost of owning and maintaining cars in Singapore, where the Certificate of Entitlement costs much more than the car’s sticker price. Or how about the big disparity in petrol and diesel prices in the Philippines? There are also varying road conditions across the globe, which necessitates different suspension and engine tuning needs.

In this review, we focus on the 2014 Nissan Altima — or the L33 — which has just been brought to Philippine shores as an update or replacement to the Teana line. In this country, even midsize sedans like the Altima, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6 and the like, are already considered “big” cars. And thus, they are oft patronized by the more discerning crowd and as executive-movers, even if such midsize cars are standard fare for middle-income motorists in more developed economies. Let’s keep this in mind for purposes of this review.

I had the chance to review two variants of the J32 Nissan Teana (the 250XL and 350XV) a few years back. Aimed at the luxury midsize market, the Teana did not fail to impress, in terms of performance and comfort. Nissan has converged the Altima and Teana into one platform for this generation. Nissan’s replacing its local upscale sedan with the Altima comes with some pros and cons, however, which we shall discuss later.