In looking for a new car my key criteria were a med/large 4 cyl sedan with plenty of space, good equipment levels and a comfortable ride. I looked at a variety of vehicles including Skoda Octavia, Mazda 6, Ford Mondeo, Toyota Camry etc. With a great deal from Nissan I ended up going with the Altima ST-L. The car really lacks for nothing with leather seats (accented) sat nav, electric fold mirrors, bluetooth, electric seats (both fronts), proximity key with push button start, 9 speaker Bose stereo, bluetooth, full suite of airbags, reverse camera and front/rear parking sensors etc.
My biggest concern was the CVT as my only experience of this transmission type has been a Suzuki Kizashi 2 years ago and in that vehicle I was not in the least impressed. Nissan has certainly done a decent job with their current CVT. Whilst I would not say that it doesn't have any drone under hard acceleration, the engine has sufficient torque that under 95% of normal driving conditions it is just extremely smooth and quiet. If you want the car to feel like its has a traditional transmission it has a sport mode with 7 simulated gear changes but i have started to appreciate the smoothness of having no gear changes.
Having come from a 6 cyl, i have found the performance levels more than adequate and rarely do you need more than 2500 rpm for a strong take off from stationary in a suburban environment. That move from a 6 cyl has seen one drastic improvement, being in fuel consumption which in the urban cycle has pretty much halved.
Suspension wise, the car is what I was looking for and delivers a plush quiet ride but the downside of this is slightly soggy handling, a sports car this is not but it delivers what you would expect for this type of vehicle and for most of the driving I do is entirely adequate. You can't have everything and with the state of Sydney roads I would rather have the comfort.
The interior is generally high quality with soft touch plastics in all the major touch points. The Bose stereo with 9 speakers is fantastic and does not distort even at high volumes. The sat nav is easy to use touch screen is responsive. The connectivity is faultless and bluetooth connects quickly every time. The only disappointing thing is the leather accented seats. Don't get me wrong they are supremely comfortable but the mix of leather on the seat facings and the fake stuff on the seat sides and centre bench on rear seat have noticeable sheen differences and I have seen other manufacturers do a far better job at matching the different materials.
The boot is large and has a flat floor with split fold seats. Also great to see a full size alloy spare. The only negative here would be the infamous gooseneck hinges. With the Maxima having gas struts I see this as a backward step even if the Altima is not as Nissan have said, a direct replacement for the Maxima.
Overall I am very happy with the Altima and whilst its not a V8 Supercar, I would recommend it if a large car comfortable sedan is what you are after. For some reason they don't seem to sell very well but that also means good deals are available and well worth cross shopping with other cars in the segment.