Now in its sixth generation, the Nissan’s Altima may not be the first name in midsize sedans, but it has something rivals like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry don’t: standard all-wheel drive.
The 2022 Nissan Altima SR Midnight adds a degree of visual menace to go with a healthy list of features. And with a pre-tax price below $35,000, it serves up attractive value, too.
As the name suggests, the Midnight package is all about darkness. It sports a gloss-black grille, spoiler, and matching 19-inch alloy wheels, along with LED fog lights and black-painted mirrors with embedded LED turn signals. Even the badging is black. The only brightwork is the spear of chrome along the base of the side windows that rises up into the C-pillar. Here in optional shade of grey ($135), this tester all but blended into the grey late winter landscape.
Along with LED headlights and all-wheel drive, the Altima SR Midnight gets a comprehensive suite of safety systems and driver aids: blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and keeping assist, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and low-speed reverse automatic braking. Also included are automatic high-beam headlights and a rear seat alert that reminds the driver to check the rear seats for occupants before leaving the vehicle.
The 2022 Nissan Altima earns a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), its highest award.
The Altima’s trunk has a large opening with a low liftover height. At 436 L, it comes in under the Hyundai Sonata (456 L) and Honda Accord (473 L) for carrying cargo, but trumps the Toyota Camry (427 L). The rear 60/40 bench can only be lowered by using the releases in the trunk, though it doesn’t create a flat load floor. A couple of handy flip-down hooks in the trunk will keep plastic grocery bags from spreading their contents.
There’s a large cubby under the central armrest, and a phone pad (non-charging) ahead of the shifter. Tucked in front are USB ports (A and C), an audio auxiliary input, and a 12-volt outlet. Back-seat passengers get access to USB A and C ports as well.
User Friendliness: 8.5/10
The 2022 Nissan Altima SR Midnight is a pretty user-friendly device. A good driving position is easy to find, and once settled into the comfortable bucket, the classic P-N-R-D-L console shifter presents no mysteries.
While the dashboard design is a bit dull, it’s straightforward and gets high marks for logical ergonomics and easy familiarity. The eight-inch touch display sits high on the dash, and it sports both volume and tuning knobs. The HVAC controls below the screen include rotary knobs for temperature control plus hard buttons for seat and steering wheel heat. The dash is clean and straightforward, with clearly illuminated analogue speedometer and tachometer.
The infotainment graphics look a tad dated and the system isn’t the fastest to respond, but it’s well laid out and easy to use. Plus, it’s fully configurable so one can set up a custom home screen.
Forward visibility is good thanks to the Altima’s low-profile dash and cowl, but the thick C-pillars impede rear sightlines. And unlike many newer rivals, the Nissan’s rear-view camera is not high-definition.
The new-for-2022 SR Midnight is an intriguing package, blending some sporty features with a number of desirable upgrades. The cabin is trimmed in convincing faux-leather and benefits from orange stitching on the dash, console, door panels, and seats. Other upgrades include navigation, a sunroof, faux carbon-fibre trim, and a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel with shift paddles. The six-speaker audio is halfway decent, and the system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get satellite radio and a hands-free text messaging assistant.
What you’re not getting here are ventilated front seats and heated rear ones – features commonly seen in rivals from Kia and Hyundai.
The Altima gets one drivetrain, and that consists of a 2.5L naturally aspirated four-cylinder mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Output is 182 hp at 6,000 rpm and 178 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm.
For a large displacement four-cylinder it’s fairly refined, and while no powerhouse, it works well with the CVT. Around town, driving is quiet and stress-free. Unless you’re driving with your foot to the floor (highway merging sometimes necessitates this), the powertrain avoids engine drone sometimes associated with CVTs. Select sport mode via a well-hidden button on the front of the shifter and the transmission switches to a more aggressive program, keeping the revs higher and accentuating steps that mimic real gears. Using the paddles shifter is satisfying, too, as they call up these simulated gears instantly.
There’s no arguing that Nissan’s so-called zero-gravity seats are supremely comfortable. Trimmed in soft faux-leather with tech-fabric centre panels, they feel good enough for a mighty long haul. Maybe not to the moon, but certainly to Sudbury, Ont. (which has doubled for the moon on a few occasions). The front passenger makes do with manual controls while the driver gets eight-way power adjustability.
The rear seats also benefit from this space-age technology, and passengers enjoy generous leg- and headroom. The whole cabin is awash in soft-touch, squishy surfaces: dash, door panels, and armrests.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The Nissan Altima is a competent and predictable midsize sedan. While not as finely tuned or engaging as the benchmark Honda Accord, this all-wheel-drive entry has a bit of sport in its veins and seems happy to unwind a sinuous back road without much complaint.
The steering could have more feel, yet body control is good. On the downside, the SR Midnight’s 19-inch alloys wearing low-profile tires take a toll on ride compliance – a quality the Altima can usually brag about. Such is the price of blacked-out vanity. At highway speeds, however, it settles into a calm and quiet cruise.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
A week of mixed (and mostly light-footed) winter driving in the 2022 Nissan Altima SR Midnight netted 8.6 L/100 km – respectable for a midsize all-wheel-drive sedan, but nowhere near the car’s official estimates of 7.7 in the city, 5.4 on the highway, and 6.7 combined. Yes, this car was fresh off the boat; and yes, it was a frigid week of testing. As with all its direct competitors, regular-grade is the fuel of choice here.
With a pre-tax price of $34,628 including a non-negotiable $1,830 freight charge, purchasing the 2022 Altima SR Midnight is a low-stress affair, and when looking at its direct competitors, this well-equipped model represents good value. All-wheel drive is the Altima’s ace in the hole. The base Honda Accord (only front-wheel drive) starts around $35,000 for the SE, while the all-wheel-drive Toyota Camry and Subaru Legacy are less.
If you’re in the market for a midsize family sedan, the Nissan Altima remains a strong choice – although newer rivals, especially those from Korea, make for some stiff competition. Nonetheless, the Altima is one of the few with all-wheel drive, and the SR Midnight treatment adds some spice to this wholly competent entry.
|Peak Horsepower||182 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||178 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||7.7 / 5.4 / 6.7 city/hwy/comb|
|Cargo Space||436 L|
|Model Tested||2022 Nissan Altima SR Midnight|
|Price as Tested||$34,863|
$135 – Gun Metallic Paint, $135