Sooner or later, most everyone reaches that point in life where they feel compelled to trade their stylish, fun-to-drive set of wheels in for something more sensible. What many don't realize, however, is that cars like the 2012 Nissan Altima don't force you to choose between those two extremes.
While both the midsize Altima sedan and Altima coupe are handsome automobiles, that's only part of their appeal. Choose the V6-powered 3.5 SR model, for example, and you'll get both a robust 270-horsepower V6 engine and a firmer suspension that makes this Altima feel more like an expensive sport sedan. Even without these upgrades, the entry-level 2.5 and midrange 2.5 S models offer a decidedly more engaging driving experience than you'd expect from such practically oriented automobiles.
Inside, the Altima sports an attractive and comfortable cabin. The interior can also be fitted out with upscale options like a hard-drive-based navigation system with music storage, Bluetooth streaming audio and a rearview camera. These and many other high-end goodies are bundled together in a number of different packages, meaning some buyers will be forced to shell out money for features they don't really want in order to get those they do. Another downside to the Altima is that rear seat headroom is a bit tight in both coupe and sedan body styles.
Those issues aside, the Altima is still one of the better choices in the crowded midsize category, even though many competitors are newer designs. For those interested in checking out a few worthwhile alternatives, we'd recommend having a look at the well-rounded Ford Fusion, the roomier Honda Accord and the similarly sporty Mazda 6. Other top choices include the very impressive Hyundai Sonata (and related Kia Optima) and the European-influenced Volkswagen Passat. While it's impossible to go wrong with any of the above, few offer the combination of driving enjoyment and everyday practicality offered by the 2012 Nissan Altima.