Nissan is known as something of a risk taker among major car companies, but the 2014 Nissan Altima is all about staying the course. Following a redesign last year that brought it more in line with the larger Maxima's sense of style, the Altima sedan stands pat, save for a few equipment changes. There is good reason to be conservative: the Altima is Nissan's top-selling sedan, and one of the best choices available for a midsize family sedan.
One important ingredient in the Altima's formula is its smartly tuned ride and handling. The Altima feels more focused and responsive than many rivals do, yet it doesn't beat you up over bumps. That's the sort of thing that stands out on a test-drive, and the same goes for the Altima's continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is a factor in the car's excellent fuel economy (31 mpg combined with the four-cylinder engine) and strong, seamless acceleration.
The Altima is also known for its pleasant interior furnishings, which can be augmented for 2014 with NissanConnect Apps, a new smartphone integration system that brings services like Pandora into the mix. As usual, every Altima offers high-quality cabin materials and an attractive, sporty dashboard. The only negative here -- and it's pretty minor -- is the relative lack of rear headroom, which could be an issue if you ferry tall adults around on a regular basis.
Of course, the Nissan Altima isn't the only sedan that's vying for your attention. Other top models to consider include the stylish Ford Fusion, the rejuvenated Honda Accord, the well-rounded Kia Optima the sporty Mazda 6 and the Euro-influenced Volkswagen Passat. But even in this stellar group the 2014 Nissan Altima is easily a favorite. It's a must-drive if you're shopping in this segment.