Goldilocks has already starred in a few too many car reviews, but there's no better way to say it: The 2015 Nissan Altima is a "just right" family sedan in most respects. You want fuel economy? Both the four-cylinder engine and the V6 are class leaders. Power? Even the base four zips to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds. Driving dynamics? The ride is quiet and refined, yet the Altima's still got the handling athleticism that has long set it apart. Safety? Check the crash-test scores; they're nearly perfect across the board. It would appear Nissan has built the perfect car.
So why wouldn't you buy an Altima? Well, for one thing, the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) may not be to everyone's liking. Although it promotes fuel efficiency, it has a tendency to rev the engine noisily during modest acceleration and "lug" it at low rpm while cruising -- especially in four-cylinder models. Also, if you want a backseat that's built for 6-footers, there are better choices. Many rivals offer nearly full-size accommodations out back, and by this measure the Altima comes up a bit short.
One such rival is the spacious Honda Accord, though it's got a similar CVT in four-cylinder models that may also take some getting used to. The 2015 Ford Fusion shares the Altima's slight rear headroom deficit, but it's a stylish and highly competent choice overall. We'll also vouch for the 2015 Mazda 6, which lacks the Nissan's sophisticated infotainment offerings but compensates with comparable fuel economy and even sportier handling.
Returning to our theme, though, it's not easy to pick a bowl of porridge from this group -- they've all got their pros and cons. In the end, only one can be just right for you. We like the 2015 Altima's chances of earning that distinction.