How Does the 2017 Nissan Altima Handle in the Snow?

2016 Nissan Altima

As well as can be expected from a front-wheel-drive midsize sedan. You won’t plow through the powdery white stuff like a rallycross driver, but the Altima likely won’t leave you stranded, unless something happens that’s a result of pilot error. The added confidence of all-wheel drive (AWD) is not offered on any Altima, but the fact that this Nissan places the weight of the engine over the drive wheels will allow its standard all-season tires to deliver better grip than in a similarly sized rear-wheel-drive vehicle.

Like its Japanese-brand rivals, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, Altima offers a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines. Also like its Japanese-brand rivals, the four-cylinder Altima doesn’t have an abundance of torque, which could be advantageous over the V-6 in the snow by lessening chances the tires will spin as you’re attempting to accelerate from a stop or from low speeds. Tire sizes for the 2017 Altima range from 16 inches on the 2.5 and 2.5 S; to 17 inches on the 2.5 SV and 2.5 SL; and 18 inches on the 2.5 SR, 3.5 SR, and 3.5 SL. Models with the 16s and 17s should furnish the best grip in the snow. The 18s have a lower profile and are slightly biased toward dry-road grip, but again, with careful driving, you should have little issue in the snow.

Still, if you’d be more comfortable with AWD, there are a few midsize-sedan alternatives with this feature. It’s standard on the 2017 Subaru Legacy, which is remarkable considering that it costs roughly the same as other front-drive-only rivals. AWD is optional on V-6 versions of the 2017 Chrysler 200S and 200C Platinum, which are the two costliest trim levels in the 200 lineup, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping. You can also add AWD for an extra charge on certain versions of the 2017 Ford Fusion; it’s standard on the new 2017 Fusion Sport, a high-performance model that boasts a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine. Note that some Fusion models have optional summer-performance tires, which will compromise wet-weather grip when compared to the otherwise standard all-season treads.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at chuck[email protected]