The 2013 Altima represented a big shift for Nissan, and it signaled that the company was working harder than ever to dethrone the Accord and Camry as the kings of the midsize market. Now three years on, the Altima is due for a visual refresh, and they nailed it out of the park. The new car was unveiled in New York this week, and with it came the announcement of a sportier SR model to join the lineup. The new design helps bring the sedan into line with Nissan’s new design language on the Maxima and Murano.

Everything forward of the doors is new for the 2016 Altima, and the new style looks quite handsome. The bumper design has been toned down slightly and made to look more muscular, and the new V-grille looks dominate on the nose. The headlights look nicer as well, and the deep cuts above the fog lights are a dynamic touch. The back end sees just as many changes with a new bumper, trunk lid and taillights. There is also a new spoiler for certain models. To finish off the new look, there are new 17- and 18-inch alloy wheel designs.

2016 Nissan Altima SR (3)

That new design is about more than just looks. Thanks to improvements in aero, the new car cuts through the air 10-percent easier than it did before. That should equal even better fuel economy.

The running gear for the Altima remains essentially unchanged with the same 2.5-liter and 3.5-liter engines returning with an Xtronic CVT to manage the power, but the new SR model adds new suspension tuning that should make the cars more agile. Thicker roll bars and revised damper tuning are good for a 12.5-increase in handling performance according to Nissan. As always, we will hold our final verdict until we get some real seat time with the machine.

Gallery: 2016 Nissan Altima