Nissan Teana L33 Test Drive Review

Nissan Teana L33 Test Drive Review

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Nissan’s financial troubles in the late 1990s were well-documented. It led to a period of stalled new model development, and showrooms were forced to soldier on with existing models whilst being trampled over by newer shinier metal from rival brands.

The D-segment landscape was illustrative of the company’s struggles; whilst Toyota and Honda pulled ahead with new and improved variants of the Camry and Accord respectively, all Nissan had, for the longest time ever, was the badly-outdated Cefiro and when the plug was pulled on that model, it was a while before the brand was able to re-establish its presence in the segment with the Teana in 2010.

Since its launch, the Teana has swiftly established itself as an important player in the D-segment, but as a result of Nissan’s pro-longed absence from the segment, it remains an outsider of the segment’s heartland when compared against the Camry and Accord, both models benefiting from their continuity. An all-new Teana was launched last year and with it is Nissan’s hopes of returning itself to complete parity against its rivals.

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Prices & Variants

The Teana avails itself with a choice of three variants, the most important of them being the mid-spec 2.0 XL trim introduced only with this generation. It plugs the wide chasm that previously separated the base 2.0 XE and flagship 2.5 XV models of the predecessor. Broadly speaking, all three variants of the Teana are keenly priced against equivalent variants of its key competitors from Toyota and Honda.

Unlike the case with the previous Teana, the 2.0 XE is no longer the poor relation of the range. Relative to the RM148k XL model, the entry-level variant leaves out auto headlamps, powered front seats, leather upholstery, five-inch colour display with reverse camera, and USB/Bluetooth connectivity which are entirely acceptable omissions for the RM10k savings from the XL.

Standard equipment across the board is commendable, particularly with regards to safety – all variants get six airbags, stability control, power folding side mirrors, tilt & telescopic steering, auto cruise, and keyless entry. Meanwhile, privileges of the flagship 2.5 XV, which you pay over RM167k for, consist of xenon headlamps, sunroof, Bose premium audio, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and powered rear sunshade.

For the purposes of this review, our impressions are based on drive time in two test cars – a 2.0 XL and 2.5 XV; the latter vehicle additionally specified with the RM3,926 TCAT multimedia navigator option. Both test cars have clocked high mileages (in the region of 20,000 – 30,000km) before reaching us. They feel mechanically sound without any squeaks and rattles to speak of, but signs of abuse in the form of scratches and scuff marks are obvious.

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Unlike its two JDM-centric predecessors, the L33 Teana started life as the US-market Altima, although the same Nissan D platform from the previous J32 model continues to provide the current vehicle’s basic underpinning. This little factoid may seem little more than trivia for car nuts at first, but as we would elaborate later, it explains the radical departure of the L33 from to the evolutionary look and feel of preceding J31 and J32 models.

Specification-wise, there is no doubt that Nissan has made the L33 Teana more competitive relative to its segment rivals, but the new model’s different gestation from its forebears has also somewhat robbed it of certain quintessential, perhaps even quirky qualities that once defined the Teana nameplate – as a result, it has made the Teana less oddball and more conventional; it competes more keenly and directly with rivals, but with less distinction.

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For starters, the choice of a V6 engine is no longer offered, the L33 Teana is now powered exclusively by four-cylinder engines, displacing 2.0 and 2.5 litres respectively. The 2.0-litre mill requires no introduction, it being the familiar MR20DE carried over from the predecessor to supply 134hp and 190Nm of thrust. Above it sits the 2.5-litre QR25DE twin variable valve timing powerplant offering comparable outputs to its 6-cylinder predecessor with 170hp and 234Nm, but consuming a claimed 26.7 percent less fuel. Nissan’s X-Tronic CVT is the standard transmission fitted to both engines.

As mentioned earlier, all variants of the Teana feature stability control as standard; the system additionally incorporates brake-actuated torque vectoring (Active Understeer Control in Nissan-speak) to individually brake the inner front wheel whilst going around corners to, as its official name suggests, rein in understeer.


Compared to the J32, the L33 Teana wears a significantly more dynamic and curvaceous appearance. The previous model’s understated design makes way for a bolder face, emphasized by its prominently-clad front grille and angular headlights. Having a wider body than the J32 helps to further convey added sportiness in the L33’s overall stance.

Between the variants, there is little other than the badges on the boot lids, rim sizes, and headlights to differentiate the 2.0- and 2.5-litre models. Wheel diameter measures 16 inches for the 2.0 and 17 for the 2.5, conservative by class standards, but entirely acceptable for us – we appreciate the added comfort and lower replacement costs associated with having smaller tyres.


Previously with the J32, the Teana’s cabin is distinguished in its appearance by a unique brand of tasteful minimalism. The L33’s interior, on the other hand, wears a more conventional business-like appearance; it lacks the predecessor’s convincing imitation of a luxury ambiance, but improves significantly in the aspect of usability.

The widened centre console is now good for swallowing significantly more small items from your pockets, although this could be even further improved by having a larger lidded box in place of the two circular cupholders adjacent to the transmission lever.

Intuitiveness and legibility of controls are excellent as a whole, although the standard five-inch colour touchscreen as fitted in our 2.0 XL test car seem rather small for our liking. As a display for the audio system, it is adequate, but it is less convincing when used to display the reverse camera’s live feed. With this in mind, the TCAT multimedia system with its enlarged touchscreen is worth considering.

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Driving Experience

In our first driving impressions report of the Teana, which was published just prior to its official launch last year, we noted that the L33 has embraced a much sportier character than the J32. Firmer chassis settings make the new car feel notably tauter, meaning it is sharper around corners, but don’t expect European levels of sportiness.

Revisiting the cars a year on for this review, we find little reason to revise our earlier observations. The Teana is still a highly refined vehicle on the move, but as a car to be chauffeured in, the predecessor had ride characteristics that were definitely better suited to the task. The new car’s firmer ride mean that surface disturbances are felt more keenly in the cabin.

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On a straight line, the 2.5 holds a notable performance advantage over its 2.0-litre sibling, but we reckon the smaller engine has adequate performance to suit most needs. We’re not talking about blistering pace, but there’s enough in reserve to take you beyond the national limits and keep you there comfortably. Typical of vehicles fitted with CVTs, the engine-drivetrain setup work best under gentle coaxing, for which the vehicle rewards you with serene, unflustered, if also rather relaxed progress.

The 2.0 also feels better-balanced dynamically between the two variants, its helm more responsive towards directional changes and ride quality more pliant, qualities which we can attribute to the combination of a lighter engine sitting on the front axle and higher profile tyres.

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The Teana is a competently-engineered vehicle the generally meets the relevant requirements of buyers shopping in the D-segment. We would say it is a competitive product, and we are particularly impressed at the high level of standard safety kit that sees stability control and six airbags fitted on all variants; we can’t stress enough how praiseworthy this is.

Good value is another reason to recommend the Teana. Variant for variant, it is priced competitively against equivalent models of the Camry and Accord, particularly the Toyota, which charges a ridiculous RM12k more for its 2.0-litre model whilst offering not only four airbags less, but also excludes stability control from its lowest model. It is also worth noting that the Teana 2.0 XE can be on your driveway for less money than what Hyundai or Kia would ask you for one of their Sonatas or Optimas.

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 Gallery – Nissan Teana 2.0 XL

Nissan Teana 2.5 XV

Review overview
Exterior Design
Mechanical Specs
Features and Amenities
Ride and Handling
Value for Money


  1. I liked Teana 2.5 a lot after we drove it. Comfortness for4 grown adults and a fairly quiet ride are its top scores.
    The only letdowns we found are the paintwork is thin and easily scratched and the back row not suitable for very tall adults.

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