If you drive a recent model Nissan Altima, you may have discovered the DS drive mode option.
This puts the continuously variable transmission into a manual shifting simulation for livelier performance.
There’s just one catch – your Altima doesn’t have the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters! Don’t worry; you can still utilize DS mode for an engaging driving experience.
Table of Contents
Understanding the DS Mode
- DS stands for Drive Sport.
- When activated, it programs the CVT to mimic the stepped gearshifts by holding each “gear” longer before switching.
- This provides more engine braking and quicker throttle response.
- DS is ideal for hilly terrain or spirited driving.
Accessing DS varies by model year:
- 2016 or newer Altimas: Toggle the circular drive mode selector from D to DS.
- 2013 to 2015 Altimas: Press the DS button on the shifter.
Shifting Gears Without Paddles
On Altimas equipped with paddle shifters, they manually control “upshifts” and “downshifts” in DS mode.
Without paddles, you can use the shift lever to mimic the gear changes:
- Pull back on the lever to upshift. Then, the CVT will hold higher RPMs longer before the next gear change.
- Push forward to downshift. This increases the engine braking on deceleration.
Follow the gear position indicator in the driver display to time your shifts. For the most engine braking, manually downshift before descending hills. Likewise, upshift manually for faster acceleration.
DS Mode Benefits
Using DS mode gives several advantages:
- Improved engine braking control, especially useful in hilly terrain.
- Keeps the engine in the power band longer for stronger acceleration.
- More engagement for the driver without relying on paddle shifters.
- Simulates the feel of a traditional geared automatic transmission.
The DS setting is a handy way to liven up your paddle shift-less Altima’s driving dynamics. Just keep the shift lever active as your transmission’s faux on manual mode!
Downshifting in DS
Proper downshifting technique is essential in DS mode for safety and performance.
Here are some tips:
- Downshift before entering curves for extra engine braking.
- Don’t downshift at high speeds; if you do, engine over-revving can occur at times.
- Rev-match your downshifts by blipping the throttle as you shift.
- Check the gear indicator so you don’t over-downshift in the process.
DS mode may take some practice to master. But soon enough, you’ll be able to smoothly upshift and downshift for responsive CVT control – no paddle shifters are needed!
Tips for Using DS Mode
To get the most out of DS mode:
- Activate it for curvy roads or when engine braking is desired. Otherwise, D mode is best for everyday driving.
- Make timely upshifts and downshifts by using the gear indicator as your guide.
- For passing power, manually downshift to keep the RPMs higher.
Now, you can enjoy the DS performance side of your Altima, even without steering wheel paddle shifters. This hidden feature lets you maximize the CVT’s capabilities. Give DS mode a try the next time you want a more engaged driving experience!
Frequently Asked Questions About Nissan Altima DS Mode Without Paddle Shifters
Q: How does the DS mode differ from the Sport mode available on some Nissan Altima trims? Should I use them interchangeably?
A: Sport mode holds lower gears longer before upshifting for improved throttle response, similar to DS. While either can liven up performance, DS generally requires more driver input, while Sport functions automatically. The choice depends on your specific needs.
Q: Does activating DS mode have any effect on fuel economy in my Altima? Should I expect a lower MPG?
A: DS mode can result in slightly reduced fuel efficiency since it keeps engine RPMs higher in the power band and holds lower ratios longer. Drive with a light touch for the best blend of performance and efficiency.