It’s hard to find a better definition of “bread-and-butter model” than the Nissan Altima. Millions of U.S. car buyers have taken Altimas home simply because they want affordable, frugal, reliable, comfortable transportation, and the Altima hits every target. The 188-hp base engine is perfectly adequate and gets up to 39 mpg on the highway. The optional turbocharged, variable-compression four-cylinder engine puts out to 248 horsepower on premium fuel and still returns 34 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive is available. There’s a spacious cabin, comfortable seating, a good-sized infotainment screen, plenty of space for cargo, and a solid list of standard safety features. Just don’t expect anything approaching the kind of driving character that inspires passion. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) in every Altima helps deliver excellent fuel economy at the cost of peppy acceleration and vitality. Sharp lines and flashy optional wheels on the current model dress up the sedan’s modest aspirations rather well, though.
What’s New for 2024?
After a subtle restyle and some equipment upgrades for 2023, the 2024 Nissan Altima makes one minor digital change. NissanConnect Services, which enables features like remote locking, remote engine starting, and emergency calling, is included with a three-year trial instead of a six-month trial. Rumor has it that the Altima—and its little brother, the subcompact Versa—will only stick around for another couple years.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We like the SR for its small nod toward cosmetic and dynamic improvement. This trim is more fun to drive thanks to a more tautly tuned suspension in charge of larger, 19-inch wheels. The same wheel and tire combo on a 2019 Altima SL we tested—without the sportier suspension—beat the cornering grip of a BMW 330i xDrive. Comfort features step up as well, the SR coming standard with an eight-way power driver’s seat, wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, an upgraded digital gauge cluster, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and more. We’d also spring for the $2,890 Premium package, its bounty including a sliding moonroof, heated leather seats, WiFi hotspot capability, and the larger 12.3-inch infotainment screen. And the SR is one of the three middle trims that can be optioned with all-wheel drive for $1,500, a feature not available on the base S and top-shelf SR VC-Turbo.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Every Altima save the SR VC-Turbo comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the range-topper makes 248 horses when drinking premium gas. Every Altima shifts through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The CVT robs the fun of using the paddle shifters on equipped trims, but this isn’t the kind of car one should be pushing that hard, anyway. The Altima scores “Fine” on almost all its dynamic tests. Steering is precise for the segment, braking is prompt and linear. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder succumbs to unruly engine noise when asked to deliver more than predictable, unremarkable acceleration. A comfy ride on the 16- or 17-inch wheels maintains its composure over road imperfections and wobbly pavement. The big dose of extra power in the VC-Turbo engine makes the Altima significantly quicker. However, even with the sportiest suspension, the Altima is never as fun to drive as the less-powerful Accord, and the 19-inch wheels that add grip on twisty roads also reduce the ride quality.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Altima has long made lofty fuel economy part of its appeal to car shoppers, the sedan doing so without resorting to a hybrid or plug-in-hybrid powertrain. In standard front-wheel drive configuration, the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is able to get an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city and 39 highway in the S and SV trims. With all-wheel drive, those EPA estimates drop to 26 mpg city and 36 mpg on the highway. The turbocharged 2.0-liter gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway. On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route—part of our extensive testing regimen—the all-wheel-drive Altima achieved an impressive 41 mpg; the VC-Turbo version recorded a notable 37 mpg. The most fuel-efficient (nonhybrid) Accord and Camry earned 38 mpg and 45 mpg, respectively. For more information about the Altima’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The only low spots inside—and they’re not that low—appear where the Altima pretends to be more than it is. The flat-bottomed steering wheel and faux carbon fiber interior trim on our SV tester, for instance, were a bit much for a sedan with modest power, a CVT, no paddle shifters, and no drive modes. Same for the aggressive lumbar support on the otherwise inviting front seats. The cabin is otherwise every bit as comfortable and agreeable as the driving experience. User-friendly switchgear dots the straightforward dashboard. Interior materials vary among trim levels, but there are no disappointments. That’s a triumph considering how often hard plastics in some cars turn into sore spots for the eyes and the limbs, and even luxury makers occasionally get them wrong. There’s decent storage up front, with narrow, albeit deep, door pockets and a useful tray on the center console. Large rear seats provide plenty of legroom. Unfortunately, the Nissan’s rear seats don’t fold completely flat and they must be released using handles in the trunk, which is inconvenient. We fit six carry-on bags in the Altima’s trunk and 17 bags total with the rear seats folded. These numbers matched those of the Toyota Camry we tested, but both the Altima and Camry fell short of the Accord’s 19 bags.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Altima’s standard 8.0-inch touchscreen has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The infotainment interface has a customizable main menu but otherwise few personalization options. While the sound system has useful knobs for volume and tuning, the touchscreen we tested responded slowly to inputs. Altima SL and SR get a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless phone charging, and WiFi hotspot standard. The bigger screen is optional on SV models.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Every Altima has forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, high-beam assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and more. Nissan also offers a semi-autonomous drive mode called ProPilot Assist. For more information about the Altima’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard lane-departure warning with available lane-keeping assist
- Standard rear automated emergency braking
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Altima has competitive warranty coverage that aligns with rivals such as the Honda Accord and Camry. Unfortunately, Nissan doesn’t offer any complimentary scheduled maintenance—Toyota provides two years or 25,000 miles.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2020 Nissan Altima 2.5 SR AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$30,720 (base price: $27,945)
DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
152 cu in, 2488 cc
182 hp @ 6000 rpm
178 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
continuously variable automatic
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 11.7-in vented disc/11.0-in disc
Tires: Hankook Kinergy GT, 235/40R-19 92V M+S
Wheelbase: 111.2 in
Length: 192.9 in
Width: 72.9 in
Height: 57.4 in
Passenger volume: 101 cu ft
Trunk volume: 15 cu ft
Curb weight: 3429 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
60 mph: 7.4 sec
100 mph: 19.7 sec
110 mph: 25.3 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.3 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.6 sec
1/4 mile: 15.8 sec @ 91 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 119 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 176 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 31 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 29/25/35 mpg
More Features and Specs