It’s easy to overlook the Nissan Altima. After all, the Camry and Accord are the sales leaders in the still-popular midsize sedan segment.
Also, there’s no Altima hybrid to make news like the Camry and Accord. But even so, the Altima is worth your attention because it’s just as good a car, and you can save some money compared to the more famous nameplates.
Plus, I think you get a sportier and more attractive car from Nissan.
The Nissan Altima is a midsize sedan. Before we go any further, Nissan deserves a tip of the hat for maintaining a decent line-up of passenger sedans, from the subcompact Versa to the full-size Maxima.
In the modern market, sedans have lost popularity compared to crossover SUVs, but the very next thing that happens is that SUVs get more expensive and dealers are more likely to pad the price with “market adjustments.” So you can still get a great deal on a very nice and comfortable car like the Altima.
The Altima is a nice-looking sedan. Nissan has gone with the large grille idea that’s popular on a lot of premium brands, so the Altima looks more expensive than it is. Also, in keeping with current fashion, the rear window is swept back almost flat, giving the Altima a “four-door coupe” profile with a short trunk lid. The net effect is that the Altima looks like an upscale European design, while giving you Japanese economy brand pricing. Score one for Nissan.
Nissan delivers no nonsense in the Altima interior. The presentation is businesslike and easy to use, without feeling like the Altima needed any boy racer touches. Even in the very sporty SR VC-Turbo model we tested, the interior is understated. There’s a large center touchscreen, measuring up at 12.3 inches in the SR trim, and then a very simple and effective climate control setup.
We had some winter weather this week, and when I looked down to turn on the front and rear defoggers, the buttons were right there where I thought they should be. Another great point for the Altima. Nissan has been improving the Altima for decades now, and it shows.
The Altima comes with two engine options, depending on the trim you choose. Most trims carry a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine rated at 182 horsepower with all-wheel drive or 188 hp with front-wheel drive, and about 180 pound-feet of torque. However, the SR VC-Turbo trim we tested has a 2.0-liter variable compression turbo engine rated at a healthy 236 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission and the buyer’s choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2023 Altima a five-star crash test rating and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Altima as a “Top Safety Pick+,” its top designation. This car is extremely safe, and comes with a great deal of the latest safety tech.
Nissan’s package of advanced driver assistance tech is called “Safety Shield 360” and includes all the usual automatic collision mitigation features, plus blind-spot monitoring, automatic rear braking, automatic high beams, plus lane keeping and a 360-degree camera system for safe maneuvering.
A 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen comes in the SR VC-Turbo trim, but most trims come with a 7-inch touchscreen. However, buyers can option up to an 8-inch or the 12.3-inch system. All the systems support voice control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Those go wireless with the 12.3-inch system. A wireless charging pad is also optional, but it’s standard in the highest trims. Like everything else in the Altima, the user interface to the dashboard tech is straightforward and easy to use.
Our test car was the 2.0-liter variable compression turbo model, so we had a treat for the week. There’s plenty of power under your foot, and that makes all the difference. Continuously variable transmissions like a lot of power, and they’re quite quick to accelerate when they have it.
In partnership with the engine power, the Altima feels incredibly well-planted on the road, like a BMW. Some of that is surely due to the sport suspension that comes with the SR VC-Turbo trim, but that’s just another reason to buy up on the Altima. With the comfortable sport seats, driving the Altima is a treat that can rival at least the base trims of the European brands.
2023 Nissan Altima SR 2.0 VC-Turbo Specifications
|Dimension||L: 192.9 inches/W: 72.9 inches/H: 56.8 inches/Wheelbase: 111.2 inches|
|Powertrain||2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, CVT|
|Fuel Economy||25 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||236 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $34,990; As tested: $36,835 including $1,095 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
After a week of driving the SR VC-Turbo trim, we can’t imagine choosing any other Altima. If budget is a consideration, the basic S trim Altima starts at a very affordable $25,290, and you can plus up with short steps through the SV, SR, and SL trims to $31,990 with front-wheel drive, and $2,000 more if you want all-wheel drive. The middle trims are very much bread-and-butter family and commuter cars, and you can choose your features and still save money compared to the competition.
The SR VC-Turbo is a pretty big jump at $34,990, and it comes only with front-wheel drive, but we think it’s the one to have because you also get all the tech and nice leather upholstery on the seats in addition to performance that will put a smile on your face.
There’s a mandatory $1,095 destination fee on all trims, plus our test car had a lovely coat of burgundy paint and a dealer kit of winter floor mats and cargo nets, so we stickered out at $36,835.
2023 Nissan Altima SR 2.0 VC-Turbo — Frequently Asked Questions
What problems are reported with the Nissan Altima?
There are reports of squealing brakes, air conditioning issues and power steering whine.
What is the expected lifespan of a Nissan Altima?
200,000 to 300,000 miles
Where is the Nissan Altima assembled?