Sporty sedan that does everything well. The Nissan Altima went through a full redesign in 2019 that brought in a sporty new look, a new turbocharged engine, and available all-wheel drive. Combined with surprisingly generous standard features, this means the Altima does everything well, but very little stands out as superior in its class.
Does the 2020 Nissan Altima do enough to squeeze through the wide range of competitors in its crowded class? Continue reading to find out.
Huge on safety and standard features. There are not many places the Nissan Altima stands out, but there is one: standard safety. Not only is it an IIHS Top Safety Pick (it only missed the coveted Top Safety Pick Plus rating with its “Acceptable” and “Marginal” headlight tests), it offers all the critical safety equipment in its standard ProPilot Assist system. ProPilot Assist includes automatic forward and reverse emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and lane keeping assist.
The Chevrolet Malibu offers these features, but only through optional packages in its LT and Premier trims. The Hyundai Sonata provides standard automatic emergency braking, but the other safety goodies are optional. The only competitors that match this standard offering are the Toyota Camry and Subaru Legacy.
The Altima also delivers plenty of standard features in a sub-$25,000 package. Its standard equipment includes cloth seating, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch touchscreen, keyless ignition, four USB ports, and remote start.
The Camry comes close to the Altima, but it falls short with no Android Auto and a 7-inch touchscreen. The Legacy also falls short with its 7-inch touchscreen.
Not a bad seat in the house. The Nissan Altima delivers the goods in seating comfort. Up front, its zero-gravity seats offer plenty of firm backside support but still feel comfortable on long-distance drives. The seat backs wrap nicely around most people’s shoulders, keeping them snug in place.
In the rear seats, there is ample room for three adults across, and a 6-footer can comfortably sit behind a 6-foot-tall driver. In the tale of the tape, though, the Altima’s 35.2 inches of rear leg room comes up short compared to virtually every key competitor, as the Camry offers 38 inches of rear leg room, the Legacy offers 39.5 inches, the Malibu offers 38.1 inches, and the Honda Accord offers 40.4 inches.
The Altima makes up for its tighter rear seats with 15.4 cubes of cargo room, which beats the Legacy and Camry by 0.3 cubes.
Turbo-four sounds better on paper. The Nissan Altima’s base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers an uninspiring 188 horsepower, making it average for its class at best. Giving it a boost, though, it the available all-wheel drive buyers can pair with this engine. This makes it one of the few mid-size sedans prepared for slippery conditions.
When Nissan announced the new Altima would also gain a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in place of the outgoing V6 engine, it painted a pretty picture of improved fuel economy and V6 performance. With 248 hp, the latter was a success, but the fuel economy boosts were just three miles per gallon city, two mpg highway, and three combined compared to the old V6 engine. This is also just a three mpg city, one highway, and three combined advantage over the smooth Camry V6.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Nissan Altima stands out in safety and standard equipment, but it’s surprisingly average in just about every other category. With its superior standard safety equipment, thrifty base four-cylinder engine, and available all-wheel drive, the Altima is an excellent buy for a growing family in need of inexpensive wheels that doesn’t skimp on the goodies.
There are compromises, though. More established families with older kids may find its rear seats too tight on leg room. The Accord’s 40.4 inches of rear leg room would be a great alternative for these families.
Buyers who are growing tired of the switch to turbocharged four-cylinder engines in place of V6 power will find their V6 oasis in the Camry.
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