2021 Nissan Altima Has Fewer Options, Same Starting Price

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - October 14, 2020

For the 2021 model year, Nissan is making some changes to the Altima. While the car physically remains the same, the lineup itself, powertrain configurations, and drivetrain ability all change. Even though the 2021 Altima has less options and fewer available configurations, pricing remains the same, as the midsize sedan starts at $25,225 including destination.

Compared to last year, only one trim in the lineup is now available with the turbocharged 2.0-liter variable compression four-cylinder engine – the SR trim that costs $31,575. Previously, the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine was available on both the SR and Platinum trims, with the most affordable SR VC-Turbo trim starting at $30,675.

Additionally, Nissan has trimmed how many trims can be fitted with all-wheel drive. The base S trim is now front-wheel drive only, losing the option to be fitted with all-wheel drive, which was available last year for an extra $1,350. The SV, SR, and SL trims can still be fitted with all-wheel drive, though it’s now an additional $1,400. Unlike last year, the Platinum trim is only offered with all-wheel drive, which raises its price to $35,025, an increase of $1,700 from last year’s trim that came with front-wheel drive.

Nissan Altima

The last change is a confusing one. The SV and SR trims have been switched in the lineup. Last year, the order went, S, SR, SV, SL, and Platinum. For 2021, the order is S, SV, SR, SL, and Platinum. It’s a strange change, because, if Nissan didn’t make any changes to the trim’s list of standard features, that makes the SV trim the obvious value option in the lineup.

Last year, the SR trim added 19-inch alloy wheels and a sport-tuned suspension over the base S trim. Moving up to the SV adds Nissan’s ProPilot Assist system, lane keeping assist, and lane departure warning. If the differences in features remain the same for 2021, that makes the $26,325 SV a much better choice than the $27,125 SR. We’ll have to wait to see an official breakdown of the 2021 Altima’s features list to see if this is really true, though.

For buyers, these are large changes. If you’re looking for all-wheel drive with the base S trim, you’re better off going with a 2020 model. Additionally, if you wanted to get a fully-loaded Platinum trim with the nifty variable compression turbocharged engine, you have to buy a 2020 Altima. If you weren’t interested in either of those two trims, you probably won’t notice any changes. The switch in the SV and SR trim is more interesting. If the features carry over from last year, then there’s really no point to go with the SR trim.

In terms of the competition, Nissan’s decision to stop offering all-wheel drive on the base S trim matches what Toyota does with the Camry, as all-wheel drive is available starting on the LE at $25,795. The Subaru Legacy comes with all-wheel drive as standard and costs $23,820. Since there aren’t a lot of midsize sedans in the segment to have all-wheel drive as an option, not offering it on the base Altima S doesn’t affect the sedan’s competitiveness.

Learn more about the 2021 Nissan Altima »

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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