More available safety features. After receiving a full redesign in 2019 and some minor changes last year, the 2021 Nissan Altima arrives with some new features. While it continues to come with a variety of standard safety features, Nissan added a new Driver Assist Package to the base S trim that brings even more equipment.
For an additional $475, the package brings rear automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors. These are added to the Altima’s standard list that includes forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, driver drowsiness monitoring, and automatic high beams. Additionally, Nissan also offers the Altima with its ProPilot Assist system that can handle most of the driving on the highway.
The 2021 Altima also did incredibly well in crash tests conducted by the NHTSA and the IIHS. The NHTSA gave it a five-star overall safety rating, while the IIHS gave the Altima a Top Safety Pick Plus award – the highest possible.
Comfortable, spacious seats. Without the need to worry about cargo capacity, midsize sedans can focus more on being accommodating for passengers. The Altima doesn’t have the most spacious cabin in the class, but it can ferry four passengers comfortably and five in a pinch.
Passengers in the front will be able to enjoy Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats. They’re incredibly comfortable, offer plenty of support, yet remain comfy on a long drive. The rear seats aren’t as pleasant, but there’s little to complain about in the back. Although, rear leg room is less than the majority of its competitors.
Where the Altima makes up for its tight rear seats is when it comes to cargo space. It has a 15.4-cubic-foot trunk, which is slightly above average for the class.
High-value base trims. Pricing for the Altima starts at $25,225 including destination, yet it comes with a lengthy list of standard features. Keyless entry, push button start, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, two USB ports, and six audio speakers are standard. Pair those features with the Altima’s standard safety features and the base S trim represents great value.
The highest we recommend going is the SV trim. It adds an 8-inch touchscreen, upgraded cloth upholstery, LED headlights, rear automatic emergency braking, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, and rear cross-traffic alert. The SV trim is the first that’s available with all-wheel drive, though it’s a $1,400 upgrade.
Boring base engine, pricey turbo. The engines in the Altima are a mixed bag. The base motor has dull performance, while the available turbocharged engine is incredibly limited. As it sits, the standard motor is the way to go, though it’s not the most enjoyable to drive.
The base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that’s paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It produces 188 horsepower, which isn’t quite enough for a car of this size. All-wheel drive is available, though it doesn’t improve overall handling much. With the low horsepower figure and the CVT, the Altima is hardly a sporty car.
For 2021, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 248 hp is only available on the SR trim with front-wheel drive. While the extra power is great, the trim starts at $31,575, making it an expensive upgrade. The fact that the turbo engine isn’t offered with all-wheel drive reduces its appeal, too.
Final thoughts. The 2021 Nissan Altima shines as a safety-first midsize sedan. It comes packed with the latest safety features and, unlike other competitors, can be fitted with more advanced safety features for the base trim. All-wheel drive availability also gives it an edge over others in the segment.
When it comes to interior space, performance, and fuel economy, the Altima is merely average. In the highly competitive midsize class, that just doesn’t cut it.
The Honda Accord continues to be the benchmark in the segment. It offers nimble handling, powerful engines, an available hybrid model, and has a spacious interior. The Mazda Mazda6 is the classy option in the class. It feels like a luxury vehicle, has a quiet ride, and has agile handling. The Mazda6 is also available with one of the more powerful turbo engines in the segment.
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