Overview

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Overview (Final Score: A-) The Altima was redesigned for the 2019 model year and carries into the 2020 model year largely unchanged. Though there is one big upgrade for the 2020 Altima: safety. Nissan has made its full suite of safety systems standard equipment in all but the base model Altima this year, where previously those safety techs were optional in most trims. A few other small touches in varied trim levels also change for 2020. The 2020 Nissan Altima competes against some strong contenders in the midsize sedan market. The Nissan holds its own, despite competition from top sellers like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. It even ups the ante in this generation with an all-wheel drive option. The 2020 Altima is a midsize sedan that seats up to five. There are five trim levels for the car, though most dealerships will likely only have the upper four available. The Altima has two engine options and transmission choice. Drivetrain can be either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, depending on model and engine choices made.

What We Love About the 2020 Nissan Altima:

  • All driver safety and semi-automated features standard in all but the base trim
  • Mpg is generally above EPA expectation in both 2WD and AWD options
  • Excellent winter safety in the AWD model and good all-around driving appeal

What We Don't Love About the 2020 Nissan Altima:

  • Visibility could be better, especially via the side mirrors and with the chintzy rear-view camera
  • Trim levels have disappointing interior finish details throughout
  • Road feel and feedback is minimal thanks to sluggish steering
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Exterior View (10/10) Where Nissan clearly went all-in with the new Altima is in the exterior looks department. The sedan's design uses classic motifs for a long-view appeal. The basic proportions of a classic sedan are in threes and the Altima definitely uses those to its advantage. The rear fastback has a European appeal that coincides with the sloping front nose and rounded roofline, for a forward-running pace. Body lines on the 2020 Altima are all about accentuating those elements, adding some straight edges to the rounded corners for a complementary juxtaposition to denote sportiness. There's a strong feel to the Altima's overall design. Nissan also incorporated its new V-motion grille look and floating rear roof pillar. Although not much about the 2020 Nissan Altima's exterior jumps out and says "Notice me!," the elements all come together for a very appealing overall package. It's a classy and classic way to make a car appeal to onlookers without getting desperate about the need for attention.

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (9/10) One of Nissan's hallmarks is in interior comfort. The Altima doesn't skimp here, offering the company's Zero Gravity seating in four out of five positions, and a simple but flowing and open cabin design that promises spaciousness. The dashboard is split into three sections, the center of which has the most change through the trim levels. Sadly, in most lower trims, this section gets afterthought and often cheap-feeling materials as a result. 2020-altima-blue_2 In the upper levels, woodgrain and brushed metal are the norm for the center dash divider and lower console details. In the lower levels, cheap plastic and not-so-great materials are there instead. In all trim levels, the lower portion of the dashboard where the glove box and driver's knees are occupants, the plastic becomes hard and not very upscale in tactile appeal. Those negative marks are smaller than they could be, given the genuinely well-done cabin space in the 2020 Nissan Altima. Driver's controls, readouts and gauges, and the central infotainment system are all easy to view and well positioned for daily use. Seating is very comfortable and storage is abundant in this sedan as well. All big upsides in today's market. Most owners will find the number of USB plugs for charging to also be adequate.

Technology (9/10) Infotainment in the new-generation Altima is well done. The screen is a good size, easy to read, and offers simple icons that are easy to recognize and understand. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard in the 2020 Altima. In the upper trims, streaming services such as Waze and Pandora, are also available for alternatives to navigation and music. These could potentially replace those things, saving money in trim level upgrades. Audio systems vary by trim point, but most are adequate for the vehicle. The mid-level system in the SV and SL trims are good, while the Bose premium system in the Platinum is excellent. Most driver assistance and convenience aids are standard equipment in all but the base S trim level 2020 Altima. This includes lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, and pedestrian detection. Of note, the backup camera is not as high-resolution as is the screen it outputs to, making for a small, grainy image even in the Platinum model Altima. An oversight on Nissan's part.

Fuel Economy (9/10) The 2020 Nissan Altima is EPA-rated at 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway with the standard engine and 26/36 city/highway with the AWD upgrade. The turbocharged engine option is rated at 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway by the EPA. These are a little better than average for the segment. Our test model was an AWD-equipped Altima with the standard 2.5-liter engine and continuously variable transmission. Our test returns on a highway loop gave a 37 mpg result while our city loop returned 26. Because we are at high altitude (over 6,200 feet) and it was winter, we expect many will see better than those results with their test drives.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (7/10) The 2020 Nissan Altima does not yet have any ratings from major dependability studies. Last year, the Altima ranked better than Honda and Volkswagen in Consumer Reports ratings and was given an "About Average" rating by the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study. We see little reason for that to change this year.

Safety (10/10) The 2020 Altima has received high marks from both crash testing bodies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Altima an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars, with 5 stars each for side and rollover crash tests and 4 stars for frontal crash test results. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has similarly given the Altima top scores of "Good" on all crash tests plus a rating of "Superior" for front crash prevention system test results. The only down mark is a second-best "Acceptable" for the Altima's headlamps. 2020-altima-blue_6

Performance (10/10) Taking the Altima for what it is (meaning it's not a sports car), it's a good performer. The standard engine is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder mated to a CVT and producing 188 horsepower. This can be configured as either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. We drove the AWD model. The engine has enough power to make the Altima feel confident in most situations. It's not quick, nor is it loud or powerful, but it's capable and feels that way most of the time. Most driving enthusiasts do not like a continuously variable transmission (CVT) as it sucks the soul from the car. In the Altima, it's integral to the vehicle's design and feels natural as-is. If you aren't expecting to get sub-7 0 to 60 sprints, the CVT is fine and feels good in this car. If you are expecting fast speeds and quick movement, you probably need to be looking at a different brand of carmaker. The upgraded engine may satiate those who prefer more oomph to their pedal push. The Altima has an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that outputs 248 hp to the same CVT. This option is front-wheel drive only, but gives 60 more horses in return. In either case, the 2020 Nissan Altima comes with the same basic architecture and design. It's has a flow on the road, as should all sedans, and feels good. The steering is sluggish and boredom-inducing, but this is (again) not a sports car. As an everyday drive, the Altima is nicely smooth.

Pricing and Value (9/10) The midsize market is competitive, even as its sales totals shrink. The Altima has received pricing from Nissan that makes it very competitive with the top-selling Toyota and second-highest seller from Honda. Nissan suffers from a lower-than-average resale market, however, that does impinge the Altima from gaining a top score here. Adding AWD and having five trim levels gives the 2020 Altima an edge that helps boost its value to potential buyers. The inclusion of standard active safety systems plus driver assistance techs and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are boons as well. We recommend consumers look at the SL and SV trims for best value in the Altima. Those wanting that turbo engine should look at the SR. 2020-altima-11

Total Score and Competitive Comparison (73/80, 91%) The 2020 Nissan Altima competes in a difficult market but receives good marks on several fronts. It's running against the Toyota Camry, which we've ranked highly and the Honda Accord, which also ranks very well. Against those, the Altima offers a little more value than the Camry and a better daily drive than the Accord. Although AWD is available in the Camry starting this year, roll out will be late, so buyers are still looking at only this Nissan for that option. The 2020 Altima offers a lot to potential buyers and is a compelling choice in the current midsize sedan market. For those wanting a sedan and to avoid the fuel economy costs a crossover may have, the Altima definitely outperforms its SUV counterparts in the Rogue and Rogue Sport. But only just. Cross-shopping is a must.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Sedan - AWD
2.5 S 2.5 S AWD Sedan 4 Cylinder AWD 25450
2.5 SR 2.5 SR AWD Sedan 4 Cylinder AWD 27050
2.5 SV 2.5 SV AWD Sedan 4 Cylinder AWD 29230
2.5 SL 2.5 SL AWD Sedan 4 Cylinder AWD 31590
2.5 Platinum 2.5 Platinum AWD Sedan 4 Cylinder AWD 33530
Sedan - FWD
2.5 S 2.5 S Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 24100
2.5 SR 2.5 SR Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 25700
2.5 SV 2.5 SV Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 27880
2.0 SR 2.0 SR Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 29750
2.5 SL 2.5 SL Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 30240
2.5 Platinum 2.5 Platinum Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 32180
2.0 Platinum 2.0 Platinum Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 35180

Comparison of 2020 Nissan Altima with Similar Cars

2020 Nissan Altima MSRP Invoice
2020 Nissan Altima $24,100 $22,464
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2020 Toyota Camry $24,425 $22,349 2020 Nissan Altima VS 2020 Toyota Camry
2020 Honda Accord $24,020 $21,984 2020 Nissan Altima VS 2020 Honda Accord
2020 Ford Fusion $23,170 $22,243 2020 Nissan Altima VS 2020 Ford Fusion
2020 Hyundai Sonata $23,600 $22,716 2020 Nissan Altima VS 2020 Hyundai Sonata
2020 Kia Optima $23,390 $22,572 2020 Nissan Altima VS 2020 Kia Optima

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2020 Nissan Altima ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2020 Nissan Altima rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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