As we take a look at the 2020 Nissan Altima, it is hard to believe that this is the sixth generation of the midsize sedan. The model began its existence in 1992, but its lineage goes way back 63 years with the introduction of the Datsun Bluebird, in 1959. A long history of manufacturing four-door compact and midsize sedans for the Japanese and Global market.
It would not be until the third generation which was given a facelift, in 2005, that the Nissan Altima would become such a highly praised automobile, with looks appropriate for its sector. After its unveiling, the critics were very complimentary about the new look and praised its style and interior space. This model would be one of the most powerful and best performing midsize sedans in the segment.
When 2018 rolls around, the latest iteration of the Altima would be introduced at the New York International Auto Show. Though there was another stylish makeover, there was one crucial change which would cause some consternation among the driving press. The fact that the high performing, 3.5 liter V6 engine would not continue under the redesigned Nissan Altima hood.
Sales for the third generation Nissan Altima proved to be so successful that it was one of the major factors to reverse the whole company’s debt-ridden operations into one of the motoring industry’s most profitable. During these strong years, the sales of the Altima would stay above 200,000 a year while reaching a high of 335,000 in 2014 making it not only an effective proposition for the consumer but also the company.
Here, in this 2020 Nissan Altima review, we will take a look at this model. What this automobile offers and how it compares with similar midsize sedans.
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2020 Nissan Altima – Power & Performance
Whilst the previous model had a choice of four powertrains, the 2020 Nissan Altima just provides two. The options are either a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine, providing 188 bhp and 180 lb-ft of torque or a 2.0 liter variable compression turbocharged four cylinder which generates 248 bhp and 273 lb-ft of torque. This would be a major engineering coup for Nissan as this was the first time a production ready vehicle would be installed with a variable compression turbocharged engine.
The powertrains would be a choice of FWD or AWD though the horsepower would be affected as the All-Wheel-Drive version could only produce 182 bhp. Both engines are mated with a CVT Transmission (continuous variable transmission) which has both advantages and disadvantages.
Driving reviews, at the time, would comment that the standard, 2.5 liter engine, had unremarkable acceleration which is not something you want to hear when deciding to purchase your next car. Although, this might not be much of a surprise as the transmission ensured to keep the rev counter stable and steady. So, punching the gas pedal to push the revs nearer the redline is impossible and performance suffers for it.
Fortunately, if you’re looking for some more enthusiastic performance and response from your car you can opt for the 2.0 liter turbo as it produces some better speed with acceleration from 0-60 mph in 6 seconds. Regardless of the 0-60 mph time not being the most inspiring, the extra 93 lb-ft of torque the turbo 2 liter motor has over the standard 2.5 liter definitely brings the car to life when you put your foot down.
It was noted that handling had improved from previous models though, at increased speed, the steering becomes a little erratic. This is a sedan that is at its happiest on the straight at unexceptional speeds.
The big plus, for the 2020 Nissan Altima, is its impressive fuel economy. The 2.5 liter “base” model achieves 28 mpg on city roads while making 39 mpg on highways. The All-Wheel-Drive variant does 26 mpg for city driving and 36 mpg for highway driving. The 2.0 liter turbo engine sees the lowest numbers with 25 mpg and 34 mpg for city and highway driving respectively.
However, on one driving review, they achieved even better figures than this. Highway driving achieved 41 mpg and 37 mpg respectively for the AWD 2.5 liter and the 2.0 liter turbo.
Multiple Trims Available
The 2020 Nissan Altima comes in seven different trims (S, SR, SR VC-Turbo, SV, SL, Platinum & Platinum VC-Turbo) which offer a wide variety of features and driving aids.
All vehicles come standard with front collision warning, automatic emergency braking along with a rear view camera. These can be augmented on the “base” model and are standard on other models with blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear parking sensors.
On the ‘sporty’ version of the automobile, the 2020 Nissan Altima SR offer suitable trim and features. These include a sportier suspension and transmission paddle shifters as well as styling details befitting the “sporty” tag. A sports roof and heated seats are optional.
The 2020 Nissan Altima SV raises the quality a little bit more, as it takes features from both of the other models but removes the sportier aspects of the suspension and styling. Instead, it introduces noise-reducing side windows, heated front seats and dual control climate controls. The Altima SV is also installed with Nissan’s driver-assist technology, ProPilot Assist, which is centered around adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Safety features on the 2020 Nissan Altima are quite extensive and has been given a high rating.
The next two models are the top of the line for the Nissan vehicle with the 2020 Nissan Altima SL exchanging the cloth covers for leather upholstery on the seats. There is also a navigation system and a nine speaker audio system from Bose. The 2020 Nissan Altima Platinum adds to those luxury trims with the inclusion of 19 inch wheels, ambient interior lighting and a 360 degree camera.
And last but not least, we need to mention that if you choose either the SR or Platinum trims with the VC-Turbo, this quite simply put, inludes the 2.0L VC-Turbo engine that we’ve previously mentioned in the article that boost power significantly over the standard base 2.5L engine. If we were to choose between the different trim levels we’d pick either the SR or Platinum with the VC-Turbo for that extra kick of power making the 2020 Nissan Altima a much more effective and useful package.
Simple But Effective Interior
From a visual perspective, the 2020 Nissan Altima interior is plush but subdued. Comfort and spaciousness is the main factor here with either well cushioned cloth or leather upholstery and plenty of legroom (43.8 inches in the front and 35.2 inches in the back).
At steady speeds the cabin is quiet and comfortable with the suspension though not so much when acceleration is increased and the sport trimmed models make for a more rigid setup.
But look closer at the interior finishing and you soon realize where the expense of the vehicle has been cut back. Switchgear on the simple (but efficient) dashboard are quite low in quality.
The 8.0 inch infotainment touchscreen is adequate but nothing special and paired with an audio system with the same amount of rating. Connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
Cargo storage is comparable with similar vehicles at 15.4 cubic feet which can hold six carryon bags and 17 bags, in total, with the rear seats folded down.
The Price Is Right
The 2020 Nissan Altima price is well situated in the competitive midsize sedan segment. The “base” model, Nissan S, begins the range at a cost of US$24,000 while the fleet continues up to the AWD Premium model priced at $33,750. The two turbocharged editions cost between $29,750 for the SR and $35,180 for the Premium CVT.
A Long History
The origins of Nissan’s four-door sedan go back over 60 years with the production of their first model, the Bluebird, in 1959. Designed to be a direct competitor to the Toyota Corona and rival them in the lucrative domestic taxi segment. The DAT Corporation had been manufacturing smaller automobiles under their “Son of DAT” logo, Datsun, since the 1920s. Although the company changed its brand name to Nissan, in 1933, they still maintained the Datsun brand name for decades to come until they finally unified the company’s logo across all territories, in 1981.
The Altima and Bluebird’s heritage goes further back to the company’s very first sedan, Datsun Type 10, which was released in 1929. With an engine of only 495 cc, this half a liter engine displaced automobile was largely based on the Austin Seven, from the UK.
As motoring trends continue to shift to the SUV / Crossover and most American automakers have already veered away from the segment, it might not be a surprise to realize that Nissan’s biggest rivals for sedans come from the other Far East auto brands. While Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are probably the biggest rivals, the others include Hyundai Sonata, Subaru Legacy and Kia Optima.
While the 2020 Nissan Altima sedan has made big improvements on its appearance and performance over recent years, it still lacks in driving performance and quality interior finishing. It ranks higher than some of these other brands though it is widely regarded that the Honda Accord stands head and shoulders above the rest of this competitive motoring segment.
The Verdict on the 2020 Nissan Altima
Though this is certainly not one of the best high performance sedans for driving experience (unless you invest in the top of the range turbocharged editions), it is a very efficient urban four-door automobile. For running errands around town, or a steady runout on the highway, this is a decent midsize sedan to put your money on.
Though its interior is not the flashiest, it does what it needs to do without being overly complicated. Other important factors for this motoring sector are fuel economy and safety standards.
A four-door sedan that can outperform its own fuel economy with recorded numbers of 37 & 41 mpg for urban and highway driving is one of the best for its segment and a key deciding factor for its potential owners. While the 2020 Nissan Altima’s high safety rating makes this a very good purchase for the discerning sedan buyer.