2020 Nissan Altima

Performance


#5 out of 11 in Midsize Cars

MSRP
$24,100
U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 Nissan Altima Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.9

The 2020 Nissan Altima has capable engines, composed handling, and a comfortable ride.

  • "Regardless of engine choice, every Altima comes with a continuously variable transmission. Nissan's CVTs are some of the best, and that's no different in the new Altima. The transmission is great at mimicking the action of a traditional automatic gearbox, with simulated gear changes and none of that annoying, buzzy drone." -- CNET (2019)
  • Nissan offers the all-wheel-drive system only with the less powerful, normally aspirated 2.5-liter engine. With the AWD system’s extra weight, it’s no match for the VC turbo, but performs adequately." -- The Detroit Free Press (2019)
  • "On the fun, twisty backroads that connect Santa Barbara to Ojai, California the Altima felt composed. Part of that comes from the impressive steering calibration. The weighting is light and easy in, say, a parking lot, and ramps up nicely with just the right amount of heft as speed increases. It’s very precise too, right off center." -- Autoweek (2019)

Acceleration and Power

There are two engine options in this Nissan. Every trim comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 188 horsepower. You can outfit the SR and Platinum trims with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 248 horsepower. Regardless of which engine you pick, you’ll get a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Both engines are more than capable for daily driving. The turbocharged variant packs a little extra punch, which should satisfy those looking for a little more power than the base engine offers. The CVT nicely mimics a traditional automatic transmission and, unlike many CVTs, it doesn’t cause the engine to drone.

With its base engine and front-wheel drive, the Altima gets EPA estimates of 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. That drops to 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive. Models with the turbo-four engine get 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

  • The base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is relatively quiet and adequately energetic for around-town duty. But it does seem to be working hard on inclines and when making overtaking moves on freeways." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "I actually preferred the 2.5-liter despite it making 60 fewer ponies compared to the turbocharged engine. When paired with the 2.5-liter, the CVT shifts decisively along set ratios like a geared transmission and the engine doesn’t suffer from any lag in its power delivery." -- New York Daily News (2019)
  • "The V6 might be gone, but we doubt many will miss it. The new torque-rich turbo four-cylinder is more fun anyway." -- Edmunds (2019)

Handling and Braking

The Altima isn’t the sportiest sedan, but it has sharp steering and minimal body roll around turns. The SR trim has a firmer suspension for more confident handling. Regardless of trim, this vehicle has a smooth ride. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available. Models with the turbocharged engine can only be had with front-wheel drive.

  • "Not surprisingly, the SR models were the most confident handlers, whether they had the VC-T engine or the 2.5-liter. For all models, however, steering proved sharp and precise, and body roll was nicely contained. The brakes were utterly outstanding." -- New York Daily News (2019)
  • "The handling is excellent, thanks to a stiffer platform and suspension changes including monotube shocks. The car was stable and steady driving quickly around mountain curves. The rack-mounted electric power steering is direct and responsive, with good feel." -- The Detroit Free Press (2019)
  • "The whole car felt quite a bit more capable than either the old Altima or the speed limit on this these roads would allow. Part of the new chassis goodness comes from the mechanical upgrades." -- Autoweek (2019)
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2020 Nissan Altima

MSRP: $24,100 - $35,180

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