In 1993 the Nissan Altima made its debut as the centrepiece of Nissan's sedan lineup in the USA. Since then, the vehicle has grown substantially in size, power, technology and has also expanded to include Coupe and Hybrid models. It is the best selling individual model in the US lineup. New this year, the 2020 Altima adds optional all-wheel drive and an optional high output turbo-4 powertrain borrowed from Infiniti—except both can’t be had together.
The Altima is powered by a 2.5L, Inline-4 cylinder engine or an all-new 2.0L, Variable Compression, Turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine, both mated to a CVT gearbox. It drives the front wheels or all four wheels and it has a starting price of $23,750. In order to stay competitive with the Goliaths of the industry, Nissan Altima has grown into a terrific alternative.
This is a highly competitive segment with almost every manufacturer having a player. The redesigned Altima makes some bold changes for its sixth generation, including two new engines, sophisticated driver aids and, for the first time, all-wheel-drive availability. We have taken the Hyundai Sonata, the Kia Optima and the Ford Fusion - all quite established players in the segment. Let's see how the all new Altima fares against its competition.
8.0/10 Engine and Performance
2020 Nissan Altima Features
The Altima comes in six trim levels – S, SR, SV, SL, Platinum and the Edition One. The Altima is powered by a 2.5L, Inline-4 cylinder engine which is paired to a CVT transmission across all trims. You can either have a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in any of the variants. There’s also a 2.0L, variable compression, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine available which is also paired to the CVT gearbox and can be had only in a front-wheel-drive configuration in the SR, Platinum, and Edition One trim. The SR trim is the sporty variant with larger wheels and sports tuned suspension.
Automatic emergency braking
LED fog lights
9-speaker Bose audio
19-inch alloy wheels
Edition One Nissan Concierge
Intelligent driver alertness
19-inch alloy wheels with sport suspension
17-inch alloy wheels
Around View Monitor with moving-object detection
Unique 19-inch alloy wheels
Sport exterior and interior trim
Dual-zone climate control
Integrated navigation with Nissan Connect Services
Driver memory seat
Edition One floormats
8-way power driver’s seat
2-way driver power lumbar support
4-way power passenger seat
Interior accent lighting
Nissan Connect w/8-inch display
Outside mirror LED indicators
External ground lighting
7-inch advanced drive assist display
Leather steering wheel and shift knob
Heated front seats and steering wheel
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
Rear cross-traffic alert
Electronic parking brake with auto-hold
Remote engine start
Dual-zone climate control
We’d recommend you one of the higher trims like the SL or the Platinum trim with all-wheel drive configuration and the base engine. The higher trims are very well loaded and traction from the all-wheel-drive system is always welcome. The 2.5L, turbocharged engine is not offered with all-wheel drive. If all-wheel drive is not a necessity, then opt for the 2.5L turbocharged engine or else the 2.0L engine with all-wheel drive is a really sweet deal as well.
2020 Nissan Altima Engine and Performance
“It's not a sport sedan, but the Altima still has moves. The turbo engine delivers proper punch, especially from low speeds, and steering feel is vastly improved over the previous generation.” - Edmunds
The Altima comes with two engine options – a 2.0L, inline-4 cylinder engine developing 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque and a 2.5L, variable compression, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The 2.0L engine has been there in the Altima for quite some time and has been refined further and has 9 more horsepower than before. It has always been a potent engine and is adequately responsive, even more so now.The big news is the all-new 2.0L engine. Variable compression means that the compression ratio is altered depending on driving conditions. Higher compression ratio will give you the fuel efficiency while the lower compression ratio gives you higher power, thus combining the best of both worlds. It develops 248 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s very smooth and when you floor the throttle, you are rewarded with loads of torque.
This engine is a result of lots of years of development and it is really that great. A CVT transmission is the only gearbox available with either of the engines and the good news is that it’s not like other CVTs. It’s refined and smooth and even simulates gear changes under hard acceleration. Nissan says that they have recalibrated it and it feels better and snappier than the one in the last Altima
2.5L, Inline-4 cylinder engine
2.5L, Inline-4 cylinder engine
2.4L, Inline-4 cylinder engine
2.4L, Inline-4 cylinder engine
Continuously Variable Transmission
6-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC
188 hp @ 6,000
175 hp @ 6000
185 hp @ 6000
185 hp @ 6000
180 lb-ft @3,600
175 lb-ft @ 4500
178 lb-ft @ 4000
178 lb-ft @ 4000
The competitors – Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, and the Hyundai Sonata – all have very competitive engines with the Altima’s base engine. They all have relatively the same displacement and have very similar power and torque outputs. Nissan is the only one to use a CVT while others use conventional 6-speed automatics.
We do not have the 0-60 figures of the Altima or for some of its rivals yet but the table shows the times from the 2018 model year. Considering that the Altima is a little more powerful and a little lighter than before, we expect that the Altima would be able to sprint to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds now. However, beating the Kia Optima’s time of 6.8 seconds is going to quite a task. These figures are with the base 2.5L engine and the 2.0L turbocharged engine will definitely do it faster.
Curb Weight (lb.)
(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
Ride and Handling
The Altima rides very well indeed. It has a very good balance between ride quality and body control. The ride remains comfortable and composed and you could easily spend long hours in the cabin. Also, it maintains is composure quite well even through the corners. There is not much body roll and the car beautifully glides into fast corners and sharp turns perfectly well.
The steering is also very precise and there is good amount of feeling from the steering wheel. It's direct, there is good amount of effort required to steer the car at higher speeds which is very appreciable and yet it remains light and easy at lower speeds. The chassis has also been almost completely updated from the last generation and it really shows in the handling of the car. The SR trims get sporty suspension which allows it to handle the corners even better. Overall, it’s a very stable and composed car most of the times.
The brakes too have been improved over the last generation. They are very responsive and provide very good stopping power. Pedal feel is nice and adequately weighted. We do not have the stopping distance of the 2020 Altima yet and this table shows 2018 figures for the Altima but even then it was the best in class. We expect it would only be better from the last generation.
Brake Front (in.)
Brake Rear (in.)
70-0 MPH (ft.)
2020 Nissan Altima Fuel Economy
The Altima has the best fuel economy in the class. It returns 32 miles to the gallon combined which is quite above the competition. The new engines are very refined and the CVT gearbox also helps achieve these figures. The city and highway mileage are also the best in class by quite a margin.
Fuel Tank Capacity(Gal.)
2020 Nissan Altima Interior
“Up front, Nissan’s ergonomically designed seats are comfortable for long hauls and supportive for most body types. Only the broadest shoulders will search for more support, and thick torsos will need just a little more side bolstering.” – The Car Connection
The interior design is simplistic, yet it’s very pleasing to the eye. All controls have been very neatly laid out. The 8-inch floating infotainment system sits atop the AC vents and it looks sleek and smart. The climate controls have a dedicated panel to them which also look very neat. In between, there’s a wraparound plastic trim on the dashboard that has been simulated to look like wood and it looks rather good.
Quality of materials used is good but fit and finish at all places are not so good as some panels feel flimsy in terms of fit. The steering is thin with a flat bottom and houses numerous control for various things. There’s a 7-inch information display in between the analog dials in the instrument cluster which is also very attractive. The gear shifter is normal lever – thankfully so, instead of buttons and dials – and there is cup holder beside it. It’s a very pleasing cabin to be in which has been designed very aesthetically.
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
40.4/ 57.9/ 45.5
Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
The Altima has very roomy interiors, although its dimensions are not the best in class. The seats particularly are very comfortable. They provide great cushioning and good bolstering on the sides as well. They are heated and offer multi-way power adjustments and are quite easily the best seats in the entire class. Also, the light colours used in the cabin along with a good glass area make the cabin feel big and airy. The rear seats are comfortable too and can easily seat three people. If there are no three passengers, you have a central armrest with cup holders as well.
Sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and extensions
Auto-dimming inside rearview mirror
Interior accent lighting
Illuminated kick plates
4-way power-adjustable front-passenger's seat
Driver's memory seat
Heated front seats
Heated and Leather-wrapped steering wheel
The 8-inch infotainment screen is a touch unit and is pretty good. It’s easy to use and quite responsive to commands. The graphics are quite good as well. There are a few short cut physical buttons below the screen for essential functions which make it very handy. There’s also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. However, the touch screen is quite prone to fingerprints. The interface is intuitive to use and comes loaded with the following tech :
Bluetooth phone and audio streaming
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Four USB ports (two front, two rear)
A six-speaker audio system
Altima does not have the best in class cargo space. The Hyundai Sonata has the best cargo space at 16.3 cu-ft while the Altima has 15.4 cu-ft of space. Still, that’s plenty of space of fit at least four large bags and probably a little more. The load lip is a little high though which may be some inconvenience.
Cargo Capacity (lb.)
2020 Nissan Altima Exterior
“The 2020 Nissan Altima takes the brand in a direction that we can appreciate. Its sharper lines and crisper sheet metal is not only better looking than the outgoing sedan, it’s also better than most of its contemporaries too.” – The Car Connection
The new generation of Altima looks handsome and bold. The design is more of an evolution than a revolution but tastefully so. The V-shaped chrome grille now comes down the entire length of the bumper which is further surrounded by a dark chrome V-grille. The headlamps have been completely redesigned and are now sleeker with arrow-like details inside them. The bumper housing the fog lamps have sharp angular cuts and creases to make a very bold front fascia.
Move over to the side and you will see a character line from the headlamps running along the window line to the rear door and another from the tail lamps to the front door – both beautifully contouring the side profile. There’s a chrome band along the window line and the sloping roofline has a black-accented panel on the C-pillar which gives it a sporty look. The 18-inch wheels look great too. At the rear, the tail lamps have been made sleeker and sharper with LED units and the dual exhaust with a mild diffuser in the bumper look rather cool. There’s also a subtle boot lid spoiler to finish things off. Overall, it looks smart, contemporary and is sure to turn some heads.
Curb weight (lb.)
Ground clearance (in)
The Altima has grown in dimensions. It’s longer, wider and sits lower than before. It is the longest in the competition here but the Ford Fusion is the widest. It is also the shortest one as it has been lowered. It’s however not the lightest. It comes second with its wheelbase. It’s still a pretty large car for a mid-sized sedan.
Active grille shutters
Intelligent auto headlights
Led headlights with signature
Led fog lights
External ground lighting
Heated outside mirrors with led turn signal indicators
Power sliding glass moonroof
Acoustic laminated glass
Chrome v-motion grille
Dark chrome v-motion grille
Charcoal rear diffuser
Dual chrome exhaust finishers
2020 Nissan Altima Safety
The Altima is pretty well loaded with safety features. Not only does it have the normal safety features we see in almost every cars these days, but it also has an array of semi-automatic driving features which is really commendable in this segment. The Altima comes with ProPilot Assist which is essentially level 2 automation, making it semi-autonomous. It can manage its distance from other cars, keep itself within a lane properly and also provide steering, braking and acceleration assistance.
10 standard Airbags
Vehicle Dynamic Control
Traction Control System
Anti-lock Braking System
Advanced Autonomous Braking
Blind Spot Monitoring
Forward Collision Warning
2020 Nissan Altima Competition
Nissan Altima vs Ford Fusion
The Ford Fusion is a very bold looking car that combines sharp handling with a composed ride. Its interior design is quite boring though and acceleration is not the most spirited. The Nissan Altima, on the other hand, looks great inside out, has better performance than the Ford Fusion, has a very good ride quality but isn’t as good a handler as the Fusion.Fuel economy is poor for the Fusion and really great for the Altima. The technology in the Altima is far better than the ones in the Fusion. The Fusion is a little cheaper than the Altima but that said, the refreshed Altima makes for a better package and offers really great value for just a little premium
Nissan Altima vs Kia Optima
The Kia Optima is a stylish looking car with very well-appointed interiors having lots of standard technology. However, when it comes to driving, the Optima isn’t all that great. Its handling is average and the base engine is quite sluggish. It has a comfortable ride but the Altima does it better, particularly with those seats.However, the 2.5L engine in the Optima is the best performer in the competition. Talking about the Altima now, it may not be as good a performer as the Optima but it scores better in a lot of other things – better fuel economy, better handling, comfortable ride, and very nice interiors. With a very small difference in price, the Altima being just a little more expensive also is the better among the two.
Nissan Altima vs Hyundai Sonata
Here’s one car that challenges the Altima Really well. A very smart looking car with good interiors that are loaded with features as standard. What’s good about the Hyundai is that it drives really well too. It has a strong and potent engine and has the right balance between a comfortable ride and enthusiastic handling.While the numbers on paper do not quite suggest the performance of the Hyundai, it’s quite good and is also a better handler on twisty roads. It does not have quite as good fuel economy as the Altima but is pretty competent. In the end, it’s quite difficult to choose between either of these cars but the Hyundai is a little cheaper than the Nissan which probably makes the deal for the Sonata.
2020 Nissan Altima Final Verdict
The new generation Altima is a great car and while people were shifting to crossovers and SUVs, this mid-size sedan makes a bold statement and could possibly make people look back at sedans. It looks handsome, has good quality interiors, has comfortable ride quality and also has a potent engine. For all that the Nissan Altima has to offer at its price point, it is a great value for money offering and you’d be very happy to live with this car daily.
FAQ's about 2020 Nissan Altima
The Nissan Altima may be one of the best-selling sedans around on the market year after year, but is it the right sedan for you? Without further adieu, let’s look at some of the most common questions asked about the Nissan Altima.
Is the Nissan Altima all-wheel drive?
Lucky you, for the first time Nissan has rolled out an all-wheel-drive variant for 2020 Nissan Altima. It now gives you more confidence on the road with an intelligent all-wheel-drive system.
What Are Zero Gravity Seats?
Nissan’s Zero Gravity Seats in the Nissan Altima are equipped with 14 different pressure points that help to hold your spine in a neutral position, featuring a unique seat shape that works tirelessly to support your body so that you, too, can work tirelessly. Your body’s blood flow and energy levels will be optimized by your posture.
Which Nissan Altima Has Navigation?
The Nissan Altima 3.5 SL (the SL trim with the 3.5L engine option) is equipped with a standard seven-inch touchscreen NissanConnect system with navigation and mobile apps. If you have a 2.5 SV or 2.5 SL model, you may add the navigation system to your car as an available technology package. All other trims of the Altima are not equipped with a navigation system.
Does the Nissan Altima have remote start?
This is our most technologically advanced Nissan Altima yet, and that means even the most basic trim has greatly stepped up its game compared to years passed and its competition. It now comes standard with push-button start as well as keyless remote entry.
Is the Nissan Altima OR Toyota Camry bigger?
Both the Nissan Altima and the Toyota Camry are about the same size; however, the Nissan Altima is slightly larger in terms of passenger space and cargo volume.