2021 Nissan Altima Review
The 2021 Nissan Altima is a four-door midsize family sedan that was completely overhauled just a couple years ago. As one of the newer choices in the segment, the Altima offers an impressive amount of cutting-edge safety features — several of which are packaged in Nissan's ProPilot Assist system. With driving aids such as lane-centering assist and adaptive cruise control, the ProPilot Assist features are generally more intuitive and accurate than similar systems in competitors. ProPilot Assist is so superior in fact that we think it's the Altima's killer app. The Altima also offers an all-wheel-drive powertrain on most trims, which is uncommon for the class.
But if semi-automated driving or all-weather traction aren't major considerations, the 2021 Altima is fairly average among its competitors. Nissan's midsize is still worth consideration, but rivals including the Honda Accord and Mazda 6 are more refined and fun to drive and cost about the same money.
The Nissan Altima has been on the fringes of the midsize segment for the better part of a decade. This latest Altima generation is more appealing thanks to solid fuel economy and useful driver safety aids, but it fails to truly match the segment all-stars.
How does the Altima drive?
The Altima won't win you over with stellar acceleration or braking. Our test all-wheel-drive Altima had the 2.5-liter engine, and it covered 0-60 mph in an unremarkable 8.4 seconds. The CVT automatic is well tuned, however, and helps make the Altima an almost invisible partner during day-to-day driving.
Another bright spot is the stable handling. You'll have confidence guiding the Altima through fast, sweeping curves. But this handling prowess underscores the Altima's overly light and vague steering.
How comfortable is the Altima?
The Altima is a calm place to sit out daily traffic. The front seats are generally comfortable, but some drivers might wish for more thigh support. Engine noises are commendably well isolated even under hard acceleration.
Less appealing is the constant stream of little impacts you'll feel when driving over rough road surfaces. The Altima's ride seems continuously busy in these instances, and larger impacts can be pretty jarring.
How’s the interior?
The interior lacks style, but it more than makes up for it with straightforward usability. In particular, the climate controls and touchscreen functions are clearly labeled and easy to reach.
Though most of the Altima's sightlines are good, rear visibility is hampered by the high rear decklid. Also problematic are the low-resolution rearview camera and the distracting reflections of the dashboard and rear decklid you'll see in the windows during bright sunlight.
How’s the tech?
The Altima's base infotainment system is adequate but won't wow you. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity is standard, and the audio system is easy to operate. The sound quality is merely OK. Bluetooth operation was a bit finicky in our testing, but the calls were clear.
The Altima's ProPilot Assist system, which includes lane centering and low-speed adaptive cruise control, is quite the bonus. The adaptive cruise control works very well, needing very little correction in traffic.
How’s the storage?
The Altima's trunk isn't the biggest in the class, but it can still accept a few full-size suitcases. Its squared-off shape also makes it easy to load to the maximum capacity. The folding rear seats are standard fare but can only be released through a pull tab in the trunk. They must be lowered by physically pulling on the seatback from the inside — they don't automatically fold when released. Front passengers have ample storage for small items. However, the cupholders are a bit shallow for taller bottles.
How’s the fuel economy?
We tested the all-wheel-drive Altima, which the EPA estimates gets 30 mpg combined (26 city/36 highway). It posted an impressive 34 mpg on our 115-mile evaluation route. Odds are you can expect to get pretty good fuel economy from the Altima.
Is the Altima a good value?
Roomy and comfortable with the option of all-wheel drive, the Altima proves it has some distinctive value in the midsize sedan class. Warranties are middle-of-the-road, as is the roadside assistance offering. A strong showing with highway fuel economy could tip the scales for long-distance drivers as could the all-wheel drive for those who live with inclement weather.
But some spots of poor build quality and a lack of attention to detail set the Altima back where it can least afford it. Gaps where the dashboard meets the windshield, and a hood design that makes it look out of alignment, stand out when compared to better-built competitors.
It's nice to see just how normal the new Altima really is. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, but the experience of driving and living with the Altima is generally more than the sum of its parts. Even though sedans seem to be on the way out, the class is still fiercely competitive and it takes a pretty good car just to be midpack.
The Nissan goes about tackling daily driving without much effort from the driver and provides passengers ample comfort and a fair amount of convenience.
Which Altima does Edmunds recommend?
The optional turbocharged engine is our choice for the Altima, thanks to its better response and a significant increase in power. Unfortunately, it can only be had on the SR trim and with front-wheel drive. If you're OK with those restrictions, we say go for it. Otherwise, the SV offers a long list of standard features, including smartphone connectivity and a larger touchscreen, along with some added safety equipment.
Nissan Altima models
The 2021 Nissan Altima is a midsize sedan available in five trim levels: S, SV, SR, SL and Platinum. The Altima's standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder (188 horsepower, 180 lb-ft of torque) that drives the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Optional for the SV, SR and SL, and standard on the Platinum, is an all-wheel-drive powertrain that reduces engine output to 182 hp and 178 lb-ft.