2018 Nissan Altima

2018 Nissan Altima Review

The Altima is a decent midsize sedan, but newer rivals are more enticing for a number of reasons.
6.0 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Though small crossovers have become more popular in recent years, midsize sedans are still one of the top choices for family-friendly transportation. This segment is so important to automakers that a few of the most popular models have been redesigned or notably freshened for the 2018 model year. Unfortunately, the 2018 Nissan Altima is not one of them.

We've generally like the Altima over the years, but this particular generation is getting on in years. The newest crop of rival sedans further highlights the Altima's deficiencies in the areas of technology, interior quality and performance.

To Nissan's credit, the 2018 Altima does have some useful enhancements. A forward collision notification system with automatic emergency braking is standard on all trim levels, and the upgraded infotainment display now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. But the segment has so many strong competitors that even a decent choice like the Nissan Altima has a hard time differentiating itself.



What's new for 2018

Every Altima comes standard with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking for 2018. The optional 7-inch touchscreen now adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility. Packages have also been shuffled across the lineup, so now each four-cylinder model has only one comprehensive package to add.

We recommend

The base Altima S feels a bit like a rental car, and the next-level SR gives up too much passenger comfort for a tiny increase in handling ability. As such, the midtrim SV is our choice. It adds a number of desirable features for a reasonable bump in price. Upgrades over the base S include alloy wheels, a power-adjustable driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. You can also opt for the SV's Technology package, which adds a sunroof, heated front seats, and a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Nissan Altima comes in five trim levels: 2.5 S, 2.5 SR, 2.5 SV, 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL. All Altimas (except the 3.5 SL) are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (179 horsepower, 177 pound-feet of torque) that routes power through the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Standard features for the 2.5 S include 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, a rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth, a 5-inch display screen, and a six-speaker audio system with a USB port. Also standard for 2018 is a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.

The sporty 2.5 SR trim upgrades the 2.5 S with 18-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, foglights, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned suspension, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, paddle shifters (with seven simulated shift points), upgraded upholstery and a power-adjustable driver seat.

Compared to the 2.5 S, the 2.5 SV trim has 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, remote engine start, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and the SR's foglights, power driver seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 2.5 SL adds LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated front seats, air vents for the rear seats, a power front passenger seat and a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system.

The 3.5 SL is the only model not powered by the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Instead, a 3.5-liter V6 lies underhood, developing a healthy 270 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. It also gets 18-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof, heated mirrors, paddle shifters, adaptive cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, and NissanConnect services with emergency telematics.

All four-cylinder trims can be ordered with a single package that adds features from upper levels. For example, the Convenience package for the 2.5 S only adds a power driver seat and remote engine start, while the 2.5 SR's Special Edition package includes satellite radio, heated front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, and the 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SR (2.5L inline-4 | CVT automatic | FWD). NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Altima has received only minor revisions. Our findings remain applicable to the 2018 Altima.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall6.0 / 10

Driving

5.5 / 10

Acceleration6.5 / 10
Braking6.0 / 10
Steering3.0 / 10
Handling7.0 / 10
Drivability6.0 / 10

Comfort

6.0 / 10

Seat comfort7.0 / 10
Ride comfort5.5 / 10
Noise & vibration5.5 / 10

Interior

6.5 / 10

Ease of use5.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out6.0 / 10
Roominess6.0 / 10
Visibility7.0 / 10
Quality5.5 / 10

Driving5.5

Even though the SR is supposed to be the sporty Altima model, it lacks the performance of even its nonsporty in-class competition. The Altima SR receives a decent score for handling, but in almost every other measure, it falls well short of the mark set by rivals.

Acceleration6.5

There's not much power or responsiveness from the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It takes a long 8.2 seconds to reach 60 mph and is accompanied by a loud groan from under the hood. Simulated gear changes from the CVT do keep the drone from being overly intrusive, though.

Braking6.0

The brake pedal feels unsettlingly spongy, and you can actually press it all the way to the floor. That said, the brakes are still reasonably effective. Our test Altima's as-tested emergency stopping distance from 60 mph was about average for the midsize sedan class.

Steering3.0

At parking lot speeds, there's far too much effort needed; compounding this issue is the slippery leather wheel covering. Even worse, the wheel does not return to center on its own, forcing the driver to manually unwind it. This is about as bad as modern steering systems get.

Handling7.0

The Altima SR trim benefits from sportier suspension tuning, allowing it to corner without much body roll relative to other sedans. In aggressive maneuvers, the stability control subtly intervenes to keep the car on the intended path.

Drivability6.0

In addition to the aforementioned shortcomings, the Altima also suffers from some subtle lurches at low speeds, which are likely the result of the CVT's lack of responsiveness. We also experienced inconsistent acceleration from a stop.

Comfort6.0

While other midsize sedans are creeping ever closer to entry-level luxury standards, the Altima seems stuck in the economy car class. One of the few bright spots in regards to comfort are the supportive front seats, but they do little to make up for the stiff ride and loud cabin.

Seat comfort7.0

The standard cloth front seats are well-shaped and make drivers feel as if they're suspended in an elastic hammock. Despite the lack of adjustments, tall and short passengers should be able to find a comfortable position.

Ride comfort5.5

A byproduct of the Altima SR's sporty suspension is a stiffer ride. Even though impact harshness is filtered out, you feel every bump in the road, and passengers will experience a lot of jostling, even over moderate undulations.

Noise & vibration5.5

When accelerating with purpose, the engine emits an unpleasant sound, like someone groaning into an empty glass jar. Road and wind noise is ever-present but not intrusive, which makes the numerous interior creaks and rattles more noticeable.

Interior6.5

The Altima's interior trails newer sedans when it comes to overall design. The touchscreen's low placement can be a distraction for the driver. Interior materials look comparable to some competitors, but many of the surfaces are made of hard plastic.

Ease of use5.5

Primary controls are placed where you'd expect, but many secondary knobs and buttons are awkwardly located. The infotainment system is well behind the times, and the low-mounted screen is far outside of the driver's sight lines. The controller knob is also small and has weak detents.

Getting in/getting out6.0

It's as easy to get in and out of the Altima as most other cars in the class. Front passenger access is unobstructed, but rear passengers have to dip their heads to clear the sloping roofline.

Roominess6.0

There is enough space for taller passengers up front and just enough room in back for an average-size adult, and the elevated seat gives a good forward view. But newer midsize sedans feel more spacious and airy.

Visibility7.0

Comparably narrow roof pillars and a lower rear decklid give the Altima better all-around outward visibility than rivals. The standard rearview camera display is small and does not give as clear a view as competitors' systems.

Quality5.5

The Altima misses the mark set by competitors by a wide margin due to its abundance of hard plastics and frequent creaks inside.

Utility7.0

The wide and low trunk space makes the class-average 15.4-cubic-foot capacity seem bigger than it is. Bulky luggage and golf bags are easily swallowed up, and remote seatback releases further simplify loading larger items.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.