We drove a $31,000 Nissan Altima to see if it’s ready to take on the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Here’s our verdict.

Our Nissan Altima SR test car.

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Our Nissan Altima SR test car.
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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • The Nissan Altima is one of the most popular midsize sedans in the US and was only outsold by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
  • The sixth generation Altima is all-new for the 2019 model year.
  • Our Nissan Altima 2.0 VC-Turbo SR FWD sedan is powered by an innovative 248 horsepower, 2.0-liter, turbocharged variable compression, four-cylinder engine. The Altima comes standard with a traditional 2.5 liter, four-cylinder engine.
  • We were impressed by the Altima’s well-designed interior, updated infotainment system, and innovative engine.
  • The base 2019 Nissan Altima 2.0 S FWD starts at $23,750 while our mid-grade SR test car started at $29,150. The top-spec Edition One VC-Turbo starts at $35,750. With features and options, our Altima came to an as-tested price of $30,655.
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The market for family sedans in the US is shrinking. According to data collected by Kelley Blue Book, US midsize sedan sales dropped by more than 16% in 2017. Last year, sales fell another 15.9%.

However, the segment still represents a massive 1.48 million cars sold in 2018 or 8.6% of total auto sales in the US.

In short, there’s still a lot worth fighting for here.

Read more: We drove a $31,000 Honda Accord and a $39,000 Toyota Camry to see which one is the better family car. Here’s the verdict.

As a result, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the segment’s leaders, have both been completely revamped and are about as good as they’ve ever been.

The Smyrna, Tennessee-built Nissan Altima is the third member of the triumvirate. Nissan sold more than 209,000 Altimas in 2018. It’s a figure bested only by the Accord’s 291,000 and the Camry’s 343,000 in US sales.

The Nissan Altima is all-new for 2019 with the debut of a sixth generation variant.

Recently, Nissan dropped off a new 2019 Altima 2.0 VC-Turbo SR clad in an attractive Deep Blue Pearl paint job.

Read more: We drove a $39,000 Toyota RAV4 and a $32,000 Subaru Forester to see which one is the better compact SUV. Here’s the verdict.

The base 2019 Nissan Altima 2.0 S FWD starts at $23,750 while our mid-grade SR test car started at $29,150. The top-spec Edition One VC-Turbo starts at $35,750. With features and options, our Altima came to an as-tested price of $30,655.

Here’s a closer look at the 2019 Nissan Altima.


The original Altima debuted in 1992 as a replacement for the outgoing…

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Nissan

… Nissan Stanza sedan.

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Nissan

Both the original Altima and the Stanza were related to Nissan’s Japanese market Bluebird sedan.

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Nissan

In 1998, Nissan introduced a second generation Altima. This time, it would be a car designed in California with the US market mind.

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Nissan

A third-generation Altima debuted in 2002 along with the addition of a V6 engine option.

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Nissan

In 2007, Nissan rolled out the fourth generation Altima.

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The fourth generation Altima was also offered as a hybrid and a coupe.

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The arrival of the fifth generation Altima in 2013 ushered in significant change. Both the Coupe and the hybrid got the ax.

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And here’s the all-new sixth generation Altima.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

It remains the Camry and …

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

… Accord’s most formidable foe in the market place.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

For the sixth generation, designers at Nissan gave the Altima a more athletic stance that’s wider, lower, and more aerodynamically efficient. It also features the latest iteration of Nissan’s V-Motion front grille.

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As a result, the Altima is now 1.1 inches lower, 0.9 inches wider, and one-inch longer with a 1.9-inch increase in wheelbase.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Love the pseudo-Hofmeister Kink on the rear door.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

I’m also a fan of these 19-inch wheels.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The rear end is punctuated by dual exhausts and a pair of angular taillights.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Overall, I found the Altima’s styling to be sporty and attractive. It’s eye-catching but won’t shock the senses.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Inside, the Altima feels modern and stylish. Interior fit and finish is solid and competitive with the segment leaders.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Interior headroom and legroom are both down slightly from the outgoing model while shoulder room is up.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

With that said, the Altima’s cabin still feels plenty spacious and roomy. In case you’re wondering, our moonroof-equipped test car boasts 38 inches of front headroom and 36.7 inches of rear headroom. Front seat occupants have up to 43.8 inches of legroom while those in the back get up to 35.2 inches.

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In front of the driver is a traditional analog gauge cluster flanking a seven-inch digital information display. The analog/digital combo works well together, delivering clear and concise information to the driver.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The center stack comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Nissan’s updated infotainment system worked well in the Altima. The screen proved to be responsive and the menu layout was easy to navigate. The system also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Our test car also came equipped with automatic emergency braking, intelligent forward collision warning, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, a rearview camera, and remote ignition.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Nissan’s ProPilot Assist suite of semi-autonomous driver’s assistance tech comes standard on Altima SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels. Our test car was not equipped with the system.


The Altima boasts 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space. It’s larger than the Camry’s 15.1 cubic foot trunk but smaller than the Accord’s massive 16.7 cubic foot compartment.

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Our Altima test car came equipped with the optional 2.0-liter variable compression turbocharged, inline four-cylinder engine. It produces 248 horsepower with premium gasoline. Output falls to 236 horsepower when regular gasoline is used.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The Altima comes standard with a new 2.5-liter, 188 horsepower, naturally aspirated inline four-cylinder engine. It boasts the same displacement as the motor used in the previous generation Altima. However, Nissan says 80% of the engine’s parts are either new or redesigned.


All Altimas are hooked up to a continuously variable transmission sending power to the front wheels. However, Altimas with the 2.5-liter engine can be optioned with all-wheel drive. This makes it one of the few cars in the segment with available AWD. The other two are the Subaru Legacy and the Ford Focus.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

So, what’s it like to drive?

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The Nissan Altima is not quite sporty but it is an overall highly competent performer.

Let’s start with the variable compression engine that can physically change the engine’s performance characteristics on demand to maximize power and fuel efficiency. Nissan’s use of VC technology certainly pays dividends here. What we have is an engine that offers strong low-end grunt while also delivering quiet and efficient highway cruising.

The Altima’s ride is comfortable and compliant while its handling is a tad vague for my taste. It certainly isn’t as sporty to drive as the Accords and Camrys we have tested in the past year.

With that said, the Altima is far from unpleasant to drive. It just doesn’t wow you enough to make you want to write home about it.


The verdict.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Even as the midsize car market in the US continues to shrink, the competition for supremacy in the market remains brutal.

For 2019, Nissan certainly upped its game with the Altima. It looks good, it’s got a roomy cabin, it’s loaded with tech, and features one of the most innovative engines around. It may not necessarily be the best car on the market right now, but you’d be a fool if you didn’t at least give it a serious look.