The midsize sedan segment gained a new foe with the arrival of the all-new Nissan Altima last year.
Introduced as all-new car in late 2018 for the 2019 model year, the Nissan Altima is expected to carry on with only very minor updates for the 2020 model year.
Nissan did more than r-invent its midsize sedan with the new Altima, they also hyper-simplified to the product line-up with three trims, three to six colours and only one powertrain. In doing so, they’ve made their customers and, more importantly, their dealers’ lives far easier.
The new Nissan Altima has garnered numerous awards since its arrival. But, what it’s not done is manage to find buyers. Sales in Canada have dropped considerably year-over-year (2018-2019) while in the US, they’ve remained flat. One of the explanations as to why this is involves Nissan’s extremely popular SUV, the Rogue.
Nissan was certainly aware that something like was going to happen which justifies the presence of AWD as a standard feature on the car in Canada. By packaging the Altima as such, Nissan may have actually shot itself in the foot by limiting the offer. As far as we can tell, nothing will change for the 2020 model other than the addition of a few safety features form Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 on some trims.
The 2020 Nissan Altima remains a good choice in the segment. We’ve driven and evaluated better cars this year and so it no longer sits as one of our top midsize sedans.
Things the 2020 Nissan Altima does well
- As the only other midsize affordable car in the segment with standard AWD, the Nissan Altima can be considered as an alternative to crossover vehicles.
- The Altima S’ starting price of $27,998 (2019 pricing) makes for a value packed offering in the segment. This price, which is about $1,500 higher than that of the base Toyota Camry, includes not only AWD but a number of features which more than justifies the amount.
- The Altima’s cabin is simply huge. The rear bench is wide enough to comfortably handle three occupants. The trunk is large and accessible. The front passengers are also treated to plenty of room. Overall, comfort levels are high.
- The combination of AWD, the new 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine and associated CVT transmission is exceptionally efficient – the average returned fuel consumption hovers in the 8L/100km range.
Things the 2020 Nissan Altima doesn’t do so well
- Although impressively efficient, the powertrain provide no more than adequate power and performance. With four adults and gear in the boot, the Altima requires a dedicated right foot to get things going.
- The 2020 Nissan Altima falls short on refinement. We expect more from a thoroughly modern car and the Altima delivers well short of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
- Once more, as an all-new car, the Nissan Altima’s infotainment and related displays should present sharp graphics and tablet-like resolution. Nearly all competitors do it better.
What we tell our friends
Although we’ve not yet driven the new 2020 Subaru Legacy (late September), we’d suggest that potential buyers for it if AWD is one of the major reasons for purchase. All recent late-model Subarus have proven to be solidly built and assembled and pleasing to drive.
Otherwise, it’s a toss-up between the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Depending on which member of the team you speak to, we’ll throw one of these two names out as the way to go in the segment. The Mazda6 and VW Passat are fine but stick to the perennial leaders. Finally, we would recommend the Nissan Altima over the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima if mostly because of the latter two’s questionable mid-term (3+ years) durability.