The 2021 Nissan Altima is in kind of a sticky spot when it comes to its sedan segment. The Ford Focus has officially bowed out and other rival manufacturers like Honda and Toyota are emphasizing more compact body styles like a hatchback or crossover. The affordable sedan class gets thinner year after year while the Altima is still holding its ground.
However, competition remains fierce, with new rivals like the Hyundai Sonata and the Kia K5 breathing down the neck of the Altima. There are still many perks of buying an Altima, like its class-exclusive VC-Turbo engine and a delectable all-wheel-drive option. Can the Altima outclass its long-standing rivals from Japan and Korea, and emerge as the industry leader in its latest configuration?
What’s new and fresh for 2021?
For 2021, Nissan cuts down on its extensive trim lineup. The entry point S trim is no longer available in the AWD drivetrain. The Platinum trim with the VC Turbo and the Platinum trim with the 2.5-liter engine also fade off into the sunset. Thus, fans of the Altima’s 2.0-liter turbo engine may only opt for that powertrain through the sporty SR trim, with the powertrain making its way out of the top-draw Platinum trim. Nissan also adds the Premium package in the SV trim for more driver comfort.
What’s the engine under the 2021 Nissan Altima’s hood?
Under the hood, Nissan includes the 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-4 as standard introduced during the 2019 redesign. This engine is rated at 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque for the front-wheel variant. The all-wheel variant drops some power to 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque.
The SR variant gets the privilege of relishing Infiniti’s VC-Turbo engine as its powertrain. This 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 carries a recommendation for premium gasoline and can dish out 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque to satisfy your taste for power. The engine loses some power if you fill it up with regular gasoline though, seeing a dip to 236 hp and 267 lb-ft.
Nissan mates both powerplants with a Continuously Variable transmission gearbox. The front-wheel-drive is standard for both powertrains. However, the all-wheel drivetrain is only present on the 2.5-liter inline-4 powertrain as a purchasable option.
How does the 2021 Nissan Altima perform in the corners?
The Altima offers a fair deal of acceleration and flair while speeding up on highways thanks to its refined 2.5-liter engine and its homegrown CVT technology. The CVT has featured in countless Nissan cars over the decades and still responds better than most other competitors out on the market. The Altima is quite composed when it handles sharp corners, thanks to its increased roll stiffness. The SR trim offers a firmer suspension setup.
The Altima however loses some points for handling because of its electronic power steering. The handling feels artificial and totally out-of-touch with the driver at times. The SR model saves the Altima some of its blushes, but it still cannot cope against its rivals who offer a more intimate driver-to-vehicle connection with their handling dynamics. It is enough of a tussle to maintain the Altima on a straight line on a windy highway.
Is the 2021 Nissan Altima fuel efficient?
The Altima FWD shells out 28 MPG in the city and 39 on the highway with the 2.5-liter inline-4 powertrain on the S trim. This equates to a splendid EPA combined MPG of 32. The SV, SR, and the SL trims see a dip in the MPG figures, up to 27 in the city and 31 on the highway, with an equivalent combined MPG of 31. For the AWD variant, the SV trim sees EPA estimated figures of 26/36/30 for city/highway/combined. The higher trims’ MPG figures are cut down by 1 each for each stat.
Moving on to the VC-Turbo powertrain, the Altima can spin around for an MPG of 25 in the city and 34 on an interstate. Thus, this powertrain achieves a combined MPG of 25. The VC-Turbo powertrain can prove to be more fuel-efficient as you cruise on a steady highway, with users reporting higher highway fuel economy figures than the EPA estimates.
Is the interior of the 2021 Nissan Altima a comfortable place to be in?
The Altima’s interiors look surprisingly upscale for its price tag. The interior philosophy follows a minimalistic approach and lays emphasis on high-quality interior materials. The Platinum trim is the cream of the crop with its warm-to-touch leather-wrapped steering wheel and a high-tech instrument panel that represents a ‘gliding wing’. Contrast stitching is predominant on the leather seats, the dash, and door panels. There is a mixture of soft-touch materials and hard-plastic materials that look soft-to-the-touch on various interior surfaces. The only thing that looks out of place would be the cheap hard plastic materials that imitate wood.
In terms of interior dimensions, the Altima sports sufficient headroom, and legroom to fit in tall individuals with ease. Still, these dimensions are pretty average for the sedan class compared to the roomier Accord or Camry sedans. With 15.4 feet of cubic feet available inside its trunk, the Altima’s trunk space is just marginally bigger than the Camry’s. The Sonata and Accord steal the show with bigger trunks in the 16-cubic feet range.
Is the 2021 Nissan Altima technologically sound?
The Altima equips an 8-inch touchscreen atop the dashboard that has a driver-friendly interface and is configurable as well. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are standard on every trim. The higher-order SL and Platinum trims include navigation with voice recognition, although the system can be challenging at times while identifying your spots of interest.
A 6-speaker audio system is the standard setup to play your favorite tunes. A 9-speaker premium Bose audio setup is also available as an option. The Altima makes good use of its physical menu buttons to make life easier while operating the audio controls. A host of USB-C, USB-A, AUX ports, and 12-V charging outlets boost your connectivity while seated in the comfort of your sedan.
What are the exterior dimensions of the 2021 Nissan Altima?
The Nissan Altima maintains the harmonic proportions of a sedan with 193 inches of length, 73 inches of width, and 57 inches of height. The 111-inch wheelbase makes the Altima roomier on the inside while looking compact from the outside. These dimensions are well within the golden ratio of its segment and are comparable to the Camry and Accord. The Altima’s curb weight just slots in between the Accord and the Camry, with the lowest curb weight at 3207 pounds and the highest at 3462 pounds.
Is the 2021 Nissan Altima a safe ride for your family?
The Altima goes all out for maximum crash protection with its Nissan SafetyShield 360 package. This package integrates the latest driver assistance tech like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and a driver inattention monitor as standard on all models. The SR trim unlocks the blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert while the SV includes a reverse automatic braking system. Nissan’s ProPilot Assist is reserved for the top of the trim pyramid, with its safety features like adaptive cruise control and lane centering.
When it comes to crash testing, the Altima impressed both the federal and insurance agencies alike. The Altima excelled in the NHTSA crash tests with a 5-star overall rating. The IIHS also bestowed the Altima with its Top Safety Pick+ accolade for its highest ‘Good’ rating in every of its crash tests.
Is the 2021 Nissan Altima worth buying?
The 2021 Altima is the jack of all trades with its impressive performance, technology, interiors, safety, and bold looks. However, the Altima only competes in its segment instead of leading the way in any one of the factors. This proves to be the Altima’s major drawback compared to its full-fledged rivals who have at least one stellar buying point. Still, the Altima is one of Nissan’s most well-rounded cars in the market and should be a decent pick if you are looking for a change, especially over the likes of the usual Accords or Camrys.