Although mid-size sedans have waned in popularity, with many drivers choosing larger, upright crossovers instead, there’s nothing better at balancing economy, environment, and technology than a four-door family car. The 2021 Nissan Altima is the refreshed entry to this dwindling segment that nevertheless contains some of America’s most popular vehicles. With a major redesign in 2019, the dramatically angular Altima is still a fresh take on the current Nissan design philosophy.
Six trim levels offer significant flexibility in features, performance, and MSRP to all buyers, from the base FWD S trim starting at $24,300 through the sport-oriented SR trim up to the fully-loaded intelligent AWD Platinum trim at $34,100. Two engines and the option of FWD or intelligent AWD bring the 2021 Altima lineup to 9 distinct models, with 3 available equipment packages to spice things up even more for lower-level trims.
Nissan Intelligent Mobility is a highlight of Nissan's design, demonstrating their eye to the future. The term is a bit of a catch-all. Key tech suites such as ProPILOT Assist for easier driving, Safety Shield 360 for safer driving, and the NissanConnect infotainment all fall under this umbrella. It’s a point of pride for Nissan to offer the Altima with advanced technology and features exclusive to the Altima among all mid-size sedans such as a tire fill alert, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (IFCW), and the world’s first production model of a variable compression (VC) turbocharged engine.
Altogether, the 2021 Nissan Altima is a unique sedan with intriguing features that we believe deliver the best value in the segment. We’re especially excited to point out that both the Altima and its standard 2.5L engine are built right here in Tennessee! With future-minded technological advancements and made-in-the-USA pride, this just might be the “Altimate” mid-size sedan for you.
Horsepower (hp): 188-248
Torque (lb-ft): 180-273
Trunk Capacity (cu.ft.): 15.4
The standard 2021 Nissan Altima is a front-wheel drive vehicle with a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. This model was revamped in 2019, with more than 80% of its components either new or redesigned from the 2018 version. It generates 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, but more importantly, the current generation offers a more refined driving experience. It's also rated to deliver up to 28 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway for FWD models. If you get a model with intelligent AWD, you will see a fuel efficiency of 26 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway.
Nissan offers a second engine on the sport-themed SR trim for drivers who want a little excitement from their ride. The 2.0L VC-turbo 4-cylinder was the world’s first production engine with a variable compression ratio, and it remains a unique offering today. When pressed, the pistons produce a lower compression ratio and deliver V6-like power. While cruising, the pistons reach out to achieve a higher compression ratio for greater fuel efficiency. The engine is capable of producing 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. In terms of fuel efficiency, this engine will give drivers 25 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway.
The current-generation Altima is also the first Nissan sedan to have AWD availability. Except for the base S trim, every Altima trim can have AWD (and it’s the only drivetrain option for peak Platinum trim) to deliver a better grip at any time of year. The upgrade uses an intelligent torque-splitting strategy to send anywhere from 0 to 50% of the engine output to the rear wheels depending on the situation, and it achieves a cornering grip that competes with BMW’s entry-level 3-series models.
Nissan’s advanced technology program goes by the name of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. As work on autonomous vehicles proceeds, the technology available to conventional vehicles becomes more advanced as well. Even now, Nissan makes sure to deliver the 2021 Altima with features that no other mid-size sedan can offer.
Perhaps the closest thing on the market to a genuine autopilot, Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist feature helps drivers maintain a safe, predictable position on the road. This combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist features uses forward radar to slow down or even stop to maintain a pre-set safe following distance. Meanwhile, a front-facing camera monitors lane markers and makes slight steering wheel adjustments to help you stay centered. This state-of-the-art feature is available on SV trim via the Premium Package and standard on SL and Platinum.
Nissan’s comprehensive suite of safety-oriented driver assists is optional on base S trim models but standard on every other Altima. It includes many features now common to new vehicles and some that aren’t. You can find a whole host of safety features to make you feel confident every time you sit behind the wheel.
Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection can warn you when a potential collision is detected and can even react with inhuman speed to apply the brakes for you. Rear Automatic Braking helps prevent backing into objects, pedestrians, or other vehicles; a highlight feature not available on competitors like Accord. Lane Departure Warning alerts the driver when they’re drifting to the edges of their lane.
Additionally, Blind Spot Warning uses radar to detect traffic in your blind zone when you put the turn signal on, just in case you don’t see it when you look over your shoulder. Rear Cross Traffic Alert helps you see around walls, hedges, and tall vans parked beside you that block potentially hazardous traffic from your line of sight while reversing. Meanwhile, High Beam Assist automatically lowers your high beams when oncoming traffic is detected, allowing both you and your fellow drivers to focus on the road more effectively.
Beyond the Safety Shield suite, every Altima also includes Intelligent Driver Alertness and Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, a class-exclusive feature that monitors not only the vehicle in front of you but also the vehicle in front of them. This combination of features makes Altima the best car on the road at seeing accidents before they happen. Finally, high-trim Altimas have access to Traffic Sign Recognition so you’ll never misjudge the speed limit, and an Around View Monitor for a 360-degree bird’s eye view of your car, both rarities in the segment that provide potentially critical information to drivers.
Nissan’s infotainment system comes on an 8” touchscreen for any Altima of SV trim or higher, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility come standard on equipped models. SL and Platinum models also get a five-year trial for NissanConnect services, powered by SiriusXM, to seamlessly connect your life to your ride. Door to door navigation shares directions between your phone and the Altima with traffic updates factored into the route. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa devices integrate to NissanConnect, allowing access to remote vehicle controls like lock/unlock and remote start from any enabled device. Altogether, NissanConnect makes the 2021 Altima the most advanced mid-size sedan we’ve ever offered!
The mid-size sedan segment fills a niche between economical compacts and generously spacious full-size sedans for commuters across the country. Drivers who anticipate a frequent need to put passengers in the back seat but want to restrain their budget look to mid-size sedans to provide a comfortable, easy-going ride on a daily basis. The 2021 Nissan Altima comes equipped to satisfy with state-of-the-art seating, a gently tuned suspension, and a spacious interior giving all passengers ample room.
Let’s start with the seats. The base S trim for the 2021 model has a standard 6-way power adjustable driver’s seat. You will get an 8-way adjustment for every other trim level, with available heating, 2-way power lumbar adjustment, and a 4-way power passenger seat adjustment made standard at the SL trim level. On top of providing above-average seat adjustment tech, Nissan packs one more surprise into their front seats: a Zero Gravity design inspired by NASA and the weightlessness of space. With dual-density foam material and 14 different pressure points, the Altima’s front seats provide continuous support so well that you don’t sit in them – you float.
Drivers of any size will reap the benefits of comfort thanks to a maximum 43.8” of front legroom, over 1.5” more than the Toyota Camry. With an extra inch of headroom too (39.2” vs the Camry’s 38.3”), the Altima makes a case for itself as a tall driver’s best friend in this segment. That roominess extends to the backseat with 36.9” of headroom and a respectable 35.2” of legroom. Not to mention, the Altima has a respectable amount of trunk cargo capacity with 15.4 cu.ft. of space.
The uncluttered dashboard is highlighted in available woodgrain and matte chrome trim, reflecting the dramatic chrome V that adorns the grille on the outside. A maximum 7” driver information screen behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel delivers whatever relevant info you need with a modern look and feel, and drivers will find the armrests comfortable for long rides. Factor in an available power moonroof to brighten the interior further, and you’ll find yourself surprised at how roomy this mid-size sedan can be.