2024 Nissan Altima

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Nissan’s Altima used to be the mid-sized sport sedan for the buyer who couldn’t afford a Maxima sedan. 

It was similar to the Maxima – both were about the same size – and it could be ordered with the V6 the Maxima came standard with, while costing less.  

Now that the Maxima’s gone, the Altima’s the only mid-sized sedan Nissan still sells. 

The question is – is it still sporty enough?

And how much longer will you be able to buy this sedan?

What It Is

The Altima is a mid-sized sedan that competes with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and the handful of remaining mid-sized sedans you can still buy for less than $30k to start.

It’s actually slightly larger (and roomier) than the Maxima, which was Nissan’s top-of-the-line sedan. But it’s no longer available with the V6 you used to be able to get.

Prices start at $25,730 for the base trim 2.5S, which comes standard with a 2.5 liter engine paired with a continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission and front wheel drive.

The next-up 2.5 SV – which stickers for $26,530 to start – is available with all wheel drive (the Accord doesn’t offer this; the Camry does). Adding AWD bumps the MSRP up to $28,300.

Although the Maxima’s 3.5 liter V6 is no longer available, you can get a turbocharged 2.0 liter four in the SR VC-Turbo, which lists for $35,430. This more powerful version of the Altima is front wheel drive only, however.

What’s New for 2024

The Altima hasn’t been updated since 2019, so the current model may be the last model. If it isn’t cancelled, expect a major makeover soon. The next-generation Altima (if there is one) is likely to be a hybrid of some type, like the just-redesigned Camry and the recently redesigned Honda Accord.

What’s Good

Affordable base price.

Standard engine isn’t turbocharged (or hybridized).

More back seat and trunk room than Maxima had.

What’s Not So Good

No more optional V6.

Available turbo 2.0 four isn’t nearly as powerful as the previously available V6.

The standard (and only) transmission is a CVT automatic transmission.

Under The Hood

The Altima’s standard engine is the same 2.5 liter four that used to be the standard engine in Nissan’s Frontier pick-up as well as a number of other models. It is not especially powerful (188 horsepower) but it is durable and low-maintenance. Probably in part because it isn’t turbocharged, so there’s no pressure on it to produce the power it makes.

An interesting counterpoint is the 1.5 liter turbocharged four that’s standard in the Honda Accord – which needs the turbo because a 1.5 liter engine would otherwise be too small to adequately power a mid-sized sedan like the Accord. It makes a little more power (192 hp) but it doesn’t use a lot less gas. The Honda rates 29 city, 37 highway vs. 27 city, 39 highway for the Altima. And the Altima also costs $2,165 less to start than the Accord (MSRP $27,895) which more than negates the almost immeasurable MPG difference between the two.

The Toyota Camry is about to transition into a hybrid – and it will probably average 50 MPG or more. But it will also likely cost close to $30k or even more – which is the up-front price you pay to “save on gas” down the road. There is also the down the road cost of replacing (eventually) the hybrid’s battery (just the same as in an EV). Just as there is the inevitable down-the-road replacement cost of a new turbo to bear in mind as regards the Accord.

The 2.5 liter is paired with a continuously variable (CVT) automatic and you can choose either front wheel drive or (in SV and higher trims) all wheel drive.

In lieu of the previously available Maxima 3.5 liter V6 – that made 300 horsepower – there’s an available 2.0 liter turbo’d four with variable compression “technology” that makes 248 horsepower (if you feed it premium). This engine is standard in the SR VC-Turbo and is paired with the CVT automatic and front-wheel-drive only.

The “technology” is an multi-link crankshaft that alters the stroke of the pistons, increasing or decreasing compression, to deliver more power and higher fuel economy (at the cost of more complexity).

Interestingly, this little engine uses almost as much gas as the no-longer-available 3.5 V6, which had the compensating factor of making 300 rather than 248 horsepower. And being a V6 rather than a four.

The 2.0 liter engine rates 25 city, 34 highway. The Maxima V6 rated 20 city, 30 highway. And that’s on paper. In real-world driving, the Altima’s turbo four uses more gas than advertised . . . if you use the turbo. Which, of course, you almost have to – in order to make up for the fact that all there is under the Altima’s hood is a 2.0 liter four. Without the boost, this engine does not make enough power to adequately move this mid-sized sedan. So you push down harder on the gas pedal – and you end up using about as much gas as the V6 used.

Without having the V6.

On The Road

There’s a reason why sedans are going away – and crossovers have taken their place. Sedans are no longer fun like they often used to be. This renders crossovers – which are also not much fun but are more practical (because of their layout, which allows them to carry more stuff) more popular.

There’s a tragedy in here, somewhere.

When the Altima could be ordered with the Maxima’s V6, it was lots of fun. Part of the fun being to outrun BMW and Mercedes sedans that cost $20k more (and also cost more to insure). Another part of the fun was that the V6 Altima – and the V6 Accord and the V6 Camry – looked like family cars. Which they were. But they were also performance cars whenever you wanted them to be. They could run with a Camaro or Mustang without looking like a Camaro or a Mustang.

That was more than just fun. It was fun you could get away with using.

The V6 Altima (and Camry and Accord) were stealthy. They flew under the radar, so to speak. That made it worth overlooking their smallish trunks vs. the capacious cargo areas you get with crossovers.

But now what?

The Altima is a perfectly pleasant car. Equipped with the 2.5 liter engine, it has enough power to move itself as quickly as a typical crossover in the same price range. It gets to 60 in about 7.5 seconds or so.

But what else does it do?

When you could get it with a V6, it could get to 60 in the high fives – and that’s a difference that made all the difference. The turbo 2.0 SR tries to split the difference. But it’s a step backward rather than forward. Less engine – and less performance. Only marginally higher (and mostly on-paper) mileage gains, as if that mattered to people who are willing to pay extra for more engine and better performance.

If the 2.0 were available with a manual (you used to be able to get one in the Altima and the Maxima – and with the V6, if you can imagine that) it would make up for some of what’s been lost. There would be more for the driver interested in driving to do, for instance. And here we assume that people who are willing to spend thousands extra for more engine and better performance are wanting precisely that.

If they didn’t, they’d be looking at crossovers  . . . right?

The Altima is still more fun to drive than most crossovers, because it’s still a sedan and sedans handle better than jacked-up crossovers. You can dive into a corner faster – and that’s fun enough. But there’s not as much fun to be had powering out of the corner when there’s less power to do it and you haven’t got anything to do other than steer and mash the gas.

The CVT automatic is ok but it’s not there for performance. CVTs are everywhere because they help a car manufacturer squeeze an addition 2-3 MPGs out of a drivetrain. In other words economy first.

Which, of course, is fine . . . in an economy car.

The problem here is the Altima isn’t supposed to be that. And yet – all of a sudden – it kind of is.

At The Curb

One of the reasons Nissan stopped selling the Maxima was that it was also selling the Altima – and the two sedans were so similar that having two of essentially the same thing didn’t make much sense. Not only did they look very much the same, they were close to the same size; in fact, the current Altima is a slightly larger sedan than the last Maxima. The latter was 192.8 inches long; the Altima is 192.9 inches long.

It also has nearly the same front and rear seat legroom (43.8 and 35.2 inches, respectively, vs. 45 up front and 34.2 for the 2023 Maxima) and a slightly larger (15.4 cubic foot) trunk (vs. 14.3 for the Maxima).

A lot of people asked themselves: Why not just by the less-pricey Altima?

The Maxima did used to come with the V6 as standard, of course. But now it’s gone – and so is the Maxima’s V6 as an option for the Altima.

What you do still get – and maybe it’s enough – is a much lower-than-Maxima price. At $25,730 to start, the ’24 Altima costs $12,610 less than the asking price of a base-trim ’23 Maxima ($38,340).

And that’s worth something.

The Altima is also thousands less expensive (to start) than either of its two remaining major rivals, the Accord and Camry.

It has become the value proposition in its class.

It comes standard with steel (rather than aluminum) 16 inch wheels, which is worth something, too – because steel wheels are sturdier than aluminum wheels and less vulnerable to being bent by potholes and curb strikes. They also cost less to replace if they are damaged, which is almost impossible to do.

The base S trim also comes with a minimalist LCD touchscreen. SV and higher trims come standard with (or offer) progressively larger touchscreens, if you’re wanting that.

All trims come standard with pushbutton start and keyless entry – which you may not want, if you want to be able to have an extra set of keys cut at any hardware store for $10 or so rather than have to spend several times that sum on a transmitter fob that you’ll need to have a dealer program for you.

A suite of “driver assistance technologies” – including a “driver attention” warning system- is standard in all trims.

That’s what you get nowadays instead of a V6.

The Rest

Rumors abound that 2025 will be the Last Call for the Altima – so this may be your second-to-last chance to buy one.

Which you may want to consider doing while you still can – because the Altima is already pretty much the last mid-sized sedan you can still buy new without a turbocharged engine or a hybrid drivetrain.

It may not be much longer before you won’t be able to get either of those. When all you can get (new) is a battery powered device.

And that probably will cost you a lot more more than $25k or so.

The Bottom Line

It’s not yet the last of its kind. But it’s almost that.

Probably sooner than you think, too.

. . .

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23 COMMENTS

  1. This car has all that big Altima energy. I thought it came off the lot standard with a suspended license and weed smell inside, along with all blacked out windows including the windshield. Oh, and an abundance of air fresheners and big rims. Probably also has steering rack problems given how they bob and weave in traffic all the time. I heard they are very popular with joggers too.

  2. Eric,

    Is the Altima’s 2.5L engine the same that my ’06 used to have? If so, that’s a GREAT engine! The only thing that sucked about my old Altima is that it had a 4 speed auto trans with no overdrive, so my highway mileage wasn’t that good.

  3. I rented one last year on a trip to the northeast and thought it wasn’t a bad car. Even though I’m not a fan of CVTs, it worked well and got excellent mpgs. It’s a good car to rent but I wouldn’t want to own one.

    • Hi RobbieAG. I would never even think about buying a nissan with a CVT. Too many horror stories. Frontier or Titan with conventional tranny? Yes, those are proven. CVT? Yeah, those are proven too. Proven to be short lobbed l lived junk. Not on your life.

  4. I avoid Altimas like the plague in traffic. They’re usually driven by people with bad credit who are poor drivers. Those with better credit and similarly oblivious to others drive Honda CR-V’s.

    I had one of the last generation Maximas as a rental and I didn’t like it. The interior was cheap feeling (most Nissans now feel like they’re built to a price point, like GM) and the CVT was a terrible partner for the VQ V-6, which I believe is one of the best engines of this type.

    The crazy variable compression engine was a dreadful idea. It’s a solution in search of a problem, but thanks to our dreadful bureaucrats, they provided a problem (CO2 “pollutants”) that it could solve. It adds another layer of complexity and something else to fail to a Nissan product that isn’t known for its reliability and is basically a disposable car.

    • “I avoid Altimas like the plague in traffic. They’re usually driven by people with bad credit who are poor drivers.”

      You are talking about people who season dey food I think? Also known as the “Tribe of the Hallway Chirp”. FWIW, I agree I’d love to see the demographics for Altima drivers but I’m sure it skews very “urban”.

  5. Another look alike car with 17-18″ ghetto wheels, 10-speed auto and boring as all get out. When did engineers forget about the mechanical advantage of smaller wheels? With a 10-speed automatic, 13″ wheels would still be fine, weigh less, ride better, have more torque, cost less, and still get 50 mpg. Everything looks and drives like a matchbox car, but costs the price of a small airplane. What a rip-off!

    • 17-18″ rims today are starting to be mid-sized where they were positively huge at one time. My Corvette Z06 had 18″ wheels for the track basically and that was BIG at one time, no longer.

      Newer cars are now up into the 20-21″ range routinely. Blinged out from the factory!

      • Hey, useranon99. My 85 corvette had 16 inch tires. Don’t remember the width etc, but they were huge compared to typical tires of that era. That was with the Z71 package too.

  6. Another issue about reducing cylinder count is our enviro regs (EU and US), have reached ridiculous levels (on purpose, to force and protect/corrupt), that engine designers are struggling with the tiny amount of ‘unburnt fuel mixture’ from the top of the piston to the first ring. So in a 6-cyl, it has more area there vs a 4. And why you are seeing a lot of new 2-cyl motorcycles coming out vs 4.
    Things like the amazing touring bike, Goldwing with a 6, is likely in trouble, at least with a 6, maybe worse.
    As Eric says, fractions of fractions……………….. 🙁

    • Dude,

      I can’t see the Goldwing with anything but that flat six, nor can I see the BMW K1600 series tourers with anything less. Besides, since those bikes start at around $30K, they’re not going to sell many of them. But yeah, I’ve noticed that 2 cyl bikes are all the rage. Also, the parallel twin (I2) is en vogue now; we’re not seeing V twins like we used to, e.g. the replacement for the Suzuki SV650 has a I2 now.

      • Hi Mark, I don’t think it matters how many they sell, still have to pass the newer EU and US emissions. The low numbers might prevent them from changing engine designs, and hence my theory to possibly abandon them (I’ve heard rumors).
        They are still for sale, so I guess they pass, or have somehow gotten a ‘pass’. Forgot about the K1600, thanks. Wife and I dream about doing cross county on a Goldwing.
        Parallel twins are the rage for sure, IMO because of two things, less cylinders = less emissions, and they are lighter than v-twin. Although I will have to give kudos’ to Harley’s new Evo max 1250 and 975 engines, they are really good, but they had to do v-twin right?
        I am disappointed that Harley has so far still abandoned the creation of the Pan American 975, which I wanted and would have bought if lighter (I have a Pan America 1250 and absolutely love it).

  7. ‘There’s a tragedy in here, somewhere.’ — eric

    No need to spell it out for informed readers: today’s cars are de facto designed by EPA and NHTSA ‘crats. Captive engineers on short leashes just color in between the lines, to avoid getting their knuckles rapped by Big Brother.

    ‘In fact, the current Altima is a slightly larger sedan than the last Maxima.’

    This is another aspect of the same tragedy: CAFE calculations depend on footprint. But evidently, Big Gov applied too much compensation to large footprints. Thus, comically elephantine pickups; but also, the chronic creeping obesity of all vehicles.

    Where’s the Wegovy and Ozempic for our increasingly bloated and terminally unattractive new auto fleet? Actually it’s not a costly elixir they need: smashing the regulatory state’s megalomaniacal overreach would effect a cure at one go.

    EPA backed off from its most radical proposals to ban gas stoves. Its purblind, control-freak ‘crats can be driven out of auto design too — a field in which they have manifestly failed by killing off vehicles that buyers liked and replacing them with EeeVees that buyers reflexively shun.

    Like Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984, Michael Regan of EPA is the principal enemy of our people. He and his senile scarecrow impostor boss must go.

  8. Rented an Altima a few years ago. It had the V6 and was very peppy which I didn’t expect, but I enjoyed it. The CVT was noisy though. At the time I owned a Honda Accord with the 4 cylinder engine which I didn’t like because it was too small for the car. And that was a bigger 4 cylinder than what they offer now (granted it wasn’t a turbo)! It’s too bad the V6 is not an option anymore for either car now.

    • Forgot to say that a friend owns a Maxima and likes it a lot. He is keeping it since there aren’t any new ones anymore. He is done with new cars too.

    • Hi Rich,

      The Altima’s a goner. I also think the Camry and Accord are doomed, too. Everything (almost) that made those cars appealing is gone or going away. Why buy a boring sedan with a small trunk when you can buy a boring crossover that at least can be useful when you go to Home Depot?

      • The Altima is now just the “also ran” without the V6.

        It’s become a big problem for Nissan, as most of their lineup is now “also ran”. You really can’t run a car business on fleet sales, those who don’t know that CVT’s aren’t the best and people with poor credit. See how well it’s working out for Mitsubishi!

        What they should have done was make the V6 standard and put in a geared transmission to stand out!

  9. We rented a 2019 in 2019. Those NASA seats were some of the best I ever sat in.

    Of course, I wouldn’t want to own one of these. Too new, too much stuff I don’t want. But Eric (or anyone) since you test drive so much, is there anything out there (not necessarily new, but modern) with comfortable seats?

  10. I used to want the old Maxima. no more.
    I’ve seen these and they look good. This is probably a good commuter car with the cheaper versions, but if someone was going to go for the up-perf turbo, I’d go with the standard Caddy CT4, RWD, no-CVT, etc…just me.
    Great review Eric.

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