Now in its second year after a compete re-design, the 2020 Nissan Altima returns with a number of additional improvements.
First let’s talk about the redesign that happened last year because it brings the Altima to the forefront of the mid-size sedan segment. Last year’s Altima was the first ever to offer all-wheel drive (standard in Canada) which is a huge plus for drivers concerned with our harsh climate. More and more sedans are offering this option and it should be welcome news to anyone not feeling the crossover craze.
The new exterior is, in my opinion, a major improvement over the outgoing model. Nissan drew inspiration from its Vmotion 2.0 concept car which debuted at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Compared with the previous generation, the 2020 Altima is 1.1 inches lower in height, 1.0 inches longer in length and 0.9 inches wider – while also featuring a smaller front overhang thanks a 1.9-inch longer wheelbase and the rear wheels being pushed farther to the corners.
The brand’s V-motion grille, along with LED projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights, a floating roof with slim pillars create a sporty and contemporary look.
Moving on to the interior, I found that Nissan designers hit the nail on the head in just about every basic requirement. Too often these days we see manufacturers removing physical buttons in favor of touch screen functionality and it’s a real shame. It leads to a loss of functionality and decreased ergonomics. There is none of that in the new Altima.
The beautiful interior still has proper knobs for the climate controls. It has physical buttons for the heated seats and the heated steering wheel. These may seem like trivial aspects but they are pivotal in creating a usability factor that makes the Altima a pleasure to operate.
The uplifting design also offers a high level of comfort and convenience. Amenities like the standard 7.0-inch Advanced Drive Assist Display, enhanced NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seat design with dual-density foam, available perforated leather seat inserts, available remote engine start, intelligent climate control and available 8-way driver’s seat with memory all add to the experience.
Every Altima also comes equipped with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with an 8-inch multi-touch color display, Bluetooth for phone and streaming audio, the Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant and Siri Eyes Free/Google Assistant Voice Recognition.
Under the hood we find a 2.5-litre inline 4-cylinder engine rated at 182 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. It features 80 per cent new or redesigned parts versus the previous generation and propels the Altima as much that is required. While it offers improvements in noise, vibration and harshness, along with better fuel economy and cleaner emissions, it’s certainly not lighting fast. The continuously variable transmission or CVT is always changing, always causing the engine to rev high. It’s not my preference but it does deliver better fuel economy and is likely fine for 80% of the population who don’t even care about transmissions. I averaged about 10 L/100km but I did only city so the average person will be able to get close to the advertised 6.5 L/100km highway, 8 combined.
The ProPILOT Assist function lays the foundation for future autonomy, helping the driver stay centered in the lane, navigate stop-and-go traffic, maintain a set vehicle speed and maintain a set distance to the vehicle ahead. Think of it like smart cruise control and not autopilot.
What I most liked about the Altima was its ease of use. It has familiar controls, good visibility, great handling and was comfortable to sit in. It’s simply a great all-around car to operate and it looks sharper than much of the competition.
You can get into the base model 2020 Altima S for $27,998 plus $1815 transport. It’s a bit higher than I would like to see however the feature list including standard all-wheel drive is long and impressive. For $31,498 you can upgrade to the SV which adds Nissan Pro-Pilot-Assist, blind spot warning and 17-inch wheels. The Platinum is $34,998 and adds a surround-view monitor, full-leather seats and a Bose audio system.