Looking more like a baby Maxima Nissan’s bread-and-butter midsize sedan has recaptured its mojo to once again become an alluring choice for those still not enamored with the pivot towards crossover SUVs. Improvements abound returning the Altima to your family car shopping list.
In their words, Nissan’s goal with this car is to reenergize the sedan segment. And though buyers are largely choosing to bypass traditional cars in favor of their SUV counterparts, the offerings are as impressive as ever.
Now in its 2nd model year since the 2019 redesign, this 2020 Altima is my introduction to this 6th generation car – Nissan’s best-selling model not named Rogue. And I really like what I both see and feel. Similar to the fresh competition from Honda and Toyota, Nissan has also taken a look-at-me approach with the Altima’s styling and it works. Family sedan no longer equals boring. The car I have is the Platinum VC-Turbo – the most lavish and powerful trim – priced from about $36,000.
Lower, longer and wider with the wheels pushed farther to the corners, this Altima looks decidedly more athletic, especially on these 19” rims though they’re fitted with some Hankook tires more interested in comfort than sport. But that’s OK because the Altima should have a more compliant ride and in fact it does.
There’s a light, nimble, easy-going nature to the drive that now possesses a higher degree of sophistication as to how it steers, handles and brakes. In many ways it reminds me of the Volvo S60 I recently tested though not quite to those premium levels.
Most of the buzz surrounding the new Altima centers on the optional VC-turbo engine. It replaces the V6 as the top engine choice, available exclusively on front-drive models. VC stands for variable compression and Nissan/Infiniti is the only one doing it. It’s taken 20 years to bring it to market and it’s an engineering feat. Changing the volume of each of the engine’s 4 cylinders on the fly allows this 2.0 to go big for higher efficiency or shrink for higher performance. I’m impressed by its elasticity, smoothness and fun turbo punch when pushed. And my stellar fuel economy has been well above the EPA estimates. Just remember – high compression engines want high octane fuel.