This generation of the Nissan Altima midsize sedan was introduced for the 2013 model year and received a midcycle refresh for 2016 that brought a new look, a quieter cabin and some additional technology. For the 2018 model year, very little has changed on the Altima. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking are now standard on all price levels, and the sporty 3.5 SR trim has been eliminated. The Altima remains a spacious, fuel-efficient car with lots of convenience, connectivity and safety features that should appeal to many new-car buyers.
Most Altimas come equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, rated for 179 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Those are competitive output figures within the midsize sedan segment. This powertrain returns near class-leading fuel economy figures, among non-hybrid rivals: 27 miles per gallon city and 38 mpg highway. (Due mainly to its wider tires on larger wheels, the 2.5 SR delivers 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.) That's right behind popular versions of segment standouts like the Honda Accord 1.5T (30/38 mpg) and Toyota Camry (28/39 mpg).
Optional for drivers who want more power is a 3.5-liter V6 with a hearty 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet. Like the four-cylinder, it's mated to a CVT. The engine is one of the few V6 choices left in the midsize segment; many competitors instead have 2.0-liter turbo engines. Its extra displacement and power means a penalty at the pump, with EPA ratings of 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway for the Altima 3.5 SL. Because the V6 is only offered in fully loaded SL guise, it's also an expensive choice (see pricing information below).
Cabin space is ample for up to five passengers, with trunk space to spare for their belongings. At 15.4 cubic feet, cargo capacity is competitive for the class, beating rivals like the Toyota Camry (15.1 cubic feet) and Mazda6 (14.8), although it's not quite as roomy as the Chevrolet Malibu (15.8 cubic feet) or Honda Accord (16.7).
In-car entertainment technology varies depending on trim level. A 5.0-inch color touchscreen is standard. It comes with one USB port and Bluetooth connectivity. The system can read text messages aloud, and has Siri Eyes Free functionality for iPhone users. A 7.0-inch touchscreen that adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is optional, as are navigation and satellite radio. Every Altima is also equipped with a 4.0-inch LCD trip computer offering information on data like fuel economy, audio, navigation directions and tire pressure.
The Altima's 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL trim levels can be equipped with NissanConnect Services telematics, too. The subscription service allows owners to locate or remote-start their vehicle from a smartphone app, and the latter also features stolen-vehicle alerts and a menu for scheduling maintenance.
Active safety equipment is generously available on every trim level. In addition to a federally mandated backup camera, all 2018 Altimas feature precollision warning and automatic emergency braking as standard. The 2.5 SV, 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL models add blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control is available. Unfortunately, more advanced features, like lane-keep assist, are not offered.
The 2018 Nissan Altima is sold in five trim levels at prices that mostly align with what you'd pay for similar equipment on rival sedans. The range begins with the entry-level 2.5 S at $24,145, including an $885 destination charge, which is equipped as standard with push-button start, a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and precollision warning and braking -- but not many other goodies or features.
The next step up is the $26,795 2.5 SV, which adds nice-to-have features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, fog lights, remote start, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver's seat and satellite radio. The $1,280 SV Technology pack adds a power sunroof, 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, heated front seats and other small features. This is the configuration that would likely satisfy most buyers, as it packs a lot of the modern conveniences we've come to expect from today's midsize sedans.
Atop that is the 2.5 SL trim, which for $29,995 builds on the SV model with a Bose nine-speaker sound system, power leather front seats and LED headlights. A $1,290 SL Technology package further equips the car with a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, the 7.0-inch touchscreen and NissanConnect Services telematics.
The 2.5 SR stands out because it has several items intended to appeal to enthusiast buyers: retuned suspension, paddle shifters for the CVT, wider tires on 18-inch wheels, tinted head- and taillight housings, and a trunklid spoiler. It lists for $25,205.
The V6-powered 3.5 SL is the priciest Altima model, ringing in at $34,515. It's equipped much like the 2.5 SL, adding features like 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof and a 7.0-inch infotainment system with navigation and adaptive cruise control.
The 2018 Nissan Altima is available nationwide now. However, a new model is on the way later this year: The 2019 Altima was shown at the New York Auto Show and it looks substantially improved (see it in the gallery below). That model will be on sale this fall, which could mean it's possible to score some great deals on this outgoing generation if you're in a hurry.