2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD

2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD in Storm Blue Metallic

2015 Audi Q52020 Nissan Altima SL AWD

Class: Midsize Car

Miles driven: 213

Fuel used: 7.4 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortC+
Power and PerformanceC+
Fit and FinishB
Fuel EconomyB+
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB+
Tall GuyB
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Engine Specs182-hp 2.5L
Engine Type4-cylinder
Transmission CVT automatic
Drive WheelsAWD

Real-world fuel economy: 28.8 mpg

Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 26/36/30 (city, highway, combined)

Fuel type: Regular gas

Base price: $31,590 (not including $895 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Splash guards ($205), floor and trunk mats and trunk net ($300), ground lighting ($380), interior accent lighting ($455), illuminated kick plates ($400), rear spoiler ($420), impact sensors ($210)

Price as tested: $34,855

More Altima price and availability information


Quick Hits

The great: Ride, available all-wheel drive, fuel economy for an all-wheel-drive vehicle

The good: Available high-tech features, forward visibility, stylish and comfortable interior

The not so good: Mediocre passenger and cabin-storage space, rear visibility


CG Says:

Although not unique among midsize sedans in offering all-wheel drive (others being the Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy, and later in the model year, Toyota’s Camry is slated to get it) it’s certainly one of the Altima’s selling points, at least in the snow states. But that’s hardly all Nissan’s long-running midsizer has going for it.

2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD

It’s not noticed as much in dark colors, but the Altima sports Nissan’s “floating roof” styling, with our SL tester wearing dual exhaust outlets and a rear spoiler. Rear-obstacle sensors were added as a $210 option.

Among AWD Altimas, the SL is the third of four trim levels, with the base S starting at $26,345 including destination. Above that is the $30,125 SV, with the SL starting at $32,485, and the top-line Platinum at $34,425. But the tested SL comes with a lot of equipment, including leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, power sunroof, Bose audio system, remote start, and NissanConnect telematics with navigation. It also includes all the expected high-tech safety features along with some that aren’t, such as rear obstacle detection with automatic braking, driver-alert warning (which warns of drowsy or distracted driving), and rear-door alert (reminds you to check the rear seat if a rear door was opened). It also has Nissan’s ProPilot Assist that provides full-speed stop-and-go adaptive cruise control and steering assist, useful in traffic jams.

Altimas come standard with a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four linked to a CVT automatic transmission, and that’s the only powertrain offered in all-wheel-drive versions. Available on a couple of front-drive models is Nissan’s innovative variable-compression-ratio 2.0-liter turbo making 248 horsepower, which is what was in the 2019 Altima Edition ONE we tested last year.

While the 2.5 is decently peppy and the CVT is fairly quick to kick down when the throttle is pressed while underway, our tester sometimes suffered from slightly surging, non-linear acceleration. Handy in traffic was the Brake Hold function, which allows you to take your foot off the brake during long stops, and Nissan’s ProPilot Assist handles brake and accelerator action — and to some degree, steering — in stop-and-go traffic. And even over our rough Chicagoland streets, the ride was quite compliant, a plus point.

2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD

The 2020 Nissan Altima SL’s nicely appointed 2-tone interior was augmented with comfy front seats and some nice features, among them a Brake Hold function (rear button behind shifter) and Nissan’s ProPilot traffic assist.

Another plus point was the Altima’s interior, at least in terms of appearance and comfort. Our tester was fitted with a nicely trimmed and padded two-tone cabin, and we’ve always found Nissan’s Zero Gravity front seats (which include adjustable lumbar support for the driver) to be very comfortable. But storage space is nothing special, and though there’s good headroom and legroom in front, it’s only adequate for adults in back, where egress is slightly restricted due to smallish door openings but passengers get vents and USB/USB-C outlets.

2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD

As midsize sedans go, the rear seat isn’t the roomiest, but occupants at least get their own vents and USB/USB-C outlets.

Visibility is good to the front and sides but poor to the rear. A high back windowsill partially blocks the view of cars behind you, and we noted some strong reflections in the back window.

Although the infotainment controls include seven buttons and traditional volume and tuning knobs, the tuning knob is a stretch for the driver, and you can’t mix bands (AM/FM/satellite) within your presets. A nice feature of the Bose audio system is a Replay function that allows you to — as the name implies — go back a ways to replay a song or news item.

2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD

While fine in terms of volume, the trunk’s lid hinges dip into the load area, there’s scant underfloor storage, and the folded rear seat backs rest about three inches above the level of the cargo floor — though the last is common in the class. Seat-back releases are in the trunk, as are handy fold-down grocery-bag hooks.

Trunk space is fine, but sickle-shaped lid hinges dip into the load area. Seat backs release from the trunk but rest about 3 inches above the level of the cargo floor, meaning you can’t easily slide long items forward (though this is the norm in sedans). There’s only a small amount of underfloor storage, but there are neat fold-down grocery-bag hooks.

Overall, we don’t rate the Altima as highly as our two Best Buy sedans in the class, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the latter of which is due to add all-wheel-drive models in Spring 2020. But there’s still a lot to like here, which is reason enough to put it on your shopping list … particularly if you live in the snow belt.

2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD

One of Altima’s strengths will be weakened somewhat in a couple months, when the Toyota Camry is due to get all-wheel-drive versions, but this is still a strong midsize-sedan contender.

Check out our Midsize Car Best Buys

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2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD