2020 Nissan Altima 2.5 Platinum AWD Review

The sixth generation Nissan Altima was introduced when SUVs and Crossovers were getting more and more market shares in the auto sector. While this trend may persist for some time, a good sedan will always have its place in the market. Entering its second production year, the 2020 Nissan Altima has all the right ingredients to be successful. It comes with a handsome exterior, a premium interior, class leading fuel economy, and great driving characteristics. In Canada, Nissan has equipped all trims of 2020 Altima with all wheel drive to cope with the challenging driving conditions in winter. It also includes more safety features for lower trims.

Thanks to Nissan Canada, I had the 2020 Nissan Altima Platinum AWD for two weeks to test drive. Below is my unbiased review.

The exterior of the new Altima looks sleek and stylish. The use of sharp creases and angular lines gives the car a futuristic vibe. The sixth generation Altima is 1.1 inch lower, 1.0 inch longer, and 0.9 inch wider compared to the previous generation. The increased length gives the side profile of the Altima an almost coupe-like silhouette. The C pillar has an integrated black trim that follows the roofline to complete the floating roof look. Sharp creases and chiseled door panels do not clash with the beefy wheel arches. The optional 19" alloy wheel could use some more flairs, but the size is perfect.

In the front, a wing style design keeps everything in focus. A thick chrome trim bridges the two slim LED headlights. The boomerang shaped led signature daytime running lights are particularly striking. Round LED fog lights are grouped together with the turning signal lights in the lower grilles, which are positioned above the sharp front air dams.

At the back, the integrated lip spoiler is tastefully implemented. The slim wraparound tail light housing has a very sharp transition around the corner. It looks fantastic from both the side and the rear. The lower bumper is color matched to the rocker panel, which also houses a large air diffuser and two chrome exhaust tips.

I very much enjoy the exterior of the new Altima. It looks different from most of the competitors with a more angular design. I would prefer a sharper nose from the side, but that is just nitpicking over an already beautiful design.

The interior of the 2020 Altima is equally enjoyable. Sharp, linear lines highlighted by chrome trims gives the dash a wider look. The gliding wing design is decorated by a large piece of faux wood plastic trim. This is perhaps the only part of the interior that I am not a fan of. I have no problem with the faux wood look if it is done well, but the wood pattern doesn't look realistic enough in this case. A textured surface would help to make it look more authentic.

The rest of the cabin is appointed with quality materials. Soft-touched surfaces are positioned where hands and knees would touch, and hard plastics are either textured to look more expensive, or tucked away in the lower part of the cabin. The dual climate control system gets its own display and physical switch gears. They are easily reachable and intuitive to operate.

The zero gravity front seats are very comfortable. They utilize dual density foam paddings to provide great lumbar support and lateral hold. The seats are heated and decorated with perforated leather appointed inserts. The integrated center armrest is plush and comfortable. Rear visibility from the driver seat suffers slightly due to raised headrest of the middle seat in the back.

Passengers in the back enjoy their own air vents and USB charging ports, one for USB C and one for USB A. The rear legroom is very decent, but the headroom can be tight for taller passengers.

The infotainment system of the Altima is very straightforward and simple to use. A tablet style 8" touchscreen  is located in the middle of the dash. There is a good amount of physical switchgears conveniently located at the lower part of the screen. They provide quick access to the desired menu page with a single touch. The software interface is not the fastest, but responsive enough to not cause any frustration. Both Android Auto and Apple Carplay are standard.

The 7" digital instrument cluster display is multi-colored. The display menu is easy to navigate via the control buttons on the steering wheel. I like the new button layout as it is more intuitive and doesn't require drivers to divert attention away from the road.

There are two illuminated USB charging ports in the front. They are evenly split between USB Type A and Type C. The quiet cabin not only makes the Altima feels more upscale, but also allows the excellent 9-speaker Bose premium sound system to shine.

Available NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM provides compatible smartphones and smartwatches access to features such as Remote Engine Start/Stop, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Valet Alert, and more.

Safety and Driver Assistance
For 2020, Nissan has given the Altima more standard safety features. They include:

  • Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB)
  • Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (I-FCW)
  • Intelligent Driver Alertness (I-DA)
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

SV and up also gets Nissan's ProPilot suite of safety assists. They include:

  • Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection
  • Intelligent Lane Intervention
  • High Beam Assist (HBA)
  • Blind Spot Warning (BSW)
  • Rear Sonar System
  • Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking
  • Intelligent Around View Monitor (I-AVM)

It earns a 5 star safety rating from NHTSA and Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS. Both are top scores from the agencies.

In Canada, all 2020 Altimas are equipped with a completely redesigned 2.5L 4 cylinder engine. It is more compact, more fuel efficient, and more powerful compared to the previous generation. The engine produces 182 hp of horsepower and 178 lb.ft. of torque.

American buyers can also choose from a 2.0L turbocharged engine that is the world's first production-ready variable compression turbo inline 4-cylinder. It replaces the 3.5L V6 engine offered to the previous generation. The new 2.0L turbo provides performance of the V6 but with a much better fuel economy. The compression ratio can be adjusted between 8:1 (for high performance) and 14:1 (for high efficiency) via an advanced multi-link system that controls the pistons' reach.

I am not overly upset that we don't get the turbocharged engine in Canada. The naturally aspirated 2.5L engine provides more than enough power for most drivers. It also matches well with the redesigned Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). It is perhaps one of the best CVTs I have driven. The drivetrain response is snappy without the rubber band feeling that is normally associated with CVTs.

Of course, one of the big selling points of the new Altima is the AWD system. It is the first Nissan sedan in North America to come equipped with an AWD. The system allows up to 50% of the torque to be sent to the rear wheels. The cooperative control between the AWD torque distribution and brake limited slip differential allow the car to be in control under all driving conditions.

The chassis of the new Altima is more rigid. This allows the suspension to do a better job both in corners and on uneven pavements. The electrically assisted steering changes steering effort and feedback forces based on the vehicle speed. The steering feels nimble at low speed, and precise at higher speed.

Overall, the 2020 Nissan Altima is a joy to drive. It may not break any speed records, but the car is confident inspiring both in the city and on the highway. It is also very fuel efficient. The 2.5L Altima is rated at 9.3 L/100km city, 6.7 L/100km highway, and  8.1 L/100km combined. Our mostly city test drive returns a 8.7 L/100km fuel economy figure.

Cargo Space & Storage
There is 436L (15.4cu.ft.) of trunk space behind the rear seats. With the 40/60 split rear seats folded, the driver can access more cargo space in the passenger cabin. Unfortunately the opening to the rear cabin is quite restricted, and the seats don't fold completely flat.

In cabin storage is very good. The deep center console storage compartment has a removable upper tray. The glove compartment is on the larger side, so are the front door pockets.

The 2020 Nissan Altima is perhaps one of the best sedan (considering the price) I have test driven in a while. It is a complete package with handsome exterior, well designed interior, appropriately size engine, all wheel drive capability, great fuel economy, impressive handling, and all the latest automotive technologies at a very reasonable price. If you don't absolutely need a SUV/Crossover, the 2020 Nissan Altima deserves to be on the top of your shopping list.

Test Vehicle
2020 Nissan Altima 2.5 Platinum AWD
$37,213 CAD including Fright & PDI
Sunset Drift


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