Fully redesigned in 2019, the Nissan Altima remains a mainstay in the mid-size family sedan market. The Altima ticks most every box for the sedan buyer and sees a little content shuffling this year to better appeal to those buyers. There is a price reduction for the lower end SV trim, the turbocharged engine moves exclusively to the SR trim, and most trims now have access to all-wheel drive and ProPilot Assist features.
There isn’t much about the 2021 Altima that is significantly better or different than its primary competitors on the market. At least, nothing that’s immediately noticeable. Its exterior design is good-looking, but basically contemporary, and its interior is roomy, but not outstanding. The Altima is basic, for the most part, and thus very competitive in the relatively sedate sedan market. Where the Altima shines is in the details. Especially the equipment levels and the price being paid for them.
The base level S and SV trims have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 188 horsepower to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The SV trim can be upgraded to all-wheel drive, which reduces engine output to 182 HP. But both the base S and SV trims have a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity on a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, keyless entry and ignition, remote engine start, and basic advanced safety systems like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and driver attention warning. The SV trim adds satellite radio, upgrades to an 8-inch touchscreen, and puts on the optional Driver Assist package from the S, which includes parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and rear automatic braking. With the SV, you can optionally add the Premium package, which adds Nissan’s ProPilot Assist advanced driver assistance items like adaptive cruise control along with several comfort upgrades.
The next trim to consider is the SR, a sport-themed option. This adds 19-inch wheels to the SV package, a more sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The SR Premium package upgrades to the phenomenal 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 236 horsepower (regular gas) and 248 HP (premium fuel). This engine is front-wheel drive only, but adds significant umph to the Altima.
Beyond the SR trim are the SL and Platinum trims, which are nearing the entry-level luxury sedan market in terms of accouterments. We’d suggest just jumping to the Platinum trim if that’s where you’re headed, as it has a load of goodies like 19-inch alloy wheels, ambient interior lighting, and more. It comes standard with AWD too.
For most enthusiasts, though, we’d recommend the SR Premium for the price point, inclusions and engine boost it gives. It’s a well-balanced value point with good return. If AWD is important to you, however, the SR without the Premium or the SV trims with add-ons are also a good choice.
Overall, the 2021 Nissan Altima is a good car with a smart set of specs. Its competitors are also good choices, though few can match the excellence of the ProPilot Assist system when it comes to daily driving usefulness in technology.