2020 Nissan Altima

2020 Nissan Altima Review: Crossover Antidote

Despite crossover sales booming at a rate that could challenge the spread of COVID-19, the Nissan Altima persists in offering the market a solid stab at a midsize sedan, joining rivals like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Sonata in vying for consumers' attention in the US. The new Nissan Altima flaunts an attractive design, a well-balanced driving experience, and a contemporary and spacious cabin. The Altima range comprises five trims, and in their arsenal is a 188-horsepower, 180 lb-ft of torque 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's coupled to a CVT automatic as standard. An award-winning 2.0-liter turbo-four mill with outputs of 248 hp and 273 lb-ft is available for the performance-oriented models in the lineup. There's plenty of appeal in the Altima, and with its continuous advancements, Nissan has possibly succeeded in making it a sedan worth sticking to. However, with the all-rounder perks offered from the crossover class, has the relentless crossover insurgence proven that resistance is futile?

2020 Nissan Altima Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Altima?

For the 2020 model year, Nissan introduced the Driver Assist Package as standard for the S grade Altima, and includes Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite of driver-assist technologies as stock-fitted in the SR trim, and available to the rest of the range. Other updates include the addition of all-new Piano Black cabin accents to the SV, SL, and Platinum, and the inclusion of a mirror memory system to the Platinum exclusively. Though seemingly menial, these latest upgrades do effectively set the Altima well inline with the competition.

Pros and Cons

  • Commodious cabin and comfortable seats
  • Packed with modern technology and features
  • Offers a well-balanced driving experience
  • Delivers above-average gas mileage figures
  • Available with an all-wheel-drive system
  • Uninspiring performance and handling
  • Outward visibility is rather compromised
  • Possesses some low-grade cabin materials
  • Turbo engine can't be paired with the AWD
  • Ride quality is diminished in the sporty trims

Best Deals on Altima

2020 Nissan Altima Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.5 S
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$24,300
2.5 SR
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,900
2.5 SV
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$28,140
2.0 SR
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$29,750
2.5 SL
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$30,240

Nissan Altima Exterior

Nissan applied plenty of the V-Motion design language to the Altima, availing it with a very attractive aesthetic that brings a bit of flair to the class. All Nissan Altima models, barring SR models, are fitted with a chrome V-Motion grille, complemented by chrome door handles, beltline, and badges. SR models, as the performance version, are differentiated from the lineup a little, sporting a bespoke dark-chrome V-Motion grille and a charcoal rear diffuser. All but the S feature dual chrome exhaust finishes. Standard equipment includes Intelligent auto on/off headlights, the S is fitted with projector-type halogen headlights while the rest get LED headlights with signature LED daytime running lights. LED foglights and a power sliding moonroof come in from the SV trim upwards. The S rolls on 16-inch steel wheels, the SV and SL on 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and the SR and Platinum on 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

2020 Nissan Altima Front View Nissan
2020 Nissan Altima Rear View Nissan
2020 Nissan Altima Front Angle View Nissan
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Dimensions

The Altima is a midsize sedan and its dimensions all echo this. Its overall body length of 192.9 inches makes it only 0.7 inches longer than the Honda Accord, though its 111.2-inch wheelbase is matched. Depending on the model, heights vary between 56.7 and 57.4 inches (trim and drivetrain dependent), making even the shortest Altima slightly taller than the Accord. Its width of 72.9 inches makes it 0.4 inches narrower. Curb weights vary considerably between the various models of the Altima, FWD models weigh-in between 3,208 pounds and 3,438 lbs, while AWD models come in between 3,338 lbs and 3,461 lbs.

  • Length 192.9 in
  • Wheelbase 111.2 in
  • Height 56.7 in
  • Max Width 72.9 in
  • Front Width 63.6 in
  • Rear Width 63.6 in

Exterior Colors

There's a selection of nine exterior colors available within the Altima lineup, with cost-inclusive options available across the lineup being Super Black, Gun Metallic, and Brilliant Silver Metallic. The S and SR get sole availability to Deep Blue Pearl and while the S gets total exclusivity to Glacier White, the SR gets Sunset Drift Chromaflair which carries a $395 cost. All models, barring the S, can also be hued in either Storm Blue Metallic, Scarlet Ember TintCoat, or Pearl White Tricoat, the latter two with a $395 additional price tag. For the S, the Deep Blue Pearl is a workable option, and the SR is deserving of the Sunset Drift Chromaflair which befits its performance-focused styling. All other models look great in either the Storm Blue metallic or the Scarlet Ember Tricoat.

  • Super Black
  • Glacier White
  • Brilliant Silver Metallic
  • Gun Metallic
  • Deep Blue Pearl
  • Scarlet Ember Tintcoat
  • Pearl White Tricoat
  • Sunset Drift Chromaflair
  • Storm Blue Metallic

Nissan Altima Performance

The Altima, in standard guise, is equipped with a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's coupled to a CVT automatic tasked with directing the engine's 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. Sadly, the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is optional for the SR and Platinum models, also utilizes the CVT automatic gearbox, and worse yet, is unavailable with the AWD powertrain that can be equipped to the base engine. Nevertheless, the variable-compression turbo-four avails the Altima with quicker acceleration; the performance-geared model sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in a regular 5.9 seconds, according to independent tests. The four-pot also allows for a top speed of 130 mph. With the base engine and optional AWD system in play, expect the Altima to complete the run somewhere in the mid-seven-second range. The Honda Accord, with its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, ten-speed automatic gearbox, and FWD powertrain, offers a bit more zoom: with 252 hp and 273 lb-ft at hand it sprints from 0-60 mph in an impressive 5.5 seconds.

2020 Nissan Altima Front View Driving Nissan
2020 Nissan Altima Rear Angle View Nissan
2020 Nissan Altima Engine Nissan

Engine and Transmission

Two engine configurations are available for the Altima, but unfortunately, the turbocharged engine that provides the best performance is limited to the SR and Platinum models, raising the price substantially. The standard engine option across the range is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder developing 188 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque in FWD guise, with figures dropping to 182 hp and 178 lb-ft in AWD form. If it's some spice you're looking for, the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with variable compression (revolutionary tech, especially for this segment) churns out up to 248 hp and 273 lb-ft on premium unleaded. But this is restricted in two ways: one, it can only be utilized with the FWD system, and two, there's just a single transmission choice available, and it isn't a great one. All models make use of a CVT automatic gearbox, which is hardly the last word in performance.

The CVT automatic generally performs competently, and as is typical of CVTs, it smoothly slurs along. Likewise, it's not engaging in the slightest, and simulated shifts between preset ratios aren't exactly lightning fast. However, it is efficient, and the abundance of torque from the turbo motor means there's still ample mid-range punch and overtaking power. Both engines are decent, and the CVT fares no worse than rivals with a similar setup. All in all, the powertrains perform well and lend some credence to the notion that Nissan hasn't given up on a well-engineered sedan.

  • Engines
    2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

There's really not much in terms of driving enjoyment from the Altima, and even the SR model, which comes equipped with 19-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension to make it a little more capable through the bends, isn't quite as enjoyable or poised as either the Honda Accord or the Mazda 6. The Altima's controls and handling dynamics can be best described as ideal for casual driving standards with its vague and always light steering feel. The steering's responses are otherwise appreciably quick. In terms of handling, it does show some prowess through fast, sweeping turns; its composure, stability, and grip providing just enough confidence for some spirited driving maneuvers. The brakes are also pretty effective, delivering adequate levels of stopping power without disrupting the sedan's poise.

In terms of ride quality, the Altima delivers a refined experience, avoiding the reverberations expected from broken road surfaces and undulations. The larger wheels and sport-tuned suspension in the SR and Platinum models, however, noticeably reduce ride quality, firming up the feel on the road and taking harder knocks from common road snags.

Altima Gas Mileage

While the Altima's base powertrain is impressively frugal, it's Nissan's new-fangled variable-compression turbo-four powertrain that truly widens eyes and drops jaws. Starting with the base powertrain in FWD though, the Altima should return gas mileage figures of 28/39/32 mpg (27/37/31 mpg from SR and Platinum) on the EPA cycles, which, while competitive, is beaten by the base Honda Accord with its class-leading estimates of 30/38/33 mpg. With the optional AWD system opted in, mileage drops to 26/36/30 mpg (25/35/29 mpg from SR and Platinum). With the 2.0-liter turbo-four in play, both the SR and the Platinum get 25/34/29 mpg, which is relatively frugal for an engine with its output ratings.

FWD models come equipped with a 16.2-gallon gas tank, and AWD models with a 16-gallon gas tank. With the base powertrain and a topped up gas tank, the Altima should manage around 518 miles before running empty.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    16.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 28/39 mpg
* 2020 Nissan Altima 2.5 S Sedan

New Nissan Altima Interior

There's a pleasantness to the Altima's interior: its sleek, layered, and horizontal "gliding wing" dashboard, along with the seven-inch driver display, floating eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, and NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats elicit a contemporary and sophisticated impression. The cabin is commodious and the seats comfy and supportive; they're cushioned and bolstered well enough for all-day comfort. With a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and leather seating upholstery in the higher-specced models, comfort is only further compounded. There are some low-grade materials utilized here and there, but Nissan did a reasonably good job of inconspicuously integrating them into the cabin; the controls and seating layout is very ergonomic and the overall build quality is on point.

2020 Nissan Altima Central Console Nissan
2020 Nissan Altima Dashboard Nissan
2020 Nissan Altima Dashboard 1 Nissan
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Seating and Interior Space

Within the commodious cabin of the Altima are comfortable, supportive, and spacious seats where five adults will happily fit with more than enough head and legroom throughout. An optimal driving position is easy to locate thanks to a standard-fit tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and abundant-levels of power-adjustability featured in the driver's seat. The Altima's downward sloping hood and large windows provide for clear outward visibility and minimal blind spots. Regardless of the positioning of the front seats, passenger room in the rear remains expansive too (35.2 inches of legroom and up to 36.9 inches of headroom), and only really tall adults will find that the subtly sloping roofline cuts into headroom a little. Large, wide-opening doors make for effortless ingress and egress to both the front cabin and the rear.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 43.8 in
  • Front Head Room 39.2 in
  • Rear Leg Room 35.2 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.9 in

Interior Colors and Materials

All but the S model are fitted with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob; faux carbon fiber accents and finishers are standard in the S and SR, while all other models are furnished with piano black accents combined with wood-tone trim in the SL and Platinum. Seats in the S and SV are upholstered in either a charcoal or gray cloth upholstery while the SR gets a unique sport cloth upholstery featured only in charcoal with orange contrast stitching. Leather seating appointments are standard in the SL and Platinum, also featured in either charcoal or gray.

Nissan Altima Trunk and Cargo Space

The Altima's 15.4 cubic-foot trunk puts it on the lower end of the class-average. While the Honda Accord offers an expansive 16.7 cubes of space in the trunk, the Kia Optima provides 15.9 cubes, the Toyota Camry and the Subaru Legacy come up with only 15.1 cubes. Owners should be able to get a golf bag, tote bag, and a laptop bag in the Altima's trunk, with enough room to spare for another of each. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split, expanding room for larger or longer cargo.

There are plenty of places for small items in the cabin too, with useful door pockets in all four doors with slots for large bottles, a small-item storage tray in the front of the center console, two cupholders, a spacious armrest cubby with a small tray, and a moderately sized glovebox. At the back, there are another two cupholders in the center seat backrest and a seatback map pocket on each front seat.

2020 Nissan Altima Rear Passenger Seats Nissan
2020 Nissan Altima Interior Overview Nissan
2020 Nissan Altima Cup Holder Nissan
  • Trunk Volume
    15.4 ft³

Altima Infotainment and Features

Features

Specification levels are rather unimpressive at the base level, though the Altima is a car that comes standard with a few driver-assist features, including intelligent forward-collision warning, which sets it ahead of some close competitors. The S comes outfitted with a remote engine start system and Nissan's Intelligent Key with push-button start; on the inside, there's a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and manual air conditioning. Other standard driver-assists include a rearview camera, cruise control, and hill-start assist. Befitting the SR's sporty connotation is a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters. It is also equipped with high-beam assist, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, rear automatic braking, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Creature-comforts are augmented in the SV with a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control with remote activation, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink universal transceiver, active noise cancellation, ProPilot assist, and automatic brake hold coming in. The SL adds four-way power-adjustability to the front passenger's seat and traffic sign recognition. There's an Intelligent 360-degree view monitor, driver seat and mirror memory system, and in-cabin ambient LED lighting in the Platinum.

Infotainment

Nissan ensured a top-notch infotainment setup for the Altima this year, with an eight-inch touchscreen display ornamenting the dash in every model and fully integrated with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality as standard. An AM/FM stereo with a six-speaker sound system is stock with a nine-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system coming in on the SL and Platinum. Other base functionalities include SiriusXM satellite radio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth audio streaming, and hands-free phone operation. An onboard navigation system with voice-command, SiriusXM satellite traffic and Travel Link, and HD Radio connectivity are all equipped to the SL and Platinum. A single auxiliary input jack, two regular USB ports, two USB-C ports, and a 12-volt power outlet are provided for direct connectivity.

Nissan Altima Problems and Reliability

Times were tough for the 2019 model Nissan Altima with the nameplate having undergone four separate major recalls. Problems included a leaking or easily disconnecting fuel tube, faulty brake lights that would remain illuminated without the brakes being applied, a leaking fuel tank, and a faulty back-up camera system that would fail to display a back-up image. Fortunately, the 2020 model is currently recall-free.

J.D.Power gave the 2020 Altima a great quality and reliability rating of 83 out of 100. Nissan covers the Altima with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

Nissan Altima Sedan Safety

Safety ratings for the Nissan Altima sedan are exceptional, a more than ideal quality for a family-friendly car. The NHTSA's review of the Altima resulted in a first-rate overall safety rating of five stars out of five. The IIHS availed the Altima with a 2020 Top Safety Pick stamp for its perfect scores of Good in six crash evaluations and Superior frontal collision avoidance systems.The Nissan Altima's ratings in terms of safety are impressive and give it the upper hand against rivals.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

There is a standard consignment of ten advanced airbags, including dual front, both driver and front passenger knee airbags, front and rear outboard seat side-impact airbags, and side curtain airbags. The S comes equipped with a rearview camera, cruise control, hill start assist, and intelligent forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. There is also active ride control, intelligent driver alertness, stability control, traction control, and tire pressure monitoring. From there, Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite of driver-assist technologies is standard. This comprises high-beam assist, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, rear automatic braking, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. The SL and Platinum additionally get traffic sign recognition, but the Platinum alone gets a 360-degree view monitor.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Nissan Altima a good car?

Though the Nissan Altima is a car that doesn't necessarily turn heads or elevate heart rates, it is still one of the more attractive looking midsize sedans in the USA and one that delivers a slightly better than average driving experience, touching on both sporty and comfortable. Its powertrain isn't really the most refined, but still performs competently while also delivering admirable gas mileage. The optional 2.0-liter turbo-four engine is pretty appealing, too, and works well in the sport-oriented SR grade Altima with its sport-tuned suspension and manual shift drive mode, making for a relatively enjoyable driving experience accompanied by the performance and handling capability to do just that. Moving to the cabin of the Altima unveils its penchant for comfort: it's a modern and commodious space packed with features and technology most modern buyers would demand. Its infotainment system is comprehensive and it's also expansively geared with driver-assists and safety equipment, making it one of the safest vehicles on the road - both the NHTSA and the IIHS concur. There are better midsize sedans out there, such as the Honda Accord for example, but the Nissan Altima is no regrettable option and is a solid choice as a daily family commuter.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Nissan Altima?

The price of the Nissan Altima is pretty much run-of-the-mill for the class. So how much will each model cost? The base-spec S comes in at an MSRP of $24,100, the sporty SR at a price of $25,700, and the well-equipped SV at a price of $27,880. While pricing for the SL exceeds the $30k mark with its sticker price of $30,240, the up-charge to the Platinum isn't too daunting with its price at $32,180. Those are all excluding Nissan's destination and handling charge of $895 as well as any tax, registration, or licensing fees. Optioning on the Intelligent AWD powertrain to any model will throw $1,350 to the base price. Additionally, it'll cost an extra $4,050 to equip the SR with the turbo-four engine and an extra $3,000 to equip the Platinum with it.

2020 Nissan Altima Models

Nissan offers the Altima in five trims: the S, SR, SV, SL, and Platinum, with the SR and Platinum offered up as sportier models. A 2.5-liter inline-four engine and CVT automatic are standard constituents paired with either the stock front-wheel or optional all-wheel drivetrain. A more potent 2.0-liter turbo-four engine is available for both the SR and Platinum grades, though only the SR is fitted with a manual shifting mode and paddle shifters, as well as with a sport-tuned suspension.

In terms of features, the base model S grade comes outfitted with 16-inch steel wheels, projector-type halogen headlights, keyless access with remote engine start and push-button start, manual air conditioning, and eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and cloth upholstered seats. Infotainment is covered by an eight-inch touchscreen and stock six-speaker layout; Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Siri Eyes Free are standard. Driver assists include a rearview camera, cruise control, hill-start assist, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

Upgrading to the SR sees 19-inch alloy wheels, all-LED exterior lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, sport cloth upholstered seats, and the full installation of Nissan's Safety Shield 360. The SR also gets a few additional exterior quirks, such as a dark chrome grille.

17-inch alloy wheels prop up the SV, which is additionally fitted with LED fog lights, a power-sliding moonroof, ProPilot assist, automatic brake hold, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Nearing the top of the lineup is the SL which gets traffic sign recognition, four-way front passenger seat power-adjustment, leather-appointed seating, a nine-speaker Bose sound system, navigation, and HD Radio connectivity.

Back on 19-inch alloy wheels is the top-of-the-line Platinum. On the inside, there's a 360-degree view monitor, a driver's seat and mirror memory system, and in-cabin ambient lighting.

See All 2020 Nissan Altima Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Within the Altima lineup, only the lower-specced models have access to any optional packages, the higher-specced models are otherwise well-outfitted with these features as standard.

$890 will equip the S model with the Driver Assist Package which contains high beam assist, rear automatic braking, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

There's a Premium Package available for the SR model, which, for $1,050 equips the model with heated front seats, driver's seat power lumbar support, a power-sliding moonroof, and with heated outside mirrors with LED turn signals.

🚗What 2020 Nissan Altima Model Should I Buy?

If you're looking for a well-balanced, featureful, and safe family-sedan, then the Altima SV grade equipped with the fuel-efficient 2.5-liter turbo engine, heated steering wheel and front seats, power-sliding moonroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control is an exceptional option that won't break the bank. This model also comes with a few more driver-assist features on top of the already inclusive Safety Shield 360 driver-assist suite. While the SR grade would be a good pick for those who seek something a little sporty, its ride quality is severely diminished, which is why sticking to the SV is recommended. The use of the base engine might mean it lacks power, but those in cold-weather climates can select all-wheel-drive, further bolstering the value for money proposition on this trim.

2020 Nissan Altima Comparisons

Nissan Maxima Nissan
Honda Accord Honda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Nissan Altima188 hp28/39 mpg$24,300
Nissan Maxima 300 hp20/30 mpg$34,450
Honda Accord 192 hp30/38 mpg$24,270

2020 Nissan Altima vs Nissan Maxima

While the Altima technically fits into a smaller class than the Maxima, it's a lot newer and has also grown to be bigger in size overall, resulting in a more commodious cabin, not to mention a trunk with a full cubic-foot of extra space in comparison to the Maxima's. If anything, the Maxima only offers advantages in straight-line performance, its 300-hp V6 engine accelerates it from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, which is quicker than the Altima with either of its powertrains. The Altima's powertrains are vastly more refined though, the more powerful of the two delivering similar performance, and both delivering far better gas mileage. In terms of features, buyers get a whole lot more in the Altima, and at a far lower price, especially with Nissan's full Safety Shield 360 bundle standard. Ultimately, the Altima offers far greater value for money at this point in time, the Maxima is simply in dire need of an extensive update.

See Nissan Maxima Review

2020 Nissan Altima vs Honda Accord

Think back to your school days: did you have that incredibly hot girl with the perfect cutesy personality, boundless talent, and superhuman-like intelligence? The teacher's pet in other words that also looked like the girl next door… well, that's the Honda Accord in the automotive world and, in this case, the Nissan Altima is the dumbstruck pimply guy drooling in his seat at the back of the class. Two more powerful and refined turbocharged engines, an available six-speed manual gearbox, and exceptional performance and handling capability are just the tip of the iceberg with the Accord. Not only is it far more enjoyable and capable on the road, but a little more fuel-efficient too, delivering 30/38/33 mpg in its most efficient guise. The Accord's cabin is more commodious too, comprised of higher-grade materials, and, at the higher-specced trims, a whole lot more creature comforts. It has a larger 16.7 cubic-foot trunk as well. The Honda Accord isn't available with AWD, though, but considering that the base price is similar to the Altima, it's still the better vehicle and better value for money buy.

See Honda Accord Review

Nissan Altima Popular Comparisons

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2020 Nissan Altima Video Reviews

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