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2018 Nissan Altima

$23,260 - $33,630
Price Range (MSRP)
Nissan Altima

2018 Nissan Altima Review

by Jay Traugott

Nissan advertises the Altima as its top-selling sedan, so it is easy to expect great things from it. And while the mid-size sedan performs admirably with its 2.5-liter 177 horsepower four-cylinder, it is far from class-leading; paired with a continuously variable transmission with no manual option, the Altima is only offered as a front-wheel-drive. If it continues to sell well, it is likely only because of its affordable starting price of $23,260, since it sorely lacks in features and driver aids. The features that are offered are quite dated now, as the Altima hasn't received a rework in quite some time. Still, the few new additions to the 2018 iteration of this aging model may be enough to keep it in the running against rivals like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, at least for a little while longer.

2018 Nissan Altima Changes: What’s the difference vs 2017 Altima?

The 2018 Nissan Altima offers no new performance values, but automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning are now standard on the base model. Adaptive cruise control is added to the 3.5 SL's features, along with an eight-inch NissanConnect touchscreen display featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which can be added to the SV and SL in their respective Technology packages.

Pros and Cons

  • Extremely comfortable front seats
  • Superior fuel economy
  • Excellent safety ratings
  • Optional V6 engine performs well
  • Available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Reasonably priced
  • Outdated tech features with poor ergonomics
  • Sloppy steering
  • Subpar engine performance
  • Limited standard features

Altima Exterior

The Altima sports bold dimensions that give the sedan an imposing figure, but it lacks the angular profile of many core competitors. The V-motion grille fits snugly between sharply styled halogen headlights. The front bumper extends aggressively ahead of the fascia but hangs quite low. Fog lights are embedded low within the fascia from the 2.5 SR upwards and LED clusters replace the standard headlights on the 3.5 SL. 18-inch steel wheels adorn the base S, while the SV and 2.5 SL ride on 17-inch alloys, and the SR and 3.5 SL are decked out with 18-inch alloys. The SR also shows off its sporty attitude with a trunk-mounted sport spoiler.

2018 Nissan Altima Front Angle View
2018 Nissan Altima Rear Angle View
2018 Nissan Altima Front Angle View
See All 2018 Nissan Altima Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Nissan Altima is quite long for a mid-size sedan, measuring in at 197.9 inches. Its width and height are more on par for the segment, at 72 inches and 57.8 inches respectively. The 2.5 SR adds 0.1 inches to the height, while the SL trims is 0.2 inches taller. Despite the car's extra length, its wheelbase is somewhat short at 109.3 inches. With a weight range of 3,212 lbs to 3,463 lbs, the Altima is on par with most rivals.

Exterior Colors

The 2018 Altima offers a choice of eight paint colors, depending on the trim level. The 2.5 S is available in Glacier White, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Super Black, and Storm Blue. If you don't mind spending a little more, you can pick up the Altima S in Scarlet Ember. The 2.5 SV introduces the range to Pearl White paint, while Deep Blue Pearl is reserved for the 2.5 SR. Keep in mind that some color choices may be limited to certain interior color combinations.

  • Brilliant Silver
  • Glacier White
  • Super Black
  • Storm Blue
  • Gun Metallic
  • Scarlet Ember
  • Pearl White
  • Deep Blue Pearl

Altima Performance

Being an affordable, family-oriented sedan, the Nissan Altima offers a level of performance that is actually pretty good considering its age and the rise of far more capable competitors. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine directs 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels, which is enough to bring this light vehicle up to 60 mph in a modest 7.8 seconds. This is very much on par with similar base model sedans like the Honda Accord, but still a fair bit slower than some rivals like the zippy Ford Fusion.

The 2.5 SR trim offers somewhat better performance in terms of handling characteristics, but it provides no more power than the base 2.5 S. For that, you will need to shell out the extra cash for the better-equipped 3.5 SL. But even this model is limited to front-wheel-drive, which isn't uncommon in this segment, but some sedans, like the Ford Fusion, do offer all-wheel-drive.

2018 Nissan Altima Front View Driving
2018 Nissan Altima Rear View Driving
2018 Nissan Altima Wheel

Engine and Transmission

Under the hood of the 2018 Altima, you will find a 16-valve four-cylinder engine that displaces 2.5 liters to deliver 179 hp and 177 lb-ft to the front wheels. This engine is mated to an automatic CVT in every model, with faux-manual available on the 2.5 SR and 3.5 SL in the form of paddle shifters. Only front-wheel-drive is offered across the range.

The four-cylinder powerplant performs well enough, but it will be underwhelming for anyone hoping for more than a run-of-the-mill commuting experience. It provides adequate acceleration and passing power, and won't leave you in the dust at a traffic light, but it won't make your heart skip a single beat either. Luckily, there is a throaty 3.5-liter V6 available, albeit only on the top-most trim, that promises significantly more power and torque, specifically 270 hp and 251 lb-ft. This engine shaves a full second off the Altima's 0 to 60 time and sounds better than the basic four-cylinder. It's just a pity that no manual gearbox is offered and that the SL trim lacks the sporty handling of the SR that would allow it to better harness the V6's power.

  • Engines
    2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas, 3.5-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

For a daily town-car, the Altima handles reasonably well. At regular driving speeds, the sedan behaves itself, with enough maneuverability and body-motion control to weave around twisty town roads despite its larger-than-average size. However, this minor acclaim to athleticism is hamstrung by the vehicle's poor steering dynamics. At even the slowest of speeds, the steering needs all the help it can get to direct this bulky midsize sedan; and, to make a bad situation worse, steering-wheel recentering is all but non-existent.

The brakes also leave much to be desired, offering little to no resistance when engaged. Nonetheless, they do their job well enough, stopping the vehicle from 60 mph in around 121 ft. On the plus side, the Altima offers quite a good degree of ride comfort. Most road abrasions are absorbed with little effort, and the comfortable seats help to counteract larger bumps. Unfortunately, the stiffer suspension on the SR or the larger wheels on the 3.5 SL do require that you sacrifice some of this comfort in order to improve on the car's mediocre handling dynamics.

The Altima also offers a surprisingly quiet ride thanks to advances in the cabin's sound-dampening features. However, the growl of the bolder V6 engine may still seep through when you give in to temptation and draw on its power.

Altima Gas Mileage

Equipped with an impressive 18-gallon fuel tank, the Altima can achieve up to 558 miles to a tank of regular gasoline. This is only possible on the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which has an estimated city/highway/combined EPA figure of 27/38/31 mpg. The SR gets 28/39/32 mpg, while the 3.5-liter V6 drops to an understandably poorer 22/32/26 mpg. These figures will help you save on fuel costs, especially in the lower-end trims, but rivals like the Toyota Camry still get better savings.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 27/38 mpg
* 2018 Nissan Altima 2.5 S Sedan

Altima Interior

As a mid-size sedan, the Altima presents buyers with an interior that is quite spacious but falls short of segment rivals when it comes to quality and style. Hard plastics and average-quality fabrics detract from the comfortable seats, while the lackluster infotainment system is difficult to operate due to poor ergonomic design. Higher trim levels do improve on the appointments by introducing leather or faux-leather seats, and a leather-wrapped steering and shifter knob. The infotainment only gains any real appeal at the top-most trim levels, with a Bose audio system and NissanConnect touchscreen added as standard.

2018 Nissan Altima Dashboard
2018 Nissan Altima Dashboard
2018 Nissan Altima Front Seats
See All 2018 Nissan Altima Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Compared to newer sedans, the Altima supplies only adequate interior space. While it is technically capable of seating five, the rear seats, with 37.1 inches of headroom and 36.1 inches of legroom, can only accommodate adults of average size. Three smaller children would probably fill the back seat to maximum capacity. The front of the cabin offers a more breathable 40 inches of headroom and 45 inches of legroom, making it suitable for taller folk too. The seats are positioned a bit higher than usual to provide better visibility, but this may adversely affect taller drivers, especially considering how low the infotainment display is set. Ingress and egress are easy enough, but taller passengers may need to duck to enter the back seats. Two full sets of LATCH anchors are present on the back seats.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Don't expect the Altima's interior to impress you. As an affordable mid-size sedan, it makes use of a lot of hard plastics inside the cabin, and the cloth upholstery on the lower-tier trims is low-quality. This cloth comes in Charcoal on the 2.5 S, with the 2.5 SV also offering Beige. The 2.5 SR boasts a sport-inspired interior, but even this trim offers cloth seats as standard, requiring you to upgrade to the Special Edition to get the faux-leather Prima-Tex seats; both come in Charcoal only. Leather seats, in Charcoal or Beige, are only available on the two upper SL trims.

Altima Trunk and Cargo Space

Cargo space in this Nissan Altima is not as impressive as many rivals like the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, but 15.4 cubic feet is still nothing to sniff at. When coupled with the very wide-opening trunk, you could easily fit the kid's school bags alongside the week's grocery shopping. And if you still need more room, the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split to make space for larger items.

In-cabin storage space is a bit more generous. A standard glove compartment is installed, with a spacious center armrest console, and the doors feature slender pockets. The cupholders are about average in size, and there are several slots and trays around the dash and infotainment area to store smaller items.

2018 Nissan Altima Rear Passenger Seats
2018 Nissan Altima Trunk Space
2018 Nissan Altima Rear View Driving
  • Trunk Volume
    15.4 ft³

Altima Infotainment and Features

Features

Along with its modest price, the Altima comes equipped with a humble array of features. Standard items on the base model include a rearview camera, basic air conditioning, power accessories, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, an advanced drive-assist display, a six-way manual driver's seat, and two 12-volt power outlets. The 2.5 SR trim adds an eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar, paddle shifters, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob. Moving up the trim levels, dual-zone climate control, remote engine start with intelligent climate control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are added with the 2.5 SV. The 2.5 SL further provides for leather-appointed seats, a four-way power passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, mood lighting, and rear passenger air conditioning vents. The final improvements come with the top-tier 3.5 SL and include adaptive cruise control, front and rear park sensors, and a power-sliding glass moonroof.

Infotainment

The Altima's infotainment suite is basic and a little dated, but standard features comprise a six-speaker sound system with AM/FM/CD audio and a five-inch color monitor, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, as well as a USB port. SiriusXM is added to the 2.5 SV, but the first real improvements only come with the 2.5 SL, or the Special Edition SR, and include an eight-inch NissanConnect touchscreen display that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment display is upgraded to seven inches, and SiriusXM and navigation are added to the infotainment suite. NissanConnect Services are only added with the top-tier 3.5 SL.

Altima Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power awards the Nissan Altima a high dependability score of 84 out of 100. The sedan has performed reliably over the last few years, but a moderate number of vehicles were recalled in 2017 for problems with the rear doors, while a vast number were recalled in 2016 for faulty passenger airbags. Nissan backs up the Altima with a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, three-year/36,000 mile full warranty, and adds a three-year/36,000 roadside assistance plan to the substantial coverage available for new buyers.

Altima Safety

The 2018 Altima received a top-tier five-star rating from the NHTSA, while the IIHS gives it an overall rating of Good. The IIHS also awards the Altima with the title of Top Safety Pick when equipped with non-standard headlights.

Key Safety Features

The Altima is equipped with four-wheel ABS brakes, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, vehicle dynamic control and traction control, a rearview camera, and three-point seat belts with pretensioners as standard. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available, but only at the top-end of the range. The lack of more advanced driver safety features is disappointing in a family sedan where this should be prioritized.

Verdict: Is the 2018 Nissan Altima a good car?

Sure, the Nissan Altima is a good car. But is good all you want from a vehicle you and your family will be spending hours in on a daily basis?

The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine available across the lower trim levels is strong enough to power this mid-size sedan, but it will never move it with any degree of haste. The handling is uncontentious at best, and the suite of tech features leaves much to be desired. This is a car you buy when you don't particularly care what you are driving, just so long as it gets you where you are going in a timely and safe manner. At least in this regard, the Altima boasts great safety ratings, which is impressive considering it is largely devoid of modern-day safety and driver-assist features.

For those sedan buyers who want a bit more zest in their daily commute, the Altima does offer a more potent V6 engine, but you need to fork out the cash for the top-tier 3.5 SL trim to even have that option. Even then, this engine isn't done justice by the Altima's inherently average handling. Overall, there are much better sedans out there to be apathetic about, and they cost much the same as this Nissan. So, why not err on the side of moderate driving pleasure and pick up one of the Altima's many superior rivals?

What's the Price of the 2018 Nissan Altima?

The Nissan Altima boasts a pretty affordable price tag, with secondhand models being among the cheapest on the market. The 2.5 S has a starting MSRP of $23,260 while the 2.5 SR goes for $24,910. You can walk away with the mid-range 2.5 SV for just $25,910, while $3,200 more will get you the 2.5 SL. The top-of-the-range 3.5 SL still comes in quite cheap at $33,360. These prices are exclusive of tax, registration, licensing, or Nissan's $885 destination fee.

2018 Nissan Altima Models

The 2018 Altima range comprises the 2.5 S, 2.5 SR, 2.5 SV, 2.5 SL, and 3.5 SL trims. A 179 hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder powers most of the models, while the 3.5 SL is equipped with the more powerful 3.5-liter V6. Gear shifting is performed by a CVT, and only front-wheel-drive is available across the range.

The base-level S is sparsely equipped, featuring 16-inch steel wheels, automatic halogen headlights, automatic emergency braking with forward collision alert, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, a reverse camera, air conditioning, and a six-speaker sound system. The infotainment setup also has AM/FM/CD functionality, Bluetooth compatibility, and a five-inch color monitor.

The sport-focused SR receives 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters with a manual mode, an eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support, unique sport interior and exterior accents, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter.

The mid-tier SV abandons the SR's sporty aspirations and equips 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, remote engine start with automatic climate control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and SiriusXM.

On the near-premium 2.5 SL, upgrades are made to the sound system, adding a nine-speaker Bose audio setup with a larger seven-inch monitor. It also replaces the cloth with leather-appointed seats, featuring heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

The 3.5 SL finally installs the more powerful V6 and reintroduces the paddle shifters and manual mode from the SR. It also receives 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, front and rear sonar, and a NissanConnect seven-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A glass moonroof is also installed.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.5 S
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,260
2.5 SR
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$24,320
2.5 SV
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$25,910
2.5 SL
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$29,110
3.5 SL
3.5-liter V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$33,630
See All 2018 Nissan Altima Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Several packages are available across the Altima range. The Technology Package for the SV adds heated outside mirrors, front seats and exterior mirrors, rear passenger air conditioning vents, a glass moonroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, mood lighting, and an eight-inch NissanConnect touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 2.5 SL offers a similar Technology Package that comprises LED headlights, a glass moonroof, and the same NissanConnect infotainment setup.

What Nissan Altima Model Should I Buy?

None of the Altima models are particularly overpriced, so there is quite a bit of latitude when it comes to selecting a trim. If features are more important to you than luxury, then the 2.5 SV equipped with the Technology Package is the most economical choice. But if you desire a bit of extra kick, you'll want the top-tier 3.5 SL with its potent V6 engine - the added leather seats and standard infotainment features won't hurt either. The higher price might be a bit off-putting, though.

2018 Nissan Altima Comparisons

2018 Nissan Altima
2018 Nissan Altima

2018 Nissan Altima vs Toyota Camry

Fully redesigned for 2018, the Toyota Camry naturally brings a lot of modern features to the table as one of the Altima's lead rivals. In looks alone, it blows the dated Nissan out of the water, sporting an impressive and imposing grille up front, with a sleek, aerodynamic design that hints at its superior performance. The base four-cylinder engine has been refined and now delivers a segment-leading 203 hp and 184 lb-ft, with an optional V6 that simply outclasses the Altima's. The bold design-changes to the exterior are carried over to the interior too, with Toyota opting for very unique styling features that you will either love or hate, but set in a space that offers more passenger volume and trunk space than the Nissan. Being brand new for 2018, all the tech features on offer in the Camry are state of the art, which makes the lack of Android Auto more than a little surprising. Still, with an array of safety and convenience features, and a more powerful drivetrain that manages to be more fuel-efficient than the Altima's, the Toyota Camry is hands-down the better choice. And to top it all off, the Camry has an almost identical starting price.

See Toyota Camry Review

2018 Nissan Altima vs Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is arguably the best mid-size sedan on the market, offering class-leading performance, fuel efficiency, and interior volumes that border on full-size. On the inside, it would be easy to mistake this car for a full-size sedan with its spacious interior and impressive 16.7 cubic feet of trunk space. In terms of tech features, the Accord has the basics, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, even though the infotainment is all state of the art, it is not as intuitive as many rivals' systems. Like other modern Honda models, the Accord comes equipped with Honda Sensing, comprising a long list of advanced safety features that no rival can match as standard equipment. All this comes with a price tag that is no more than a few hundred dollars more than the Nissan Altima, so it is easy to see why the Honda Accord is the better choice.

See Honda Accord Review

Nissan Altima Popular Comparisons

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2018 Nissan Altima Video Review