In the sophomore year of its latest and greatest generation, the Nissan Altima is poised to once again take its share of the midsized sedan market. The changes for the 2020 model year mostly involve the expansion of active safety technology to one more trim level and some aesthetic changes in the cabin. It remains a standout in its class for offering all-wheel drive (AWD) and the only variable compression turbo engine out there, and - of course - it's as good-looking as it ever was.


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Mechanical Features and Fuel Efficiency


There are seven trim levels to choose from: the S, SR, SR VC-Turbo, SV, SL, Platinum, and Platinum VC-Turbo. The powerplant lineup doesn't change, with a 188 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the aforementioned VC-Turbo four-cylinder, which makes a roar with 248 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. Variable compression means that it's powerful instantly, with none of that undesirable turbo lag. The engine then switches to low compression to get the car to cruising speed, after which it returns to high compression to maximize fuel economy. Both engines pair with an efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT). Altimas with the VC-Turbo are strictly front-wheel drive, but those with the standard engine can be ordered with Nissan's Intelligent AWD.


The fuel economy numbers range between 28 mpg city/39 mpg highway for the FWD base trim to 27 city/37 highway for the FWD Platinum, which is a bit heavier due to its additional standard equipment. On that note, the addition of AWD generally ticks those mileage ratings down by 2 mpg. The VC-Turbo versions are EPA rated for 25 city/34 highway.



Trims and Standard Equipment


The excellent list of standard features on the S trim includes push-button start, a power-adjustable driver's seat, an infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free phone and music streaming, two USB ports and two USB-C ports, SiriusXM satellite radio, steering wheel-mounted audio control buttons, 16-inch steel wheels, and a base package of driver-assist features (forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, and a rearview monitor). The SR adds some sporty elements (a specially tuned suspension and paddle shifters) and a few more driver-assist features (blind spot warning, pedestrian detection, and rear cross-traffic alert), plus LED headlights, chrome finishers for the dual exhaust pipes, and 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels. The SR VC-Turbo, as its name indicates, is equipped similarly but upgrades to the stronger engine.


The SV gets additional active safety tech, highlighted by ProPilot Assist, as well as heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic cabin temperature control, a moonroof, and fog lights. The ride in this trim is a bit more comfortable for all, thanks to air-conditioning vents for the back seat and acoustic laminated glass that limits road noise. The SL gets leather seating surfaces, a power-adjustable passenger seat, a navigation system, NissanConnect services, traffic sign recognition technology, and a top-shelf nine-speaker Bose audio system. The Platinum and Platinum VC-Turbo sweeten the package with memory function for the driver's seat and exterior mirrors, interior accent lighting, and Nissan's Intelligent Around View Monitor.

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