2018 Nissan Altima Rating Breakdown
2018 nissan altima
EPA est City/Hwy
27/38
Starting at
$23,260
Engine
2.5L I4
Power
179 hp

Starting at

$23,260

Engine

2.5L I4

Power

179 hp

City/Hwy

27/38

Seats

5


The Car Connection Expert Review
Marty Padgett

Marty Padgett

Editorial Director

DISLIKES
  • Brandless interior
  • CVT-only
  • SR isn’t very sporty
  • Small display screens
nissan altima 2018

The 2018 Nissan Altima strikes a handsome sheet metal pose, but the cabin’s way more restrained.

Short of painting it in camouflage, there’s little else to be done to let the 2018 Nissan Altima blend in with its rivals. The family sedan has what was once a daring shape; now with the years gone by, it’s grown familiar and lost its flash, particularly inside.

It’s still a good-looking vehicle, so we give it a 7 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In a recent redesign, the Altima adopted freshly styled front fenders and a reshaped hood, a wider V-shaped grille, and a lower front bumper. It also took on reshaped taillights, a new rear bumper, and a new trunk lid. In all, the touches gave the sedan a more attractive shape, though it’s grown less distinctive over time—particularly when compared with a car that shares almost all its running gear, the Nissan Maxima.

On the Altima SR, Nissan jazzes up the look with fog lights, new wheels, smoked headlight covers, and black upholstery with blue stitching. It’s more of a sport look than a sport reality, though.

As familiar as it’s become, the Altima’s interior never broke new ground. It’s almost awkwardly conventional now, with nicely textured and shaped dash panels and soft metallic trim that frames major groups of controls. It’s a symmetric, restrained space filled with lots of usable storage in the wide center console. If you told us it was designed by another automaker entirely, we’d believe you. There’s nothing brand-specific here, nothing out of kilter, nothing to dislodge the Altima from any family-sedan shopping list. That’s how it should be, right?

The 2018 Nissan Altima strikes a handsome sheet metal pose, but the cabin’s way more restrained.

The 2018 Nissan Altima isn’t here to entertain your inner enthusiast.

Over the years, the Nissan Altima grew from compact car to mid-size family sedan. It also reordered its performance priorities. Today, it’s a plush-riding four-door with forgettable powertrains and forgetful steering. On our scale, that’s a 6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Most Altima sedans buzz the planet behind the power of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. It’s not merely adequate, it’s also staggeringly good at saving fuel. With 179 horsepower on tap it’s no enthusiast heartthrob, and its noise and vibration control are slipping as time passes. It still delivers highway mileage of 38 mpg and perfectly sufficient acceleration.

Opt for the 3.5-liter V-6 and Nissan stuffs 270 hp into the Altima’s goody bag. A bit gruff at lower engine speeds, the V-6 sings out loudly as the tach swings toward its redline. It’s a quicker choice and increasingly a lonely one, as other automakers switch to turbo-4 replacements for 6-cylinders.

Every Altima gets its own CVT, whether you want it or not. Two years ago Nissan updated the design of the pulley-and-belt transmission and dramatically improved the way it works. With smoother-operating hardware and software coding that lets the CVT “shift” through pre-programmed ratios, the transmission makes more from the 4-cylinder than it ever did in the early years of this Altima’s life. It’s not quite as good as some conventional automatics, but it relieves some of the droning at midrange engine speeds, the usual curse of CVTs.

The Altima’s handling has been detuned from the brisk, convivial feel of early cars that wore the badge. Today’s Altima has a very plush ride thanks to Sachs shock absorbers and relaxed-rate springs. The front struts and integral-link rear deliver a soft, cozy ride on most models; SR Altimas get stiffer anti-sway bars and distinct damper tuning, so there’s a big uptick in firmness without punishing stiffness.

The Altima’s steering is also relaxed—a bit too much we think. It’s fairly accurate but slow to respond off center. It never feels sloppy, but the setup clearly cares more for predictability rather than quick turn-in.

The sedan's stiff structure combines with a unique understeer control system that brakes the inside front wheels in order to tighten cornering lines. Its brakes bring things to a halt sufficiently and provide good communication through the pedal.

The 2018 Nissan Altima isn’t here to entertain your inner enthusiast.

Ample interior and trunk room get some high-grade finishes in the 2018 Nissan Altima, though base models look inexpensive.

The Nissan Altima’s interior has reasonable passenger space and amenable fit and finish. We think it’s worth a 7 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Four adults will fit just fine inside the Altima. Nissan pads the car’s seats with extra-thick cushions that offer more comfort than the chairs in, say, a Ford Fusion. Most models have a power driver seat, but a power passenger seat only comes on the top models. We’ve also noticed the Altima’s dash intrudes on some of the available knee space.

In back, the roofline almost cuts into the head room allotted to tall passengers. There isn’t enough room under the front seats for backseat feet, but the Altima’s cozy rear bench has average knee room for the class, and is wide enough to carry three adults on short trips. A Honda Accord or VW Passat has more leg room, if that’s a prime concern.

Trunk space is standard-issue, at 15.4 cubic feet. Nissan leaves some passages barely finished; the trunk hinges are exposed, so are the rear speakers, but the Altima has fold-down seat releases in the trunk and in the back seat, simple fabric loops that save weight and money.

We’ve been favorably impressed by the sound deadening in recent Altimas, but the materials used on Altima SR sedans looks cheap. The higher-rent stuff found in the Altima SL does a reasonable Infiniti impression, for thousands less.

Ample interior and trunk room get some high-grade finishes in the 2018 Nissan Altima, though base models look inexpensive.

With more standard safety technology, the 2018 Nissan Altima once again rises to the top of the family-sedan safety ranks.

The Nissan Altima has excellent crash-test scores, and with the latest in safety tech now on its standard-features list, we think it’s among today’s top-rated sedans.

We give it 8 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The NHTSA rates the Altima at five stars overall. It nearly aces the tests, save for a four-star rollover-resistance score.

The IIHS has given it a Top Safety Pick award, for “Good” crash-test scores and “Superior” crash prevention.

This year, Nissan makes forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking standard on all Altimas. A rearview camera also is standard, though on baser models, it displays on a small 5.0-inch screen.

Adaptive cruise control is standard on SL models, but is otherwise unavailable.

With more standard safety technology, the 2018 Nissan Altima once again rises to the top of the family-sedan safety ranks.


NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2018 Nissan Altima Models

Overall Rating

5/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (4/5)



Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2018 Nissan Altima Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Good
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Good
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good

Make ours a 2018 Nissan Altima SR, light on the options.

The 2018 Nissan Altima gets credit for its roster of standard features, and the list of features grows as the trim level gets more spendy.

We give it a 7 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2018 Altima comes in S, SV, SR, and SL trims. All but the SR and SL come with the 4-cylinder only; those sedans can be fitted with the V-6.

Every Altima has power windows, locks, and mirrors; steering-wheel audio controls; a rearview camera; Bluetooth with audio streaming; and keyless entry. The Altima S, and Altimas without navigation, have a 5.0-inch touchscreen that seems woefully out of date in this niche.

From that model, the Altima splits into SV and SR models, both of which build on the Altima S equipment. The SV sedan has alloy wheels, a power driver seat, blind-spot monitors, and remote start; a Convenience pack adds a moonroof, a cold-weather group has heated seats, and another package adds navigation with a 7.0-inch touchscreen and have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The Altima SR gets sport suspension tuning, a power driver seat, styling add-ons, and 18-inch alloy wheels. V-6 SR sedans have LED headlights.

The most plush Altima SL has leather, a power passenger seat, Bose speakers, adaptive cruise control, navigation, and 18-inch wheels. A sunroof is a stand-alone option, as are navigation and adaptive cruise control.

Make ours a 2018 Nissan Altima SR, light on the options.

Gas mileage is one big reason to buy the 2018 Nissan Altima.

Fuel economy weighs heavily on the minds of some mid-size sedan shoppers. The Nissan Altima makes the decision easier.

We give it an 8 for fuel economy, since all its 4-cylinder models post very high EPA ratings. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Most Altimas with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder earn EPA ratings of 27 mpg city, 38 highway, 31 combined. The Altima SR has less gas-friendly tires, and only scores 26/37/30 mpg.

The V-6 Altima checks in at 22/32/26 mpg.

Gas mileage is one big reason to buy the 2018 Nissan Altima.


Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2.5 L, CVT

31

Combined

3.2 gals/100 miles

27

City


38

Highway

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