You might call Nissan crazy for continuing to produce their sedan models, especially given Ford’s treatment of the increasingly unpopular segment. Despite a surge in SUV sales, Nissan still sells enough Versa, Sentra, Maxima, and Altima models to keep the doors open. And the customers continue to roll in. That’s not even mentioning the newest 370Z model, that proves a sporty coupe isn’t something only the Germans are good at.

If you’re in the market for a new sedan (or just want to check out this VC-Turbo engine you’ve been hearing rumors about), keep reading. All that and more await your eyes below as we round up the details of the 2020 Nissan Altima.

Performance Specifications

Nissan equips the 2020 Altima with a standard four-cylinder engine. Whether it’s the 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated version or the 2.0-liter turbocharged option, is up to you. Both, however, are paired with a continuously-variable transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard but all-wheel drive is optional on any trim — and any engine. The larger displacement engine makes 188 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. Power ratings on the smaller turbo engine rocket to 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.

One of the highlights of the 2020 Altima is the design of the 2.0-liter VC-Turbo engine. Rather than sticking to a fixed compression ratio, as is tradition, the VC-Turbo “constantly adapts, raising or lowering its pistons’ reach seamlessly, variable and continuously, providing the same balance of power and efficiency regardless of the situation.” To find out if (and how) this affects driving feel, keep reading. We’ll discuss it more below.

Available Color Schemes

Nissan offers the 2020 Altima in the following colors.

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

Trimlines and Pricing

If it’s trim levels you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right section. The 2020 Altima variants include the S, SR, SV, SL, and Platinum.


Starting at $24,100, the S model includes keyless entry, push button start, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a power driver’s seat. A rearview camera and the eight-inch infotainment touchscreen aid in reversing. Bluetooth is standard equipment as well, along with cloth seats.


Inject a little sport into this otherwise utilitarian sedan and you’ve got the SR trim. Featuring a leather-wrapped steering wheel, this model includes paddle shifter and a flair of style here and there about the car. This model rides on a double set of 19-inch wheels and Nissan sport suspension. The SR starts at $25,700. Budget at least $30,000 for the SR with the VC-Turbo engine though.


Dual-zone climate control isn’t the only upgrade on the SV model. Customers will also enjoy a heated steering wheel and a slew of driver aids that can learn more about in our “Safety Features” section below. The SV will set you back at least $27,880.


If you’re looking for GPS navigation and an upgraded Bose sound system, check out the SL model. It also includes leather seats and wood-tone trim. The extra features all come with a starting price of $30,240.


Memory settings on the driver’s seat and upgraded cabin lighting are all you’ll really see when it comes to differences between the SL and Platinum trims. The standard engine version of the Platinum will run you $32,180. Nissan does offer the VC-Turbo engine on the Platinum trim too, but it’s an extra $3,000.

Safety Features

Nissan offers a number of safety systems on the 2020 Altima. Standard features include forward automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and a rearview camera. To unlock even more — pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a surround-view parking camera system, traffic sign recognition, and reverse automatic emergency braking — you’ll have to pay a bit more for higher trim levels.

These safety standards have earned the 2020 Altima 5 out of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a “Good” rating in all categories from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In fact, the IIHS named the 2020 Altima a Top Safety Pick. Test drive an Altima today to see just how all these safety systems work.

Fuel Efficiency

As you might imagine, there are a few different fuel efficiency ratings for the 2020 Altima. Combine two engine choices with both front- and all-wheel drive capabilities and the numbers start to stack up.

For instance, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder makes 28 city and 39 highway EPA-estimated miles-per-gallon (MPG) in base models such as the S, SV, and SL. Choose all-wheel drive instead and you’re looking at 26 city and 36 highway MPG.

On the SR and Platinum trims, front-wheel drive models should see about 27 city and 37 highway MPG. Meanwhile all-wheel drive models dip down two points on both fronts. You’ll find similar ratings in the SR and Platinum trim levels equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which makes 25 city and 34 highway MPG.


Kelley Blue Book (KBB) names the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, and Subaru Legacy as the Altima’s foremost competitors. Other brands, such as Mazda, Buick, and Ford, produce contenders as well. Edmunds’ experts argue the 2020 Altima is “still no match for the top midsize sedans that include the well-rounded Honda Accord, the value-packed Hyundai Sonata, and the upscale Mazda 6.” However, the folks at Edmunds did pick the Altima as one of their Best Gas Mileage Cars for 2020.

Really, there’s not a lot of flash about the new Altima. Though it is the “first AWD sedan Nissan has ever sold in the U.S.,” experts agree there’s no major changes for 2020. The VC-Turbo has been called “more hype than substance.” The fit and finish of interior accouterments left a few reviewers disappointed. This sedan is starting to show its age a bit, and that’s not a good thing for Nissan.

Although it might be affordable compared to others, and may perform respectably on the road, the Altima isn’t going to impress you in the way you might think. You probably won’t take a second glance when one drives down the road past you. You most likely aren’t going to rave about the comfortable seating. Once you really start comparing bolts and nuts, you may find you’re better off buying an older model at a cheaper price. Or even looking at a different model altogether.

The Last Word

There are only so many things we can tell you about the 2020 Nissan Altima. The rest, you’ll have to experience for yourself. Test drive a 2020 Altima at your local Nissan dealership. While you’re there, give some of the other sedans a glance as well. You might even be able to check out the VC-Turbo engine in person and get the full technical explanation.


Rebecca Henderson has a Master's in German and a Bachelor's in Creative Writing. She alternates her time between writing and working on a variety of motorized projects. Most recently, she and her boyfriend have been building a custom drift trike. Rebecca believes that language, love, and a life worth living are only the first ingredients to happiness.