The Nissan Altima is a mid-size sedan that was introduced in the early 1990s and is the successor to the Nissan Stanza.
Currently in its sixth generation, the Altima is a budget-friendly option that offers decent handling and a spacious interior.
JD Power has consistently scored the Altima with above-average ratings. The 2022 Nissan Altima, for example, received an overall score of 82 out of 100, which ranks it in second place, one point behind the Honda Accord.
If you would like to know which model years of the Nissan Altima to go for and which to avoid, continue reading our guide.
Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Nissan Altima Are:
The best Nissan Altima model years are 1993, 1996, and from 2019 onwards. On the other hand, the worst Nissan Altima model years are 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2013. Taking note of these model years is important if you are looking to purchase a used Nissan Altima.
What Are The Best Years For The Nissan Altima?
The Nissan Altima has received decent reliability ratings and overall reviews. Listed below are the models that stand out from the rest:
1993 Nissan Altima
The 1993 Nissan Altima was what started it all in the United States. This model replaced the vintage Nissan Stanza which was popular from the 1970s to the late 1980s.
The big draw of the ’93 Altima was the longer wheelbase, increased interior space, and the twin-cam four-cylinder engine that was strong enough to produce 150 hp.
The 1993 Nissan Altima received the highest consumer ratings from Edmunds (4.5 out of 5.0) and Kelley Blue Book (4.4 out of 5.0, tied with the 1996 Nissan Altima).
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 1993 Nissan Altima has only received a total of 3 complaints, all of which are related to engine problems.
1996 Nissan Altima
The ’96 Altima was a huge success and received high praise for its affordability, handsome looks and fun driving characteristics.
The 1996 Nissan Altima received the second-best consumer rating from Edmunds (4.2 out of 5.0) and is tied with the 1993 Nissan Altima for the best consumer rating on Kelley Blue Book (4.4 out of 5.0).
Based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com, the 1996 Nissan Altima has only received a total of 6 complaints, the majority of which are related to electrical problems (three for electrical problems, two for engine problems, 1 for cooling system problems).
2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 Nissan Altima
During the 2010’s the Nissan Altima received a lot of engine and transmission-related complaints – any model from 2019 onwards is a much safer choice.
The 2019 model marks the start of a new beginning for the Altima. It is the first model of the 6th Generation and is a significant step-up from its predecessor.
This model is praised for its available all-wheel-drive, stylish interior and for ditching the cheap plastic looks of older models.
It also features a new variable-compression turbocharged engine.
From 2019 to 2022 you’ll only see a handful of small changes; all of these models have received strong scores from JD Power of 81/100 and above.
Here’s what some owners had to say about the 2019 Altima on the Edmunds website:
“Super smooth and comfortable ride. Great acceleration, awesome stereo and over the top tech for safety and convenience”
“For $35k, it is a very nice car. Quiet, comfortable seats (and I’m a big guy!), great stereo/infotainment system (I have a Tacoma Off Road and the nav system SUCKS compared to this Nissan) and BANGIN gas mileage.”
Consumer Scores for Best Nissan Altima Years
Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best Nissan Altima model years from reputable vehicle websites:
|Model Year||Edmunds’ Consumer Rating||Kelley Blue Book’s Consumer Rating||JD Power’s Consumer Rating|
|1993 Nissan Altima||4.5 / 5.0||4.4 / 5.0||NA|
|1996 Nissan Altima||4.2 / 5.0||4.4 / 5.0||NA|
|2019 Nissan Altima||3.7 / 5.0||3.9 / 5.0||83 / 100|
|2020 Nissan Altima||4.0 / 5.0||3.9 / 5.0||81 / 100|
|2021 Nissan Altima||4.6 / 5.0||3.9 / 5.0||82 / 100|
|2022 Nissan Altima||3.6 / 5.0||3.9 / 5.0||82 / 100|
What Are The Worst Years For The Nissan Altima?
The Nissan Altima has also had its fair share of problems and complaints. The models listed below are the versions of the vehicle that you should absolutely avoid:
2002 Nissan Altima
The 2002 Nissan Altima had a swathe of engine options, but variety alone was not enough to take away from the myriad issues discovered by car owners.
The 2002 Altima was notorious for engine problems that were caused by excessive oil consumption.
In the majority of cases, the engine needed to be replaced at an average mileage of 96,850 miles at a typical repair cost of $3,310.
The 2002 Nissan Altima received a total of 623 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 1,295 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is engine problems.
2005 Nissan Altima
Just like the 2002 Nissan Altima, this model year fell short of expectations due to significant issues.
Some of the biggest problems were the floor pan rusting through & motor mounts breaking.
Here’s what one unhappy owner had to say:
“I’ve never heard of engine mounts going bad, but this has caused a lot of noise and vibration. The repair estimate is $750, and I’ll have to get the problem fixed sooner rather than later.”
Other serious problems included:
- Car shuts downs while driving
- Excessive oil consumption
- Timing chain tensioner failed
The 2005 Nissan Altima received a total of 425 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 1,330 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is engine problems.
Related: How Long Do Nissan Altima Last? (Solved and Explained)
2009 Nissan Altima
The 2009 Altima did its best to wipe away the damage done by older model years, but despite its best efforts, numerous other issues came to light.
By and large the biggest problem with this model year was its inability to start.
Drivers were left unable to start their cars due to a faulty electronic steering column lock (ESCL). Nissan dealers are happy to replace it, but it will set you back $1000.
There were several controversies surrounding the 2009 Nissan Altima, including transmission problems and problems with the interior accessories.
The 2009 Nissan Altima received a total of 652 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 2,064 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is steering problems.
2013 Nissan Altima
The 2013 Nissan Altima is another model year to avoid, so much so that Car Complaints has awarded it the “Avoid Like The Plague” badge.
This model was plagued by transmission problems with many owners having to fork out for a new transmission after only 55,000 miles at an average cost of $3,120.
One angry owner had this to say:
“My mechanic has quoted me $3700 for a new transmission. I just paid my car off last year. He said I should trade it in, he wouldn’t even recommend replacing it as he said it’s a terrible car altogether.”
The 2013 Nissan Altima received a total of 928 complaints based on data obtained from CarComplaints.com and logged a total of 2,685 problems based on information acquired from CarPoblemZoo.com. The leading issue of this model year is transmission problems.
What Years Have The Most Complaints?
Some Altima models have received more complaints than others…
|Model Year||Complaints (CarComplaints.com)||Problems (CarProblemZoo.com)|
|2022 Nissan Altima||NA||NA|
|2021 Nissan Altima||NA||11|
|2020 Nissan Altima||9||64|
|2019 Nissan Altima||23||123|
|2018 Nissan Altima||12||229|
|2017 Nissan Altima||37||269|
|2016 Nissan Altima||104||520|
|2015 Nissan Altima||276||880|
|2014 Nissan Altima||383||1,173|
|2013 Nissan Altima||928||2,685|
|2012 Nissan Altima||148||542|
|2011 Nissan Altima||83||282|
|2010 Nissan Altima||125||467|
|2009 Nissan Altima||652||2,064|
|2008 Nissan Altima||246||1,290|
|2007 Nissan Altima||104||580|
|2006 Nissan Altima||204||1,011|
|2005 Nissan Altima||425||1,330|
|2004 Nissan Altima||92||325|
|2003 Nissan Altima||233||1,090|
|2002 Nissan Altima||623||1,295|
|2001 Nissan Altima||196||199|
|2000 Nissan Altima||158||199|
|1999 Nissan Altima||31||110|
|1998 Nissan Altima||28||142|
|1997 Nissan Altima||13||140|
|1996 Nissan Altima||6||117|
|1995 Nissan Altima||13||NA|
|1994 Nissan Altima||8||NA|
|1993 Nissan Altima||3||NA|
What Problems Do Nissan Altimas Have?
Listed below are a few of the typical problems owners have encountered with the Nissan Altima:
- Transmission Problems
- Steering Wheel Problems
- Engine Problems
What Are The Best Alternatives To The Nissan Altima?
There are several great alternatives to the Nissan Altima. Here are other models to check out if you are looking to get a midsize cars:
|Make & Model||Score||MSRP||Fuel Economy|
|Honda Accord||8.9||$26,120 – $38,050||City: 22-30 mpg / Highway: 32-38 mpg|
|Mazda6||8.6||$24,475 – $35,900||City: 23-26 mpg / Highway: 31-35 mpg|
|Toyota Camry||8.5||$25,395 – $35,820||City: 22-28 mpg / Highway: 31-39 mpg|
|Hyundai Sonata||8.2||$24,500 – $34,750||City: 23-28 mpg / Highway: 33-38 mpg|
|Kia K5||8.2||$23,790 – $31,190||City: 24-29 mpg / Highway: 32-38 mpg|
|Subaru Legacy||8.0||$22,995 – $36,195||City: 24-27 mpg / Highway: 32-35 mpg|
|Nissan Altima||7.9||$24,550 – $34,250||City: 25-28 mpg / Highway: 34-39 mpg|
|Chevrolet Malibu||7.3||$23,400 – $33,500||City: 22-29 mpg / Highway: 33-36 mpg|
|Volkswagen Passat||NA||$27,295 – $30,295||City: 24 mpg / Highway: 36 mpg|