The Nissan Altima stands out from the crowd in the highly competitive midsize segment due to its sleek, aggressive looks.
The Altima which launched with a full redesign in 2019, provides a stylish interior, a cabin built for comfort, and optional all-wheel drive.
Spanning 6 generations, the Altima has evolved over the years and despite recent drop in sales figures, remains a very popular choice of car.
Before you go to see a dealer about purchasing one, it is worth taking a minute to read our short guide.
We will cover sales figures, production statistics, recall actions, resale values, and many more!
How Many Nissan Altimas Have Been Sold Per Year in The US?
The Altima has been a consistently strong seller for Nissan, regularly appearing in the top 25 most sold vehicles in the US, with 137,988 units sold in 2020 alone. Average US sales figure for the past 5 years sit at 223,732 units.
In 1993, just one year after its introduction to the U.S market sales figures quadrupled from 30,659 to 134,791, and from there on sales have gradually increased, peaking in 2014 with 335,644 units sold.
Although sales have tapered off in recent years, with the number of units sold in 2020 down 34 percent compared with 2019, the Altima remains one of Nissan’s best selling vehicles, and for good reason.
The Nissan Altima has been named the 2002 North American Car of the Year and more recently Car News USA has positioned the Altima as 6th best car in its segment.
The Altima used to compete with the Accord and Camry in terms of sales figures, however in recent years has dropped down the rankings, that’s despite a revamped model that’s significantly improved in design and driving dynamics.
Below is a table from Car Sales Base that contains annual sales figures in the U.S for the Nissan Altima from 1992 to 2020:
What Year Did Nissan Start the Altima Models?
Nissan began production of the Altima in 1992 as a 1993 model. The 1st through to the 4th generation of the Altima model were manufactured solely in the U.S.
The Altima is a continuation of Nissan’s Bluebird line, which made its industry debut in 1957. When it was first introduced, the model was offered in four different trim levels: the XE, GXE, SE, and GLE.
With each generation, the Altima has evolved in terms of size, safety and tech as well as offering varying engine sizes and drivetrains, in 2021 there are 5 trims to choose from.
The 3rd generation Altima grew significantly in size with total volume increasing from 108 cubic feet to 118.8 cubic feet and was the first generation to offer a V6 engine. It also featured an upgraded suspension utilizing the same system as the high-performance supercar, the Nissan Skyline.
For the latest line of Altimas, notable changes include available All-Wheel Drive and the optional V6 engine has been replaced with a 2.0L turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine.
The Altima has been in production 29 years and there have been six generations since its inception:
- 1992-1997 (1st Generation)
- 1998-2001 (2nd Generation)
- 2002-2006 (3rd Generation)
- 2007-2013 (4th Generation)
- 2013-2018 (5th Generation)
- 2018-Present (6th Generation)
How Is the Fuel Economy on a Nissan Altima?
One of the reasons why the Altima is so popular is due to its fuel efficiency.
Fuel economy varies marginally across the different Altima trims, with the most efficient being the Altima S FWD giving a combined fuel economy of 32 mpg, the least efficient is the Nissan Altima SR VC-Turbo with a combined fuel economy of 29 mpg.
Altimas with All-Wheel-Drive have a slightly worse fuel economy than those with Front-Wheel Drive, although it is minimal. FWD vehicles tend to have better fuel economy than AWD models since it’s more efficient to power just two wheels.
The Altima Turbo Charged FWD is not overly fuel-hungry with a combined fuel economy of 29 mpg, this is still above that of the average car which usually offer around 25 mpg.
Gas-electric Hybrids are also more fuel-efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts however, after the 2011 model year Nissan discontinued the Altima Hybrid due to lackluster sales.
The fuel economy is fairly consistent across Altima trim levels and shouldn’t be too much of a deciding factor if you’re looking to purchase one.
All Primary Trims
- Nissan Altima S – Starting at $24,100 MSRP.
- Nissan Altima SR – Starting at $25,700 MSRP.
- Nissan Altima SV – Starting at $27,880 MSRP.
- Nissan Altima SL – Starting at $30,240 MSRP.
- Nissan Altima Platinum – Starting at $32,180 MSRP.
See below a table with several versions of Altima and the fuel economy for each.
|Model||City MPG||Highway MPG||Combined MPG|
|2021 Nissan Altima S FWD||28||39||32|
|2021 Nissan Altima SR FWD||27||37||31|
|2021 Nissan Altima SV FWD||27||37||31|
|2021 Nissan Altima SL FWD||27||37||31|
|2021 Nissan Altima SR VC-Turbo FWD||25||34||29|
|2021 Nissan Altima SV AWD||26||36||30|
|2021 Nissan Altima SR AWD||25||35||29|
|2021 Nissan Altima SL AWD||26||36||30|
|2021 Nissan Altima Platinum||25||35||29|
How Quickly Do Nissan Altimas Depreciate?
Although a high in demand car, the Altima does not have the best resale value and its depreciation rate is fairly average.
According to Car Edge, a Nissan Altima will depreciate 59% after 5 years, this is based on an annual mileage of 13,500 miles and providing the vehicle has been well looked after. This means that the Altima will retain 41% of its value after 5 years of use.
To put these figures into perspective, should you purchase a used Nissan Altima that is 5 years old, then you could save approximately $14,750 compared to buying brand new -this assumes the car is valued at $25,000.
From the table below you can see the Altima doesn’t perform quite as well as its close competitors.
|Model||5 year depreciation rate||Value retained after 5 years|
Did Nissan Recall any of the Altima Models?
The Nissan Altima has been recalled 55 times over 27 model years – the year with the highest number of recalls was 2012 and the years with the least number of recalls were 2018 and 2011, with 12 and 1 recalls respectively.
A recall made in 2007 for the 2002 model year affected 653,910 vehicles, this was due to a crankshaft position sensor failure which would cause the engine to shut off.
A recall is issued when a manufacturer or the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) deems that a vehicle or one or more of its components creates an unreasonable safety risk or does not meet minimum safety requirements – recall related problems are fixed free of charge.
To find out if you Nissan has been subject to a recall, you can use the Nissan Recall Lookup on their website, by simply entering in your vehicle VIN number.
Here is a table from Nissan Problems, showing by model year, those recall campaigns:
|Model Year||Recall Campaign Numbers|
How Much Do the Altima Models Pollute?
The Nissan Altima (depending on variant) is rated from 6 to 7 out of 10 on the U.S Government’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions rating. This is calculated by the amount of CO2 emitted at the tailpipe in grams per mile.
The Nissan Altima produces around 300 grams of C02 per mile and therefore emits less than the average US passenger vehicle, which emits 404 grams of C02 per mile. Altima models with AWD are the worst in terms of C02, as it requires more energy to power 4 wheels vs 2.
Here is a table displaying data from the Fuel Economy website for each of the 2021 Nissan Altima variants:
|Model||Greenhouse Gas Emissions|
|2021 Nissan Altima S FWD||281 grams per mile|
|2021 Nissan Altima SR FWD||290 grams per mile|
|2021 Nissan Altima SV FWD||289 grams per mile|
|2021 Nissan Altima SL FWD||289 grams per mile|
|2021 Nissan Altima SR VC-Turbo FWD||311 grams per mile|
|2021 Nissan Altima SV AWD||295 grams per mile|
|2021 Nissan Altima SR AWD||309 grams per mile|
|2021 Nissan Altima SL AWD||295 grams per mile|
|2021 Nissan Altima Platinum||311 grams per mile|
How Much Can the Altima Models Tow?
The Nissan Altima has a maximum towing capability of 1,000 pounds, when towing its important to ensure loads are secure and correctly balanced. The weight of the hitch should also be factored into the max towing capacity.
The Altima is a relatively small vehicle in terms of size and power and hasn’t been designed with towing in mind, for these reasons we would advise against it.
If you plan on doing a lot of towing we would suggest purchasing a truck instead, such as the Nissan Titan .
Towing with the Altima will put a lot of stress on the engine and accelerate wear and tear on components.
How Reliable Is a Nissan Altima?
The reliability of the Nissan Altima can vary greatly depending on the production year, based on our own research we would suggest the most recent Altima models are reliable, whereas some of the earlier models have less reliability.
CarComplaints keeps an extensive database of different issues the Nissan Altima has faced since it started production in 1992.
The 2013 Nissan Altima ranks as the worst year model for the car, and earned CarComplaint’s “Avoid Like the Plague” badge.
The 2013 model has the highest number of complaints by a large margin, with 836 complaints, followed by the 2009 model with 635 complaints.
The biggest problem with the 2013 Nissan Altima is CVT shuttering, with an average cost of $3000 to repair, and an average mileage of just 53,000 miles when the problem occurs.
Repair Pal however, ranks the Nissan Altima 4.0 out of 5.0 for reliability, which ranks it 11th out of 24 for midsize cars. The severity of repairs is average and the frequency of those issues is low, so major repairs are uncommon for the Altima.
What can be said from analyzing the data, is that since the 6th generation of Altima was introduced in 2018 there have been fewer complaints logged. This suggests Nissan is working successfully to improve the reliability of the Altima.
Here is a chart using data from Car Complaints breaking down the number of complaints made by model year:
|Model Year||Number of Complaints|
How Safe Is a Nissan Altima?
The Altima excels in the safety department and we can confidently say it is a very safe vehicle.
The 6th generation Altima has received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA, earning near perfect scores on all crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crowned the 2021 Altima its Top Safety Pick+ for the midsize car segment, again earning exemplary results in various crash tests.
As well as good impact protection, the Nissan Altima offers the latest in safety technology under the umbrella of the Safety Shield.
The Safety Shield utilizes cameras, radar technology and sonar work to bring such features as:
- Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection
- Rear Automatic Braking
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Blind Spot Warning
- Lane Departure Warning
- High Beam Assist
The Altima also comes standard with:
- Vehicle Dynamic Control
- Traction Control
- Advanced Braking
- Nissan Advanced Air Bag System
- LATCH and Snug Kids System
What Is the Typical Buyer Demographic for This Model?
The Nissan Altima buyer demographic is typically the younger population aged between 25 and 40 years old.
Sedans have seen a resurgence among younger millennial buyers in recent years; this is due to their good fuel economy and also the surprising amount of space on offer making them perfect for commuting and road trip adventures.
A Mediapost article from 2016 stated that ‘The Nissan Altima takes the top spot of top 10 most popular cars among Millennial buyers nationwide, according to a new survey by LendingTree examining car-buying trends among those under 35.’
You may also be interested in our article: Nissan Altima Beeping? (11 Common Causes)
Nissan Altima Theft Numbers
In recent years the Nissan Altima has made the list for one of the most stolen cars in the US, this has been partly attributed to the sheer volume of Altimas on the roads today. High sales and production numbers means there is an increased chance of the vehicle catching the attention of a car thief as there are simply more of them about.
- The National Insurance Crime Bureau the Nissan Altima was the 6th most stolen car in 2019 with 13,355 thefts.
- A study by driving-tests.org reported that the Altima is the most stolen new model car – thieves stole 773,139 vehicles in 2017
keyless systems have made the newer Altima models vulnerable to ‘relay attacks’, whereby signals are intercepted between fob and car which can allow thieves to gain access and start the vehicle.
To help mitigate keyless attacks from high-tech criminals we strongly advise investing in a faraday-style wallet. Essentially these will block unwanted electronic signals from reaching your car keys.
To help prevent your Altima from being stolen we advise:
- Keeping the vehicle locked at all times
- Do not keep valuables on display where thieves can see them
- Invest in a steering and car key signal blocking wallet
- Researching anti-theft technology
- Never leave your vehicle running unattended
Here’s a breakdown of annual theft rates for the Altima from 1993 to 2014 taken from the NHTSA website: