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2023 Nissan Altima SR Review: Variable Compression, Variable Results

Design | Comfort | Tech | Performance | Safety | Fuel Economy | Pricing | FAQs

The Nissan Altima doesn’t have the same accolades as some of the other alternatives in the class, even though it’s been around in the US for as long as I have. With a 2023 model year update, Nissan’s longstanding mid-sizer does come slightly closer to the competition for this year. But there’s still a lot of ground to make up.

The facelifted Altima looks sharper, inside and out, and has better tech all-around. Plus the sporty SR model – while still not a full-blown performance sedan – gets more aggressive for 2023 with additional exterior tweaks and a slight suspension tune.

A vehicle’s ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole. For more on how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.

  • Exterior Color: Gray Sky Pearl
  • Interior Color: Black w/Red
  • Wheel Size: 19 Inches

Even though it has the same basic look that debuted on this sixth-generation model back in 2018, the 2023 Altima’s updated V-Motion grille features new “black chrome” accents exclusive to the SR model. That gives it a more aggressive look. The sharp, birds-nest-style 19-inch wheels are new for 2023, too, as is the $395 Gray Sky Pearl paint. It’s a genuinely beautiful hue that falls somewhere between not-quite-silver and not-quite-white.

The Altima’s interior is a mix of hard plastics and nicer soft-touch points with dual-stitched accents on the door armrests and seats. It feels on par for the segment in terms of quality and overall look.

  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
  • Cargo Capacity: 15.4 Cubic Feet

The inside of the Altima is roomy and offers excellent visibility. The driver’s seating position is a bit odd as the pedals are placed too deep in the footwell, but the leather-trimmed “Zero Gravity” front seats are excellent. They have eight-way power adjustability with lumbar support and heating functionality, which means it was easy for me to get comfy. What’s immediately obvious, though, is that the 19-inch wheel and tire combo, plus the tuned suspension, both affect the ride quality. The ride is firm and too much outside noise enters the cabin – road, tire, and engine alike.

  • Center Display: 12.3-Inch Touchscreen
  • Instrument Cluster Display: 7.0 Inches
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto: Yes/Yes

One of the biggest changes to the Altima for 2023 is the arrival of a new 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. On the SR trim, it also includes wireless phone charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The upsized display has a hugely improved interface with a cleaner home screen and neatly arranged apps, but the graphics still aren’t totally crisp. And the backup camera suffers from the same low-quality resolution.

  • Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-Liter I4
  • Output: 236 Horsepower / 267 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: Continuously Variable

The good news here is that the variable-compression turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is an upgrade over the outdated, naturally aspirated 2.5-liter unit. By the way, the 2.5 is the only engine available if you want all-wheel drive. But even in the optional mill, there’s too much turbo lag off the line and it takes the Altima too long to get moving quickly. Once the turbo does kick in, there is some good torque, but the continuously variable transmission whines in protest if you press the throttle too aggressively.

Nissan also says it tuned the SR’s suspension to be more dynamic. And while this car does handle well enough compared to other non-performance-oriented mid-size sedans, we wouldn’t go so far as to call it “sporty.” There’s still a generous amount of body roll and the suspension really isn’t up for the task of tight corners.

  • Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
  • NHTSA Rating: Five Stars Overall
  • IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick Plus

Every Altima comes standard with Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 technology, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, high-beam assist, and more. Opt for the SL, SV, or SR models – like the one we tested – and ProPilot comes standard. ProPilot remains one of the better active safety systems out there and does an excellent job of keeping the vehicle in the lane.

  • City: 25 MPG
  • Highway: 34 MPG
  • Combined: 29 MPG
  • Base Price: $25,290 + $1,095 Destination
  • Trim Base Price: $28,585
  • As-Tested Price: $37,060

Given that it doesn’t really move the needle in terms of performance nor does it offer much additional equipment over the more affordable SL or SV trims, the Altima SR isn’t a great value. This version starts at $36,085 with the $1,095 destination fee included and costs $37,060 as tested with options like paint and wheels.

The 290-hp Hyundai Sonata N-Line is quicker and more dynamic for slightly less, as is the outgoing Honda Accord Sport. Heck, you can even get a full-bore, 300-horsepower Toyota Camry TRD for less than the cost of an Altima SR.

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