2023 Nissan Altima First Look: Fresher Styling, Altimately the Same Sedan
If you were hoping drastic changes would hit the 2023 Nissan Altima, well, that’s a curious thing to stand on pins and needles for. Also, while there are a few mid-cycle changes meant to carry the Altima a few more years until its next full redesign, there aren’t any major mechanical upgrades. What changes have been made improve the sedan’s looks, its interior, and gives it some updated standard safety features. Nissan hasn’t mentioned any improvements in its handling with its AWD system and it’s lackluster CVT used in the 2.0 liter VC Turbo I-4.
While it is essentially the same Altima that has been around since 2019, the 2023 model does away with the nose’s chrome trim, adopting a new grille design on the SR model and Nissan’s new minimal logo. Gone is the chrome flying “V” as that is now all “black chrome” trim that contrasts against the body, grille, and ends where the lower headlights terminate. The side ducts have also changed, so what once looked like smalls opening are now larger and encompassed by more expansive black trim for a bolder look. Also missing from those lower ducts are any lights, including fog lights in the photos that Nissan sent us. The lack of this lower signal is reflected in a change to the headlights with a new bulb where only a reflector was and LED lights being standard, but the overall shape remains the same from 2021.
On the rear of the 2023 Altima not much has changed. The only thing missing is the “VC Turbo” badge that was found on the trunk of models equipped with that turbo engine, but overall, everything else is the same. Wheel sizes will also remain the same starting with a 16-inch steel wheel with a plastic cover and a P215/60R16 all-seasons all around on the 2.5 S. Stepping up to the 2.5 SV will get you a set of 17-inch wheels on P25/55R17 all-season tires. Finally, jumping into the 2.5 SR, 2.0 VC Turbo SR, or the 2.5 SL jumps you up into the 19-inch wheel with a 235/40R19 all-season tire. The wheel designs are also new for 2023 and each wheel is unique for the trim level, meaning there are now four different wheel designs overall for the Altima. Finally for the exterior, there will be two new colors joining in for customers to choose from: Gray Sky Pearl and Garnett Pearl Metallic along with a single panel moonroof option.
While the interior was hardly class-leading in the 2022 model, the 2023 version steps things up with a 12.3-inch touchscreen similar to the one used in the new Nissan Armada SUV. Underneath it and just forward of the shifter is an available wireless phone charging pad, which is also where the USB C, USB, and power outlets are located. Unfortunately, the 12.3-inch screen and the wireless charging are optional on the SV trim and only become standard when you jump up to the pricier SL and SR trims.
Another huge step forward is the inclusion of ProPilot Assist in the 2.5 SL and 2.0 SR VC Turbo trims, though it is not available on the 2.5 SR trim and is only an option on the 2.5 SV trim. We do have to point out, again, that adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist features are standard on all trims of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Subaru Legacy, Hyundai Sonata.
We now get to the power and drivetrains, which go unchanged for 2023. That lineup is topped by Nissan’s boundary-pushing 2.0-liter VC Turbo I-4, which delivers decent performance for a small-displacement four-cylinder engine while introducing a novel variable compression system to the market. Both it and the entry-level 2.5-liter I-4 are adequate engines, albeit hampered by their exclusive pairing with Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). In the 2022 Altima SR VC Turbo we last reviewed, it was the CVT that held us back from enjoying the experience. It was fun, quick, and handled very well on track and on the road, but the sluggish tuning of the CVT in conjunction with the variable compression and turbo boost mapping meant that power delivery is nonlinear and has a “rubber-band” effect where acceleration ramps up unnaturally.
Unless the programming between the engine and CVT has been drastically improved, we expect the experience to be to before. The same is likely true about the Altima’s “Intelligent AWD” on trims that have it. As before, it’s more of a traction enhancer for poor weather drives than a performance upgrade. The 2.5 SV, 2.5 SR, and 2.5 SL trims offer all-wheel drive as an option—a relative rarity in the midsize sedan segment—while the 2.5 S and the 2.0 SR VC Turbo don’t.
Overall, the Altima looks better in pictures, but on paper, it remains mostly the same. We’ll know more, including its pricing, when it gets closer to its on sale date in fall of 2022.
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