2023 Nissan Altima SR Premium

Most people in this segment will care more about saving fuel over creating adrenaline, and the Altima succeeds to that end.
Most people in this segment will care more about saving fuel over creating adrenaline, and the Altima succeeds to that end.

by Nathan Leipsig | June 15, 2023


My week with the 2023 Nissan Altima SR Premium got me thinking: Political correctness comes and goes, but this modern era has seen a particularly sharp focus on personal identity, politics, and the elimination of discrimination. You’re not on board the woke train unless you’re actively intolerant of intolerance, fighting fire with fire. I find it interesting that despite this, some forms of discrimination of are still openly allowed to continue, and even celebrated – ask literally anyone named Karen how they’ve been feeling lately. Another one that persists is against drivers of Nissan Altimas, now having achieved meme status for their perceived antics. I’m thinking that might be unfair, or dare I say it: problematic.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Nissan Altima owners have developed a bit of a notoriety over the years – Google it, I’m not making this up. Whenever anyone asks why Altima owners are “always like this,” the answer that comes back is that Nissan, as a company, is pretty indiscriminate about who they’ll finance a car to. Just about anyone can walk into a Nissan dealer and leave with a new car. Effectively, it’s discrimination against the financially downtrodden… which sounds like it should be a social no-no, right? It’s a shame, because the Altima has a lot more to offer than flexible financing. 

For 2023, the mid-size car segment has gotten heated with an all-new Honda Accord in the ring, and everyone else has done something to stay fresh. The Nissan Altima gets a plethora of safety features made standard for this year, including automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic warning. More importantly, it’s received a mild but very successful nip and tuck with a tidied grille, and sharper LED lighting, which pair with our SR Premium model’s darkened trim and 19-inch wheels to become quite a looker – the Deep Blue pearl paint stands out nicely, too.

The niceties of the SR Premium trim continue into the Altima’s cabin, where the biggest change is a new 12.3-inch widescreen, featuring an updated version of Nissan’s familiar UI. A consistent complaint about Nissans is that while their infotainment functions well, they look dated, and this goes a long way towards fixing that. Everything’s been updated, the new display is sharp, bright, and responsive, and while it loses the blessed tuning knob, Nissan’s chosen to stick with physical buttons for shortcuts and essentials, wisely avoiding the trend of becoming over reliant on digital real estate to carry the day.

Speaking of real estate, while the Altima looks small with its tight lines and low slung roofline, the cabin definitely doesn’t feel small. There’s ample head, leg, and knee room in the front and rear along with a generous trunk with a large opening. It’s a nice place to be, with powered and heated leather seats, along with generous use of soft leather on the flat-bottomed steering wheel, dashboard and doors, all tied together with metallic accents and contrasting white and orange stitching for a little flourish of athleticism. 

The very athletic style fails to translate to the road, unfortunately. Nissan doesn’t offer their new VC-Turbo engine on all wheel drive Altimas (yet?), and they only offer all wheel drive Altimas for the Canadian market, so we’re stuck with the base naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four cylinder engine, good for a modest 182 horsepower. Said sedate ponies are routed to all four wheels through Nissan’s ubiquitous Xtronic continuously variable transmission, which has gotten a lot better and responds dutifully to manual inputs, but the powertrain package fails to inspire overall.

However, most people in this segment will care more about saving fuel over creating adrenaline, and the Altima succeeds to that end, as we observed an average fuel consumption of 8.2L/100km in our not-particularly-favorable testing, making it one of the most efficient all-wheel-drive cars you can buy at any price point. It’s also comfortable, quiet, and easy to drive, with linear driver inputs and a surprisingly communicative chassis for a family car. With a little more muscle on board, this could almost be fun to drive and perhaps a more budget friendly alternative to Subaru’s Legacy GT.

The Altima gets a lot of intangible things really right – it’s kind of always been the unloved “other” car for people with bad credit, but it gets a lot of things really right. It looks great, it’s well made, it’s very well proven reliability-wise, it drives fairly well, it’s spacious, efficient, and incredibly well equipped with a comprehensive suite of well executed features that are easy to use. The Bose sound system is good, the new infotainment looks great without being unfamiliar, and the driver assists are incredibly effective, neatly slotting into the “will pretty much drive itself” realm. 

It’s hard to point to any one thing the 2023 Nissan Altima SR Premium excels at, but it’s pretty good at everything you could want from a mid-size sedan. For $36,598 as-tested, it represents a fantastic value for a practical, efficient, exhaustively well-equipped car, with the somewhat unique addition of all wheel drive for added peace of mind. It’s a shame that it’s still seen as a meme-mobile for the dysfunctional peasant class, because it deserves a second look, even if your credit score isn’t something problematic for you.

See Also:

First Drive: 2023 Honda Accord Hybrid

2023 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid Nightshade

2022 Nissan Altima Midnight Edition


Vehicle Specs
Midsize Sedan
Engine Size
2.5L inline-four
Horsepower (at RPM)
182 at 6,000
Torque (lb-ft.)
178 at 3,600
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Nathan Leipsig

Deputy Editor Nathan is a passionate enthusiast with a penchant for finding 80s and 90s European vehicles. He can typically be found messing about on his E28 5-series or on Kijiji looking for the next project. Current Toys: '78 928, '23 MX-5 GS-P, '95 XJR, '86 535i, '99 New Beetle GLS 5MT