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Not everybody puts the same stock in car reviews. But when a car gets the worst review from a publication, it’s worth considering. Before you throw tens of thousands of dollars away on a car, you should learn why it garnered such a bad review. And before you take the plunge and buy a new 2023 Nissan Altima, remember that it got the lowest score of any new cars Motor1 evaluated for 2023.

A new white 2023 Nissan Altima shows off its refreshed car styling and LED lights.
Nissan Altima | Nissan

A look at the 2023 Nissan Altima

The conventional midsize sedan market has seen better days. With fierce competition from SUVs, EVs, and hybrids, it can be hard for an automaker to manufacture a stand-out sedan. And while Nissan has a reputation for safety, reliability, and design, it faces stiff competition in the segment and the broader market for daily drivers.

But Nissan has given it a good shot with the Altima, refreshed for 2023. Compared to the 2022 model, the new version offers a revised front end, as well as new wheel designs, paint jobs, standard safety features, and standard LED headlights. With the SR trim, there’s also a different fabric design, and with higher-end trims, you can get a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen.

Despite these changes, the latest Altima scored the lowest of all 50 2023 vehicles Motor1 rated, earning a score of 7.0 out of 10. That number includes trucks, SUVs, coupes, and hatchbacks, on top of sedans of all sizes. And even if you’re not a fan of automotive reviews or Motor1, that low score should be enough to give you pause.

Why did the Altima earn the lowest score?

If you’re wondering how a refreshed Nissan could still be the worst car out of 50 new models, it could have something to do with the competition. Motor1 notes that despite the Altima’s face-lift, it still doesn’t outshine other midsize sedans.

Indeed, the Altima is against perennially popular models such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. And relatively new entrants like the Kia K5 continue to wow critics and consumers alike.

A big part of the problem is relative performance. The Altima offers two powertrain options. The first is a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that generates 188 hp with standard FWD or 182 hp with available AWD. There’s also a 236-hp 2.0-liter VC Turbo inline-four engine option that produces as much as 248 hp with octane fuel.

The latter powertrain is more powerful than the Honda Accord. But the base model Accord generates 192 hp. And you can get a Toyota Camry with a 301-hp naturally aspirated V-6. And there’s also a K5 GT option with a 290-hp 2.5-liter turbocharged I4.

Beyond the power, Motor1 dings the Altima for subpar performance. They note that it takes far too long to accelerate, there’s a whine when you shift gears aggressively, and there’s too much body roll to be called sporty accurately. That’s how the Altima is being marketed, but the term doesn’t quite fit the bill.

Other areas Nissan needs to improve

Motor1 also took issue with the Altima’s pricing. Its technology, comfort, and design also earned only middling marks. Altima’s base model starts at $28,585, a bit higher than its rivals. The 2023 Kia K5 starts at $25,290, while the Accord will run you $28,390 and the Camry $26,220. The higher price is hard to swallow for a vehicle that still doesn’t match the competition.

While the 12.3-inch touchscreen and the backup camera are welcome additions to the Altima, reviewers noted that the graphics suffer from low resolution. They also noted the excessive road noise and odd placement of driver pedals. And despite the exterior refresh, the interior isn’t that impressive. But it’s not a net negative, combining soft touch points with hard plastic like many others in the segment.

Overall, the Altima is not a bad vehicle. The problem is there are multiple better and cheaper vehicles on the market. You should give the competition a good look, unless you’re attached to the Nissan brand.


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