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Nissan’s popular sedans, Altima and Maxima, offer top safety ratings. In addition to safety, the Altima has optional AWD and commendable fuel economy, with some trims getting almost 40 mpg on the highway. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an agency focused on rating the safety and crashworthiness of vehicles, saw fit to reevaluate the Altima. So, why did the IIHS take another look at the 2022 Nissan Altima’s side impact testing, and why could that mean deceiving ratings?

Is the 2022 Nissan Altima an IIHS Top Safety Pick+?

After initial testing, the 2022 Nissan Altima earned the IIHS’ top rating, a Top Safety Pick+. That means the midsize sedan scored “Good” ratings in nearly every category. While a Good rating may seem underwhelming, it constitutes the agency’s highest individual category score. Furthermore, the Altima earned good ratings In every original crashworthiness test. 

The 2022 Nissan Altima gets high safety ratings, but it also has issues with side impact crashworthiness.
Nissan Altima | Nissan

However, the IIHS reevaluated the 2022 Nissan Altima’s side impact crashworthiness, and the results are troubling. Strangely enough, the reevaluation didn’t apply to the Altima’s sibling, the Maxima.  

What’s the biggest problem with the Nissan Altima?

According to the IIHS, Nissan redesigned the Altima for 2019. Also, the marque implemented pillar and door sill structural reinforcements with the 2022 models. Furthermore, Nissan installed larger curtain airbags. That sounds like a series of updates that would improve cabin survivability in the event of a crash, but updated tests revealed otherwise. 

In secondary testing, the 2022 Nissan Altima scored a “Poor” rating overall in side-impact crashworthiness. Poor constitutes the lowest score available for any category or subcategory. Rear passenger protections scored top marks, but the simulated injuries to front occupants’ torsos and pelvises resulted in Poor scores. 

The 2022 Nissan Altima's safety scores are suspect following the IIHS' reevaluation of its side impact crashworthiness.
Nissan Altima | Nissan

The Altima still has a Top Safety Pick+ rating

Despite the Poor scores in side impact retesting, the 2022 Nissan Altima kept its Top Safety Pick+ rating. Still, it scored top marks in most categories, but the side scores leave much to be desired for potential owners. As a result, the Top Safety Pick+ rating is a bit deceiving, given the criteria that test cars need to achieve Good scores in each crash test category. 

The Altima isn’t the only one, either

Unfortunately for midsize sedan shoppers, the Altima isn’t alone in the revised testing. The 2022 Toyota Camry experienced similar events after earning a Top Safety Pick+. During updated side crashworthiness testing, the Camry returned a Poor overall evaluation. 

However, the Camry earned “Marginal” scores where the Altima earned Poor ratings and a couple of lower scores in rear seat injury measures. So, while both cars earned Poor overall side impact evaluations, the locations of the discrepancies were different. 

Should you avoid the 2022 Nissan Altima?

While these scores might signify a sobering prospect, both vehicles have many redeeming qualities. For instance, both cars are reliable, affordable midsize sedans with optional AWD and superior scores in crash prevention categories. However, if you want a vehicle with higher individual crashworthiness scores, the Mazda3 and Subaru Legacy are also Top Safety Pick+ vehicles without a caveat. 

Scroll down to the following article to read more about sensible and safe sedans!


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