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Nissan recently released its sales numbers for the first quarter of 2023. While the automaker sold more vehicles compared to the same timeframe last year, both the Nissan Altima and Sentra sedans saw a significant decline in quarterly sales.

Despite the Altima experiencing a downward trend, it did manage to perform slightly better than the Sentra, leading many to wonder what makes the Altima a more popular choice.

First quarter sales performance for 2023

According to the Nissan Group quarterly report, 38,295 units of the Nissan Altima were sold in the first quarter (January to March) of 2022. In contrast, 32,832 units of the Altima were sold in the first quarter of 2023, reflecting a quarterly change of -14.3%.

Likewise, the Sentra experienced a 17.0% decline in quarterly sales. In the first quarter of 2022, a reported 27,131 units of the Sentra were sold, and in 2023 only 22,517 units sold in the first quarter.

The only Nissan cars that showed an increase in quarterly sales for 2023 were the Nissan Versa, which experienced a 67.4% increase, and th GT-R, which saw an explosive 186% quarterly increase.

Overall, the Nissan car division experienced a -14.2% decline in quarterly sales for 2023 compared to last year’s numbers.

The Altima has a better sales performance than the Sentra

Even though the Nissan Altima has a starting MSRP of $25,490, which is higher than starting price of $20,050 for the Sentra, the Altima still consistently outsells the Sentra.

Consumers typically want more power and performance in a vehicle, and the Altima delivers with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a CVT transmission that delivers 188 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. In comparison, the Nissan runs on a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that only generates up to 149 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque.

The Altima also offers the option of a 2.0-liter VC turbocharged powertrain that generates an impressive 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The Altima also has both FWD and Intelligent AWD capabilities, compared to the Sentra, which is only available in FWD and may prove to be a dealbreaker for consumers who live in colder climates and have to deal with inclement weather.

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Hands down, the Nissan Altima offers more power than the Sentra compact sedan. The five-passenger mid-size Altima also received a refresh in the 2023 model, enticing buyers to take a second look.

Changes to the 2023 Altima model year included an improved trim level and package lineup, updated styling, and new wheel designs. An optional infotainment system, with a 12.3-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay integration, was also added. The advanced technology package, Nissan Safety Shield 360, is now a standard feature of the 2023 Altima.

MotorTrend ranks the 2023 Nissan Altima at No.6 in best midsize cars. In contrast, it gives the Sentra a lackluster endorsement. The auto reviewer noted strong fuel economy of 27/39 mpg, chiseled styling, and the number of standard safety features as reasons for the Altima’s popularity. They also claim “the turbo engine offers better efficiency than comparable sedans.”

The updates for 2023, the comfortable interior, and a more spacious feel than the Sentra increases the appeal of the Altima. MotorTrend claims the Sentra is not “especially exciting” with an underwhelming engine configuration and “funky” braking system that makes it “difficult to recommend” over similar models such as the Hyundai Elantra or Honda Civic.