What steps do you go through when searching for a good family car? One that you will drive to work and your teens will drive someday? We needed a good family car but didn’t want just any car, we wanted one that was rated good in specific areas.
So when my husband and I were searching for a new family car. One of the models we searched for was a Nissan Altima. Specifically, we wondered if Nissan Altima’s were good cars.
Here are the things my spouse and I wanted when looking for a family car. We wanted a car to drive to work, for our teens to drive on the weekends, and that we would also use for family day trips in the towns near us. We needed a reliable, low-cost vehicle that was safe and didn’t cost a ton to repair or maintain.
Having a midsized car was our ideal situation since mini-cars don’t work with kids in the back seat with corner squish games and kids screaming, “He’s crossing my line!” which were all good reasons to go up to that midrange size. All-Wheel drive was on our bonus list as well so we wouldn’t have to worry about rough weather as much and feel like we were in more control during those tense times.
All in all, it seemed we were searching for a unicorn that might not exist. When we stumbled onto a YouTube video from Kelly Blue Book featuring a Nissan Altima, we were intrigued. After watching their excellent video and then reading the comments below we were convinced that Nissan Altimas were worth some more research.
So here I share the questions we asked, what things we were most worried about, and what we discovered. Get comfy and enjoy reading all of our research!
Finding a car with high safety ratings was one of our top priorities. So we wanted to know if Nissan Altimas were a safe option. Not only for my husband and me, but also for our teen drivers, and young children as passengers. We would be driving this as a work car and a family car on the weekends.
We found that in 2021 Nissan Altimas were rated as a “Top Safety Car” from the IIHS website. Altimas were also rated good or superior in multiple crash tests, also on crash avoidance and mitigation as well.
Altimas also earned a 5-star rating from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, the more stars there are, the safer it is. So this was a big yes in the safety question for us. Sedans are midrange-sized cars so that helps it be a safer car and we were excited to see such high ratings in a car at this price point!
Is Nissan Altima Reliable Car?
As we searched we were pleased to find that Nissan Altima’s were rated a 4.0 out of 5 by repairpal.com, which is above average for a car in its class. They showed how each category was rated and what could be expected as far as repairs and costs would go over time.
The results were quite pleasing! But were they a true prediction? We wanted to know more. We searched for gas mileage and found on average the 2017 models got 40mpg on their 4 cylinders 2.5 models and in the V6 2.5 models 32mpg which was amazing compared to our old gas guzzler that tanked away at 14 mpg. Good gas mileage is a top priority in a reliable car that will be driven daily!
After finding what are common complaints and knowing what to expect over time, especially with young drivers, we were glad to see such a nice rating overall in all areas from various sites and reviews. We found the rating to be consistent with every site we visited. We also talked to previous owners as well who all said that it was a reliable car for what we needed.
Do Nissan Altima’s Last Long?
With times as they are and prices rising every day we wanted a car that would last for years! As we searched we found various sources claiming that they would last for 200,000-350,000 miles. We wanted something that would be around for a while and so we looked closer at this information.
One source from drivinggeeks.com said, “Based on my experience, Nissan Altima’s last 250,000-350,000 miles.” He goes on to say that he has been buying Nissans for years and that on average you can expect 15 years of life for this model. Well, that was quite exciting and exactly what we were looking for! But we wanted more opinions and data to compare so we kept up the search.
We looked at no less than 10 websites and watched some reviews on YouTube as well (yeah we’re super high-tech but that is where we go when we want the real info) and they all agreed with that life span. If we really want to get the most mileage though we found that the need for proper maintenance is key!
Changing the oil, getting regular check-ups, and following the manuals or dealers, and instructions for proper care is a great place to start and will keep a car in tiptop shape and lengthen the life of any car for many years! Proper car maintenance is truly the key to saving not only the life of your car but will also save you in many expensive repairs down the road.
What are the Main Problems with Nissan Altima?
According to nissanproblems.com, there are several things that go out on Nissan Altimas, the worst being the steering wheel locks up. They also mentioned excessive oil consumption, vibrating, and catalytic converter failure among other things. Those were all real concerns so we researched a bit further.
Apparently, in 2013 the Nissan Altima had some issues but the company seems to have addressed them and they are not mentioned thus far in newer models. In fact, we found that in 2019, the Nissan Altima was redesigned and none of those problems came up with the newer models in our search. Starting after 2014 the ratings were much higher in the problems that were previously mentioned.
Since the redesign in 2019 Nissan Altima’s have gone up in their ratings for expensive repairs overall and thus are rating better than in years past, we felt like sticking to newer models would be our best bet and they would also have some features we wanted such as Apple CarPlay and Android auto. Expensive repairs are not what anyone wants so our tip is to avoid the 2013 models.
If you are wanting to see if the car you are buying has problems, test driving is a good idea! Go for a free joy ride and test out how it handles then you’ll see firsthand if any issues are present. It is usually best to test drive them anyways, then you’ll get to try out the features and driving capabilities of your car when you do so.
Are Nissan Altimas Expensive to Fix?
We know that while some cars may be a good upfront cost that doesn’t mean the maintenance or repairs are not extremely expensive! We didn’t want to be stuck with a money sucker and the car end up costing us more in the long run! We began with the first website that came up, caredg.com which said on average “Over a 10 year time frame, it would cost $5,561 to fix”, we calculated that to be about $556 per year.
We kept on searching to see if those results were a good average or not. We found that withclutch.com rated it as about $651 dollars annually to maintain which was within $100 of the other sites and our estimate too. When you consider a taxi or Uber costs $25-$50 per ride in our area for ONE ride this was a great saving and we could drive not only where we wanted but have our teens drive cheaper as well!
As for major repairs, there were few complaints in the models after 2013 and only a 16% chance of that happening according to various websites and our calculations. As mentioned above proper care will go a long way to keeping your car from having many issues. We do most of our maintenance so we searched how easy it would be to do on this model and if that would be something to look out for.
We saw that self-maintenance wouldn’t be an issue. For things such as a wheel lock we found we could take it to the dealer with our dealer’s warranty if that issue came up.
Leg Space in the Back Seat
If you have teens you know what I’m talking about! Their legs are longer than a mile and they need space. But we didn’t want a car that felt like a boat either, if you drove one in the 80s you know what I mean. My car was a 1988 Grand Marque so it drove smooth and felt like I was driving a longboat on water because every bounce felt like it was going in slow motion cutting through a lake.
A car that felt like a car and not a boat was what we were going for. There are about 35.2 inches in the back seat for the legs and 57.1 inches for the shoulders in the newer models. Just right for our needs! After several comparisons and after looking at a few we were pleased that it wasn’t a super small seat and fit teens’ legs about like we wanted.
Is It a Good Car Overall?
After answering so many questions about the reliability, problems, and cost we wanted to see what the overall rating was. We continued the hunt. We have 5 kids and this car needed to last through them (and their antics) and the drive to my husband’s work each day.
We found that reliability was rated at about a 4 out of 5 stars from repairpal.com and that seems to be what other sites rated it as well. The upfront cost was right in our price range and a budget car compared to many other models like a Hondas or Toyotas, and the budget was what we needed.
But just because we wanted a budget car did not mean we were willing to settle for less, and everything we read convinced us that this wasn’t giving us less. We were also pleased to see that Nissan Altima’s have all-wheel drive, a great bonus from other cars in this range! Not worrying as much about bad weather and getting stuck is an added bonus and one the others did not offer.
We also loved the size, roomy but not large, and plenty of trunk space. The cost ratings and comparison we had found made it a great option money-wise. The maintenance was not extreme and fit our needs as well! Overall the Nissan Altima is a great car and we were excited to start looking for one!
Times are getting tight for many families and getting a good basic car is one of the top priorities. After researching and comparing costs vs lifespan, we found the Nissan Altima to be a solid choice! It gets great ratings for not only safety and reliability but also comes with bonus features like the all-wheel drive. It’s not a flashy car but has the things most people want such as safety ratings, low gas mileage, and low repair costs.
It also had other features that are nice like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the newer models. We think Nissan Altima’s will fit the average person’s needs, and then some, at a great price point.
Please comment if you have any questions!