Nissan Altima Years To Avoid & The Best Nissan Altima Years

The Nissan Altima is an affordable mid-sized sedan, that offers a spacious interior, great gas mileage, and good handling, all at a budget-friendly price. Generally, the Nissan Altima is seen as a reliable car, which could last for 10 years and over 200,000 miles.

However, some models have been plagued by mechanical problems. On the other hand, some are very reliable. Therefore, it is important that you choose the right Nissan Altima model.

When you are spending your hard-earned cash on a used car, you want to make sure that it won’t cause you trouble in the years to come. With most mass-produced cars, you will find that models made in one year will be better than those made in another year, and the Nissan Altima is no different.

In short, the best Nissan Altima model years are 1993, 1996, and any year from 2019 onwards. Generally, you should try to avoid models from the years 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2013 – and we will explain why later on in this article.

What Are The Best Years For The Nissan Altima?

It is generally considered that the best years for the Nissan Altima are 1993, 1996, and 2019 onwards. But why do we hear you ask? Read below to find out more about what made Nissan Altima models made in these years extra special.

1993 Nissan Altima

1993 was the first year that the Nissan Altima was sold in the United States, and it entered the US car market with a bang. Customers loved its longer wheelbase, and interior space which felt huge. On top of these handy features, the 1993 Nissan Altima was also a surprisingly powerful car, with its twin-cam four-cylinder engine, producing up to 150 hp.

The 1993 Nissan Altima was launched to the American market to replace the Nissan Stanza, which had a popular following in the 1970s to late 1980s. At the time, this model of the Nissan Altima received good reviews from motorist magazines and had a very low level of recorded complaints.

1996 Nissan Altima

The popularity of the Nissan Altima reached even greater heights after the 1996 Nissan Altima model was launched. It became known as a fun, attractive, and affordable car.

The good reviews that the 1993 Nissan Altima received carried through to the 1996 model. The Kelley Blue Book scored the 1996 Nissan Altima 4.4 out of 5.0, which brought it to a level with the earlier 1993 model.

The 1996 Nissan Altima also had a low level of complaints, however, this model had a higher complaint rate than the 1993 model. Most complaints are related to electrical problems with the car.

2019, 2020, 2021,2022 Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima had great success in the 1990s, but the 2010 models were plagued by engine problems (more on that later). Thankfully, by 2019, Nissan had got hold of the problem, and any model of the Nissan Altima produced after 2019 is considered to be a pretty safe bet.

The 2019 Nissan Altima signaled the start of the sixth generation of Nissan Altima. It retains the power found in many of the earlier models, providing 188 hp as standard, or a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides a staggering 248 hp.

Many consider the 2019 Nissan Altima to be a huge leap forward from the models released in the 2000s. It received great reviews for its modem and stylish looks, and its technological advancements, such as automatic emergency braking.

The 2019 model added these features while retaining the fun drive provided by the earlier models of the Nissan Altima, and the spacious interior this car is known for.

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Nissan Altima Are:

The best Nissan Altima years are:

  • 1993
  • 1996
  • 2019 onwards

The worst years for the Nissan Altima are:

  • 2002
  • 2005
  • 2009
  • 2013

What Are The Best Years For The Nissan Altima?

The best years for the Nissan Altima are 1993, 1996, and from 2019 onwards. These years are generally considered the best because the Nissan Altima models were fun, reliable, performed well, and had good technology for their time.

Nissan Altimas produced in the 2000s and early 2010s had several mechanical and electrical issues. By 2019, these issues had been eradicated. This is evident from the low levels of complaints recorded against the Nissan Altima from 2019 onwards.

What Are The Worst Years For The Nissan Altima?

Now it’s safe to say that life hasn’t always been plane sailing for the Nissan Altima. Neither, has it been plane sailing for owners of the Nissan Altima’s during the 2000s.

In general, the Nissan Altima is considered to be a reliable car. However, some models have been heavily impacted by mechanical and electrical problems, and it is important to choose your model wisely. Below, we have listed the worst years for the Nissan Altima and highlighted what issues these faced.

2002 Nissan Altima

The problems for the Nissan Altima began with the 2002 model, which became notorious for its engine problems. These issues were put down to the engines using an excessive amount of oil.

On average the 2002 Nissan Altima would need its engine replaced after 97,000 miles. Unfortunately, this is an expensive repair for Nissan Altima owners, costing them on average over $3,300.

With this in mind, it is not surprising to learn that the 2002 Nissan Altima received a high level of complaints, the majority of which were engine related.

If you are looking at buying, or you own a 2002 Nissan Altima which is nearing 90,000 miles, you will need to consider that the engine may need repairing soon.

2005 Nissan Altima

Three years later, the 2005 Nissan Altima was released, but Nissan’s problems continued. The 2005 Nissan Altima is recorded as having a high level of complaints. However, complaints had become broader in range compared to the 2002 Nissan Altima.

While the engine problems prevalent in the 2002 Nissan Altima were still evident, customers also faced problems with rusting floor pans, motor mounts breaking, the car shutting down while driving, and a failing of the timing chain tensioner.

Because the issues with the 2005 Nissan Altima are so wide-ranging, it can often be difficult to work out the reliability of a used 2005 Nissan Altima. As a comparison, the issues with the 2002 Nissan Altima were largely limited to its engine, therefore if it had a new engine, you should be okay.

However, with the wide range of issues in the 2005 model, you might want to approach it with caution.

2009 Nissan Altima

As the years went on, the news didn’t get any better for Nissan and the Nissan Altima. Or for owners of Nissan Altimas in the 2000s for that matter.

With the 2009 Nissan Altima model, Nissan managed to rectify many of the problems which had impacted the 2002 and 2005 models. However, a new problem came to light. The largest problem was the car’s inability to start. This problem was put down to a faulty electronic steering column lock (otherwise referred to as ESCL).

The good news for Nissan Altima owners was that Nissan dealers were happy to replace the ESCL which caused the prevalent issues. However, the bad news is Nissan would charge customers unlucky enough to have purchased a 2009 Nissan Altima $1,000.

Driver starting a car.

The 2009 Nissan Altima was impacted by other problems, such as transmission problems, and issues with the accessories. However, the car’s inability to start was by in large the most common complaint.

2013 Nissan Altima

When Car Complaints awards a car the “Avoid Like The Plague” badge, it’s fair to say that it isn’t going to be a good model.

The 2013 Nissan Altima signaled the introduction of the fifth generation of Nissan Altima models. Unfortunately for Nissan, it was a case of a new generation, with the same old problems. Yes, those engine problems still hadn’t gone away.

Transmission problems were the main issues facing the 2013 Nissan Altima. Many Altima owners would have to replace their transmission after just 55,000 miles, well short of the average of between 150,000 to 200,000 miles. These unlucky owners would have to spend on average over $3,000 on a new transmission.

As you can imagine, complaints were again high for the 2013 Nissan Altima model, with transmission problems being the biggest issue.

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Complaints against Nissan Altima have largely followed the trend for the best and worst years of Nissan Altima models.

For example, Car Complaints has registered just 9 complaints made against the 2020 Nissan Altima, and 23 complaints made against the 2019 Nissan Altima. Compare this to the 928 complaints received against the 2013 Nissan Altima, 652 complaints against the 2009 Nissan Altima, and 623 against the 2002 Nissan Altima.

The records from Car Complaints show a huge drop in complaints from the early part of the 2010s to the later part of the 2010s, 2013 saw the highest number of complaints with 928, which by 2016 had dropped to 104 complaints, by 2018 there were just 12 complaints, and by 2020 there were only 9 complaints.

From the complaints data, it is clear to see that the best Nissan Altima years in the 1990s, and after 2018. It is also clear to see that the highest level of complaints was between 2002 and 2015.

When looking at a Nissan Altima you should take this data into account before deciding to purchase it or not. Data for 2021 and 2022 are not available at the time of writing.

What Problems Does Nissan Altimas Have?

Different Nissan Altimas models have been plagued by different problems. However, some issues are more prominent than others. This includes:

  • Engine problems
  • Transmission problems

Unfortunately, owners of Nissan Altimas have found these issues quite expensive to fix. For example, the 2002 Nissan Altima had issues with engine problems, leaving owners with a $3,000 repair bill.

Some Nissan Altima models are more likely to encounter these issues. If you buy a Nissan Altima model from any of the following years, you will be more likely to encounter these problems:

  • 2002
  • 2005
  • 2009
  • 2013

If you are looking to buy a used Nissan Altima, you should read the information we have posted above on the best and worst years for Nissan Altimas, and take this into account.

For example, if you are looking to buy a 2002 Nissan Altima which is approaching 90,000 miles, you should factor in the need to replace the engine – at a cost of at least $3,000.

On the other hand, if you are buying a Nissan Altima produced from 2019 onwards, you should have a much more reliable car on your hands. However, as with any car, you should always do your pre-purchase checks.

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Nissan Altima?

Overall the Nissan Altima is considered to be a reliable, affordable, and fun car. However, there are some models which have reliability issues. If you are looking for a midsized car there are several great alternatives to the Nissan Altima.

Let’s take a look at some of the cars which are ranked higher than the Nissan Altima.

Honda Accord

Top of the charts is the Honda Accord, which retails from around $26,000 to $38,000. Now in its eleventh generation, the Honda Accord tops many rankings for midsized cars.

Customers and reviewers love the good fuel economy, spacious cabin, and intuitive features. For city driving, the Honda Accord can get up to 30 mpg, and for highway driving, it can reach highs of 38 mpg.

Mazda 6

Another high-scoring alternative to the Nissan Altima is the Mazda 6, which retails from around $24,000 to $35,900. If you want a fun family saloon, the Mazda 6 may be the one for you. Fun, affordable, powerful, sleek looks, and has good fuel economy. What’s not to love?

Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry retails for around $25,000 to $35,800 and is another popular alternative to Nissan Altima. It can achieve up to 28 mpg for city driving, and up to 39 mpg for highway driving.

Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata is another popular alternative to the Nissan Altima. Retailing for around $24,500 to $34,750. the Hyundai Sonata can achieve between 23 – 28 mpg for city driving, and between 32 – 38 mpg for highway driving.

Kia K5

The Kia K5 is a sporty mid-sized sedan, that has a powerful engine that provides fast acceleration and impressive levels of torque. It retails for around $23,790 to $31,000. You can achieve 24 – 29 mpg for city driving and 32 – 38 mpg for highway driving.

Subaru Legacy

Unlike any other car in its class, the Subaru Legacy provides an all-wheel drive as standard. It managed to combine excellent driving performance, sleek looks, and a surprisingly spacious interior. You can get all of this for around $22,995 – $36,000.

Chevrolet Malibu

While it ranks slightly lower than the Nissan Altima, the Chevrolet Malibu is another solid alternative. It retails for around $23,500 to $33,500 and can achieve highs of 29 mpg for city driving, and 36 mpg for highway driving.

Volkswagen Passat

The Volkswagen Passat has a higher starting retail price of $27,295. Don’t be put off by the higher retail price, as it offers an excellent alternative to the Nissan Altima. with its impressive performance, spacious interior, and cutting-edge technology.

Nissan Altima – Is It A Good Car?

The Nissan Altima is a mid-size car that has been around since 1992. Is the Nissan Altima a good car, the simple answer is yes, the Nissan Altima is a good car. The 2022 Nissan Altima has amazing gas mileage with 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. The 2022 Nissan Altima is a reliable car scoring 85 out of 100, which is considered great.

All in all, the Nissan Altima is a good car to have around. It fits 5 comfortably, there is AWD and FWD of your choosing. With great gas mileage, this mid-size sedan can accompany you and your family on family vacations. With a decent size trunk, you and your family can put a good amount of items in there.

The takeaway, yes the Nissan Altima is a good car to have in your life in you are thinking about a mid-size car.


The Nissan Altima was launched in the US in 1993. It is clear to see that the best years for Nissan Altima were early on in 1993 and 1996. After that, the Nissan Altima was plagued by electrical and mechanical faults. It wasn’t until 2019, that Nissan got hold of these problems, and from 2019 onwards reliability was greatly improved.

If you are looking for a mid-sized sedan, a Nissan Altima from 2019 onwards is a safe bet However, there are some other exciting options, such as the Honda Accord, Mazda 6, and Toyota Camry to name a few.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!

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