My Take On The 2021 Nissan Altima Platinum AWD: Love All, Trust A Few, Do Wrong To None

The latest Altima is a car that has no vices, if that's what you're looking for

2021 Nissan Altima AWD review
The 2021 Nissan Altima Platinum AWD is poetic, in its own way; and it makes an excellent winter car. (Images: TFLcar)

The 2021 Nissan Altima Platinum AWD is economical, comfortable, capable and completely inoffensive – which might be the issue to some.

I apologize for the Shakespearian quote with this 2021 Nissan Altima Platinum AWD review. Honestly, I lack the intellectual capacity to use the guy to describe just about anything. Still, when I saw “Love All, Trust a Few – Do Wrong to None” from All’s Well that End’s Well, it kind of smacked of Nissan’s Altima AWD. Seriously.

The Altima is friendly, economical, capable and comfortable. It loves all; and the MSRP of $34,150 isn’t too shabby. People dislike its continuously variable transmission (CVT), even if they never drove it. But a few (opinions) can be trusted. It is a safe and secure vehicle that’s completely inoffensive. It does nothing out-and-out wrong.

Sure, if you were expecting a sporty AWD car, or a more enjoyable AWD car – there are lots of options that you should look at. The Toyota Camry AWD has a little more spark, and a more responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. Kia’s new K5 has an AWD option, and comes with a perky turbocharged engine. We recently reviewed it, with the Altima, and you can watch that below.

This is the fourth Nissan Altima with AWD I’ve had the opportunity review. Each time I drive one, I feel the same way: it’s a mighty comfortable ride. Nissan did an excellent job dialing in the suspension settings to provide a compliant ride, that’s tight enough not to sway and pitch like a dizzy Komodo dragon in a corner.

The Nissan Altima sports a well laid out interior, putting all the driver assistance tech within each reach on the steering wheel or on buttons adjacent to the driver’s door.

Some of the issues

The power on tap just isn’t enough. Equipped with a 182 horsepower 2.5-liter, four cylinder engine, the Altima makes 178 lbs-feet of torque. As I mentioned before, it’s connected to a continuously variable transmission – a CVT. This setup means it will make a lot of racket when pushed. The engine revs high, before settling down at speed. Of course, that’s typical for CVTs. Unfortunately, the engine note isn’t that rewarding when you’re trying to do this. And with the rubber-banding effect, the all-wheel drive Altima’s performance feels slower than the figures suggest.

Once you get used to flogging the engine for passing and off-the-line power, thought, it’s not terrible.

Over the years, Nissan has made their Jatco-supplied CVT behave more like a regular automatic transmission, while making it more reliable. The benefit to the CVT is an excellent 29 mpg combined. That’s pretty good for an AWD vehicle.

2021 Nissan Altima AWD review
The 2021 Nissan Altima looks a lot better than previous generations.

The good stuff

Every Altima comes standard with forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, standard blind-spot monitoring and high-beam assist. So, even for base models the Altima isn’t a bad choice if you’re a value-oriented buyer. And trims up through the top-end Platinum get even better, as this car adds features like:

  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • ProPilot Assist
  • Lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
  • Rear automated emergency braking
  • Adaptive cruise control

And more besides. Then there’s the “living with it” experience, which was also pretty good.


I took the family to a few sledding locations outside of Denver, CO. Room, overall comfort and trunk space were all good. The 15.43 cu-ft trunk easily swallowed our sled, winter play tools and a giant inflatable innertube – with room to spare. On icy paths, the Altima’s AWD system kicked in only when I deliberately parked us on a massive sheet of ice – heading uphill. Sure, the wife and kids complained, but I had to see how it would claw up the hill.

Other than a tiny bit of front wheel spin, the Altima’s AWD system scooted us forward with absolutely no drama.

By the time we were done with the outing, two out of four of us were sound asleep. The mixture of a winter sunburn and a long day of sledding made for tired kiddos, but the mellow ride of the Altima helped them nod off too.

The verdict?

If there is such a thing as a sweet-natured car these days, the 2021 Nissan Altima Platinum AWD would be it. Sure, you could get the much more exciting, 248 hp VC-Turbo in this car, but you will sacrifice the AWD option in the process. That’s definitely a bummer. Still, as a comfortable, component, economical daily driver, this vehicle really does no wrong.