The Nissan Altima is one of the most popular midsize sedans on the market.
With options for luxurious amenities and powerful performances, many owners wonder if the Altima offers enhanced traction and handling from an all-wheel drive (AWD) system.
The simple answer to this question is “no”
This is because only some 4th generation (2007-2012) Altimas had an optional AWD system.
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Brief History of the Nissan Altima
Initially this vehicle was in the market from 1992, the Altima was popular to appeal to a younger market desiring performance and styling over the economy-type vehicle of “Sentra”.
Over successive generations, the Altima established a reputation for:
- Sporty handling characteristics
- Powerful engine options
- Luxury features and technology
- Excellent reliability and resale value
Now in its sixth generation, the room capacity and the comfortablility of Altima continues finding ways to adapt to customer needs.
All-Wheel Drive Considerations
All-wheel drive improves several aspects of vehicle performances:
Traction & Control
- Power gets to all four wheels for a better grip and control on wet, snowy, or uneven roads.
- This also enhances the handling, cornering, and acceleration.
Safety & Stability
- The improved control from AWD systems translates into valuable safety benefits while braking and maneuvering, especially in poor conditions.
- Stability control is also enhanced.
Fuel Economy & Weight
- However, AWD components add weight along with mechanical complexity that can negatively impact the fuel efficiency ratings.
- The impact varies across different AWD technologies.
Availability of AWD in Altimas
The majority of past and current Nissan Altima models rely solely on the front two wheels for propulsion without any all-wheel drive option.
However, there have been two exceptions:
2007-2012 Altima Sedan and Coupe
- After the debut of Nissan’s advanced ATTESA all-wheel drive architecture in several Infiniti vehicles.
- Nissan made the system available in sedan and coupe versions of the fourth-generation Altima models by spanning the model years of 2007-2012.
- This was a full-time all-wheel drive setup with limited torque vectoring capability to direct up to 50% of power to the rear wheels automatically as needed for improving the handling and controlability.
- Fuel economy was only slightly impacted in AWD variants.
2023 Redesigned Altima (Future)
- Nissan has previewed an exciting, fully redesigned seventh-generation Altima slated to hit dealerships in mid-2023 as a 2024 model-year vehicle.
- The previews prominently feature all-wheel drive capability paired with the latest generation of Nissan’s VC-Turbo variable compression engine by promising a compelling blend of power, efficiency, and all-weather control.
- The two generations of Nissan Altimas that have offered all-wheel drive stand out for making the technology available paired with top-level engines and features.
2007-2012 Altima AWD System Attributes
The available ATTESA (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain) all-wheel drive system on fourth-generation Nissan Altimas had several key capabilities:
Rear Wheel Torque Distribution
- Up to 50% of power could automatically get transferred to the rear wheels as needed for optimal traction and control.
- Using an array of sensors and processing power, the AWD system could proactively and seamlessly direct power without noticeable transition lags or shifts in operations.
2023 Altima VC-Turbo AWD
Nissan’s next generation variable compression (VC-Turbo) engine will be offered with all-wheel drive capability on the 2023 Altima.
This model stands out for:
- The 2.0L VC-Turbo engine uses complex mechanical wizardry to physically raise or lower the piston height for optimal ratios between efficiency and the power output.
- The unique piston adjustment allows ideal optimizations for when the standard turbocharger spools up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Are Nissan Altimas All Wheel Drive
Q: How does the AWD affects the gas mileage in Altimas?
A: Past Altima AWD models only shows the owners about 1-3 mpg drops on highway mileage compared to front-wheel drive versions. The new 2023 VC-Turbo AWD Altima is projected to deliver 24 city / 34 highway MPG.
Q: Do all trim configurations of the 2023 Altima comes with AWD?
A: Details aren’t finalized yet, but the VC-Turbo AWD option will likely only be offered on higher tier trims or a speciality variation at an added cost over base FWD models.