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Long a credible competitor to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord – given its blend of comfort, performance and reliability – the Nissan Altima is now one of the shrewdest buys in a market that shifted dramatically over the last 90 days.

Remember when COVID, chip shortages, and supply-chain disruptions resulted in barren dealer showrooms and exorbitant markups? Yeah, that is all gone. In a snap of the fingers, we are now in a period of tighter credit, staggering reverse equity, and factories that cannot find the off switch.

Here is what that means: What manufacturers do is manufacture, and they get to count a vehicle as sold when the dealer accepts it, not when a buyer buys it. The factory essentially lends the dealer the vehicle, and the dealer pays interest on it until it is sold to a consumer.

From a dealer’s perspective, a perfect world is one in which there is a 45- to 80-day supply of a model. That ensures there are enough trim lines in inventory to satisfy various buyers, that when one is sold it is easily replenished, and that the dealer is only on the hook for a small amount of interest. 

The longer a vehicle sits on the lot, the more it costs the dealer. At certain times of the year, vehicle inventories can also be subject to property taxes, which is why December is a wonderful time to buy in Texas.

The first quarter of 2024 was not a bad one for the auto industry. Net American sales were up 4.5%. According to Cox Automotive, however, factory production increased by more than 52%.

The oversupply is not uniform across the industry. Chevy, for example, is holding firm at around 60 days. The most over-ladened makers are Ford, Stellantis (which used to be known as Chrysler) and Nissan.

Bargains aplenty abound. According to the car buying website, here are the most overstocked vehicles this week:

  • BMW X2:
    • Average Selling Price: $39,836
    • Market Day Supply (MDS): 772 days
  • Audi SQ8:
    • Average Selling Price: $110,620
    • MDS: 521 days
  • Dodge Hornet:
    • Average Selling Price: $41,905
    • MDS: 443 days
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E:
    • Average Selling Price: $54,713
    • MDS: 404 days
  • Volvo C40:
    • Average Selling Price: $58,658
    • MDS: 385 days
  • Jaguar F-Type:
    • Average Selling Price: $100,259
    • MDS: 329 days
  • Dodge Charger:
    • Average Selling Price: $43,717
    • MDS: 326 days
  • Jeep Grand Wagoneer:
    • Average Selling Price: $101,667
    • MDS: 323 days
  • Ram 2500:
    • Average Selling Price: $65,435
    • MDS: 323 days
  • Chrysler 300:
    • Average Selling Price: $42,948
    • MDS: 296 days

Ford and Nissan are sitting at 135 days MDS. That includes the Ram 1500, 107 days’ supply, and the Ford F-150, 98 days. On the other hand, manufacturers like Toyota, Lexus, Kia and Chevy have models that are in short supply, so do your homework.

Where? That takes us back to, which says that nationally Nissan has a 160-day supply of Altimas sitting on dealer lots. With 21,000 on hand, Nissan has more unsold Altimas than any other model.

Drilling deeper into Nissan dealers in this region, one quickly finds dozens of Altimas that have been around for more than five months. Most are priced online for more than 10% off list, which includes $750 cashback from Nissan; the company also offers 0% APR financing on 36 months for Altima.

Those are great deals, but the advice here is to ask for more. Nissan recently began offering dealers from $500 to $2,000 per vehicle to take selected models off its hands. Add a desperate factory to motivated dealers and credit-worthy buyers with down payments hold the upper hand in negotiations. 

Bargain until they are willing to let you walk out the door. Yes, you want that car, but just down the road, there is another that also longs for a forever home.

Altima worth the money

A great deal on a bad car is no bargain at all, but the Altima is within an eyelash of the Accord and Camry. Strengths include:

  • Comfortable Ride. The Altima impresses with its well-tuned suspension, providing a smooth and comfortable ride. The seats are supportive and offer ample legroom both in the front and rear, making it an excellent choice for long journeys.
  • Fuel Efficiency. The Altima offers competitive fuel efficiency, especially with its base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which delivers 32mpg combined, according to the EPA. An optional head-spinning 2.0-L turbo gets 29 mpg. 
  • Advanced Safety Features. The Altima comes with a host of standard safety features, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning. Upper models get Nissan’s superb ProPILOT Assist with intelligent cruise control and lane centering.
  • Intuitive Infotainment System. The Altima features an easy-to-use infotainment system with a user-friendly interface. The touch screen is responsive, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provides seamless smartphone integration.

The Altima comes in three trim lines, and each can be had with optional AWD. 

The 2.5 S starts at $27,140. The most popular is the 2.5 SR, starting at $29,340. It features sportier styling, a tautly tuned suspension and upgraded seating.

The top-of-the-line is VC-T SR, starts at $36,840. This is the model Nissan sent for us to test and, frankly, yours truly, always a sucker for GT-grade sedans, fell in love with it. A variable-compression four-cylinder engine with 248 horsepower reminded us that Nissan is the company that brought us the Z-car.

With 248 hp and 273 ft.-lb. of torque, the car takes off like a scalded cat and effortlessly soars into the triple digits. The car is nicely balanced, the steering is crisp and predictable, and the handling is confidence inspiring.

Toss in a 12.3-inch digital display and a premium, nine-speaker Bose sound system, birds-eye cameras, and a full suite of modern safety technology and what’s not to like?

Well, take off a few grand, throw in attractive financing, and one can drive in comfort and style for many years – without emptying the wallet.

In four decades of journalism, Bill Owney has picked up awards for his coverage of everything from murders to the NFL to state and local government. He added the automotive world to his portfolio in the mid '90s.

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