2019 Nissan Altima Preview
By Liz Kim, March 28, 2018
- Sixth-generation Altima midsize sedan
- New inline-four and VC-Turbo engine
- Available semi-autonomous driving technology
- Available AWD for 2.5-liter engine
- Built in Smyrna, Tennessee and Canton, Mississippi
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the Altima to Nissan’s fortunes here in the States. From leading Nissan’s American revival in 2002 with the excellent, second-generation Altima, to its platform that underpins most of their vehicles, including their popular crossovers, the Altima has proven to be a versatile and significant part of Nissan. And while it has never reached Honda Accord or Toyota Camry’s heights of popularity, the Altima has always been one of Nissan’s MVPs.
Now, Nissan introduces the sixth-generation Altima. It comes at a time when midsize family sedans are facing stiff headwinds and downward facing sales due to the burgeoning popularity of CUVs, but we have faith that the humble family sedans will still be around when trends shift again. And the newest Altima will be able to meet the challenge.
The new Altima is longer and lower, giving the sedan a rakish stance. Its wheelbase is lengthened by 1.9 inches, 1-inch longer overall, and 1.1-inches shorter in height. Taking its cues from the Nissan V-motion 2.0 concept vehicle, the new Altima features sharp creasing that emanates from the V-motion grille. Some may call it a little overwrought, with the huge chrome bite plate of a design element, but it’s certainly striking.
When equipped with the available 19-inch wheels, the sedan looks athletic and taut, and new lighting elements give it a modern flair. Especially notable is the crisp crease comprise the shoulder line and runs along the length of the Altima.
Slide into the driver’s seat and you’ll find an 8-inch tablet-style touchscreen dominating the center stack, and a nice, contrasting color scheme. Three interior colors await; Charcoal, with orange accents, Light Gray and Sport. We’ve experienced the Zero Gravity seats, which are terrific; now they’re enhanced with greater bolstering.
Five trim levels will be available at launch -- S, SR, SV, SL, and Platinum. Some upgrades to enhance the Altima experience include a nine-speaker Bose audio system, heated front seats, a navigation system, and a bird’s eye view camera.
The Altima SR trim level is the athlete of the group, and as such, receives a tauter suspension and chassis tuning. It’s also the only trim level that comes with paddle shifters.
Under the Hood:
Standard on all Altimas is a new 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine capable of making 188 horsepower. This isn’t just a tweak of the old four-banger; 80% of it is new or redesigned.
Alas, the trusty VQ V6 engine is no more for the Altima; rather, the upgrade engine on the Altima SR and the Platinum is 2.0-liter Variable Compression Turbo four-cylinder engine (called the VC-Turbo), which Nissan claims is the world’s first. It helps achieve the power of a V6 with the fuel efficiency of a four-cylinder by changing the compression ratio for high efficiency or increased performance. It also takes up less room under the hood, and emits less emissions. It can generate up to 248 horsepower, and should improve fuel economy. You can get it in SR and Platinum trim levels. Both engines are matched to a Xtronic CVT transmission.
For the first time, Nissan offers an all-wheel drive system for the Altima, at least for the naturally aspirated engine, for any of the trim levels. Sure, the Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy has been offering it for years, but you won’t be able to find AWD in other midsize sedans. That should allay the concerns of those living in areas with inclement weather who believe that CUVs are the only choice that offer enhanced traction.
Semi-autonomous driver technology may be available in luxury vehicles, but Nissan brings it down home with the ProPILOT Assist. The radars and cameras helps the Altima stay in the center of the late, maintain speed and distance from the car in front of you, even in stop and go traffic. Don’t count on snoozing on your commute, though; you’ll need to keep your hands on the steering wheel. This feature will be standard on SV, SL and Platinum trim levels.
Every Altima comes standard with automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning. Available with the Safety Shield 360 suite on higher trim levels is rear automatic braking, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning. A new Traffic Sign Recognition feature takes note of speed limit signs and lets you know on the dashboard.
The Altima gives you Apple CarPlay and Android Autos smartphone projection, along with available Apple Watch and Android Wear compatibility that allows you to start or stop the engine, or lock/unlock the doors through your wristwear. These technologies don’t have the new wow factor, but it’s notable that they are standard across the line.