The Nissan Altima is one of the top-selling midsized sedans in America. For 2019 it adds some new tricks to the mix to try to push past the Accord and Camry.
What is it?
The Altima is Nissan’s midsized sedan doing battle in what was once the largest non-truck segment in America. Crossovers are taking over and Nissan’s Rogue outsold the Altima by two to one in October, but like the Camry and Accord, the Altima still puts ups huge numbers. The Altima is all-new for 2019 and the big news is that it now offers all-wheel drive. Something that neither the Camry nor the Accord offers.
Pricing and trims
The Altima starts at around $24,500 in its base trim with front-wheel drive. The base trim with all-wheel drive (AWD) is priced at about $ 26K. The top-spec Edition One VC-Turbo rings in at just under $37K, but comes only with front-wheel drive. We tested a fully-loaded Platinum AWD trim priced at $34,025. We suspect that for many, this will be the premium Altima of choice and we will explain why.
The Altima has a history of being a very safe vehicle and we suspect that when IIHS has time to test it the new 2019 it will not disappoint. Every Altima for 2019 has standard automatic emergency braking. This is important technology and it is nice to see Nissan making it available on every Altima regardless of a buyer’s budget.
Our top-trim Altima had Nissan’s Pro Pilot which adds lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and other driver aids. In a recent study by Consumer Reports, Nissan’s Pro Pilot technology scored higher than Tesla’s Autopilot and Volvo’s Pilot Assist in some areas of safety.
Performance & Fuel Economy
Our Nissan Altima Platinum AWD surprised us. The combination of the constantly variable transmission (CVT) and its new four-cylinder engine felt so much like a turbocharged engine with a geared transmission we triple-checked the specs before believing the engine was not boosted and that there really were no gears. Off the line, the Altima pulls hard and the sensation of torque is very noticeable. The engine revs rise, then fall if you accelerate briskly. Nissan’ has tuned the CVT to feel like a geared transmission in this regard. In normal suburban, city, and highway driving we felt that the new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine was much more than enough. This Altima does not feel like a sports car, but it isn’t far off that bar. If you want a fast sedan, drive the new 2.0-liter turbo equipped Altima from Nissan, but be aware that it is only offered in front wheel drive. That makes no sense to us. The added power would be better put to the ground with all four wheels powered.
During our time with the Altima, we traveled in city traffic, suburbs, and did a bit of highway driving. Our mileage recorded at the pump was 31 MPG. That is 1 MPG better than the Combined EPA estimate. All Altimas use regular gasoline.
Ride and handling
Even with its low profile tires, this Altima handled bumpy roads with very good ride comfort. Handling is good and the AWD means that you don’t spin the inside front wheel when starting off quickly at a turn. We didn’t have a chance to test the Altima’s snow capability, but in wet conditions, the AWD never let a wheel slip once when we accelerated.
Nissan has the cushiest seats in the business and the new Altima’s front perforated, heated leather seats with memory and easy in and out feature were outstanding. In back, there is no need to move the seats up for comfort.
The Altima’s trunk is smack dab between the Accord’s and Camry’s with 15.8 feet of volume. Under the cargo floor is a compact spare.
Infotainment, Controls, Features
Nissan’s infotainment system in the Altima was outstanding. The screen is large and clear and important functions are underneath as buttons so you can keep your fingers off the touch screen in everyday use. We loved the Altima’s easy to use system. It still amazes us that mainstream cars like the Altima simply put to shame the luxury brands like Acura, Lexus, and BMW when it comes to infotainment. The Altima offers both Android Auto and Apple Carplay even on its least expensive trims. This means shoppers don’t have to opt for navigation. Here, Nissan is ahead of Toyota’s Camry which does not offer Android Auto on any trim. Our Altima Platinum had a heated steering wheel (which is a big deal in the frosty Northeast) but no head-up display.
We loved this new Altima. The top-trim may seem a little pricey at $34K, given that is what you will pay for a compact crossover like a Rogue or Mazda CX-5 with these features, abilities and with more useful space. However, Nissan does have a large trim selection and other trims may have a value package that sedan buyers will find attractive. Nissan adding all-wheel drive to this top-selling midsized sedan changes the shopping dynamic a bit in cold-weather states. We think many shoppers who have been defaulting to crossovers but have a fondness for sedans may find the 2019 Altima with AWD a very tempting alternative.