The Nissan Altima is brand new for 2019. Likely better in every way than the previous generation, this midsize sedan offers drivers a lot for the money. Here are some pros and cons of Nissan’s family-friendly four-door.
While a fancy 2.0-liter variable-compression turbocharged engine is optional in the new Altima, delivering a stout 248 horses with 280 pound-feet of torque, the base powerplant will be found under the hood of the vast majority of these cars sold.
Naturally aspirated and displacing 2.5-liters, the standard engine is rated at a class-competitive 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet. If this unit sounds familiar, it should. An engine of this displacement has been offered in the Altima for years, however, this one is some 80 percent new, delivering greater refinement and efficiency.
The difference between that old 2.5-liter four-cylinder and this new version is night and day. The former was one of the most unpleasant engines available in the market, loud, gritty and offensive, it made driving a chore. Fortunately, the new one is silky smooth, likely one of the most refined base engines available in the segment.
Sure, its power delivery is a little soft off the line, but once it posts a few revs on the clock it pulls with surprising enthusiasm. In typical Nissan fashion, a continuously variable transmission is the only one offered in this sedan.
Even when bolted to the Altima’s available all-wheel-drive system, that engine is more responsive than you might expect. Setting itself apart from most offerings in the midsize-sedan segment, this Nissan is available with four-corner traction, an indispensable feature in large portions of America.
Curiously, this traction-enhancing technology is not available with the up-level, turbocharged engine. The automaker is focusing on making it available at a more affordable price, an upcharge of just $1,350. And if you’re curious, the base price for a new Altima is around $24,000, though the top-of-the-line Platinum-trim model tested here stickered for roughly $34,000 including $895 in delivery fees.
For those of you that live in Canada, 2019 Altimas are only offered with all-wheel drive, which makes sense given the severe winters you often must endure.
Coddling the driver and front passenger are some of the most comfortable buckets in the car business. Altima’s NASA-inspired Zero-Gravity seats are all-day cushy and supple yet still supportive in all the right places. They’re nothing short of AMAZING and make you wonder why all cars and trucks don’t have such wonderful seats.
But what about persons relegated to steerage? The Altima doesn’t disappoint, either. The back bench is similarly plush, with plenty of comfort and, perhaps more importantly, space for those that are long of leg.
Another pro of the Nissan Altima is its much-improved interior. Designers created a simple, cleanly styled cabin with easy-to-reach-and-use controls.
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Five trim levels are offered: S, SR, SV, SL and Platinum. Fortunately, even the most basic model is well equipped. Features like an eight-way power driver’s seat, automatic emergency braking, a driver-alertness monitor, Bluetooth, engine remote start, a back-up camera and an infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen are all standard in the entry-level S version. Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto are included at no extra cost as well.
Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist adaptive cruise-control system with lane centering is a welcome addition to the Altima. It’s standard on higher-trim versions of the car.
With a forward-facing camera and radar sensor, plus plenty of computer hardware and software, it allows you to drive long distances with ease as it controls the vehicle’s acceleration and braking according to traffic conditions and even helps keep it between the lines, so it doesn’t wander or ping-pong from one lane marker to the other. It works smoothly and feels very natural, where other systems can feel jerky and a bit scary. ProPILOT Assist has to be a pro on this list as “Pro” right in the name!
Yes, the new Altima’s cabin is much improved over the previous generation’s, with a clean, elegant layout and easy-to-use controls, however, it’s still not perfect. Some of the materials are a little low-rent, like the carbon fiber-textured plastic around the window switches. Beyond that, in several test cars I’ve driven the portion of the dashboard where the climate controls attach feels quite flimsy, yielding under slight pressure from a finger.
Fortunately, this car’s interior foibles are relatively few, as it’s still an extremely likable package from design and functionality standpoints.
The 2019 Nissan Altima is a tremendous leap ahead of its predecessor, being better in probably every way, both measurable and immeasurable. It’s comfortable, roomy, drives well and offers plenty of tempting technology. The only problem is, it doesn’t really break any new ground in the midsize-sedan segment.
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Despite being such a Jack-of-all-trades, an overall fine four-door car, the new Altima still isn’t quite as easy to recommend as the segment-leading Honda Accord, which has an edge in several areas, from interior quality to driving dynamics.
One final downside to the particular Altima tested here is that it left me stranded. The morning I went out to snap some photos of it I went through a carwash to clean up the exterior. When I arrived at my shoot location, I shut the engine off after getting the car positioned where I wanted it. BIG mistake.
After that, it refused to start. All the in-vehicle electronics appeared to be working normally but nothing I did would get the engine to crank. It simply refused to fire up.
I never got a confirmation on exactly what went awry, but the fleet-management company told me this Altima was a very early-build preproduction model, so perhaps all the bugs hadn’t been worked out just yet.
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