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2019 Nissan Altima: Riding a Bull and Bear Market

By Sue Mead, November 17th, 2018

Nissan is absolutely bullish about sedans; in fact, at a time when many other automakers are retreating like bears from the shrinking sedan segment of the market, Nissan has upped its game with the new 2019 Altima.

"We've sold almost 6 million Altimas in the U.S. and see it as the brand ambassador," Anne Corrao, director and chief marketing manager of sedans, told me on a recent drive together in the 2019 Altima.

Despite the belief that Gen Z and Gen Y consumers don't want to drive what their parents drove, Corrao says that many are looking for something other than crossover utility vehicles. Nissan's target Altima customers are in their 30s with children. "I think the updated Altima is beautiful, more athletic-looking and gives a visceral response, plus it's safer with many new technologies and is the only sedan in its class with all-wheel-drive."

The midsize sedan has been completely redesigned with all-new styling, a host of new technologies and updated engines. Lower, wider, and longer, the exterior has dramatic surfaces, lines, and details that help it stand out. Clever packaging plus pushing the hood and cowl downward, while adding larger available 19-inch wheels and tires give it a more aggressive stance; other elements that enunciate the new looks are the V-motion grille, streamlined boomerang headlights and a unique rear diffuser.

A floating roof accentuates the spacious, airy cabin, that has NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats with dual-density foam and added bolstering for improved support. Premium materials along with high-contrast colors and trims stand out, along with the lightweight, more-horizontal "gliding wing" instrument panel. Onboard are standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 8-inch multi-touch color display, Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio, hands-free text messaging assistant, and Siri Eyes Free/Google Assistant voice recognition.

Starting at $23,750, the five versions include the S, SR, SV, SL, and Platinum. A limited-production "Edition ONE" is available at launch based on the Platinum grade VC-Turbo, with exclusive content and services; added is a rear lip spoiler, illuminated kick plates, external ground lighting, the first presentation of Nissan Concierge service, and unique wheels, floor mats, and badge.

Standard on the 2019 Altima SV, SL, and Platinum is Nissan's ProPILOT Assist technology; the foundation for future autonomous vehicles, it aids drivers to stay centered in the lane, navigate stop-and-go traffic, maintain a set vehicle speed, and a set distance to the vehicle ahead. Also standard is rear automatic braking that detects stationary objects when backing up and, if necessary, applies the brakes to help avoid a collision.

Power comes from a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder direct injection engine rated at 188 horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. of torque. Intelligent All-Wheel Drive is available on 2.5-liter-equipped models only.

Optional is Nissan's world-first production variable compression turbocharged engine, which generates the performance of some V-6 gasoline engines but has four-cylinder-level fuel economy. In development for 20 years, the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder VC-Turbo engine -- available on Altima SR, Platinum VC-Turbo, and Edition ONE front-wheel-drive models -- delivers 248/280 and gets 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined. Both engines are paired with Nissan's next-generation Xtronic CVT transmission with D-Step Shift logic and offer improved efficiency.

I concentrated my drive on the 2.5-liter Altima Platinum AWD, as this model is unique in its class and should find appeal in states where ice, snow and inclement weather can bring unpredictable road conditions. Although not sprightly, it moves capably with good power, braking and handling on straight roads and along a winding and hilly course.

Notable were the premium, well-lit, comfortable cabin with great elbow room, and the large trunk. Also impressive is the long list of laudable safety features that are standard, as well as optional technologies.

Specifications

Base price $33,130 (as tested: $34,025)
Curb weight 3,344 lbs.
Displacement 2.5-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cyl. w/DIG
Epa mileage rating 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 16 gal.
Horsepower (net) 188 at 6000 rpm
Overall length 192.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 180 at 3600 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD midsize sedan
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