The all-new 2019 Nissan Altima is the summation of Nissan’s top efforts to muscle its way into more Canadian households.
Unlike many other carmakers, Nissan, along with Volkswagen and Subaru, still firmly believes that now old-school midsize sedans will endure and continue to represent a huge portion of new vehicle sales for the foreseeable future. In fact, they and others think that millennials, these things, will prefer them over their parents’ ghastly SUVs. This is where the new Nissan Altima comes in.
Sedans are huge
While there might some validity to this, SUV and crossovers will inevitably win out once the “kids” realize the limitations imposed by their car and end up borrowing mom and dad’s Pathfinder… At least, this is what we think.
Last year, sedans, cars, represented roughly 4.75 million new vehicles sales or close to 50% in North America. SUVs are sweeping the continent but sedan are still a staple of transportation in the industry.
The Nissan Altima has switched personalities numerous time in its 25+year history. From mundane, to sporty, to boat-like, to boring and now, it’s a combination of comfort, handling and efficiency – regardless, it has always sold well. The new Altima needs to touch on all these aspects as the competition remains extremely fierce. No matter however, the Toyota Camry continues to reign as the best of the best.
Designed for the sedan buyer
I was enthralled by the new 2019 Nissan Altima when I attended the launch event last fall but I’ve driven many of its competitors again or for the first time since. And with a second go at the car, if I thought to the Altima to be among the top three in the segment, I’ve changed my mind.
But first, let’s go over the new 2019 Nissan Altima. For a styling perspective, it is the most attractive of all Nissan cars. The V-Motion grille is at home on this heavily raked sedan. It is the perfect introduction to the Altima’s strong character lines highlighted but the floating roof. While the shell presents a forceful outlook on the world, the cabin projects quite the opposite.
Nissan pushed for a very clean, austere, and European dashboard design. The standard 8-inch display sits at the top of the center console. Immediately, below it are some redundant controls for quicker access to various menus. Below them is the HVAC switchgear – all controls are straightforward and simple. About the touchscreen display, it may include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto however the screen’s responsiveness varied and admittedly, the resolution and some graphics already look dated in this all-new car.
One thing the Altima excels at is space, or interior volume. The rear bench is massive and will handle three real-sized adults with ease. Legroom is generous as it headroom. The boot is far more capacious than it rated 436 litres of volume suggest. Up front, along with good available storage, there is once more loads of room. The standard Zero Gravity seats, powered and leather covered in the Platinum, are extremely plush at first. After 15 or 20 minutes, I did not feel supported, rather I felt as though I was sitting on the seat. Maybe it’s my bad back…
Settled behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel, Nissan’s trim, model and option simplifications mean that this car only comes one way: normally-aspirated 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine, an Xtronic CVT transmission and AWD. As a proposed plan, this reads like the perfect do-it-all sedan.
The 2.5-litre produces 182-horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque which are adequate at getting the 1,525kg (3,355 lb) car up to speed. Speed does not pile on quickly but as a trade-off, the 2019 Nissan Altima can and will return a fuel consumption average of 8L/100km.
The Xtronic CVT Continuously Variable Transmission plays a leading role in this result. It continues to suffer the occasional elasticky response but under smooth throttle application, the programmed shifts play their role well. The powertrain’s tuning and the lack of paddle shifters for all trims is in-line with Nissan’s projected buyer: the typical sedan owner.
While this is all good, the 2019 Nissan Altima’s refinement and general comfort levels are not strong enough. Damping is limited in its ability to overcome road surface irregularities and I noticed a few rattles especially from the dashboard that hurt my general appreciation of the car. Steering is light while brakes are perfectly fine. I’m deducing that the 19-inch are in part responsible for this but the majority of the Altima’s competition I’ve driven were shod with 18s or 19s.
Good value but…
This is why I’ve changed my mind about the Altima’s standing. The Toyota Camry is more docile, the Mazda6 is sharper, the Honda Accord is somewhere in between, the VW Passat is punchier but the Altima outdoes them all on value.
For $27,998 ($1,500 more than the base Camry), the Altima S includes AWD, an 8-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power driver seat, heated front seats, satellite radio and more. Dollars and cents, the Altima kills. And it’s the same with all the aforementioned cars. When the new 2020 Subaru Legacy arrives, I assume that this argument in favor of the Nissan will be vaporized. In fact, I’m fully expecting that the new Legacy will be favorably priced, equipped and will be a better car to drive overall.
Mind you, and in the end, the new 2019 Nissan Altima is still a good car but not the best. The mid-range SV, at $31,498 is also a decent deal and the same goes for my tested $34,998 Platinum. The Nissan’s principal advantage is its standard AWD, which I’ve yet to properly evaluate. I do assume it works perfectly fine.