The Nissan Altima midsize sedan got a complete makeover for 2019, moving it into its sixth generation with lots of new high-tech features – along with its first turbo engine and all-wheel drive options.
This redesign comes on the heels of similar makeovers just last year of the Altima’s top competitors, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
For 2019, the new Altima comes in five basic trim levels – S ($23,750, plus $895 freight), SR ($25,100), SV ($27,930), SL ($29,840) and Platinum ($31,780), with a 2.5-liter normally aspirated inline four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive standard on all. All-wheel drive is available on all five 2.5-liter models for an additional $1,350.
Additional variations include the VC-T SR ($29,150) and VC-T Platinum ($34,780), which come with the new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. This engine replaces last year’s optional 3.5-liter V-6, which is no longer offered.
There is also a special limited-production launch edition, the VC-T Edition One ($35,750), which is the most-expensive model in the lineup. All-wheel drive is not available on the turbo models.
All versions come with a continuously variable automatic transmission; no manual will be offered even on the sporty VC-T models.
For this report, we tested the Platinum front-drive model with the 2.5-liter engine.
As for groundbreaking new technology, the SV, SL and Platinum trims come standard with the all-new ProPilot Assist, a precursor to autonomous operation. Nissan says the system eases the driver’s workload by reducing the amount of acceleration, steering and braking input during highway driving. The goal is to reduce driver fatigue and accidents.
ProPilot Assist helps to keep the vehicle centered in its lane, navigate stop-and-go traffic, and maintain both a set speed and a set distance from the vehicle ahead – all done with a simple two-button operation. It includes use of the new Intelligent Cruise Control, a feature that is quickly becoming standard on even lower-end cars these days.
On the Altima, ProPilot Assist uses a forward-facing camera and radar, various sensors and an electronic control module to help keep the car in the driving lane and maintain the cruise speed set by the driver, and to help maintain a gap between the car and the vehicle ahead. The system also can bring the vehicle to a complete stop and hold it there in stop-and-go traffic conditions.
The standard engine, the 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder, is rated at 188 horsepower and 180 foot-pounds of torque.
For more zip, the optional VC Turbo 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder offers 248 horsepower and 273 foot-pounds of torque (using premium fuel). This engine, which Nissan recently launched on its Infiniti QX50 crossover, will be available only on the SR VC-Turbo and Platinum VC-Turbo grades.
As for the new Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, it’s capable of automatically sending up to half of the engine’s power to the rear wheels when slippage is detected, or keeping 100 percent of power at the front, which is the default mode.
The 2019 Altima also comes with Rear Automatic Braking, which helps detect stationary objects in the way as the vehicle begins to back up, and applies the brakes to avoid a collision. This is standard on the SV, SL and Platinum levels.
Other safety and convenience technology include standard Automatic Emergency Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Intelligent Driver Alertness on all models. The Intelligent Around-View Monitor is standard on the Platinum models only.
There also are front, side and rear safety monitoring and intervention technologies under the Safety Shield 360 system, which includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, the Rear Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning, radar-based Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and High Beam Assist.
The new Traffic Sign Recognition system picks up speed-limit information using a camera on the windshield in front of the rearview mirror. That information is transmitted to and shown in the Advanced Drive Assist Display. In vehicles equipped with navigation, the speed-limit information comes from a combination of navigation system data and the camera’s view.
There is a new dual-pinion electric power steering system, designed to enhance steering feel and reduces steering noise.
A new Integrated Dynamics Module includes Intelligent Ride Control, Intelligent Trace Control and Vehicle Dynamics Control – similar to those on the Nissan Maxima sedan. Wheel sizes include 16-, 17- and 19-inch, with the 19-inch alloy wheels included as standard equipment on our Platinum tester.
With the redesign, the new Altima is 1.1 inches lower, an inch longer overall, and 0.9 inches wider than the 2018 model; and it has a wheelbase 1.9 inches longer.
Among exterior features are the V-motion grille with dark chrome finish, LED projector headlights with Daytime Running Lights, LED fog lights, a “floating” roof with slim pillars and a single-panel moon roof.
Exterior color choices include deep-tinted Scarlet Ember (red), which changes hue with the light, and Sunset Drift (orange), which has a unique reflective pigment. Our test vehicle came with a beautiful Pearl White Tricoat exterior, which added $395 to the sticker price.
The interior was designed to give the Altima a near-luxury feel, Nissan says, with premium materials and the lightweight, layered and more horizontal "gliding wing" instrument panel.
Our Platinum test vehicle had a dark leather interior with a power tilt/slide moon roof, heated front seats and steering wheel, eight-way power driver’s seat and four-way power passenger seat with power lumbar and memory for the driver, interior accent lighting, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Comfort and convenience features include the standard 7.0-inch Advanced Drive Assist Display, enhanced Zero Gravity seats with dual-density foam and additional bolstering, optional perforated-leather seat inserts, and remote engine start with Intelligent Climate Control.
Standard on all models is the NissanConnect system, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It comes with an eight-inch multi-touch color display, Bluetooth hands-free phone system and streaming audio, Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant and Siri Eyes Free/Google Assistant Voice Recognition.
It also offers Apple Watch and Android Wear compatibility through the NissanConnect Services app – allowing remote engine start and stop, remote lock/unlock and more, along with Amazon Alexa compatibility.
Our Platinum model came with the NissanConnect navigation system with eight-inch color display and associated services, including over-the-air updates, door-to-door navigation, real-time SiriusXM Traffic updates and a Bluetooth Device Manager with easy customization.
Also standard is a Bose premium audio system with nine speakers, including a new digital amplifier.
While I’m sure the turbo engine option adds some punch to the Altima, we had no lack of power in our Platinum tester with the 2.5-liter engine. It included Hill Start Assist and traction control, along with the electronic stability control and four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
Our car also came with heated outside mirrors with built-in turn signals; remote keyless entry with pushbutton start; rear-door alert; and tire-pressure monitoring with Nissan’s Easy Fill alert system.
Five people can ride in the roomy Altima, but it’s much more comfortable for two in the back seat, which has a pull-down center armrest with dual cupholders. Rear passengers have their own center heating and air conditioning outlets, along with USB charging. They also have seatback storage pockets and door storage bins with single cup or bottle holders.
There are dual USB ports and an auxiliary port at the front of the center console just under the dash for the driver and front passenger, and two cupholders. Altima has a relatively roomy trunk with 15.4 cubic feet of space.
EPA fuel-economy ratings for our test vehicle with the 2.5-liter engine and front-wheel drive were an amazing 28 mpg city/39 highway/32 combined. During our test, we averaged 31.7 mpg with almost an equal mix of local and over-the-road driving. With all-wheel drive, ratings are 26 city/36 highway/30 combined; and with the turbo engine, 25/34/29.
The only options on our tester besides the premium paint were splash guards ($205) and a package with floor and trunk mats, hideaway nets and dual trunk hooks ($300).
Total sticker price was $33,575, including freight and options, for our well-equipped 2019 Altima Platinum 2.5-liter with front-wheel drive.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2000. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2019 Nissan Altima
The package: Midsize, four-door, five-passenger, gasoline four-cylinder normal or turbo powered, front- or all-wheel-drive sedan.
Highlights: Altima moves into its sixth generation for 2019, with a complete makeover and its first turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive options. This is the best version yet, offering a luxury-car appearance, sporty performance, comfortable ride, plush and roomy interior and lots of new high-tech safety and driver-assistance features.
Negatives: No manual gearbox available for those who want a sportier driving experience.
Engines: 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder, normally aspirated (standard); 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (optional).
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.
Power/torque: 188 HP/180 foot-pounds (2.5); 248 HP/273 foot-pounds (2.0).
Length: 192.9 inches.
Curb weight range (base): 3,212-3,329 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Trunk volume: 15.4 cubic feet.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted, roof-mounted side-curtain for both rows, standard.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Fuel capacity/type: 16.2 gallons/unleaded regular (front drive); 16.0 gallons (all-wheel drive).
EPA fuel economy: 28 mpg city/39 highway/32 combined (2.5, front drive); 26/36/30 (2.5, all-wheel drive); 25/34/29 (2.0).
Major competitors: Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda6, Ford Fusion, Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Legacy.
Base price range: $23,750-$35,750, plus $895 freight.
Price as tested: $33,575, including freight and options (2.5 Platinum front drive).
On the Road rating: 9.2 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.