Nissan Altima ›› 2019 ›› 2019 Nissan Altima
Overview: Final Score A-
The Nissan Altima is one of America's top-selling vehicles, but not the top-selling car. It is in a battle with two of the world's best five-passenger midsized sedans, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. For 2019 Nissan has redesigned the Altima, added all-new drivetrains and a new interior. That was to be expected. What was not expected was for Nissan to add an all-wheel drive option to its Altima.
The Altima has many similarities to the Accord and Camry, but it is now different in key ways and offers things that neither the Camry or Accord do. Shoppers considering a new midsized sedan, particularly in colder climates will find a lot to like about this new Altima.
What We Love About the 2019 Nissan Altima
What We Don't Love About the 2019 Nissan Altima
Exterior View (10/10)
Looks matter in this very crowded segment where every car is already better than good. Here the new 2019 Nissan Altima delivers. The front grill isn't polarizing in a way that will turn buyers away. Rather, it has the same look that every current Nissan vehicle has. Since many Nissans are top sellers, we will confidently say that Nissan's overall design language appeals to many buyers.
From the front, the Altima has a bold grill nicely accented with modern headlamps and lower fog lamps. Along the sides, the profile of the Altima is striking. Nissan used a double-crease in the sheet metal to give the car character beyond the usual. Near the rear, Nissan has employed the "floating roof" we first remember seeing in the Murano. This has the effect of making the roofline seem lower and longer. The overall view from the sides makes the 2019 Altima seem low and long. It is the Altima's best view to our eyes.
In back, the Altima has used a "fast-back" roofline with the trunk rising just a smidge to meet the rear glass. The trunk is finished off with an overhanging rear lip spoiler that looks tasteful and likely helps with aerodynamics. The rear has twin exhaust ports and a well-finished look. If Nissan has made any style missteps they are not apparent to our eyes. We rate the new 2019 Nissan Altima a 10/10 in looks.
Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (10/10)
Occasionally, we reviewers will find a vehicle that has ergonomics, functionality, and comfort so good we wish that automakers would just make it the standard layout and stop experimenting. The 2019 Nissan Altima is one such car. Every aspect of the new Altima works perfectly, intuitively, and with almost zero learning curve.
Take the infotainment setup. The screen is large and clear and you can tap it if you want to input data or make a selection. No need for any ridiculous remote mouse or trackpad. We understand that a portion of the car-buying public are fingerprint-phobes and hate to look at a screen that they have touched and see evidence of that touch. Here Nissan is again ahead. Every major menu you would normally toggle is under or aside the screen as a button. Tap that and you don't mar your screen with smudges. Frequent inputs are all located at your fingertips - literally. The steering wheel allows you to control all the typical ups, downs, lefts, rights, and new views you will need without having to move your hands at all. Just a finger or thumb nudge does the trick. Unlike Honda, who is apparently having an internal civil war over whether drivers deserve a simple volume and tuner knob, Nissan just gives you both. If you don't like it, don't use it. If you do, (like us) feel free to twist away. Hyundai/Kia and Nissan are now offering the world's best infotainment setups and are miles ahead of every luxury brand.
Under the infotainment setup is the HVAC control bar. Nothing is new here, nor should it be. No surprises. Just an easy to use while blindfolded setup every car should have. Our top-trim Platinum Altima had a heated steering wheel. If you want that in a BMW you will pay dearly for it. Here it is in a Nissan sedan priced near thirty grand.
The shift lever is what you expect and want, but we are not fans of Low being the last pull location. We would rather Drive was, but maybe we are nitpicking.
As easy as it is for us to sing the praises of the ergonomics in the 2019 Altima, the seat comfort is perhaps where Nissan is the farthest ahead of the pack. Have other automakers stopped putting padding in seats? It often feels that way. Do everyday cars need make-pretend racing seats with bolsters from a rally car? No, and Nissan does not force them on you. Instead you get a super-comfy driver's seat with the power controls that you need.
In the back, grown-ups can sit comfortably and the front passengers will not need to move their seats forward to make space. This is just right, and more space (which some of the Altima's peers do offer) is really just wasted. Enough space is enough and the Altima has it.
Let's start at the end. The Altima Platinum trim has every single bit of technology you need and want except for a head-up display. We were particularly impressed that Nissan has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - and in every trim! You won't find that in a Toyota Camry, or even a Lexus. We employed Android Auto and it worked seamlessly. Google Maps, Waze, Pandora, are all there and working without any hiccups. Why does this smartphone-integration tech matter? Because if a car has it you don't have to buy navigation or subscribe to satellite radio. That saves you thousands. Also, a recent study by AAA found that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are less distracting to use while driving than automakers' native systems. Less cost, plus more safety is why you are hearing so much about this important technology.
Our Platinum Altima trim also had navigation. We used it and it worked very well in downtown Boston. We are from Boston, but with ever-changing one-ways and construction navigation is a very helpful tool. We still opted for Google Maps, which is our personal favorite. Imagine, with Waze, Google Maps and Nissan's own built-in navigation system, you have three easy choices.
The audio system in the Altima Platinum is by Bose. As much as we are fans of Bose overall, the in-vehicle audio from this brand is not at the top of the heap anymore (if it ever was). That said, the Altima Platinum's system was very good and easy to adjust to one's taste.
Fuel Economy (8/10)
In a couple hundred miles of driving in the city, suburbs, and highway, our combined MPG measured at the pump was 30.8 MPG. The Altima is again near the top of its segment with regard to fuel economy. The front-wheel drive Altimas equipped with the base 2.5-liter engine earn an estimated 32 MPG, the AWD base engine trims earn a 30 MPG Combined estimate, and the high-performance 2.0-liter turbocharged trims are rated at 29 MPG. The best news of all is that the Altima uses regular unleaded fuel in every trim. The Camry has a bit of an edge when comparing base drivetrains, but the Accord's numbers are very similar. There is almost no penalty for opting for AWD and our real-world numbers matched the EPA estimate exactly. We will note that the in-vehicle average fuel economy display is a bit optimistic. Most are.
Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (7/10)
In Consumer Reports most recent rankings of brands by quality, Nissan is 14th, just ahead of Honda and Volkswagen. This is a first year for the new generation Altima and Consumer Reports warns that first year models have a higher rate of glitches than cars a few years into their design cycle. Consumer Reports gives the 2019 Altima a 3/5 in predicted reliability. J.D. Power rates Nissan in the top quarter for initial quality, just ahead of BMW and Cadillac.
Although the 2019 Altima has not yet been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2018 was a Top Safety Pick. Every new Altima also has standard advanced safety features including automatic emergency braking. All of the expected options are there and Nissan's highly-rated Pro Pilot Assist is also available. This system has been rated higher in some comparison tests than Tesla's and Volvo's systems in some areas of safety.
Although all-wheel drive in itself is not a safety system, it is helpful in bad weather and can contribute to safety in some situations. The Altima is also of a size that is much safer than a subcompact car. With all of this taken together, we rate the Altima a 10/10 in safety. Watch for new IIHS information to be published soon to confirm our predictions.
Although we did not test the up-powered 2.0-liter turbocharged Altima, we did find that the base engine had more than enough performance for a satisfying drive in every normal circumstance. It bugs us a little that Nissan has not combined its all-wheel drive system with the most powerful engine. Still, in the context of the Altima being a mainstream family and commuter car, its performance is a 10/10 in our book. Watch for a very sporty model to emerge in coming model years. Nissan's only concern here is stepping on the toes of its Infiniti luxury/performance brand.
We liked the handling of our Altima Platinum. The low profile tires are not overly-stiff and the ride quality over broken roads was good. Handling is sharp and the all-wheel drive system meant we never felt any wheel slip in wet conditions. We did not have a chance to test the Altima in the snow, but with a set of winter tires, the Altima with its optional all-wheel drive will make an excellent winter vehicle.
Pricing and Value (9/10)
Nissan has priced the Altima competitively with the Accord and Camry. If that is the benchmark, Nissan has a very good value package to offer. All-wheel drive has a value beyond its cost to many drivers in the colder parts of the continent and by comparison to a front-wheel drive Camry or Accord the new Altima stands out.
The inclusion of active safety systems and both Apple CarPlay and Android auto is also a plus for the Nissan Altima. Compare the top trims of the Altima to many premium brand sedans and the value proposition is very good in favor of the Altima. Finally, consider that the Altima has good fuel economy and also uses regular gas and the long-term cost of ownership also looks favorable.
The only way the Altima does not seem like a steal is in comparison to Nissan's Rogue crossover. Are sedans really a good deal anymore from any brand? That is debatable. However, it is hard to fault a vehicle for being the shape it is since many shoppers start with a certain type of vehicle in mind.
Total Score and Competitive Comparison (73/80, 91%)
The Altima earns top marks in four out of ten categories and also a 9/10 in two more. Only predicted reliability and fuel economy hold the Altima back from earning an A, rather than an A-. The Altima has so many strengths that are so important to so many buyers is clear that its sales will remain in the top three overall for midsized sedans.
One way the Altima now clearly beats the competition is with its all-wheel drive. No top-selling midsize sedan now offers this option. Shoppers who need or want all-wheel drive now have an alternative to a crossover if they want it and also prefer a Nissan.
The Altima also beats the Camry hands down with regard to infotainment. As good as the Camry is, Toyota has been going backward in this important area for years. However, the Camry still offers a smooth powerful V6 engine and Nissan's Altima does not. We like the Camry's look more than the Altima's, but both are good-looking sedans.
The Accord feels bigger than the Altima. That is an advantage if space is a top priority, but the Altima is in no sense "small." The Accord and Altima offer similar engine options and both have good infotainment systems. To our eye, the Altima is a better-looking car than is the Accord, but that is entirely subjective.
Nissan's compact crossover, the Rogue, has recently been outselling the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Honda and Toyota are not invincible, even in their midsize sedans. It is clear that Nissan put a lot of effort into its new Altima. We think that for many shoppers the 2019 Altima will prove to be the best choice among three outstanding cars.
|Sedan - AWD|
|2.5 S||2.5 S AWD Sedan||4 Cylinder||AWD||25350|
|2.5 SR||2.5 SR AWD Sedan||4 Cylinder||AWD||26700|
|2.5 SV||2.5 SV AWD Sedan||4 Cylinder||AWD||29530|
|2.5 SL||2.5 SL AWD Sedan||4 Cylinder||AWD||31440|
|2.5 Platinum||2.5 Platinum AWD Sedan||4 Cylinder||AWD||33380|
|Sedan - FWD|
|2.5 S||2.5 S Sedan||4 Cylinder||FWD||24000|
|2.5 SR||2.5 SR Sedan||4 Cylinder||FWD||25350|
|2.5 SV||2.5 SV Sedan||4 Cylinder||FWD||28180|
|2.0 SR||2.0 SR Sedan||4 Cylinder||FWD||29400|
|2.5 SL||2.5 SL Sedan||4 Cylinder||FWD||30090|
|2.5 Platinum||2.5 Platinum Sedan||4 Cylinder||FWD||32030|
|2.0 Platinum||2.0 Platinum Sedan||4 Cylinder||FWD||35030|
|2.0 Edition ONE||2.0 Edition ONE Sedan||4 Cylinder||FWD||35750|
|2019 Nissan Altima|
|2019 Nissan Altima|
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