Does the world need more midsize sedans? Hundreds of thousands of U.S. auto consumers seem to think so. Even as SUVs keep grabbing market share from these cars, there’s still a huge audience for reliable vehicles that comfortably seat five and maintain a low profile.
Still, if you invest in an all-new product, it better stand out from the pack, especially when it’s already one of your top-selling vehicles. That appears to be the plan behind the new Nissan Altima, which got a full redesign for the 2019 model year.
At first glance, you can see the design changes. There’s plenty more that will be firsts in Nissan’s sedan, including all-wheel drive and a new turbo engine. Here’s everything you need to know about the redesign.
1. New engines and drivetrain, upgraded transmission
Standard in the 2019 Altima is a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Both figures are upgrades over the outgoing base engine. For the first time, buyers who choose this Tennessee-built engine get the option of the automaker’s Intelligent All-Wheel drive system.
Meanwhile, Altima will drop its V6 and bring in a variable compression turbo engine as the more powerful option. This 2.0-liter four-cylinder VC-Turbo powerplant, which debuted in the Infiniti QX50, delivers 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. For the VC-Turbo, only front-wheel drive is an option.
Nissan said it went with the turbo to improve fuel economy in its faster Altima, so we’ll have to see how it plays out in EPA testing. Both engines will mate to an updated Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). In SR-trim models, paddle shifters will be an option.
2. Exterior styling
The departing Altima has been around since 2013, and it began to show its age a few years back. For 2019, Nissan delivered a much slicker design that’s altogether lower and wider than the departing model. Meanwhile, it has a longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs.
In the front, you’ll find a lower hood, boomerang headlights, and a new grille. Out back, new taillights and otherwise minimalist approach give it a look that we say tops the latest Maxima by a good margin.
While 16-inch and 17-inch wheels remain standard options, 19-inch models will enter the lineup for the first time. Scarlet Ember and Sunset Drift are two new colors.
3. Standard and available safety features
The midsize sedan segment is all about safety, and Nissan is bringing out a full suite of safety tech to compete with Toyota, Honda, and Subaru. Standard features include auto-emergency braking, forward-collision alerts, and Intelligent Driver Alertness. On Platinum models, an around-view monitor comes standard.
Meanwhile, the automaker’s optional Safety Shield 360 brings rear auto-braking into the mix with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, high-beam assist, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
4. Interior comfort and tech
Inside the 2019 Altima, buyers will find a cabin that took a turn toward the upscale, starting with the raised 8.0-inch multi-touch display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, as do Bluetooth hands-free messaging services. An available right-way power seat with memory is newly available.
When you turn on the car, automatic headlights kick into gear, but the biggest upgrade here is the the standard 7.0-inch Advanced Drive Assist Display, which reads information from road signs and posts the speed limits on the instrument cluster.
5. ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving
On the upper (SV, SL, and Platinum) trims, Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist comes standard. This feature aims to ease the workload of the driver by performing basic drive functions (i.e., accelerating, braking, and steering) in one-lane highway driving.
While this definitely is a hands-on autonomous feature, Nissan’s system has impressed drivers of the 2018 Leaf electric car and Rogue crossover. Over a long drive, it can come in handy, though you have to stay alert.
6. Launch edition and pre-ordering
As Nissan gets closer to releasing pricing for each trim, there is one 2019 Altima you can reserve: Edition One. This launch edition comes standard with all the advanced safety tech, 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, special badging, and three years of concierge service.
For folks who aren’t interested in that one, every other Altima trim will hit dealerships in the fall. We’ll have to wait for fuel economy specs and, later, crash-test results for the 2019 model.