Cars Sedans

MotorTrend Says the 2019 Nissan Altima 2.5SL AWD Is the Optimal Choice for Long Drives

Nissan's first AWD Altima

As the SUV craze continues, automakers are quietly investing in their former heavy hitters to boost sales. If you’re not married to the idea of an SUV and want a quality car with the latest tech, plenty of space, and a comfortable ride, then it’s time to consider the 2019 (and 2020) Nissan Altima 2.55-liter AWD.

Motor Trend recently tested a 2019 Nissan Altima, the first Altima AWD. (You can only get the AWD model by selecting the base engine.) Here’s what they found.

It’s perfect for cruising the highway

Motor Trend put the 2019 midsize sedan through the paces and found it was happiest when cruising highways. Testing director Kim Reynolds wasn’t crazy about the excessive understeer or the soft chassis while driving the figure-eight course. She also didn’t care for the brake pedal feel or lack of steering. The performance of the brakes was solid, however, as she was able to stop the car from 60 miles per hour in 116 feet.

Chris Walton, one of Motor Trend’s road test editors, found there was minimal dive in stopping. He appreciated the firmness of the brake pedal before it slowly softened. The Altima completed the figure-eight course in 27.8 seconds. At the drag strip, they found it hit 60 miles per hour in 7.7 seconds, and it made the quarter-mile in 16.0 seconds at a speed of 89.2 miles per hour.

The 2019 Nissan Altima seems built for cruising, not speed. The roomy sedan handles road irregularities well; its passengers don’t really feel much impact. They did find some wind noise in the cabin around the A- and B- pillars.

With the 2.5-liter inline-four engine, the AWD Altima gets only 182 hp with 178 lb-ft of torque due to its type of exhaust system. (The FWD Altima gets 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque.) With the base engine, Motor Trend found that the Altima has enough power for the average driver. The CVT transmission and engine complement each other. They did find it hard to break traction with the AWD on dry surfaces. As much as 50% of the torque gets sent to the back wheels if the system even thinks it detects a slip.

Plenty of room

The 2019 Nissan Altima’s spacious cabin seats up to five passengers — four very comfortably. Visibility is good, and even taller adults can enjoy plenty of head and legroom. With 15.4 cubic feet of space in the trunk, you can store a lot of cargo — even more with the rear seats folded down.

Nissan’s seats are super comfy. The front seats are particularly nice and provide good support. According to Motor Trend, the only other manufacturer who rivals Nissan in seat comfort is Mazda.

However, Motor Trend found the interior to be a little lacking. While the cabin offers a lot of comforts, the addition of more premium features would have improved the Altima. They found the interior — even with a dual-tone color scheme — less upscale and ambient than the Honda Accord and the Mazda6. The tester found that the rearview mirror shook when the volume of the Bose audio system was turned up. The panel gaps around the glovebox weren’t consistent while the compartment remained closed.

The new NissanConnect infotainment system got high marks for its responsive 8.0-inch touchscreen and intuitive control layout. The updated graphics, like the onboard navigation maps, were easy to understand.

With ProPilot Assist active, the assistance features performed well. When it came to maintaining a consistent distance between the Altima and other cars, it did a great job. With the system deactivated, steering assist and lane centering doesn’t work. The remaining lane-keeping assist manipulates the brakes and yanks you back into the middle of the lane abruptly.

Comfortable but not memorable

Motor Trend found much to like about the 2019 Nissan Altima. It has comfortable seats, an easy-to-use infotainment system, and generous storage space. Those qualities aren’t enough to make it stand out, however, especially when compared to either the Honda Accord or Mazda6. Those cars had more upscale interiors and better driving performances.

The AWD is a great new addition to the Altima; it’s worth taking a closer look. If you seek a comfortable car for cruising the highways, the new Nissan Altima may be the right car for you.