2019 Nissan Altima: First Drive – Cars.com

I’m here in the 2019 Nissan Altima now
2019 is a big year for the Altima this is the introduction of the sixth
generation Altima and it gets a full redesign for 2019 and the changes are
very extensive they cover everything from the exterior styling due to new
powertrains under the hood and upgrades to safety technology as well as interior
multimedia and infotainment so let’s dive right in we have a lot to cover
starting with the exterior styling now up front you get the vMotion grille
which you’ll kind of recognize other vehicles on the Nissan lineup but Nissan
says that the new engine is actually a bit smaller so they’re able to drop the
Cal of the hood and what that means is the front of the car sits lower than
ever before and what that does is it makes the new Altima seem sleeker it
makes the seem lower and wider and those other changes are also reflected in the
new styling so they shrunk the rear fenders down they didn’t make them quite
as bulbous and you have this nice shoulder line that runs kind of from the
hood all the way to the back and integrates nicely into the taillights
overall it still looks like an Altima this shape is still you know
recognizable as an Altima but everything is a bit sleeker a bit more toned and it
looks a bit more modern I actually like the design changes quite a bit for 2019
there are also big changes under the hood for the Altima so that includes two
new engines starting with the base engine which is still a 2.5 litre
four-cylinder however Nissan says it has over 80% new parts and it also gets a
slight power increase from 179 to 188 horsepower however the bigger changes
come with the optional engine so instead of a v6 there is now an available
turbocharged 2-liter 4-cylinder variable compression engine and if that sounds
familiar that’s because this engine was introduced earlier this year by infinity
into the qx50 SUV now Nissan engineers say that they’ve had to kind of change
the orientation of the engine and retune it a bit to get it to fit into the
Altima and ultimately I actually like the engine in this application much
better than I do in the qx50 though the qx50 is a larger vehicle so it felt like
the engine kind of had to spool up more to really get you at 50 going here the
engine has a bit easier time with the power and since the ultimate smaller
vehicle acceleration seems to pour on a little bit quicker now there’s a cavity
with both power trains is that it comes attached to a CVT and it’s more apparent
in the base engine the CVT kind of mutes throttle inputs especially from a launch
and when trying to pass there’s a noticeable lag where the transmission
tries to step down when you’re passing someone and there’s also a bit of a
delay when you really try to accelerate hard from a stop so the well the
measurable number is on though on the engine aren’t you know aren’t bad
they’re 188 horsepower is nothing to kind of sneeze at the fact that the
transmission kind of dulls your throttle inputs just makes the car feel slower
and feel less responsive now on the vc turbo i had a chance to test out the SR
trim which is the sporty trim of the ultimate and that does come with paddle
shifters and nissan says that there are eight available kind of fake gear ratios
that you can flip through using those paddle shifters and that kind of saves
the SR but the SR is the only trim that will offer those so even if you get
something like the car that we’re in now which is a platinum trim level and you
get the BC turbo engine you’re not gonna have the luxury of paddle shifters to
really make that engine act as it should the final powertrain change for 2019 for
the ultimate is the addition of all-wheel drive now all-wheel drive
gives the ultimate a bit more differentiation between it and
competitors like the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry it’s gonna be the only
one out of those three to offer all-wheel drive but the catch is you can
only get all-wheel drive in the Altima with the base engine now it will be
available on all trim level Altima which is a good thing and it’s gonna be a
$1,350 option but again only with the base engine so for those who want the
optional VC turbo engine you’re only gonna be able to get that in front-wheel
drive the all-wheel drive system is kind of a more passive system so it’s similar
to the one that you’ll find underneath the rogue and the Murano it’s able to
send about fifty percent of available torque to the rear wheels and once it’s
back there it has a brake based kind of torque vectoring system which breaks one
of the wheels to allow more power to go to the other wheel and on the whole it’s
not a very intrusive system I drove an all-wheel-drive version the Ultima on
some Canyon roads this morning and functionally it still pretty much feels
like a front wheel drive car it has a front wheel drive bias for greater
efficiency but the addition of all wheel drive will be a welcome change for those
who live in colder climates now there are also big changes
to safety features for 2019 the ultimate gets an electric power steering system
which means that is now available with their excellent Pope highlight assist
system now Pro pilot is one of my favorite sort of not quite self-driving
features but we’ll call it driver aid features it does a very good job with
lane centering which is not something you can say about other systems and the
crew that’s of cruise control is pretty smooth and accelerate smoothly and slows
down smoothly it’s just a very seamless integration so on SP trim and above you
get the pro pilot assistant you also get what Nissan is calling safety shield 360
and that’s just kind of a suite of safety technologies that includes one
more new technology which is rear automatic braking so we got to see a
demonstration of that the system can actually detect stationary objects
behind you and if you’re going to back into them it will apply the brakes for
you now down at the very bottom the S level does still get automatic forward
emergency braking standard an interesting jump up to the SR that adds
blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert so even the bottom trim
levels aren’t you know left without any safety features but you won’t be able to
go back and add in Pro pilot or safety shield 360 to those there are not really
any option packages offering the ultimate anymore so kind of what you get
safety wise for that grade is what you’re stuck with the 2019 ultimate also
sees big updates on the interior but the most welcome ones are changes to the
multimedia system so there is now a new 8 inch touch screen and that’s standard
across all trim levels and it’s sort of mounted high up on the dash in this
modern kind of tablet style but Nissan did one thing that I appreciate organ
amelie with the screen and they made it easy to reach from the driver’s seat so
some of these screens get mounted up too high but when you can’t really reach
them without leaning very far forward but this one I can reach both sides of
the screen as well as both the volume and tuning knobs without leaning too far
forward so kudos to Nissan for that ergonomic help there the other big
addition for 2019 standard Android auto and apple carplay
so whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone you’re going to be covered
for a smart phone mirroring technology now over all the updates to the 2019
are all very welcome changes I just wish that Nissan had gone a little bit
further in one area and that would be in improving the ultimate dynamics so I had
a chance to test the SR version of the Altima which is their sporty version and
that has about 10 percent stiffer dampers in the suspension and Nissan
says it also has a much tighter steering rack so you get a bit more confidence –
a bit more weight in the steering now I wish that Nissan had applied those
changes across all of the trim levels of the Altima even of the SR had a stiffer
suspension is still rode pretty well and the added weight gives the steering more
confidence the other trim levels feel a bit floating on the road you can’t
really tell what the wheels were doing underneath you so I think that those
changes to the SR could have been applied up and down the line up and then
you could have made the SR still even sportier and that would have helped the
Altima compete against the Accord in the Camry both of which got very extensive
redesigns last year and both of which I would say are a bit dynamically better
than the Altima it was always going to be an uphill battle for the ultimate
like going up against those two and I’m not sure that Nissan did quite enough
driving wise to give the ultimate leg up on those two vehicles however it still
does offer all-wheel drive and that’s an important bit of differentiation because
if you want a midsize sedan with all-wheel-drive you’re basically looking
at the Altima or the Subaru Legacy and the Altima is better than the Subaru
Legacy in a bunch of different ways it has a better interior I’d say it has it
better at multimedia experience now and the safety features on the Nissan there
are seamless in a way that the Subaru can’t really match the ultimate will be
heading to do this within a few weeks starting in early October and if you
want more information they also including detailed breakdowns of the
pricing and the fuel economy head over to cars calm you