The surge in SUV sales has led some manufacturers to downsize or eliminate sedans. Not Nissan. With its 2019 Altima, Nissan doubles down on its reliable midsize model with a wide-ranging update that includes a pair of new engines, all-wheel drive, and five new or improved safety technologies that keep it firmly planted as a reliable choice for the pharmaceutical and other commercial fleets now using it. The base sedan should remain a staple in rental fleets as well.
We joined other automotive journalists in Santa Barbara, Calif., to test-drive the sixth-generation Altima. The event began when Nissan showed off a 1993 Altima just to remind us all how far the vehicle has come since its introduction to the U.S. market. In truth, the vehicle hasn't received a significant powertrain update in 15 years, as evidenced by the pair of engines that have powered the vehicle over that span.
For the 2019 Altima, Nissan is offering a unique turbocharged four-cylinder engine that debuted in the Infiniti QX50 luxury crossover.
Two New Engines and (Now) All-Wheel Drive
Most fleet buyers will opt for a trim grade with the standard engine — a 2.5-liter DOHC direct-injection inline-four cylinder engine that subtly increases power output over the engine it replaces. The engine makes 188 horsepower (a 9-hp increase) and 180 pound-feet (up 3 lb.-ft). The block and cylinder heads remain, but most of the parts are new, according to Nissan.
Nissan is also offering a Variable Compression Turbo (VC-T or VC-Turbo) — a 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder that's available on three of the six trim grades (SR, Platinum, and Edition One). What makes the engine special is its ability to change compression ratios depending on whether the driver needs fuel efficiency or power.
The trim grades progress from the base S to SR, SV, SL, Platinum, and Edition One. A new all-wheel-drive system is available on 2.5-liter models.
More Safety Technology Bundled Together
Fleet managers are always looking to reduce their accident rate, and have seen a growing number of advanced driver-assisting systems arriving in new models to help them do it.
With the 2019 Altima, Nissan is introducing its Safety Shield 360 bundle on SV and above. The bundle includes five new technologies, including the semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist lane-centering feature previously added to Leaf and Rogue, as well as a drowsy driving alert, rear automatic braking, traffic sign recognition, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. The Altima previously offered a lane departure warning with lane keeping intervention and automatic braking, which adds the pedestrian detection feature.
Standard equipment across the lineup includes the drowsy driver alert, rear seat alert, eight-way driver's seat, 8-inch display for an upgraded NissanConnect infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 7-inch instrument panel display, two USB-C ports, and remote engine start.
2019 Nissan Altima Specs:
- Engines: 2.5L I-4 (188 hp, 180 lb.-ft.) or 2.0L turbo I-4 (248 hp and 273 lb.-ft.)
- Transmission: CVT
- All-wheel drive: Optional AWD with three torque distribution modes (50:50, 0:100, and 30:70)
- Cargo space: 15.4 cu.-ft.