• Car Review

Driven: 2019 Nissan Altima Review

By David Undercoffler | February 11, 2019

Autolist rating: 3/5
But would we buy it? It’s fine but you can do better
Price range: $24,795 - $36,645, including destination but before options

Key takeaways

  • Redesigned and all-new for the 2019 model year.
  • Exterior styling is sharp and handsome.
  • Interior execution and driving dynamics fall short of rivals.
  • One of the few family sedans available with all-wheel-drive.
  • Overall it’s not compelling enough to beat Honda Accord, Mazda6 or Kia Optima.

2019 Nissan Altima-5

What is it?

The Altima is Nissan’s long-standing midsize family sedan. It competes against industry stalwarts like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Volkswagen Passat, Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima.

The Altima was redesigned for the 2019 model year. This sixth-generation model brought with it bold new exterior styling, a tech-savvy optional turbo engine, the availability of all-wheel-drive and a wide variety of standard active safety features.

Within Nissan’s lineup, the Altima is larger than the bite-sized Versa and the compact Sentra and smaller than the full-size Maxima.

The Altima comes in a variety of trim levels: the base S, SR, SV, SL and Platinum, plus a limited-edition ‘Edition ONE’ model.

All models come with one of two engines. Base models use a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque; a CVT gearbox is standard.

An optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is also available on the SR and Platinum models and is standard on the Edition One. It replaces the previous V6 option and makes 248 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and is also paired with a CVT gearbox. This engine is notable for being able to vary its compression ratio (all other engines have a fixed ratio). This allows the engine to be efficient when it needs to be and powerful when it needs to be, giving drivers the best of both worlds.

Front-wheel-drive is standard on all models, regardless of engine type. All-wheel-drive is a new option and will run you an additional $1,350.


What’s good

TLDR: Green, capable and handsome.

2019 Nissan Altima-6

Hey handsome. Nissan hit a home run with the exterior styling on the Altima. Front to back, side to side, it’s sharp and modern without being too experimental or weird. It also avoids the bland malaise of other vanilla midsize sedans. This was one of our favorite elements of the new Altima.

AWD. With Ford about to sunset its Fusion sedan, there aren’t many models in the midsize sedan segment that offer the option of all-wheel-drive (Subaru’s Legacy sedan is the obvious exception here). By making this an option, Nissan wisely opens the Altima up to a variety of buyers in snowy climates who prefer sedans over larger, bulkier crossovers, but still covet the traction of AWD. This is a nice ace up the Altima’s sleeve.

Efficient. The Altima does a nice job sipping gas, relative to its competitors. The optional turbo model is especially efficient, beating out the optional engines on the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima.


What’s bad

TLDR: Unremarkable to drive and live with, weak transmission, no hybrid.

2019 Nissan Altima-20

Not special. While the exterior styling is handsome, our overall impression of the Altima was lukewarm. Nothing about it felt particularly extraordinary, especially when compared to rivals like the Honda Accord, Mazda6 and Toyota Camry. Those models have better refinement, materials and build quality. On the Altima, however, the interior design and materials felt subpar and basic and there was little to get excited about with this car as a whole. Our test model cost about $30,000 and nothing about it felt like it was worth that kind of money.

CVT. We’ve said it about a variety of vehicles that rely on a CVT gearbox for fuel efficiency: these are no fun to drive. Yes, they give you decent fuel economy but they aren’t as responsive as a convention automatic transmission with fixed gears and they often make the engine drone when you accelerate.

No hybrid. Currently, the Altima doesn’t offer any type of hybrid or plug-in hybrid variant (the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima all do). This is a letdown for buyers who like the Altima’s styling and other features but still want strong fuel economy numbers.


5 stars of execution

Safety Features? YES

  • All Altima models — including the base S models — come standard with pre-collision alerts and braking and Intelligent Trace Control (helps the car corner better for safety).
  • The 2019 Altima is also a Top Safety Pick by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • We were disappointed that all Altimas didn’t come standard with things like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. Such features are standard on base models of the Accord and Camry but you have to jump up to the $29,000 Altima SV to get them standard.

Value? YES

  • The Altima packs in many nice standard features for its $24,795 base price, goodies like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, power driver’s seat, the aforementioned safety features, backup camera and remote start.
  • Numerous other trim levels above that S model make it easy for buyers to pick the Altima to suit their budget.
  • Our only gripe about the Altima’s value was the aforementioned lack of some active safety features that are standard on competitors from Honda and Toyota.

Efficiency? YES

  • As we mentioned, the Altima has great efficiency, particularly the optional turbo models.
  • Most base, front-wheel-drive models are rated at 28/39/32 MPG city/highway/combined.
  • The turbo FWD models are rated at 25/34/29 MPG.

Driving experience? NO

  • Between the underachieving CVT gearbox and the lack of overall refinement in the Altima, we were left disappointed in how it drove.
  • The main highlight was the base engine’s reasonable power, despite having less power than many of its rivals.
  • The crisp handling and responsive steering from the previous-generation are also missing in this new 2019 model.

2019-Nissan-Altima-Photo-15

Execution? NO

  • Given how good the Honda Accord, Mazda6 and Kia Optima are right now, we were hoping Nissan would come out with a rival that could go toe-to-toe.
  • But overall this new Altima feels disappointing; there just isn’t anything about it that’s notable.
  • It feels like an uninspired rental car at a time when its peers are bringing new levels of refinement, dynamics and style to the sedan segment.

Total Rating: 3 stars


What’s it gonna cost me?

As we mentioned, the base Altima S starts at $24,795, including destination but without options.

That model comes with the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, front-wheel-drive, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a power driver’s seat, pre-collision alerts and braking, Intelligent Trace Control, a backup camera, keyless entry, remote start and a 60/40 split rear seat that folds.

The SR starts at $26,145 and adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, LED exterior headlights, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The 2.0-liter turbo version of the SR adds the 248-horsepower engine for another $3,950 ($30,195 total). The engine upgrade also includes goodies like additional exterior and interior trim pieces, dual exhaust tips and heated front seats.

The SV model (with the base, non-turbo engine) is $28,975 and comes with a power moonroof, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane-center assist, pedestrian detection on its pre-collision alerts and braking, rear parking sensors, rear automatic braking and dual-zone climate control.

2019 Nissan Altima-21

The SL starts at $30,885 and adds navigation, leather seats, power passengers seat, a nine-speaker Bose sound system, remote connectivity abilities and wood trim.

The high-end Platinum model caps things off. For a starting price of $32,825, it comes with unique 19-inch alloy wheels, driver’s memory seat, a 360-degree parking camera and active noise cancellation. The Platinum model can also be had with the optional turbo engine.

All the aforementioned trims come standard with front-wheel-drive; all-wheel-drive is a $1,350 option on all of them.


Also consider

The Altima is in a shrinking segment of family sedans that have historically been some of the best-selling models on the market — but as crossovers grow in popularity, sedan sales are waning.

Still, there are some excellent rivals you should check out if this Altima has caught your eye.

Honda’s Accord is the most well-rounded model in the segment. It offers surprising refinement and amenities, excellent standard safety gear, efficient engines and handsome if understated, styling.

Mazda’s 6 sedan is the best-looking AND the best-handling sedan in the segment, bar none. It also has class-leading styling and refinement inside. We can’t recommend it enough.

Kia’s Optima is aging very well and packs in impressive refinement and style, plus a variety of powertrains (like a plug-in hybrid).

Chevy’s refined, comfortable and handsome Malibu is also worth a look.

Skip Hyundai’s weak Sonata, Ford’s soon-to-be-discontinued Fusion and the aging VW Passat.

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