2019 Nissan Altima Edition One Road Test Review
January 20 2019, Trevor Hofmann
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.
Providing All-Weather Conquering All-Wheel Drive as Standard Equipment
The Nissan Altima is one of North America's top-selling mid-size family sedans, and by the looks of this sharply dressed redesigned model it's about to become more popular than ever.
Along with eye-catching visual dynamics that give it an edge over the majority of competitors, the new 2019 Altima has a nifty trick up its sleeve that will most definitely appeal to active lifestyle Vancouverites, not to mention every new car buyer's desire for the best in all-weather safety and ultimate control, standard Intelligent AWD.
That's right, the new 2019 Altima now comes standard with all-wheel drive, making it one of the best cars to wake up to on those mornings when our streets are paved with snow. It's ideal for snow sports too, its AWD system meaning you won't be forced to get out in the cold in order to strap chains over your tires when heading up the mountain for a day on the slopes.
The Altima's four-wheel propulsion system utilizes an advanced torque split design that automatically distributes power from 100 percent up front and zero at the rear, all the way to an even division of 50 percent front to rear. The bias depends on road conditions and resulting wheel slippage, with the default system being front-wheel drive to save on fuel and reduce emissions. Additionally, Nissan claims its new Intelligent AWD works seamlessly with the Altima's standard limited-slip differential, as well as its Hill Start Assist system.
More Power and Better Fuel Economy Is an Ideal Combination
Powering it all is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that's good for 182 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, which is 9 horsepower and 3 lb-ft stronger than the engine it replaces. Nissan promised smoother and quieter operation, plus better efficiency than the outgoing four-cylinder, and I must say it lived up to such claims during my test. Smooth is probably the best word to describe the updated powertrain, but much of this has to do with the revised Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that's ideal for drivers looking for relaxed comfort, ease of use and efficient operation.
In default mode it goes about its duties with near seamless perfection, the CVT's "seams", or rather shift points, providing the feel of a conventional automatic transmission for truly realistic shift intervals that never had me missing an old-school automatic. The Altima's velvety CVT is a perfect match for the equally smooth powerplant, plus Nissan includes a Sport button on the backside of the shift lever for maximizing performance. It allows revs to climb higher before a more assertive "gear change", making the Altima as fun to drive as it's efficient to own.
Fuel economy in mind, the updated CVT features an expanded lock-up area for enhanced efficiency, this helping the new Altima achieve a claimed 9.1 L/100km city, 6.5 highway and 7.9 combined in S and SV trims, or 9.3 city, 6.7 highway and 8.1 combined in Platinum or as-tested Edition One trims. This is superb economy from an AWD-equipped mid-size sedan.
Ride Quality and Handling Combination Is Excellent
While I had no time to head up one of our snowcapped local mountains to test out the all-wheel drive this time around, the new Altima certainly gripped well in wet weather and there was no noticeable slip during takeoff. Adhesion was further aided by standard traction and stability control systems, while Active Understeer Control and Intelligent Trace Control enhanced the Altima's admirable mechanical cornering capability, plus the car's comfort quotient was improved upon via Intelligent Ride Control.
Balancing ride quality and handling has always been an Altima strength, and to this end the mid-size segment's usual fully independent front strut and rear multi-link suspension setup takes care of comfort and control, with the expected stabilizer bars at each end and dual-pinion electric powered steering providing direction. The combination works well, no doubt helped along via my tester's aforementioned 19-inch alloys on 235/40 VR-rated all-season tires.
Features in mind, the 2019 Altima starts at just $27,998 plus freight and fees for base S trim, $31,498 for the SV, $34,998 for Platinum, and $35,998 for the 250-example limited-production launch version dubbed Edition One. I'll go into some of the standard and optional features available with other trims in a moment, but being that I'm actually covering this special model I should first mention that those just noted 19-inch alloys look really nice thanks to a matte grey finish and large chunky spokes.
Altima Features Are Plentiful No Matter the Trim
The Edition One also gets a larger than usual body-colour rear spoiler, "EDITION ONE" exterior badges on the lower portion of the front doors, ground lighting that emanates from below each side sill, illuminated "ALTIMA" metal kick plates, and really upscale grey carpeted floor mats with large "ALTIMA EDITION ONE" logos embroidered in a lighter silver/grey tone, along with the Platinum model's standard feature set.
Those Platinum features pulled up to Edition One trim include interior accent lighting, wood-tone inlays on the instrument panel, leather upholstery, two-way driver's memory, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger's seat, an Intelligent Around View Monitor, navigation, voice recognition for navigation and audio, SiriusXM-powered NissanConnect Services featuring compatible smartphone and smartwatch access to functions like remote engine start/stop, remote door lock/unlock, valet alert, etcetera, Door to Door Navigation that provides seamless transfer from a personal device using NissanConnect to the car's infotainment interface, Premium Traffic that improves ETA accuracy, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, nine-speaker Bose premium audio, and Traffic Sign Recognition.
Items found on the Platinum and Edition One that get pulled up from SV trim include advanced LED headlamps with signature LED daytime running lights (DRLs) and High Beam Assist (HBA), plus LED fog lights, dual chrome exhaust finishers, acoustic laminated glass, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, rear parking sensors, a powered moonroof, satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear passenger air conditioning vents, Blind Spot Warning (BSW) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Pedestrian Detection added to the otherwise standard Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), Intelligent Lane Intervention, Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking, and last but hardly least ProPILOT Assist semi-automated driving capability, an exclusive Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology that can totally take over steering duties for short durations on the highway, and aid steering (if you keep your hands on the wheel) for as long as you want, by helping to keep your Altima centered within its lane. While ProPILOT Assist is engaged, ICC gets used to maintain a safe distance behind vehicles ahead, resulting in one of the more advanced semi-self-driving systems currently available.
Advanced Driver Assistance and Safety Features Abound
Advanced driver assistance in mind, the new Altima not only comes standard with Intelligent Emergency Braking, but it also features standard Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (I-FCW), Intelligent Driver Alertness (I-DA), and Rear Door Alert that reminds you of anything/anybody left in the back seat when exiting your car, while additional base S trim features pulled up to our top-line Altima include the aforementioned automatic Xtronic CVT and AWD, plus remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, auto on/off headlights, LED turn signals within the side mirror housings, LED taillights, active grille shutters, a UV-reducing solar glass windshield, an Advanced Drive-Assist display within the otherwise analogue Fine Vision electroluminescent gauge cluster, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free smartphone connectivity with streaming audio, hands-free text messaging, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, two illuminated USB ports and two of the smaller USB-C ports, plus more, while the standard menu continues with micro-filtered air conditioning, heated front seats, an eight-way powered driver's seat, etc.
When climbing inside I was immediately impressed with the Altima's clean, contemporary design and better use of higher quality premium materials when compared to the outgoing Altima. Most surfaces above the waistline are soft to the touch, while the dash and instrument panel are particularly attractive thanks to their minimalist design. The door panels get extensions of the tasteful satin-silver accents used for the instrument panel and centre console, plus some French-stitched leatherette over soft padding found on the inserts and armrests. Nissan uses this treatment for the primary instrument hood too, not to mention down each side of the lower console, providing a premium treatment that's not unlike its larger, fancier Maxima sedan.
Electronic Interfaces Infused with State-Of-The-Art Tech
A personal favourite item is the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel rim that gets a slightly flattened bottom section for a sporty look and feel. It's enhanced with Nissan's usual high-quality switchgear, while the aforementioned instrument cluster is bright, clear and filled with a large colour TFT multi-information display at centre.
The infotainment touchscreen sits high atop the centre stack in an easy-to-see and just as simple to use fixed tablet design, while it came crammed with all the top-tier features mentioned earlier. Along with the usual tap gesture control, you can pinch and swipe its surface in certain applications, such as the navigation system's map. The map graphics are very nice, and its route guidance worked flawlessly, while the infotainment system's interface is well thought out on the whole.
Likewise, the clarity of the display is excellent, as is its depth of colour and contrast, this made especially noticeable in the audio system's satellite radio panel that provides colourful station branding and album cover artwork, while the Bose system's sound quality was very good.
Also impressive, my tester's parking monitor was a split-screen design with a regular reverse camera featuring active guidelines to the left and an overhead 360-degree surround camera system to the right, a best of both worlds scenario. This, combined with the previously noted rear sensors, made parking very easy.
Comfort and Roominess Measures up to the Mid-Size Segment's Best
Also positive, the Altima's "Zero Gravity" seats are wonderfully comfortable, with good lower back support plus the addition of powered driver's lumbar support that fit the small of my back ideally. What's more, I was pleased with the amount of rake and reach found in the tilt and telescopic steering column, allowing me to set up the driving position ideally, which isn't the case with some rivals.
Rear seat roominess is very good too, with 10-plus inches of space between the front seatback to my knees when the former was set up for my five-foot-eight frame, plus I had plenty of room to stretch the legs out with my feet below the front seat. Likewise, the Altima offered about five inches of open air next to my outside hips and shoulders, plus about three inches above my head, which means its rear quarters should be roomy enough for most adults.
An armrest with cupholders folds down at centre, while additional rear seat amenities include reading lights overhead and, as noted earlier, two sizes of USB ports on the backside of the front centre console. Lastly, a set of air vents are fitted to that same console.
Moving farther back still, the Altima's trunk should be large enough for most peoples' needs and then some, plus its usefulness can be expanded via release pulls that allow 60/40-split rear seatbacks to tumble forward when more space is needed for transporting longer cargo. Even better, the front passenger's seatback can be fully reclined to house extra-long cargo.
Speaking of storage up front, kudos to Nissan for making the Altima's overhead sunglasses holder capable of fitting even more types and sizes of shades, this thanks to the removal of a nosepiece holder that was previously oversized. It's felt lined to protect pricey eyewear too.
All-Season Safety of Standard Awd and the Security of a Lockable Trunk
As for styling, the new 2019 Altima's exterior design speaks for itself, and most should find its assertive new face to their liking. Its predominant feature is a go-big-or-go-home version of the brand's Vmotion 2.0 grille, surrounded by those sleek new headlamps mentioned earlier, while the
rest of the car portrays an athletic stance from front to back.
All said, the new Altima delivers big on style, interior design and execution, comfort and roominess, plus leading-edge infotainment, performance, fuel economy, and advanced driver assistance systems, while its safety rating should at the very least measure up to its peers. If you want new car with the all-season stability and safety of standard AWD plus the security of a lockable trunk, look no further than the impressive new 2019 Nissan Altima.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.