Nissan Altima: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

WE LIKE ProPilot Assist system, good equipment levels on base car

WE DON’T LIKE Lifeless chassis, noisy engine and suspension, dull CVT

The Altima’s exterior design walks a fine line between edgy and parody. It mostly carries it off, though Chris Theodore dubbed it “a watered-down version of the concept car.” That said, the grille execution is the most emphatic take yet on the Nissan bucktooth graphic and gives the Altima a stronger road presence than its predecessor.

The interior is relatively generic 21st century Japanese, but some of the materials choices, notably the fabric on the rear of the front seats, betray obvious cost-cutting.

This is the first Altima available with all-wheel drive, but the system can only be ordered with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, so it doesn’t make the car any more entertaining to drive. In the Altima, AWD is more about all-weather traction than performance—which feels more leaden than the test numbers suggest. Nissan’s revolutionary VC-T variable-compression engine seems more at home in the Altima than it does in the Infiniti QX50; it delivers decent thrust and drivability, but the CVT transmission sucks the life out of it.

The chassis is lifeless and slow to respond to driver inputs, and it doesn’t even deliver decent ride quality and refinement by way of compensation. The Honda Accord leaves the Altima in its wake, but value-seeking buyers (and rental fleets) will love the Nissan’s standard equipment levels. But beware, pricing climbs rapidly.

“I was really hoping for some newfound sophistication in this generation of Altima,” Chris Walton said. “It looks better and has the new variable-compression engine, and the ProPilot Assist system is highly effective. But the doors still sound hollow, the suspension’s impact harshness is deplorable, and the price isn’t competitive.”


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