Midsize sedans. Remember them? In reality, while SUVs and CUVs have been gaining lots of momentum in the U.S. marketplace, the classic family four-door is still a seriously popular alternative, ringing up millions of sales each year.
It helps to have new sheet metal in the market, and last year saw two critical offerings, the completely remade Toyota Camry and Honda Accord – the latter being named North American Car of the Year, with Camry a runner-up. Now, it’s Nissan’s turn to weigh in, and the Japanese automaker has confirmed we’ll get our first look at the 2019 Altima at the New York Auto Show in a little more than a month.
Spy shots have been popping up in recent months and they suggest we won’t see any radical shift away from Nissan’s current formula. A brief statement from the second-largest Japanese car manufacturer says that, “New Yorkers have always loved the Altima, making the Northeast region the most popular market for Nissan’s best-selling sedan and NYIAS the ideal place to reveal the next generation.”
While official details are lacking, there’ve been a number of rumors and reports, and insiders have been offering just enough hints for us to get an idea of what’s coming.
(Nissan spending $9.5 billion to grow China sales. Click Here for the story.)
The next-generation Altima makes use of an updated version of the D-platform that Nissan shares with its Japanese ally, Renault, and uses for other Japanese models such as the Maxima and Pathfinder. It’s likely to be tweaked to stretch the wheelbase ever so slightly, boosting interior space.
Visually, the 2019 Nissan Altima appears to be holding to the current formula, with the latest version of the brand’s familiar V-Motion grille framed by more cats-eye-style headlamps. Spy shots seem to indicate turn signals and foglamps are now mounted immediately above a front splitter.
The nose of the new sedan hunkers down low and to enhance its athletic stance there are sharp creases at each side of the hood, and a character line rises from the headlamps, flowing through to the high decklid.
The coupe-like silhouette, on the whole, appears to have been tweaked to further improve Altima’s aerodynamics, a critical move considering the increasingly stringent emissions and fuel economy standards automakers are facing around the world.
One of the details that observers have noticed on that V-Motion grille suggests a new radar unit is tucked inside and likely will be used for a variety of different advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking – and perhaps even the semi-autonomous ProPilot system debuting on several other new Nissan models, including the second-generation Leaf battery-electric vehicle.
(Click Here for more about Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi taking the lead in global auto sales.)
Speaking of powertrains, Nissan remains part of a shrinking group of manufacturers still offering V-6s for their midsized sedans – in Altima’s case, a 3.5-liter package. We’ll be waiting to hear if that remains a checkbox for 2019 buyers or if Altima will shift to an all-four alternative. The current 2.5-liter engine is expected to remain, and we might also see Altima share a turbo-four making 188 horsepower found in some of its other new offerings.
The automaker dropped its Altima hybrid in 2011 but is widely expected to bring some form of electrified drivetrain back with the new sedan. That could cover a range of possibilities, from a 48-volt mild hybrid all the way up to a plug-in. But the odds favor a conventional hybrid using the latest Nissan technology. Meanwhile, there’ve been rumors that an all-wheel-drive package might be in the works.
As for the new Altima’s interior, look for a significant update to the sedan’s infotainment package – and separate volume and tuning knobs. Like so many manufacturers, the growing use of technology is guiding the hands of designers, whether requiring the addition of larger touchscreen displays or the addition of USB ports – the cupholders of the new generation in terms of popularity.
Expect to see several different interior grades and an overall push to refine the look and feel of the cabin.
Like its competitors, Nissan needs to give potential buyers a good reason not to switch from its long-popular midsize sedan to one of its crossover-ute alternatives. Last year, the Nissan Rogue became America’s fifth best-selling vehicle, nudging past not only Altima but even the Toyota Camry, which slipped to sixth. (The Toyota RAV4, meanwhile, was the industry’s number four seller in 2017.)
(Nissan‘s XMotion Concept signals its new design direction. Click Here to check it out.)
We hope to find out a lot more about the 2019 Nissan Altima at the New York Auto Show – though pricing likely won’t be released until later this year. The automaker will have to run some serious calculations deciding whether to risk losing buyers by passing on the cost of the next Altima’s added features. The current model starts just over $24,000 when you add in delivery charges.