The Nissan Altima has traditionally had only a couple of small problems: the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.
Often cross-shopped with the Camry and Accord, the Altima — a competent, if somewhat generic, midsize family sedan — has generally sold in fewer numbers than its rivals.
Last year, Nissan sold about 209,000 Altimas in the United States compared to 291,000 Accords sold and 343,000 Camrys. All the sedans are off their historical sales highs as American buyers continue to move away from sedans and into crossovers. At many Nissan stores today, Rogue small SUVs vastly outnumber Altimas.
The 2019 Altima represents the sixth-generation of the model. Our tester, a Gun Metallic model in mid-line SV trim, was assembled in Smyrna, Tenn., and provided to us by the manufacturer for a one-week test drive on Chattanooga roads.
Locally, Altimas are available at Nissan of Chattanooga East, 2121 Chapman Road, which had eight in digital inventory late this week, and at Mountain View Nissan, 2100 Market Street, which had 25.
* Model: Nissan Altima 2.5 SV
* Exterior color: Gun Metallic
* Interior color: Dark Interior
* Engine: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder
* Horsepower: 188 horsepower
* Transmission: CVT
* Fuel economy: 39 mpg highway, 28 mpg city
* Local Dealer: Nissan of Chattanooga East, Mountain View Nissan
* Price (as tested): $29,380
WHAT IS IT?
The Nissan Altima is a five-passenger midsize family sedan with two engine options, a 2.5-liter, normally-aspirated four-cylinder (188 horsepower) and a high-tech 2.0-liter turbocharged engine (248 horsepower) that replaces a six-cylinder option. Our tester has the non-turbo engine.
Our middle-level tester, an SV model, rings up at $29,380. For that, you get such amenities as a moonroof, heated front seats and an array of safety-tech features. The Altima comes in five trim levels S, SR, SV, SL and Platinum, with base prices ranging from about $24,000 up to about $35,000.
Our logbook noted a host of gold stars. Among them were a roomy trunk, dual exhausts, soft fabric seats with great lumbar support, rear-seat air vents, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. The addition of Apple Carplay and Android Auto smartphone interfaces is an important upgrade for 2019.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
The exterior styling is conservative, some might even say bland. The monochromatic interior and faux carbon-fiber door inserts don't inject much visual excitement. The dash AC vents are tiny, and the fan struggles to push enough air through them on a hot day.
The Altima is nimble and athletic. The 188-horsepower engine in our tester got the job done around Chattanooga, but we can only imagine what the 248-horsepower turbo-charged engine will do. The 60-horsepower bump is substantial. Still, commuting up and down the W Road on Walden's Ridge in the non-turbo Altima was a breeze.
The new Altima is better than before, but it may not juice sales much as buyers drift to crossovers. That could certainly change if fuel prices spike. The Altima's 39-mpg highway fuel economy rating would immediately become a solid-gold selling point.
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