Once among the most boring cars on the market, the 2019 Nissan Altima is doing its best to convince you it’s exciting. It makes some compelling points this year – notably available all-wheel drive and a new sporty turbocharged engine. But purists shouldn’t be afraid. The Altima still offers its traditional package of frugality, comfort, and value.

Best Value

One of the best parts of the new Altima is the standard features. Base Altima models get an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote start, keyless ignition, four USB charge ports, and even automatic emergency braking. It’s not luxurious, but, at a starting price of $24,645, it's strong value.

For an even better bargain, look a bit further up the lineup. The Altima SV adds 17-inch wheels, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and remote start with climate control. Even better, the SV includes Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist suite, which can keep the Altima centered and adapt for following distance. That’s in addition to the standard safety technology, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams. The system isn’t as capable as fully autonomous systems on luxury marques, but it’s a good way to mitigate fatigue.

  • Model: 2019 Nissan Altima SV
  • Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 188 hp / 180 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Continuously variable transmission
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 28 City / 39 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price:$27,930 (including the $895 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$27,930

Performance

Nissan Altima

The 2019 Altima won’t have you on the edge of your seat, but that’s probably a good thing. The base engine is a capable 2.5-liter four-cylinder with just enough power to be comfortable. The focus is on fuel economy, and the results are impressive – an EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon city, 39 mpg highway, and 32 combined for front-wheel-drive models.

Speaking of which, all-wheel drive is newly available on all Altima trims for a uniform $1,350. It doesn’t ding efficiency too much and will lend cold-weather drivers some peace of mind. All-wheel drive isn’t available with the sportier engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 248 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque. It’s an expensive option, but it’s more efficient than last year’s V6.

The news isn’t all good. The sporty SR trim gets 19-inch wheels, which look nice but introduce too much road noise. A stiffer body helps control motion in the corners, but the Altima is far from a lively ride. And while the fuel economy is strong, we’d still like to see a hybrid powertrain.

Style

In an attempt to buck its reputation for dullness, Nissan has spiced up the Altima’s exterior. We appreciate their efforts. The hood is neat but striking, setting off a gaping grille with a deep V down the middle. Slanted character lines give the Altima a crouching stance, making it appear sportier than its mid-size body would otherwise seem. The interior is pleasant but unobtrusive, with nice details on the upper trims. Room for both passengers and cargo is ample. Perhaps best of all is the safety tech – advanced features like automatic emergency braking are standard across the line.

Our biggest complaint is the persistent hard plastics in the cabin, especially on lower trims. They’re mostly hidden on less visible surfaces, but the overall impression isn’t flattering. The rear seats have plenty of leg room, but this year they’re set lower in the cabin, which makes ingress and egress just a touch more awkward.

The Best and Worst Things

The safety tech on a mid-range Altima can embarrass some cars costing $10,000 more. But Nissan hasn’t entirely escaped its demons: the Altima remains a subdued driver, and its value-oriented roots show through in the cabin.

Right For? Wrong For?

Nissan Altima

The Altima is right for budget-oriented buyers who prioritize features over flash. With its set of base features, widely available all-wheel drive, and excellent safety tech, the Altima is a car for all seasons.

The Altima will disappoint buyers looking for a premium experience. Competitors like the Honda Accord still feel more luxurious (not to mention offering hybrid power). The Altima is good value, but budget-luxury it is not.

The Bottom Line

Despite a few minor missteps, the 2019 Nissan Altima has plenty of charm. It’s better-looking than ever, and it adds safety and a dose of tech-savvy to its bag of tricks. As a mainstream crowd-pleaser, it’s not the most exciting car on the block, but it knows its strengths and executes them well.