2019 Nissan Altima

Performance


#7 out of 19 in Midsize Cars

$24,000 MSRP
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2019 Nissan Altima Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

With a solid engine lineup, a smooth continuously variable automatic transmission, and compliant handling, the 2019 Nissan Altima is a good all-around vehicle. Models with the base engine now offer all-wheel drive.

  • "Regardless of engine choice, every Altima comes with a continuously variable transmission. Nissan's CVTs are some of the best, and that's no different in the new Altima. The transmission is great at mimicking the action of a traditional automatic gearbox, with simulated gear changes and none of that annoying, buzzy drone." -- CNET
  • Nissan offers the all-wheel-drive system only with the less powerful, normally aspirated 2.5-liter engine. With the AWD system’s extra weight, it’s no match for the VC turbo, but performs adequately." -- The Detroit Free Press
  • "On the fun, twisty backroads that connect Santa Barbara to Ojai, California the Altima felt composed. Part of that comes from the impressive steering calibration. The weighting is light and easy in, say, a parking lot, and ramps up nicely with just the right amount of heft as speed increases. It’s very precise too, right off center." -- Autoweek

Acceleration and Power

The new 188-horsepower four-cylinder engine that comes with the base 2019 Altima has quicker acceleration than the previous generation’s base engine. Nissan swapped out the previously available V6 engine for a 248-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, but reviewers don't seem to mind. The turbo-four packs a stronger punch than the base engine and is a better choice for more-spirited drivers. Both engines come with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that mimics the smooth shifts of a standard automatic transmission but doesn't suffer from the droning noise that's typical of CVTs.

Both engines get great gas mileage. The base Altima delivers 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, and models with the 2.0-liter engine deliver 25/34 mpg city/highway. Models with the base engine and all-wheel drive get 25 or 26 mpg in the city and 35 or 36 mpg on the highway, depending on the trim level.

  • "I actually preferred the 2.5-liter despite it making 60 fewer ponies compared to the turbocharged engine. When paired with the 2.5-liter, the CVT shifts decisively along set ratios like a geared transmission and the engine doesn’t suffer from any lag in its power delivery." -- New York Daily News
  • "The V6 might be gone, but we doubt many will miss it. The new torque-rich turbo four-cylinder is more fun anyway." -- Edmunds
  • "I drove both the 2.5-liter 188-horsepower base engine and optional 248-horse 2.0-liter turbo that uses Nissan’s new variable compression system. Both engines come with a smooth and unobtrusive continuously variable transmission. … The variable compression turbo engine — Nissan calls it the VC turbo — is a winner. It generates 280 pound-feet of torque at just 1,600 rpm for quick, satisfying throttle response. It was more than a match for steep hills and highway passing." -- The Detroit Free Press

Handling and Braking

The Altima is a capable cruiser with precise steering and composed handling, with little body roll on curvy roads. The Altima isn't exactly athletic, but a sporty SR model is available for performance-minded shoppers. This trim features a firmer suspension and paddle shifters to help create a more engaging ride.

  • "Not surprisingly, the SR models were the most confident handlers, whether they had the VC-T engine or the 2.5-liter. For all models, however, steering proved sharp and precise, and body roll was nicely contained. The brakes were utterly outstanding." -- New York Daily News
  • "The handling is excellent, thanks to a stiffer platform and suspension changes including monotube shocks. The car was stable and steady driving quickly around mountain curves. The rack-mounted electric power steering is direct and responsive, with good feel." -- The Detroit Free Press
  • "The whole car felt quite a bit more capable than either the old Altima or the speed limit on this these roads would allow. Part of the new chassis goodness comes from the mechanical upgrades." -- Autoweek
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