2019 Nissan Altima AWD Review: 7 Major Things You Need to Know

The mid-size sedan might just have its mojo back

2019 Altima adds AWD for the first time & gets its most extensive platform change in two decades

Editor’s Note: also see our 2019 Altima First Drive Review here (non-AWD model)

Escaping from the world of mainstream crossovers is tough these days. Fortunately, for sedan fans who still appreciate the low-slung driving feel with the ample cargo, expansive interior space, and stylish looks they offer these days, are still in luck.

Automakers sticking it out with lowly 4-door haulers aren’t holding back, pouring in more love and features like never before – and for the new, redesigned 2019 Nissan Altima, this couldn’t be more true.

Also check out our Sedan Buyer’s Guide

Nissan’s mid-size 4-door finally regains some of its lost identity

Entering its 6th-generation for 2019, the Altima has had a somewhat confusing ride since first arriving in 1993, a time when crossovers were essentially nonexistent. Nissan’s mid-size sedan started off strong with great looks and upscale feel, then lost its way with ambiguous design and watered-down identity. We’ll blame it on the emergence of the compact crossover.

- Advertisement -

2019 nissan altima awd rear profile

Fast forward to 2019, the new Altima realized it needs to step it up to compete. Adding all-wheel drive (now a standard in Canada), lighter and stronger body, more tech part of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility program, updated design with more colour choices, and improved driving dynamics are a good start.

As Nissan puts it, “Our goal with the all-new Altima is to re-energize the sedan segment – in terms of design, driving feel and in making advanced technologies available and affordable for everyone.”

Here are 7 major changes to the 2019 Altima:

Altima all-wheel drive a Nissan sedan first in North America

The Japanese car builder knows it needs to make an investment in the Altima to make a strong case for the sedan. Adding AWD is definitely a game-changer – now a standard in Canada. The 2019 Altima is the first all-wheel drive 4-door the brand has ever released in North America, looking to provide drivers more confidence, especially for winter driving.

Nissan took things a little too far with the 2019 Altima-te AWD snow beast we got a chance to rip around in.

Lighter, Stronger, Faster

Two decades later, the new Altima gets the biggest investment yet including a completely new platform that’s now lighter and stronger. In turn, faster with a chassis developed to offer more comfortable, controlled and confident driving experience in all trim levels.

Improved Driving Dynamics

Read further below for my 2019 Altima driving impressions.

In addition to the all-wheel drive traction control benefits, Nissan enhanced the Altima’s suspension with added reinforcements for better response and the first Altima application of monotube rear shocks.

New Altima also gets improved steering to include a new dual-pinion electric power steering design to reduce noise while improving performance. As the Nissan says, “Between the engine improvements, isolation of noise and vibrations, tighter suspension and increased seat support, Altima absolutely feels like a class above.”

2019 Altima Interior gets more premium feel

2019 nissan altima awd interior front cabin space

During the Altima’s more forgettable years, the once premium interior took a major hit with bland design and subpar materials. That’s all changed with the next-generation redesign.

Inside, expect more high-contrast colours and trim for what Nissan states offers a more “a near-luxury feel in both design and materials.”

We wouldn’t say it’s a luxury interior but the Altima’s new cabin is up there and certainly ahead of the competition in the volume mid-size sedan segment.

A new horizontal “gliding wing” instrument panel looks sharp with clean layout that’s now more lightweight and layered compared to the outgoing variant. The seats are improved with optional perforated leather-appointed seat inserts.

2019 nissan altima awd seats

Exterior Stance: Lower and Sportier (Altima Platinum shown)

Thanks to a new platform design with a lower profile engine layout, the 2019 Altima is now wider while hugging the road, adding a huge dose of athleticism missing all these years.

The entire look is inspired by the  Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept first revealed at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. As Nissan explains, “We knew we had to elevate the appearance of the new-generation Altima, so the Vmotion 2.0 gave us the blueprint moving forward with the production model.”

Compared to the outgoing model (reviewed here), the new Altima grows all around, sitting 1.1 inches lower, 1 inch higher, and just under an inch wider.

Styling-wise, Nissans these days typically take on a more concept-esque look with spacey design cues. It’s a unique look not for all tastes but the design certainly separates it from the pack.

For 2019, the V-motion front grille carries over with a redesign, adding LED projector headlights with signature Daytime Running Lights, LED fog lights, floating roof with slim pillars and single panel moonroof. All available in 7 colours.

2019 nissan altima awd changes
Compared to the outgoing model, the new Altima grows all around, sitting 1.1 inches lower, 1 inch higher, and just under an inch wider. Photo: Amee Reehal

ProPILOT Assist “hands-on” driver assistance system

Nissan is putting a lot of emphasis these days on their Nissan Intelligent Mobility program with technology leading to a future of more autonomous vehicles. ProPILOT Assist is one of them and now integrated into the Altima.

Essentially, this tech eases driver workload by reducing the amount of driver acceleration, steering and braking input under certain driving conditions, such as single-lane highway driving.

Operated by a two-button function, once ProPILOT Assist is activated and Intelligent Cruise Control is set to the right speed, the tech kicks in keeping drivers centered in the lane, navigating stop-and-go traffic, maintaining a set vehicle speed and maintaining a set distance to the vehicle ahead.

The goal is to help with fatigue in annoying stop-and-go traffic while overall offering a more pleasant driving experience.

Interior Tech and Features

All Altimas will get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto paired to the standard NissanConnectSM, and the 8-inch touchscreen display is also a standard. The seats are updated for comfort and support with optional 8-way driver’s seat with memory.

Also check out What is Apple CarPlay?

NissanConnect Navigation and Services

Optional, this system adds a bunch of new features for 2019 including over-the-air updates, door-to-door navigation, real-time Premium Traffic updates and a Bluetooth Device Manager with customization features.

2019 nissan altima awd interior tech and features
The new Altima’s selection of audio and infotainment choices include an available Bose® Premium Audio system with nine speakers, including a new digital amplifier with eight channels of custom equalization. Photo: Amee Reehal

Remote start, heated seats, heated steering wheel standard features in Canada

Canadians rejoice. These three features are standard with the 2019 Altima, and worth singling-out.

2019 Altima AWD on the Road: Driving Dynamics

On the road, the new Altima’s low profile design really shines, especially taking corners at higher speeds. The suspension’s new dampers and added reinforcements feel tighter than ever without compromising comfort. My journey took me from the Montreal airport up to the beautiful, mountainous Tremblay region a couple hours north, where a mix of city, highway, and windy roads were in play here.

The torque distribution system feels good on the highway, kicking in when needed in different driver situation, whether quickly merging in city traffic or making a pass on the highway.

The suspension’s new dampers and added reinforcements feel tighter than ever without compromising comfort.

Powered by a new 2.5L DOHC inline 4-cylinder direct injection engine, Nissan worked hard improving the Altima’s powertrain, employing a whopping 80% of new or redesigned parts versus the outgoing model.

“The development of the new 2.5L engine started with reviewing the basic specifications one by one, such as the combustion chamber design. The result is an enhanced combination of high output and low fuel consumption versus the previous engine – with the bonus of improved NVH and front-end styling flexibility,”

Altima horsepower rated at 182 ponies

The 182-hp is adequate, along with the Altima’s 178 lb-ft of torque. Everything works with Nissan’s new Xtronic transmission with an updated expanded lock-up area for improved efficiency.

2019 nissan altima awd front grille redesign exterior
The V-motion grille carries over from previous models but gets a hefty update. Photo: Amee Reehal

Takeaway: Should you Buy a 2019 Altima AWD?

This may come as a shocker to most but not everyone out there desires or necessarily needs a crossover. Sedans are offer terrific cargo space especially with rear seats down, loads of interior cabin space, and unrivalled performance you won’t find with small utility vehicles (yes, fun driving is still a thing).

The 2019 Altima has gotten a lot of long overdue love and attention, and we’re happy to see that. Adding all-wheel drive – their first North American sedan to do so  and making it a standard in Canada – is a major change to help elevate the 4-door status it deserves.

An improved chassis with reduced noise, more tech in the cabin including ProPILOT assist, light and faster platform complete reworked, and new sportier styling

Learn more at Nissan Altima US | Nissan Altima Canada

2019 Nissan Altima Price and Trims

In the US, the Altima options are plentiful with a front-wheel and all-wheel drive varieties, starting at about $24k for the entry-level FWD model, topping out at the late availability Edition ONE VC-Turbo at nearly $36k which adds a bunch of sportier features including 19″ Dark gray aluminum-alloy wheels.

In Canada, all four trim grades are AWD only, starting at $28k for the S and topping out with the Edition ONE at $36k.

All prices below are MSRP and exclude any fees/charges – check your local area for exact prices.

US Pricing and Trims

  • Altima S [FWD] – $23,900
  • Altima S [AWD] – $25,250
  • Altima SR [FWD] – $25,250
  • Altima SR [AWD] – $26,600
  • Altima SR VC-Turbo [FWD] – $29,300
  • Altima SV [FWD] – $28,080
  • Altima SV [AWD] – $29,430
  • Altima SL [FWD] – $29,990
  • Altima SL [AWD] – $31,340
  • Altima Platinum [FWD] – $31,930
  • Altima Platinum [AWD] – $33,280
  • Altima Platinum VC-Turbo [FWD] – $34,930
  • Altima Edition ONE VC-Turbo [FWD] – $35,750

Canada Pricing and Trims

  • Altima S [AWD] – $27,998
  • Altima SV [AWD] – $31,498
  • Altima Platinum [AWD] – $34,998
  • Altima Edition ONE [AWD] – $35,998

2019 nissan altima awd side view profile
Available exterior elements include the V-motion grille, LED projector headlights with signature Daytime Running Lights, LED fog lights, floating roof with slim pillars and single panel moonroof. Photo: Amee Reehal

2019 Altima AWD Photos:

Amee Reehalhttp://www.ameereehal.com/
Shooting cars professionally since film was a thing, Amee's work has appeared in various outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. He's the managing editor & founder of TractionLife.com. Find him travelling, spending time with his kids and family. Or golfing, poorly.