Any vehicle not in the crossover/SUV segment these days is fighting for attention. No matter the badge on the hood, sedans, hatchbacks and even coupes are being pushed aside for the comfort, ride height, safety and space of crossovers and compact SUVs.
So, what’s a manufacturer to do?
For Nissan, it’s about revamping and retooling a model that already does well in its lineup, and translating those CUV-specific qualities into a sleek sedan package.
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Enter the remodelled 2019 Nissan Altima sedan, which is making its world debut at the New York International Auto Show.
“Customers are going from sedans to crossovers looking for all-wheel drive,” said Joni Paiva, president of Nissan Canada. “We understood it is very important to have.”
It seems like a small thing, but for a country that’s swathed in cold, inclement weather for longer than we’d like to admit each year, the addition of AWD adds that extra level of safety and security in the buyer’s mind. Hence the move toward CUVs, as not many sedans offer such a drivetrain option.
“Normally, if you want AWD, you have to go to the very top of the lineup trims or shop at a premium brand,” Paiva explained. “This gave us the opportunity to offer it to all with the new Nissan Altima.”
AWD is often reserved for the luxury premium manufacturers or the most expensive trim in a model lineup. But why should it be? Safety is everyone’s concern and the addition of an all-wheel-drive system on any vehicle adds a huge amount of practicality to a vehicle to be able to perform (and keep occupants safe) all year round.
In another first for Nissan, and really the entire automotive industry, the Altima will have an optional 2.0-litre, VC-turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. Now, without getting too technical, the VC-turbo is essentially a variable compression unit engineered to deliver the power of a V-6, with the fuel efficiency of a four-cylinder. In terms of power, it’s 22 horsepower down from the 3.5-litre V-6 it replaces, at 248 hp, but with the same amount of torque with 273 lb-ft. A reworked version of the 2.5-litre will also be available and is for the moment the only engine that can be paired with AWD.
Slip inside the redesigned interior of the 2019 Altima and you’ll immediately notice Nissan designers opted for simplistic, clean lines, especially in the centre console. It’s refreshing to see an almost bare-bones design where normally there are just too many buttons. A standard eight-inch, full-colour touch screen is used to navigate the on-board entertainment system as well as NissanConnect, which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Nissan has also updated their Zero Gravity seats, as well, for optimal comfort.
At the moment, the complete Canadian lineup hasn’t been confirmed. Nissan speculated engine/drivetrain options would be different from our U.S. neighbours, with the AWD available for more than one engine choice. However, we’ll have to wait until later this year to discover what exactly Nissan has in store.
The all-new 2019 Nissan Altima will hit dealers in North America in the fall.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.