Is it just a cheap Maxima?
I wouldn’t be offended if someone called my car a cheap Maxima. The Maxima was my favorite rental of 2018. Undoubtedly, Nissan has taken a lot of styling cues from the Maxima and passed them along to the all-new Altima.
This is my first rental with a flat bottomed steering wheel that seems to have a little GT-R inspiration. Whoever inspired the design should be proud if they also inspired the steering system also. The response was excellent at low and high speeds. The seats were comfortable and supportive in all the right places and would great for short or long trips. The interior switches are reminisce of the Sentra, Versa, and Rogue especially the 3 on the left of the steering wheel. The trip reset, dash illumination, and trunk release are nearly identical across most of the Nissan lineup.
The backseat was sparse, but comfortable and spacious as expected in a car that competes with the Camry and Accord.
The 186hp inline 4cyl was capable, but paired with a CVT made city driving rather annoying. I tried several different ways at take off at from a stop. Sometimes it was a smooth & quick launch like a cheetah, and a few times it was like a morbidly obese tabby cat that was on a bender of catnip. There wasn’t an eco/power/sport button to change the transmission settings, so that will remain a mystery. Nissan offers a 236hp turbo engine, but that increases the base prices by a minimum of $5800. The CVT is the only transmission available.
This was apparently the base ‘S’ trim level even though no badges were present as with previous model year variations of the Altima. I see some Passat styling cues also in the taillight shape. As much as I liked the subtle spoiler, I disliked the pointless fake air vents on the lower bumper. It appears to be vents for the undercarriage for aerodynamics(what else would they be for?), but looking closer. . .
. . . it’s a dirt holder. Would a plain white bumper be so bad and just put reflectors at each end?
The trunk was very spacious at 15.4 cubic feet and bests the Camry by 0.3 cubic feet, but trails the Accord by a whopping 1.3 cubic feet. The VW Passat has an impressive 15.9 cubic feet.
The infotainment center that pokes through the dashboard appears that it would be adjustable, but it’s fixed and cannot be tilted or lowered at all. The HVAC controls are crystal clear and contain no surprises, but automatic climate control isn’t standard. The engine start/stop button location is the same as the Maxima. The 6 speaker stereo was an pleasant surprise with clarity not found in vehicles twice the cost.
2019 Altima above – 2018 Maxima below.
The dashboard was well done, although the steering wheel had too many unnecessary buttons. In my short 24 hours with the Altima I achieved 33mpg which is inline with the EPA predictions of 29 city / 39 highway.
It’s no secret to any car novice or extreme car expert that this class has fierce competition. The greatly improved Chevy Malibu and Kia Optima, Consumer Reports perennial favorite VW Passat, best selling Toyota Camry, my preferred Honda Accord, and the soon-to-disappear Ford Fusion. All the carmakers are clawing for more market share so there’s deals, rebates, and favorable financing abound.
The exterior of the Altima is a smokin’ hot deal that could be mistaken for a Maxima from a distance, but the interior, engine, and transmission is definitely a lesser version of the Maxima. If had to do a lot of highway driving, the Altima would be a good choice solely for the ride quality and capability of 640 miles on a single tank of gas.
Was it that long ago the Sentra, Altima, and Maxima looked completely different and were unmistakably unique?
80 out of 100
80 out of 100
80 out of 100
65 out of 100
85 out of 100 – CVT helps a lot on the highway.
85 out of 100 – the ride at 70mph is memorable in the best way possible.
35 out of 100 – old school 6-speed manual or auto would greatly improve this number.
RECOMMEND TO RENT:
60 out of 100
RECOMMEND TO BUY:
65 out of 100