Needing a roomy back seat and the convenience of large cargo compartment accessed by a handy rear liftback? Not willing to put up with a boring, run-of-the-mill mid-size crossover SUV? Nissan has the…

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD Road Test

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
The stylish Nissan Murano continues forward into 2018 with new features and updates to trims. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Needing a roomy back seat and the convenience of large cargo compartment accessed by a handy rear liftback? Not willing to put up with a boring, run-of-the-mill mid-size crossover SUV? Nissan has the answer. 

The Murano has long offered a lot more style than its class average, which works perfectly considering how well it balances premium levels of execution with mainstream branded value. While positioned below the Pathfinder when it comes to family hauling and cargo loading capability, the five-seat Murano delivers at a higher level when factoring in styling, refinement and performance. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
The Murano looks good in all of its trims, but it looks best wearing the 20-inch alloys that come standard with the Platinum. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

In fact, the Murano bests plenty of its mid-size rivals when it comes to wow factor, both by its eye-catching design from the outside in, and by its impressive interior materials quality that makes it look and feel more like a luxury branded crossover SUV than it truly has a right to. 

Every time I slide inside a Murano I’m reminded how car companies should do interiors. Truly, this Platinum trimmed version is finished better than some luxury brands’ offerings. Small but much appreciated details include fabric-wrapped and padded A-pillars, padded soft-touch leatherette door uppers front to back, the same rich leather-like synthetic across the front portion of those door panels and the armrests, which are French-stitched as well. The instrument cluster hood and section ahead of the front passenger is finished similarly, which perfectly matches the stitched and padded steering wheel rim, plus the side edges of the lower console. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
Check out this awesome interior, the Murano Platinum positively rich. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course the entire dash-top is soft to the touch too, while Nissan applies some wonderfully artistic mother of pearl-style inlays to the instrument panel and door panels, not to mention the lower console surfacing and centre armrest decoration. Granted, this won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I’m guessing those who like it love it. Of note to most male readers, Nissan offers a new Murano Midnight Edition that might suit your sporting performance aspirations more thanks to a cool black grille, black side mirror caps, dark alloy wheels, roof rails, roof rails, and a more down to business interior, while there are also more conservative interior motifs in between. Either way, this detail, along with all of the chrome, satin-silver and piano black lacquer accents, provides a true sense of occasion that sets this mid-size crossover SUV apart from the masses, while making all of its occupants feel special. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more luxurious cabin from any competitor. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As noted, my tester was in top-line Platinum trim, which is priced at $44,598, so there were more attributes making its occupants feel pampered than just the style and quality of finishings. Standard Murano Platinum features include unique 20-inch machine-finished alloy wheels, LED headlamps, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, memory settings for the latter as well as the eight-way powered driver’s seat and side mirrors, ventilated front seats, power return rear seatbacks, and more. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
Nissan provides a really nice multi-info display within the Murano’s attractive gauge cluster. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Other features you can see in the photos get pulled up from lesser $31,498 base S, $37,998 SV and $41,648 SL trims, such as my tester’s heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, perforated leather upholstery, heated front and rear outboard seats, adjustable ambient lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, remote start with Intelligent Climate Control, dual-zone automatic HVAC (which is actually standard), electroluminescent gauge cluster, large 7.0-inch full-colour TFT multi-information display, 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (standard too), upgraded Around View parking monitor, navigation (standard as well), great sounding 11-speaker Bose audio system, powered panoramic sunroof, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton start (standard), motion activated powered liftgate, adaptive cruise control, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, blindspot warning, rear cross traffic alert with moving object detection, automatic on/off headlights, fog lamps, and much more. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
Nissan has really improved the infotainment interface, with higher resolution, better graphics and more intuitive operation. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

I should probably point out here that automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning were made standard across the entire line for 2018, while other advanced driver assistance systems like adaptive cruise control were made standard on the SL, instead of just being limited to Platinum trim. 

Nissan’s Intelligent all-wheel drive is standard above the base model, and it’s an excellent system that not only improves traction in slippery situations, but also provides handling advantages in the dry, and thanks to its standard 3.5-litre V6 with 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque the Murano needs the extra stability AWD provides while traveling at high speeds. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
The Murano’s seats are extremely comfortable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Key to Murano performance is a nicely sorted fully independent suspension, the crossover SUV’s capability around curves a strongpoint since this model first came on the scene back in 2002. Likewise, that model was one of the first SUVs I can remember with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and while Nissan has steadily improved its Xtronic gearbox over the past decade and a half it’s always been a cut above the rest. In fact, thanks to an immediate punch off the line and smoothly stepped gear ratios I think you’ll be hard pressed to notice it’s a CVT at all, yet it still benefits from better fuel economy than a regular automatic transmission, the Murano rated at 11.2 L/100km city, 8.4 highway and 9.9 combined in AWD guise, or 8.3, 11.0 and 9.8 respectively with its base FWD powertrain. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
This large panoramic sunroof makes for a more open and airier cabin. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ve got to say Murano ride quality is particularly impressive, made even better thanks to the incredibly comfortable NASA-inspired “zero gravity” seats. The Murano is spacious too, especially from side-to-side, making those seats ideal for larger folk. The only complaint I can think of is two-way lumbar adjustment instead of four, but such is the same for some similarly sized premium-branded SUVs, so we can overlook this faux pas. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
Murano rear seat roominess and comfort is excellent. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The rear seats are sizeable too. With the driver’s seat positioned for my five-foot-eight frame I had about 10 inches remaining ahead of my knees when seated in back, and almost enough space on the floor to stretch out my legs. My feet went underneath the front seat nicely too, even when wearing winter boots, while I also had about four inches above my head and about five next to my shoulder and hip. Additionally, a tug on a mesh loop lets you recline the rear seatbacks for greater comfort, while Nissan provides a decent sized folding centre armrest as well, complete with two integrated cupholders. If you need to transport three abreast it won’t be a problem either, just flip that armrest up and your rear passengers can enjoy this SUV’s generous width. 

2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
Don’t let the Murano’s sleek styling fool you, it’s really spacious inside. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The cargo compartment is roomy for the class too, and nicely finished with carpeting on the floor, seatbacks and sidewalls, its attention to detail once again unusually impressive for the mainstream sector. What’s more, levers on each cargo wall automatically fold the rear seatbacks flat when pulled, while a button powers them back up again. I like this system better than fully powered seats, because they hardly take any time at all to fold flat. 

Features like these make the Murano easy to live with, while its updated electronics and beautifully designed and finished interior keep it modern and inviting. The driving experience continues to be a high point, ideally combining comfort and control into a highly substantive SUV that rises above most of its peers, the Murano coming across as extremely well made and solid feeling. I can easily recommend the Murano to anyone in the mid-size five-person SUV market.

Let’s be clear, mid-size family sedans aren’t exactly selling as well as they used to. Nevertheless, this category still represents one of the largest market segments in the auto industry, so it hardly…

Nissan Canada puts price on all-new 2019 Altima

2019 Nissan Altima
The new 2019 Nissan Altima’s frontal design won’t go unnoticed. (Photo: Nissan)

Let’s be clear, mid-size family sedans aren’t exactly selling as well as they used to. Nevertheless, this category still represents one of the largest market segments in the auto industry, so it hardly make sense to abandon it despite falling sales. 

Then again, such is what Ford recently announced with the upcoming cancellation of its Fusion sedan, a car that was once a thorn in the side of key rivals that still include the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and yes this Nissan Altima, amongst others. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The new Altima’s sleek, sporty styling looks as if it should be priced much higher. (Photo: Nissan)

The Altima sits third in the U.S., yet placed only sixth in Canada at the close of 2017, beaten by that Fusion despite it being on death row, plus the Chevrolet Malibu and Hyundai Sonata. For reasons having nothing to do with this fully redesigned sixth-generation 2019 Altima, as the new car hasn’t gone on sale yet, the current model’s year-to-date Canadian sales as of August 2018 have boosted it to fifth out of 11 mid-size family sedan competitors, and its 4,323 deliveries are getting mighty close to the Malibu’s 5,054 and Fusion’s 5,622. Could this new redesign push Altima sales into third here too? 

2019 Nissan Altima
The deep and wide Vmotion 2.0 grille provides plenty of drama up front. (Photo: Nissan)

The new 2019 Altima certainly has a lot going for it. First off, Nissan just announced a competitive price of $27,998 plus freight and fees for the base Altima S, which while a tiny bit more expensive than the Camry’s $27,850 retail sticker, and somewhat more than the Accord’s $26,590 MSRP, the 2019 Altima comes standard with all-wheel drive, a feature that’s only otherwise standard with the Subaru Legacy and rarely even optional with mid-size sedan rivals—AWD is only optional with the aforementioned Fusion, and therefore we should now appreciate that its availability will hardly be permanent. Nevertheless, standard all-wheel drive makes a great deal of sense in most of Canada, as it combines the safety of all-weather traction with improved performance. 

2019 Nissan Altima
These unique 19-inch alloys are part of 250-unit limited Altima Edition ONE trim. (Photo: Nissan)

Named Intelligent AWD, the Altima system utilizes an advanced torque split design that automatically distributes power from 100 percent up front and zero at the rear, all the way to an even division of 50 percent front to rear. The bias depends on road conditions and resulting wheel slippage, with the default system being front-wheel drive to save on fuel and reduce emissions. Nissan claims its new Intelligent AWD works seamlessly with the Altima’s standard limited-slip differential too, as well as its Hill Start Assist system. 

2019 Nissan Altima
LED headlights and taillights come standard across the Altima line. (Photo: Nissan)

Performance in mind, the 2019 Altima comes standard with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine good for 182 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, which is a 9 horsepower and 3 lb-ft increase over the engine it replaces. Reportedly it’s smoother, quieter, and more efficient than the outgoing four-cylinder too, while the revised Xtronic CVT gets an expanded lock-up area for improved fuel economy, plus paddle shifters are available. 

Speaking of available, the new Altima comes in three trims, starting with the aforementioned S model, which is followed by the SV for $31,498, and the Platinum for $34,998. Additionally, a 250-example limited-production launch version dubbed Edition ONE gets unique design elements such as special 19-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, an Edition ONE exterior badge, illuminated kick plates, and floor mats with the Edition ONE logo, along with Platinum model’s standard feature set, and will be available for the 2019 model year only at a price of $35,998, while freight and PDI will be $1,795 for all Altima trims. To find out all the 2019 Altima pricing details, including dealer invoice pricing and rebate info that could save you thousands, check out CarCostCanada.com.

2019 Nissan Altima
The new Altima gets a clean, uncluttered interior design that should appeal to most people. (Photo: Nissan)

Despite being a base model, standard Altima S features are plentiful and include the aforementioned automatic Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), an electromechanical parking brake, advanced LED headlamps, LED taillights, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free smartphone connectivity with streaming audio, hands-free text messaging, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, and more, while the standard menu continues with heated front seats, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, and advanced driver assistance systems such as Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), Rear Door Alert (that reminds you of anything/anybody left in back), Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (I-FCW), and Intelligent Driver Alertness (I-DA). 

2019 Nissan Altima
This 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard, and with it Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a backup camera and more. (Photo: Nissan)

We can expect the usual improvements in upper trims too, such as proximity-sensing access, pushbutton ignition, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, nine-speaker Bose audio, an Intelligent Around View Monitor (I-AVM) (standard with Platinum trim), a powered moonroof, SiriusXM-powered NissanConnect Services featuring compatible smartphone and smartwatch access to functions like remote engine start/stop, remote door lock/unlock, valet alert, etcetera, and ProPILOT Assist semi-automated driving, an exclusive Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology that will be standard on Altima SV and Platinum trims. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The new Altima grows its interior for more spaciousness and comfort. (Photo: Nissan)

ProPILOT Assist is now available on a number of new Nissan models, but the Altima will only be second behind the new 2019 Rogue to receive the Japanese brand’s new Nissan Safety Shield 360, which is a suite of six advanced driver assistance systems including Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Intelligent Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), radar-based Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and High Beam Assist (HBA). 

2019 Nissan Altima
The 2019 Nissan Altima promises to make quite an impact on the mid-size sedan class when it arrives in November. (Photo: Nissan)

As for styling, the new 2019 Altima’s exterior design speaks for itself, and most should find its assertive new face to their liking. Its predominant feature is a go-big-or-go-home version of the brand’s Vmotion 2.0 grille, surrounded by those sleek new LED headlamps mentioned earlier, while the rest of the car portrays an athletic stance from front to back.  

Inside, the look is clean and contemporary, while Nissan promises more premium materials used throughout. A highlight feature includes what the automaker calls a “wide ‘gliding wing’ instrument panel – which accentuates the exterior’s low cowl and hood, helping create an open, airy environment.” 

The 2019 Altima will go on sale this coming November at Nissan dealers across Canada.

With a starting price of just $17,998 plus freight and fees according to CarCostCanada.com, which also provides dealer invoice pricing and rebate info that could save you thousands, the new 2018 Nissan…

2018 Nissan Kicks SR

2018 Nissan Kicks SR
The cute little Kicks replaces the oddball, but nevertheless much-loved Juke this year, and we expect it to do very well. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

With a starting price of just $17,998 plus freight and fees according to CarCostCanada.com, which also provides dealer invoice pricing and rebate info that could save you thousands, the new 2018 Nissan Kicks is the most affordable crossover SUV in Canada. Even better, it’s in our garage this week, so we’re putting it through our regular testing process to see how it measures up against an ever-growing list of subcompact SUV competitors. 

The Kicks slots in just below the Qashqai, a slightly larger model that, since arriving just over a year ago in May of 2017, has already taken Canada’s subcompact SUV segment by storm. Seriously, the Qashqai was number one in the class as of Q1 2018, and was thousands of models ahead by the end of Q2 with 9,257 units sold compared to the next best Mazda CX-3 with 6,803 deliveries. The Kicks just started selling in Canada partway through June, but it had already found 2,233 buyers by the close of August, meaning it could very well become the next subcompact SUV bestseller. 

2018 Nissan Kicks SR
SUV styling and front-wheel drive, economy car mechanicals makes for an highly practical, totally efficient crossover. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The Kicks is all new, but the vehicle it replaces should be well known to most who follow the auto industry. The Juke seems to either be loved or loathed thanks to quirky styling, but the Kicks won’t suffer from unorthodoxy. It’s cute and fun loving, but wears sheet metal that’s potentially more palatable to the masses. What’s more, that aforementioned starting price means it’s a lot more approachable to those masses than the Juke ever was, boding well for a very promising future. 

Those who fell for the Juke due to its surprising high-speed agility and capable turbo-four/AWD drivetrain will be less enamoured with the Kicks, at least on paper. Its sole 1.6-litre four-cylinder makes a less spirited 125 horsepower and only 115 lb-ft of torque compared to 188 horsepower and 177-lb-ft for the Juke, but let’s not forget the previously noted low pricing and the new car’s fuel economy advantage. 

2018 Nissan Kicks SR
Expect to be impressed by the little Kicks’ interior, and just about everything else. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

First, the Juke’s available torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system is not on the Kicks menu, nor any AWD option for that matter. Instead, think of the Kicks as a tall, SUV-style five-door hatchback, which is really what most entries into the subcompact SUV segment are anyway. Like with most Nissan models, the transmission is a continuously variable type, but on that note make sure you come back to my full review to find out how well (or not) it “shifts”, mimicking a conventional automatic. 

Of course, I’ll also cover the Kicks’ straight-line performance, handling, drivability in the city, fuel-efficiency, comfort, roominess, features and more, the top-line SR version tested as loaded with options as currently available. 

Until then, enjoy our abbreviated photo gallery, which of course will be expanded to include a full assortment of images to complement the review…

Last year Nissan announced its new “Rear Door Alert” (RDA) technology would soon be available on the 2018 Pathfinder, and now the Japanese automaker has added to that news by announcing the system…

Nissan to expand Rear Door Alert to all four-door cars and SUVs

2019 Nissan Altima gets Rear Door Alert
The all-new 2019 Nissan Altima will join the 2019 Rogue and 2018/2019 Pathfinder by including new potentially lifesaving Rear Door Alert technology. (Photo: Nissan)

Last year Nissan announced its new “Rear Door Alert” (RDA) technology would soon be available on the 2018 Pathfinder, and now the Japanese automaker has added to that news by announcing the system will be expanded to yet more models, and eventually to all four door Nissan vehicles. 

Along with the three-row Pathfinder mid-size SUV, which was an obvious first choice for the brand considering it’s most likely to be purchased by families with children and pets, Nissan will introduce its RDA tech to the upcoming 2019 Rogue compact SUV and all-new 2019 Altima mid-size sedan. By model year 2022, Nissan will further expand the RDA offering to include “all four-door trucks, sedans and SUV nameplates,” according to a press release. 

2019 Nissan Altima gets Rear Door Alert
If you’ve placed something or someone onto the back seat of an RDA-equipped vehicle, a visual alert will remind you in the multi-info display when you reach your destination. (Photo: Nissan)

“I’m proud to see Nissan lead the way by making Rear Door Alert standard on more models,” said Marlene Mendoza, one of the Nissan mechanical engineers responsible for creating the new technology. “What started as a chat with my colleague, Elsa Foley, is now innovative technology being adopted in more Nissan models. It is a testament to Nissan’s culture.” 

Rear Door Alert begins monitoring the rear door switches as soon as the SUV is unlocked, and if a back door has been opened and then closed again it retains the “memory” for later when the driver arrives at a destination and turns off the engine. 

2019 Nissan Altima gets Rear Door Alert
Nissan allows users to modify the RDA system’s functions, or turn it off completely. (Photo: Nissan)

When parking a vehicle with the RDA system installed, an alert will show up on the primary instrument cluster’s multi-information display informing the driver not to forget whatever was previously placed in the back seat. If this prompt is ignored, by the vehicle’s rear doors not being reopened after the driver’s door has been closed, the horn will deliver a series of short, distinct chirps to get the driver’s attention. 

As we’ve all learned from saddening news of child and pet fatalities due to being left in the back seats of cars, the temperature inside of a parked vehicle can increase to dangerous levels quickly on a warm day. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently noted that even moderate outside temperatures of about 15 degrees Celsius, can quickly heat up to more than 43 degrees Celsius inside a car. 

Marlene Mendoza, Nissan Rear Door Alert
Marlene Mendoza left a lasagna on the back seat of car overnight, which prompted the initial idea for Rear Door Alert. (Photo: Nissan)

“The idea is if you open a rear door, whether to put a child or a package in the rear seat, the vehicle will help alert you when you get to your destination that you may want to check the rear seat,” added Mendoza. “We’ve built in enough time that you don’t have to rush, but if you don’t open the rear door again when you get out of the vehicle, we want to think for a moment about what you may have put in the back seat.” 

Elsa Foley, Nissan Rear Door Alert
Mendoza co-developed the Rear Door Alert technology with coworker Elsa Foley, shown here with the 2018 Pathfinder. (Photo: Nissan)

Of course, many Nissan owners don’t have children, aging parents or grandparents, pets, or anyone else that shouldn’t be left behind, so therefore it’s possible for customers override Rear Door Alert completely or merely limit the reminders to the instrument cluster alone. 

“The idea was inspired when I accidentally left a pan of lasagna in the back seat of my car overnight,” added Mendoza, who is a mother of three, and was pregnant when struck with the concept. “The worst thing was the car smelled for days, but it made me ask myself, ‘What if I left something far more important back there?’” 

Of note, General Motors introduced something similar to the RDA system called “Rear Seat Reminder” with the 2017 GMC Acadia, and has been rolling out the system on other models since then. This said Nissan’s RDA should be even more effective than GM’s, because the Acadia gives no warning once its driver has left the vehicle.

Mid-size sedan sales may be on a downward trend, but the once dominant market segment still makes up a significant portion of most mainstream brands’ sales volumes, so therefore they remain a critically…

New 2019 Nissan Altima adds standard AWD to Canadian mid-size sedan segment

2019 Nissan Altima
The 2019 Altima arrives with a bold new take on Nissan’s trademark Vmotion grille. (Photo: Nissan)

Mid-size sedan sales may be on a downward trend, but the once dominant market segment still makes up a significant portion of most mainstream brands’ sales volumes, so therefore they remain a critically important ingredient for overall success. 

To put this in perspective, Nissan sold 16.7 percent more Altima mid-size sedans than Sentra compact four-doors in the U.S. last year, with 254,996 examples of the former and 218,451 of the latter delivered. Here in Canada the numbers are reversed at 6,626 for the Altima and 13,883 for the Sentra, but the larger, pricier car is more profitable, so it nevertheless remains an important model in the lineup. 

2019 Nissan Altima
If the new Altima’s styling doesn’t make enough of a dramatic statement on its own, the announcement of standard AWD will. (Photo: Nissan)

Like many in this segment, Altima numbers have taken a hit in recent years. In fact, they’ve been steadily sliding for decades, the mid-size Nissan having lost 64.2 percent in sales volume over the past decade and a half, 36.8 percent of which was only in the last five years. 

That’s almost as long as the current fifth-generation Altima has been with us, its production starting in May of 2012. The mid-size four-door received a dramatic facelift for the 2016 model year, adapting the brand’s new Vmotion grille and other stylish improvements, but three more years of availability means the time for change has come once again. 

2019 Nissan Altima
This exciting redesign makes the 2019 Altima one of the sportiest looking in its segment. (Photo: Nissan)

Enter the 2019 Nissan Altima, a much bolder looking mid-size four-door sedan that should please fans of the nameplate that have been looking forward to an update. It now wears Nissan’s Vmotion 2.0 grille, which is a reshaped version of the now trademark Nissan grille design. Basically the “V” shape of the new Altima’s grille has been flattened on the bottom to form more of a “U”, just like other recent Nissan redesigns. Also, following current trends that grille has grown to epic proportions, giving the car a grander, more premium look. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The new Altima includes a floating roof design like its larger Maxima sibling. (Photo: Nissan)

Additionally, new LED headlamps and taillights look sharper and more sophisticated, while the rear C-pillars feature a narrow glossy black strip for a floating roof effect, similar to that on the brand’s flagship Maxima luxury sedan. From front to back the new look is hardly subtle, but it was tastefully penned so should be widely accepted by Altima owners and newcomers alike.

2019 Nissan Altima
The Altima’s rear styling isn’t as dramatic as its frontal design, yet it’s still plenty attractive. (Photo: Nissan)

The updated model is 25 mm (1.0 in) longer, 23 mm (0.9 in) wider and 28 mm (1.1 in) lower than the car it replaces, giving it a sportier stance all-round, while its wheelbase has grown by 48 mm (1.9 in). The sleek sheetmetal helps Nissan achieve a slippery 0.26 coefficient of drag, improving highway fuel economy while reducing wind noise, plus its larger dimensions provide more interior room all-round. Additionally, the wheels have been pushed farther to each corner, adding to its athletic appearance while theoretically providing more stability at high speed and a better ride, but we’ll have to wait for a test drive before confirmation. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The 2019 Altima effectively plays on the current big grille design trend. (Photo: Nissan)

That should happen shortly after the updated Altima arrives this fall, at which point we’ll also be able to advise on its reportedly quieter, smoother and more efficient 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, now 9 horsepower and 3 lb-ft of torque stronger than the outgoing engine at 182 horsepower and 178 lb-ft; its revised Xtronic CVT that gets an expanded lock-up area for improved fuel economy, plus available paddle shifters; and its standard all-wheel drive. 

2019 Nissan Altima
Standard AWD should be appealing to Canadians who live in colder climates. (Photo: Nissan)

Yes, for the first time ever the 2019 Altima won’t be available with front-wheel drive, at least not in Canada. This is a bold move for the brand’s Canadian division, but it certainly separates it from most competitors that don’t offer AWD at all. 

Dubbed Intelligent AWD, it features an advanced torque split design that automatically distributes power from 100 percent up front and zero at the rear, all the way to an even division of 50 percent front to rear. The bias depends on road conditions and resulting wheel slippage, with the default being front-wheel drive to save fuel. Nissan says the new AWD system works seamlessly with the Altima’s standard limited-slip differential too, plus its Hill Start Assist system. 

2019 Nissan Altima
Stylish LED taillights also react faster than incandescent bulbs, making the new Altima safer. (Photo: Nissan)

Currently, Ford offers AWD with its 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine, found optionally in its near-premium trimmed Titanium and Platinum non-hybrid models, plus standard on its performance-oriented Fusion Sport, a 325 horsepower beast that’s a bit of an anomaly in this mostly fuel-efficiency focused segment, while the Subaru Legacy is the only mid-size sedan entrant to provide standard AWD, and it’s a minor player in Canada’s market with last year’s volume sitting at just 2,451 units compared to the Altima’s 6,626, let alone the Honda Accord’s 13,504 deliveries and the Toyota Camry’s 14,574. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The new Altima includes standard LED headlamps, allowing for brighter forward illumination. (Photo: Nissan)

The Subie actually brings up the rear in this 10 model strong segment, but Nissan no doubt isn’t feeling too proud about besting its fellow countryman, because it only sits sixth in sales, with the (soon to be cancelled) Ford Fusion in third with 9,736 deliveries in 2017, the Chevrolet Malibu in fourth with 8,152, and the Hyundai Sonata in fifth with 7,827. Amongst the stragglers is the Kia Optima with 4,496 down the road last year, Volkswagen Passat (and CC) with 4,145, Chrysler 200 (no longer available) with 2,842, and Mazda 6 with 2,541. Time will tell if all the changes made to the new Altima will push it further up the sales chart, but a quick tour of the interior makes its prospects look promising. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The 2019 Altima has a much cleaner, more minimalist interior than the outgoing one. (Photo: Nissan)

Nissan promises a sporty yet sophisticated cabin that replaces traditional chrome embellishment with matte chrome accents and satin finishes, while there’s a bit less of each than with previous Altima models for a more modern look. This said it’s not a breakthrough design, but instead features a lower dash top resulting in an airier, more open ambience, the entire instrument panel tastefully minimalist, seeming to naturally flow from one element to the next. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The new Altima appears to have a large, roomy cockpit, ideal for all sizes of driver. (Photo: Nissan)

Likewise it’s almost completely devoid of clutter, with most centre stack controls housed in a large 8.0-inch fixed tablet-style infotainment touchscreen protruding upward from the dash top, this complete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a rearview camera, and more. A nicely sorted dual-zone automatic climate control interface sits on its own just below, while the driver gets a dedicated full-colour 7.0-inch TFT multi-information display within the gauge cluster. 

2019 Nissan Altima
An 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen will be standard, complete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a backup camera and more. (Photo: Nissan)

Nissan says it put special emphasis on giving all of the Altima’s switches and controls “an intuitive, effortless feel and natural operation,” so we’re looking forward to experiencing the result of this concentrated effort, while the NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats have our curiosity piqued as well. Nissan claims these are especially good at providing long driving range comfort thanks to dual-density foam, plus some extra bolstering is said to improve support while driving around town. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The 2019 Altima will once again make use of Nissan’s advanced continuously variable transmission. (Photo: Nissan)

Something else that sets the Altima apart from key rivals is Nissan’s ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving technology. To be clear, ProPilot Assist doesn’t turn your Altima into a self-driving autonomous vehicle, but instead helps to keep drivers in the middle of a chosen lane by adjusting the steering automatically, has the ability to navigate stop-and-go traffic, and maintains set speeds and distances to vehicles ahead, simply by pressing two buttons. Basically, all you need to do is activate the system and then set the adaptive cruise control, at which point the Altima will steer itself as long as your hands are still touching the wheel. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The new model’s longer wheelbase provides more legroom. (Photo: Nissan)

Of note, Canadian Altima buyers won’t yet have the option of Nissan’s new variable compression turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, or VC-Turbo that can vary its compression ratio from 8:1 to 14:1 through an innovative system that can alter the piston throw inside the cylinder, resulting in 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque when fuel with premium unleaded. Why the negative news? Because this highly advanced engine is only mated to the model’s front-wheel drivetrain, and so far no AWD option is available outside of Infiniti’s new QX50. As you may have guessed it’s available as an Altima option south of the 49th, as is AWD, their base model being our 2.5-litre four mated to FWD. 

2019 Nissan Altima
The rear seating area appears very roomy. (Photo: Nissan)

Both markets will receive the same standard front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension setup, plus identical electric power steering systems, featuring new dual steering pinions for improved precision, while an upscale set of monotube rear shocks improves damping. 

We won’t know about standard features, trims and pricing until closer to launch, or for that matter anything to do with options and packages, but we can expect the same eight-way powered driver’s seat as offered to our American friends, plus standard fabric and optional leather upholstery, heated front seats, LED headlights, a Bose audio upgrade, available navigation, a powered moonroof, and more, while a bevy of advanced driver assistance systems will likely include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and more. 

Stay tuned for a more detailed report as the fall of 2018 draws near.