2019 Nissan Altima AWD Review: Secure Comfort in the High Country

The Altima is a great improvement, but there's something holding it back

2019 Nissan Altima
The 2019 Nissan Altima AWD is a vast improvement over the vehicle it replaces. Looks sharp in red too. [Photo: TFLcar]

Built in Canton, Mississippi, the all-new 2019 Nissan Altima is equipped with a slick all-wheel drive system on some models, and it’s an outstanding value. The Altima was one of the most comfortable cars driven at the 2019 Rocky Mountain Redline Rally. The Redline Rally is an event that takes journalists and vehicles into some of the most scenic roads in the Rocky Mountains.

There are a few things that I noted during my mountain drive in the 2019 Nissan Altima AWD.

It is very comfortable

Between the second generation Zero-gravity seats and a compliant ride, the 2019 Nissan Altima AWD was a mellow jazz ensemble on thrash-metal roads. It was a comfortable and fairly luxurious interior as well. The Bose premium 9-speaker audio system, wood trim and overall ergonomics were quite impressive.

2019 Nissan Altima
(Photo: Nissan)

Its AWD system is totally seamless

Shared with the Nissan Rogue, the Altima’s all-wheel drive system sends all of the engine’s power to the front wheels during normal driving. When the system detects front-wheel slippage, it can direct up to 50-percent of the power to the rear wheels. On a gravel shoulder, it simply picked up and jetted off after the front wheels slipped. For an AWD vehicle, it never felt like one.

2019 Nissan Altima
The 2019 Nissan Altima has a lovely new exterior design – no? [Photo: TFLcar]

It’s efficient, but it’s not fast

The Altima with AWD gets 26 City / 36 Highway / 30 Combined mpg, but the SR and Platinum trims drop the numbers by one mpg. Those numbers are slightly better than its closest all-wheel drive rival – the Subaru Legacy.

Its 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine manages 182 horsepower and 178 lbs-feet of torque. That’s a bit lacking considering the Altima’s 3,398 pound curb weight. The AWD system only added 120 pounds to this total. Considering it only has a continuously variable transmission (CVT), its get-up-and-go was tepid. It was fairly adequate on high-elevation mountain roads. It just wasn’t sporty. There is a more powerful turbo model available, but it doesn’t have an AWD option. Bummer.

[Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer]

There are lots of goodies available

Including the available all-wheel drive system, the 2019 Nissan Altima does come loaded with equipment. That’s especially true in the top level trims. You get Intelligent Ride Control, ProPILOT Assist, Rear Automatic Braking, Traffic Sign Recognition, Safety Shield 360 and more. It is a very advanced vehicle for the money. Our loaded 2019 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL AWD tester’s MSRP was $32,930 – impressive.

The bottom line for me was the Nissan Altima was a massive step up from the vehicle it replaced in every measurable way. It is one of the few vehicles in its class to offer AWD and it holds its own against the top-dogs from Honda and Toyota.

I’m looking forward to spending more time with it in Colorado.