Yes, we know. It is a crossover world these days. But it just so happens that the Best Car Buy of the Year is not a crossover, SUV or pickup truck. It is a — ta-dah! — family sedan. But this is a family sedan that is like no other family sedan you have ever driven while, at the same time, being exactly like every family sedan you’ve ever driven. No learning curve necessary. No need to change your driving habits or your mindset. No requirement that you alter your way of life. In this case new-as-tomorrow simply makes everyday tasks easier, everyday life better.
As you have no doubt gathered from the photos that accompany this article the Driving Today Best Car Buy of the Year for 2019 is the Nissan Altima.
Altima is filled with impressive, leading-edge technology
So know you probably want to know why, and the fact is, we have already alluded to why in the paragraphs above. The all-new-for-2019 Nissan Altima is filled with impressive, leading-edge technology. For instance, the first installation of a variable-compression engine in a mainstream sedan. But in contrast to some instances where leading-edge becomes bleeding-edge because it requires so many sacrifices — like electric cars with minimal range, for example — the technology in the Altima always makes things easier, better safer, more convenient.
As we said in our Expert Review of the 2019 Nissan Altima, “Nissan has doubled down on its commitment to provide inexpensive sedans to the U.S. market…In the face of an eroding market for conventional sedans, Nissan has put its money into new technology, including two new engines and an impressive array of safety equipment.”
Yes, we are impressed. Most manufacturers launch a new model with carryover engines and drivetrains. That’s a safe, conventional way to operate. Get the new car’s teething problems out of the way, and then add a new engine in the second or third year to re-ignite the spark. But Nissan didn’t got that direction. Instead, it virtually redesigned the Altima’s base engine. Some 80 percent of the engine’s parts are new. And it installed a technical tour de force in the form of its optional engine, the game-changing variable-compression VC-Turbo. Yes, we said variable compression. Try building that at home using simple hand tools.
An uncommon commitment to futuristic driving aids
But there is more to the Altima than just some highly efficient and technically fascinating engines. There is also its uncommon commitment to futuristic electronic driving aids and overall safety. No, the Altima won’t drive you to work while you sip a cappuccino in the back seat, but, equipped with ProPILOT Assist, it is engineered to take over routine chores like acceleration, steering and braking in certain situations, like stop-and-go expressway traffic, where they become a tedious pain.
That’s not all, though. Included in the car’s Safety Shield 360 array of safety stuff are rear automatic braking, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, high-beam assist, pedestrian detection and rear cross-traffic alert. The Altima’s Intelligent Driver Alertness system warns the driver if it detects the driver’s attention is waning. In other words, it might be more alert than you are.
For the first time the Altima can be equipped with all-wheel drive, and the sophisticated electronic system is available on all trim levels with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Through the magic of electronics, the system works in concert with the hyper-efficient continuously variable transmission, limited-slip differential and hill-start assist system to give drivers unmatched confidence in difficult driving conditions
Of course, there is more to a car than just electronics. (No, really.) The Altima has been throughly re-engineered and redesigned inside and out. It is lower, longer and wider than its predecessor, with a two-inch increase in wheelbase. That wheelbase boost results in superior interior room, and the car looks better than ever. Its new body has cleaner lines, which drew inspiration from entries in a global contest. The interior takes Nissan design, already topnotch, to a new level of sophistication, while increasing its ergonomic friendliness.
When it comes to infotainment and connectivity, the 2019 Altima checks all the right boxes. Every 2019 Altima is equipped with a high-mounted, intuitively operated eight-inch multi-touch color display. Also standard are Bluetooth hands-free phone system, Bluetooth streaming audio, hands-free text messaging assistant and Siri Eyes Free voice recognition. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, too.
In addition to this plethora of stuff, the Nissan Altima also offers a superior driving experience. With either engine acceleration, braking and overall handling are excellent, and the suspension doesn’t beat you up with harshness or vibration. Fuel economy is excellent; build quality has been a longtime Altima strong suit, and we expect overall cost-to-own to be low.
In all, the 2019 Nissan Altima has every credential required to claim the covered crown Driving Today Best Car Buy of the Year. Congratulations, Nissan. You deserve it.
— The editors, writers and evaluators of Driving Today