By on March 8, 2018

Image: Nissan

The early-to-mid 2000s wasn’t an era of great automobile design. Frankly, most automakers should be ashamed of themselves. However, among all of the Tauruses and Malibus and bloated Accords, one midsize, low-priced sedan stood out from its peers: the Nissan Altima of 2002, which propelled the former also-ran from visual dud to eye candy stud.

The Altima’s clean, dignified design made buyers stop and look, propelling sales to new heights. Even a decade-and-a-half later, it’s still a good-looking car that — rust aside — aged well. Unfortunately, rounded, forgettable styling later drained some of the model’s appeal.

As sales of all midsize cars fall, the Altima included, Nissan hopes a radical redesign can slow the descent.

Adopting the styling cues of last year’s Vmotion 2.0 concept, the next-generation Altima bows at the New York International Auto Show later this month. Already, you’ve noticed similarities to existing models, including the Maxima and Leaf, but the design sketch also reveals a bulkier athleticism. The grille drops lower; creases are sharper. It has the profile of a rear-drive car, without the rear-drive.

We knew when it debuted that the Vmotion 2.0 concept previewed the 2019 Altima, and this sketch confirms it. Still, some of the spy photos floating around the internet tell us the production model won’t be quite as adventurous as the vehicle you see above. Hardly a shock.

Details of the Altima’s powertrain will have to wait until the March 28th unveiling, but it’s likely the 2.5-liter four-cylinder will stage a reappearance at the bottom of the trim ladder. The existing Altima is one of the few midsizers still available with a V6 upgrade, so, unless Nissan has a potent 2.0-liter turbo waiting in the wings, it’s a good bet we’ll see the 3.5-liter return, too. As for transmissions, Nissan shows no signs of moving away from CVT technology.

Like many midsize sedans in the U.S., the Altima’s high point came in 2014, with sales falling every year since. Volume dropped 17 percent in 2017 from the year before. In February, 25.8 percent fewer American buyers took home an Altima compared to the same month in 2017.

[Image: Nissan]

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29 Comments on “Nissan’s Next-gen Altima Is Just Weeks Away, So Here’s a Preview...”

  • avatar

    I’ve heard rumors that the next Altima might be available with AWD.

    If Nissan does that they might as well stick a fork in the Maxima. It’s done.

    • 0 avatar

      I bet that wont happen. They are selling too many AWD Rogues and Muranos to stick AWD in a low margin sedan to run the risk it might cannibalize Crossover sales.

      People have been asking for AWD in Maxima for years. It hasn’t happened because the Maxima as it is already encroaches too close to Infiniti territory. It seems unlikely that they would put AWD in an even less expensive sedan that can be optioned up with V6 and interior appointments approaching Infiniti levels. Who knows, but seems unlikely in a crumbling sedan market where 4 cylinder and FWD is 90% of the market.

    • 0 avatar

      -Maxima needs to become the top trim level of Altima, with 3.0t engine.

      -Delete Maxima as own car.

      -Delete V6 from all Altima trims except Altima Maxima, to -maximize- the effect of said trim.

      -Limit AWD to maybe highest standard Altima and Altima Maxima models.

  • avatar

    It is about time. Because current version is junk.

    • 0 avatar

      I completely disagree. It is a competent car that has excellent ride/handling balance, low NVH, plenty of interior room, good brakes, large trunk and very well tuned CVT. I struggle to find major faults with it.

      • 0 avatar

        If I didn’t drive it, I would agree. To me, it is like Nissan was trying to make a Camry, And did it even “better”, by making it worse than a Camry. How can you make a car worse than 2009 Camry? Nissan did it. There is no engine, no transmission , no steering.. sofa on wheels. 2.5L

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I’ll split the difference. For me, the Altima is a car that quickly wears out. If you drive a new one off of the lot, it’s very taut and buttoned-up feeling. By 10,000 miles, however, it drives like a piece of crap. The Altima is kind of the new W-Body, in that regard.

          • 0 avatar

            I am driving a rental with 15k miles now. Nice, buttoned up, way better than a Camry. Camry has no brakes and the auto transmission is maddening. I have zero complaints about the Altima. Very nice car.

  • avatar

    Wait…a TRAPEZOIDAL GRILLE? No, nooo, It can’t be done!

  • avatar

    Oh great, a new Altima. Jack was right about some Altima drivers, they always seem to want to race whenever they’re next to me at a light, revving their engine and creeping up. Apparently the word “Hemi” on my quarter panel doesn’t mean anything to them. I’m not going to get a speeding ticket just to prove a point though.

  • avatar

    I like the rendering. Seems very Maxima ish. I don’t know if the Maxima could survive a V6 Altima that looked so similar.

    Honestly, going forward, it probably makes more sense to merge the models. Altima is the volume seller, and Maxima would be similar in most respects but souped up, with some go fast gear, some appearance changes, etc. I doubt the Maxima could be justified into another product cycle as a unique model.

  • avatar

    I cannot consider one so long as Nissan insists on using CVTs. Bring
    back real transmissions and I’ll consider purchasing.

  • avatar

    I really liked the look of the 2003 era Chevy Impala. Much less bland than the ones that followed IMO.

  • avatar

    Every car from the early 2000s looks better, to my aging eye. How can you forget that era’s highlights, such as the retro T-Bird and New Beetle?

  • avatar

    In my opinion, Nissan has done a great job with exterior designs that make their cars look more expensive then they are… an illusion which fades rapidly once you get inside, and then again when driven. Just nasty cars. And that applies to the 2002 model lauded here.

    Too bad, because in the 90s Nissans didn’t have these problems. They should focus on improving their interiors and drivetrains over this exterior BS.

  • avatar

    If they keep the V6 in the Altima, it’ll be evidence that Honda is once again starting to lose the plot!

  • avatar

    Credit impaired and rental counter customers, your ride is almost here.

  • avatar

    While Ford and Chrysler ditch their mid-sized sedans Nissan, Toyota, and Subaru are coming out with much improved sedans. Detroit is basically surrendering the mid-sized car market to the imports. It looks like in the long run Detroit lost the car wars.

    There is no need for a Detroit sedan death watch since it has already happened!!

    Bye, Bye, American car.

    What a disgrace!!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My mother’s 02 Altima still looks good, but I struggle to find any differences between it and the 18 model. Except hers has a real automatic and needs new shocks. I think it has 80k on it now (73k when she got it in 2010).

    But that 2.5L engine – how long can it possibly go on?

  • avatar

    I really like the 2003 Maxima I bought for my wife. But, I’ll never buy a Nissan with a CVT, just don’t trust that junk.

  • avatar

    Ford sucks.

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