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2018 vs. 2019 Nissan Altima: What’s the Difference?

  • The Nissan Altima is all-new for 2019, now in its sixth generation.

  • The new Altima is the first ever Nissan sedan available with all-wheel drive in the U.S.

  • An interesting new VC-Turbo engine is available under the hood of the 2019 Nissan Altima.

Although sedans have been declining in popularity, the midsize sedan segment is the most competitive it’s been in a long time. With the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord recently updated, competing manufacturers need to decide whether they’re going to step up their game or throw in the towel to focus more on trucks and SUVs.

Nissan has stepped up to the challenge by thoroughly revising the Altima. The 2019 Nissan Altima is positioned to attract sedan buyers with a few unique features you can’t get from the Camry or the Accord, while still being competitive on price.

The 2018 Nissan Altima may have fallen a bit short of the competition, but a lot of the fifth-generation Altima’s shortcomings have been remedied and then some with the all-new sixth-gen model. Let’s take a look at the improvements of the 2019 Nissan Altima over its predecessor.


The fifth-generation Nissan Altima debuted for the 2013 model year and received a facelift for 2016. The 2018 model followed Nissan’s corporate design language pretty closely with swooping lines that make it a little more interesting looking than some of its more bland competitors.

The 2019 model, however, took a nice-looking sedan and made it even better. It’s lower, longer and wider than the 2018 model, giving it a more athletic stance. The new sixth-generation car is different enough to look newer than the previous model but similar enough to be identifiable as a Nissan Altima. We think the Altima’s new premium-looking aesthetic is a big improvement.


There are a lot of big improvements to the Altima for 2019, and one of the biggest is the interior. It’s clear that Nissan tried to give the Altima more of a premium look and feel, and that’s made very clear on the inside. The interior of the 2018 Altima looked a bit cheap, and the base model was devoid of features compared to the new model.

Clean, simple and high-tech describe the 2019 Altima’s interior. A nice-looking 8-inch infotainment screen equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay comes standard on every 2019 Altima. The fact that this nice infotainment system is available on the base model without costing you any extra is a big deal for shoppers looking at the lower end of the model range.

Overall, the interior is a lot nicer in the 2019 Altima than it is in the 2018 model. It will make you feel like you’re driving a much more expensive car.


The Altima has two new engines for 2019. The base engine is similar to the one in the 2018 model, but with some notable improvements. The base engine in both cars is a 2.5-liter inline four that makes 179 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque in the 2018 Altima. The same-size engine in the 2019 Altima gets a bump in performance up to 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. It’s also great on gas getting 28 miles per gallon in city driving and 39 mpg on the highway, while the base engine in the previous Altima returned 27 mpg city/38 mpg hwy.

The better engine in the 2018 Altima was a 3.5-liter V6 that made respectable performance numbers of 270 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque, while returning 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy. This is a strong V6, but unfortunately, it’s only available in the Altima SL, the top trim, making it a costly option.

The 2019 Altima is available with a new engine that until now was only available in the Infiniti QX50. It’s the 2.0-liter VC-Turbo inline four. VC-Turbo means it’s a variable compression turbocharged engine. Variable compression is industry-exclusive engineering that changes the compression ratio of the engine as it drives based on driver inputs.

When the driver demands more power, it delivers better performance. When you’re cruising on the highway, it delivers better fuel economy. It translates to up to 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, while returning 25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy. The idea is to have the performance of a V6 and the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder without compromise.

The base engine in the 2019 Altima is an improvement over the Altima’s previous base engine, and the upgraded engine is an engineering marvel that you can’t get from any of the Altima’s competitors.

Another major improvement to the Altima for 2019 is the availability of all-wheel drive on every trim. That makes it the first Nissan sedan available with AWD in the United States. Unfortunately, you cannot combine AWD with the VC-Turbo engine, but it’s still a great option for drivers in snowy climates who want the extra traction and peace of mind that AWD offers. The Ford Fusion is the only other sedan in this segment that offers AWD, but only on certain trims. The Altima is the only one that offers it on every trim.


The 2018 Nissan Altima had a fair amount of driver-assistance technology to offer, but the 2019 model ups the ante. On the 2018 Altima, forward-collision warning and front automated braking were standard, while adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert were available.

The 2019 Altima has the same standard and available safety tech but adds availability of rear automatic braking, intelligent lane intervention and ProPilot Assist. ProPilot Assist is sophisticated driver-assistance tech that helps you stay in your lane and a safe distance from the car in front of you to the point of coming to a complete stop and getting back up to speed when traffic keeps moving. Even on the open road, ProPilot Assist can help keep the car in its lane in the straights and through gentle curves.


For all of the added features and improvements of the 2019 Altima over the 2018 Altima, you might expect to pay more for such a nice sedan. However, pricing doesn’t change much for the Altima as it enters its sixth generation. For 2019, the base model starts at just $23,750, and the price can get up into the mid-$30,000 range when you get the range-topping Platinum VC-Turbo trim. The most affordable way to get the VC-Turbo engine is to get the SR VC-Turbo trim, which starts at $29,150. Adding AWD to the Altima will set you back an extra $1,350 on every trim.

By comparison, the 2018 Altima started at $23,260 and also went into the mid-$30k range when you got into the luxurious V6-equipped 3.5 SL. The slight price increase for the 2019 Altima is well worth it when you consider the major update it received.


The 2019 Nissan Altima is definitely a better car than the outgoing 2018 Nissan Altima. If you’re on the fence between the two, the 2019 Altima is an easy recommendation for its better powertrains, more modern styling inside and out, better fuel economy, available AWD and more advanced technology. For the first time in a while, we can confidently say that the Nissan Altima is on equal footing with the Camry and the Accord for the midsize sedan throne.

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Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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