Here to challenge the latest Toyota Camry and Honda Accord is the new 2019 Nissan Altima, which Nissan says will shake up the midsize sedan segment when it goes on sale in the United States in autumn. Like the previous model, it will be offered globally as well, likely retaining the Teana name in some markets.

Previewed by the Vmotion 2.0 Concept in Detroit earlier this year, the Altima boasts a far sportier and more dynamic design even compared to its sleek predecessor. A bold full-height V-motion grille dominates the front end, accompanied by slim arrow-shaped headlights optionally available with LED technology. Lower-profile engines enabled the designers to push for a lower bonnet and cowl.

The bodyside features a prominent shoulder line that spans from the headlights to the tail lights, as well as a twisting shoulder and sharp character lines lower down. The floating roof design provided by the black C-pillars add to the more coupé-like look, while the rear features boomerang-shaped tail lights and plenty of horizontal lines to provide an impression of width. Wheel sizes range up to a massive 19 inches in diameter.

Compared to the previous Altima, the new car is 25 mm longer, 23 mm wider and 28 mm lower, while the wheelbase has grown by a massive 48 mm – this makes for a shorter front overhang and allows for the rear wheels to be pushed further into the corners.

The interior features a more horizontal “gliding wing” dashboard design, along with high-contrast colours and trim materials that Nissan says provides a near-premium feel. The Zero Gravity seats from the outgoing model have been enhanced with dual-density foam and extra bolstering for improved support and are available with perforated leather upholstery and eight-way power adjustment.

As standard, the new Altima features the NissanConnectSM infotainment system with an eight-inch multi-touch display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Siri and Google Assistant voice recognition as well as compatibility with the Amazon Alexa personal assistant.

NissanConnect Navigation and Services incorporating over-the-air updates, door-to-door navigation and real-time traffic is available as an option, as is Apple Watch and Android Wear smartwatch functionality through the NissanConnect Services app. The latter provides features such as remote engine start and remote lock valet alert, among others.

Other options include remote engine start with Intelligent Climate Control, a moonroof, a Bose Premium Audio system with eight speakers and noise cancellation. A seven-inch Advanced Drive Assist Display in the instrument cluster is fitted as standard.

Under the bonnet lies the world’s first variable compression engine – the 2.0 litre VC Turbo direct-injected four-cylinder that first made its debut on the Infiniti QX50. Replacing the old 3.5 litre naturally-aspirated V6, the new engine uses an electrically-powered actuator arm to switch between a 8:1 compression ratio for high performance and an 14:1 ratio for better fuel economy.

The result is 248 hp and 370 Nm of torque, along with a significant expected improvement in fuel consumption, emissions and noise, vibration and harshness. The standard 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated four-pot has also been improved with direct injection, electronic variable valve timing (e-VTC) and cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to produce 188 hp and 244 Nm.

An Xtronic CVT with expanded lock-up is fitted as standard and is available with paddle shifters. New for this year is an optional part-time Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system that sends up to 50% of torque to the rear wheels. The improved chassis features new monotube rear dampers, added suspension reinforcements, retuned suspension geometry, dual-pinion electric power steering and a new Integrated Dynamics Module (IDM) incorporating Intelligent Ride Control, Intelligent Trace Control and Vehicle Dynamics Control.

Safety-wise, the Altima is now available with ProPILOT Assist single-lane semi-autonomous highway driving that assists in acceleration, braking and steering, along with Traffic Sign Recognition. Automatic Emergency Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (I-FCW) and Intelligent Driver Alertness (I-DA) is offered as standard across the range, while an Intelligent Around View Monitor (I-AVM) is optional.

Also available is the new Nissan Safety Shield 360 package that features the new Rear Automatic Braking (RR-AB), along with Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and High Beam Assist (HBA).

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