Despite becoming the world’s second largest automaker after acquiring Mitsubishi in 2017, The Renault-Nissan Alliance (now Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance) doesn’t hold the same spot on the U.S. market. It’s not even the second best-selling Japanese carmaker in the U.S. as first two positions belong to Toyota and Honda respectively. One of the main reasons for that is the fact their French companions from Renault haven’t been present on the U.S. soil since they abandoned the AMC ship and sold their shares to Chrysler. Still, Nissan alone have managed to sell 1,440,049 vehicles in the U.S. during 2017 which is around 45,000 units short of Honda’s record. While Honda and Nissan’s positions might trade places by the time 2018 and 2019 are over, Toyota is safe beyond their reach with more than 2.1 million units sold during the same period. This time, we’ll focus on the 2019 Nissan lineup with a short reflection on its premium Infiniti division.
MY 2019 doesn’t bring that much news for prospective Nissan buyers. The Japanese are revising their entire sedan lineup, and making the new Frontier mid-size pickup their focus alongside it. The former showcases their commitment to what was traditionally one of the most important segments in the U.S. The latter, on the other hand, means they’ve finally recognized the potential of the revived intermediate pickup truck segment and decided to once again become a major player in it. Other than that, their crossovers, which are getting more popular by the day, are being mostly carried over with the exception of the new Infiniti QX50. Sadly, their focus on more utilitarian vehicles has left two of their most exciting nameplates neglected. The Fairlady 370Z and GT-R are slowly dying on the vine with no major updates in sight. Here’s what to expect from the most relevant Nissan models in 2019.
What’s Hot In the New 2019 Nissan Lineup
07. 2019 Altima
The best-selling Nissan sedan is clearly in crisis, sales-wise. After reaching its peak in 2014 when Nissan sold 335,644 units of their mid-size sedan, total sales have plummeted to 254,996 units in 2017. The fifth-generation Altima was introduced in now-distant 2013, and after five years on the market, it was high time for the Japanese to finally field its replacement. Enter the sixth-gen 2019 Nissan Altima which perfectly fits the above-stated script and even manages to up the ante. The all-new Altima doesn’t only sport a new, more aggressive design but builds upon it with new technology and significant powertrain revisions. Alongside being lower, longer, and wider, the new Altima also sports the ProPilot Assist adaptive cruise control and a number of other advanced electronic safety features. It also sports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration even from entry levels. What’s more, not only does it come with a new engine option that the company refers to as the world’s first production-ready VC-Turbo engine, but it also offers all-wheel drive for the very first time.
The engine in question is the variable-compression-ratio 2.0L unit that was first unveiled with the upcoming Infiniti QX50 (more on that later). The turbo four develops 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque in the Altima, which is 22 hp less and 22 lb-ft more than what the outgoing 3.5L V6 used to make. The biggest advantage of the new mill should be its fuel efficiency which was actually one of the main reasons behind its development. It’ll only be optional with the top SR and Platinum models, whereas most of new Altimas carry over with a 2.5L 4-cylinder base engine. Although carried over, the revised naturally aspirated four now develops 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque which is an increase of 9 hp and 3 lb-ft compared to the outgoing model. What’s more, the aforementioned all-wheel drive will be exclusively available with the base 2.5L unit. This may not be the news prospective top tier buyers wanted to hear, but nothing is perfect.
06. 2019 Sentra
The all-new Nissan Altima doesn’t only aim to help the brand get back into the highest echelons of the mid-size sedan battle, but provides a template for the rest of Nissan sedans. It sets the tone for the smaller Sentra and larger Maxima which are also bound to be revised during MY 2019. The former of the two is following in the Altima’s footsteps by updating to the next generation. Unlike the Altima, which debuted at the 2018 New York auto show, the new Sentra is yet to be revealed. We do know that it’ll adopt the new design strategy which stems from the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 Concept presented at the 2017 Detroit auto show. We can also safely expect a number of tech upgrades to bring the car up to Altima’s standards, but a 2.0L VC-Turbo engine is probably a big ask for the compact sedan.
Instead of this larger contemporary engine, the 2019 Nissan Sentra will likely continue with its dependable selection of smaller 4-cylinders. The 1.8L unit which currently makes 130 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque might receive a bump in ratings by the time new models arrive, and the same goes for the optional 1.6L turbo unit which currently develops 188 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The same goes for transmission options. Both a 6-speed manual and a CVT will likely find their spots in the new Sentra considering the benefits they offer. The next-gen Nissan Sentra should arrive in time for MY 2019 or during the calendar year 2019 at the very least.
05. 2019 Maxima
Unlike the former duo of Nissan sedans, the 2019 Maxima won’t switch generations. However, being introduced during mid-year 2015, it’s now old enough to warrant a mid-cycle refresh. Incidentally, that’s exactly what’s coming for the Japanese automaker’s flagship sedan. As it’s usually the case with such arrangements, the facelifted Maxima will likely only offer a restyled front and rear fascias including a new grille and lighting which should all be brought to new Altima standards. Interior revisions should remain insignificant, on the other hand. At least from a design standpoint, that is. A number of new tech options like the ProPilot Assist and a new infotainment system should be enough to raise the flagship Nissan sedan’s appeal. At the same time, more advanced gear like blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts might become available from the get-go.
Being only slightly revised, the new Nissan Maxima should continue with its current engine lineup. If a sole offering that’s 3.5L V6 with 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque can be called a lineup, that is. To further limit the setup, the Japanese have only offered it with front-wheel drive and a CVT gearbox. There’s still no info of a possible all-wheel drive as is the case with the smaller Altima, but it would certainly be a welcome addition. Even more welcome would be another transmission option. Especially since the CVT leaves a bitter taste by revving too high and creating noise levels unbecoming of the flagship car that Maxima aspires to be. At least it accelerates better than most of its rivals, making it rather sporty for a full-size sedan.
04. 2019 Leaf
Petite dedicated EV is rarely one of the more exciting choices in any automaker’s lineup, but that just might be the case in the 2019 Nissan lineup. The second-gen Nissan Leaf debuted in 2017 which makes it an in-betweener. It’s now too old to garner any real excitement, yet it’s still too young to warrant a major overhaul. Despite that, the 2019 Leaf might just have an ace up its sleeve. The Japanese are promising a new long-range battery pack that should be able to provide upwards of 200 miles of range on a single charge. This would easily put the small hatchback in Tesla territory, though the Leaf does come with a more affordable price tag. This is far from a speculation and Nissan itself has confirmed the reports by selling its in-house battery provider AESC. Instead, they’ve switched to LG Chem’s cells which seem to be providing instant benefits.
The new Nissan Leaf will sport a new 60 kWh battery pack coupled with a larger 160 kW electric motor for the total range of around 225 miles. An increase from current figures of 40 kWh, 11o kW and 150 miles respectively. It will also come with larger onboard chargers ranging from 11 kW to 22 kW instead of the current 6.6 kW unit. Furthermore, LG Chem’s battery packs come with a thermal management system – a feat Nissan’s own cells didn’t have. Of course, all the mentioned improvements will come at a price. An entry-level Leaf starts from just below $30,000, where a federal tax credit can lower the MSRP to $22,500. Don’t expect the long-range units to be available for anything less than $30,000 after all the incentives have been taken into account.
03. 2019 Rogue
Not counting the familiar trio of full-size pickup trucks, Nissan Rogue was the second best-selling vehicle on the U.S. market during 2017. With 403,465 units sold, it came just behind the Toyota RAV4 which moved exactly 4,129 more units. Compared to 2016, the Rogue saw an increase in sales of more than 70,000 units which was, in no small part due to a mid-cycle refresh. No such facelift is scheduled for MY 2019, but the Rogue’s impressive sales surge is expected to continue. The crossover craze isn’t showing any signs of stopping, and despite the Rogue being one of the more outdated models on the market, most people simply can’t pathe ss on opportunity to snag one for as little as $25,000. Especially when it comes with Nissan’s ProPilot Assist, standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, lots of cargo space, great fuel economy, and an abundance of other safety and convenience gear.
One of the biggest downsides of this highly practical compact crossover, and indeed most of Nissan models in 2019, is a lack of imagination in the powertrain department. Not counting the hybrid, the Nissan Rogue only comes in one setup that consist of a 170-horsepower 2.5L 4-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission. At least the $1,350 upgrade gets you four-wheel drive. The mentioned hybrid pairs a 2.0L internal combustion engine with a 30 kW electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack for as much as 176 net horsepower and up to 34 mpg combined. The base model, on the other hand, returns 29 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 27 mpg combined in four-wheel drive setup.
02. 2019 Frontier
The mid-size pickup truck market is going through a renaissance of sorts, which started in 2015, but Nissan brass are still looking generally indifferent on the matter. How else to explain the fact they still haven’t updated their own offering in the segment even though others are already contemplating makeovers while others, still, are officially getting back into the game after a years-long hiatus? The Nissan Frontier is now officially the oldest mid-size truck on the U.S. market, dating back to late 2004. The Japanese have been partially successful with their strategy of offering Frontier at bargain prices knowing that this is one of the precious few advantages it holds over its rivals. Yet, you can only stretch one venerable model’s sales so far. This is why they’ve vowed to make the next-gen Frontier a priority in the near future.
The new Frontier could come as early as 2019, and it’ll apparently be offered with a V6 mill as its sole option. At least initially. The competition is already offering 4-cylinder petrol and diesel alternatives to their standard V6 options which means Nissan engineers will have their hands full adjusting their currently viable options for the new Frontier. Which options these are, we still don’t know. We can only assume more info will become available closer to launch date. The next-gen Frontier will be built in Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant and will likely be based upon the current-generation Nissan Navara that’s available in overseas markets. It might even get something off of the Renault Alaskan truck that also isn’t available in the U.S.
01. 2019 Murano
The Murano was Nissan’s first and only crossover in the U.S. for quite some time before the Rogue arrived in late 2007. As such, it holds a special place within the Japanese automaker’s lineup, and it’s one of the better-selling Nissan vehicles overall. Nissan has managed to market 76,732 Muranos during 2017 and similar results are expected for 2018. The 2019 Nissan Murano, on the other hand, should see that figure increased, as it’s coming with a fresh front fascia, tail-lights, and a new infotainment system inside. A mid-cycle refresh should also see it equipped with the latest advanced safety gear like Nissan’s ProPilot Assist suite.
On the other hand, don’t expect any changes to the powertrain department. Murano’s current 260-horsepower 3.5L V6 and a CVT gearbox should see the mid-size crossover throughout its third generation. Although it doesn’t offer a three-row seating arrangement, the Murano still manages to provide its owners with something to cheer about. It’s extremely comfortable and it offers a high-end cabin that even some of its luxury counterparts wouldn’t be ashamed of. The mid-size crossover is also riddled with safety and convenience features which further raises its appeal. And it’s available from less than $31,000, although top grade models cost well north of $40,000.
What’s Not In the New 2019 Nissan Lineup
02. 2019 Pathfinder
Being in production since the mid-eighties, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Pathfinder went through a number of phases before becoming what it is today. Apart from growing in size during the mid-nineties,the Pathfinder also switched from body-on-frame to unibody structure, and from rear to front-wheel drive. The latest transition occurred during late 2012 with the introduction of the fourth-generation. This wouldn’t be of any real significance for current Nissan Pathfinder buyers had the mid-size crossover SUV actually evolved in the meantime. Problem is, it hasn’t. What’s more, the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder will only prolong the intermediate’s suffering by becoming one of the oldest offerings in its class.
It doesn’t take long to figure out what the Pathfinder’s biggest issues are. Although quite strong, its 284-horsepower 3.5L V6 isn’t exactly budget-friendly when it comes to fuel consumption. Moreover, the Pathfinder’s ride is far from smooth, and even further from being fun. On the plus side, Nissan’s venerable mid-sizer does offer three rows of seats, great towing capability, and adequate safety equipment. As such, it’s a fine choice for any family, and many buyers have recognized that. The Pathfinder’s sales have surprisingly remained steady at around 80,000 units per year, but that trend will hardly survive if the Japanese don’t address the mid-size crossover’s aging issues.
01. 2019 370Z
When was the last time your thoughts wandered off toward the lovely Fairlady? We wouldn’t be surprised if you told us it has been quite some time, and things in that department do not appear to be changing, unfortunately. MY 2019 will mark a full decade since the Nissan 370Z’s arrival. Although sports cars have always been a niche which has allowed them to live long and, more or less, prosperous lives, 10 years without major innovations is a lot for any vehicle. The 370Z’s successor should be in the works despite nothing official coming from the Japanese automaker’s camp, but it almost certainly won’t arrive in time for MY 2019. This leaves us with a now-venerable coupe and roadster whose sales have been dwindling year in and year out. After a healthy 10,000 or so units at its inauguration, Nissan has only sold 4,614 370Z’s during 2017. Furthermore, 2018 figures will be even lower, and you can probably imagine how things will look in 2019.
Despite entering its teen years, the 2019 370Z will remain a competent, affordable sports car with a healthy V6 note. One of the traditionally best bang-for-the-buck cars packs a 3.7L naturally aspirated V6 under its hood, capable of producing 332 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Although not exactly the best-handling car out there, the 370Z is still more fun to drive than most vehicles we’ll likely come across. Despite the positives, one shouldn’t be spending his/her money on what’s basically a late 2000s car. Especially not when we’re right here on 2020’s doorstep.