Nissan is pretty darn proud of the , and with good reason. The sedan introduces all-wheel drive at a low price point, has an optional variable-compression turbocharged engine and comes with the company's ProPilot driver-assistance tech. Nissan Vice President of Product Planning Michael Bunce, calls it the "best Altima ever." And in fact, it speaks to the company's larger focus on making sedans truly desirable.
"We don't see sedans going away in the US at all," Bunce tells Roadshow. Yes, crossovers are seemingly all the rage these days, but Bunce sees huge opportunity for sedans moving forward. That bodes well for Nissan's other sedan nameplates, especially Sentra and Maxima.
"We're working on a next-generation Sentra," Bunce said during an interview at the New York Auto Show. "Sentra's probably the vehicle where we have the most opportunity," he added, saying we'll see the new compact sedan sometime next year. "We have a lot of ground to make up there."
Full-size sedans don't command nearly the same sales volumes as compact or midsize four-doors, but Bunce says the Maxima "has a very important role" in Nissan's lineup. A vastly improved Altima only "raises the bar even further for Maxima."
"We're working on the next-generation Maxima to even be something greater than people ever thought or imagined a Maxima could be," Bunce said. "That's what Maxima buyers expect from us. They expect us to really push the envelope."
Bunce says the next crop of car buyers will look to sedans the way that current shoppers are flocking to crossovers. In his experience, Millennials and Centennials don't classify vehicles by body shape, rather, "in their minds ... they can look at a silhouette and say, 'that's the one I like.'"
The preferred silhouette in Nissan's research? "Sleek-back sedans," says Bunce. The 2019 Altima is certainly more rakish than its predecessor. Here's hoping we'll be able to say the same about the upcoming Sentra and Maxima.