Nissan says Altima raises the bar for the next Sentra and Maxima

A new Sentra is coming next year, and a redesigned Maxima is already in development.

Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Steven Ewing
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2019 Nissan Altima

Nissan is pretty darn proud of the 2019 Altima, 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."

2019 Nissan Altima
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2019 Nissan Altima

The 2019 model is definitely the best-looking Altima we've seen in a while.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

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.

2019 Nissan Altima finally gives the people what they want

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