For Canada, Nissan is outfitting the 2019 Altima with all-wheel drive as standard equipment, hoping to provide an alternative to crossovers and utility vehicles, and to attract those buyers who want AWD but prefer a more traditional sedan.
“There are a lot of people who still prefer a sedan, for a lot of different reasons,” said Brent Smith, deputy general manager, chief marketing development for Nissan Canada.
“From a practical point of view, [they have] a lower purchase price, a lower profile and slightly better fuel efficiency, but from an emotional point of view, sedans can have a professional, sophisticated status and a drive experience unmatched by a sport-utility vehicle.”
Smith said AWD is becoming an increasingly important purchase decision for Canadian consumers, “and we really wanted to make Altima stand out in the segment, so we decided to make it standard across all models.”
Nissan’s decision on Altima goes against trends in the industry, where some carmakers have announced they will abandon, or have abandoned, the sedan segment entirely. Mitsubishi now sells crossovers exclusively, Ford has said within two years, cars will constitute only 10 per cent of its North American production.
Yet, the 2019 Altima represents the largest investment in platform development in Nissan’s history, company officials said at the media launch in Santa Barbara, Calif. AWD for Canada was a natural decision in that context, Nissan Canada spokeswoman Jennifer McCarthy said.