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Nissan Wants All-New Altima To Make Americans Love Sedans Again

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But is any sedan, no matter how good, able to accomplish this?

Despite a nationwide slow-down in sedan sales, Nissan decided to press ahead with a redesigned Altima, first revealed last spring in New York. As it's about to arrive in showrooms for the 2019 model year, the new Nissan Altima has quite a task ahead of it: how to survive in a crossover popularity firestorm. Fortunately, Nissan is confident it will find success.

Automotive News spoke to Nissan North America Chairman Denis Le Vot a few days ago about this very subject. "People are looking for tech," Le Vot said. "There used to be less tech in a D sedan. Now we're getting back with the most concentrated technology we've ever had."

The D-segment is also known as the mid-size segment, and the new Altima comes with "tech features" such as several safety technologies including ProPilot Assist and Safety Shield 360. Even its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is advanced thanks to "variable compression" technology. In fact, it's the world's first production-ready variable compression turbo engine. Will that, along with the new Altima's bold styling, especially up front, be enough to lure customers away from not only competitors like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Mazda 6, but also Nissan's very own bread and butter, the Rogue crossover?

Only time will tell. Based on sales of the outgoing Altima, however, we already have a clear enough picture of the new model's uphill battle. Sales of the Altima in the US were off by 16 percent this year, while overall midsize sedan demand has dropped 16 percent as well.

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This is just one of the many reasons why Ford decided to get out of the sedan business. So how could things work differently for Nissan? Le Volt says the automaker is still perceived as a "car brand", which sounds a bit odd given its massive crossover success. But Le Volt remains optimistic sedan sales will recover. "Market intelligence is telling us Generation Z's favorite body style is sedans. The big wheel is turning." How so, according to him?

Budget-focused buyers may soon be unable or unwilling to pay the premium that crossovers demand, especially given that interest rates are expected to increase. Sedans are thus the best alternative, especially those that offer all-wheel drive, like the 2019 Altima.