The Nissan Altima always sold well, despite being a primarily utilitarian sedan. But the latest redesign includes an unexpected and welcome gift: ProPilot Assist, the semi-autonomous driver assistance system of the Japanese automaker.
Previously, Nissan had included ProPilot Assist in the 2018 Leaf electric vehicle and the Rogue SUV. With the addition of Altima, Nissan has established itself as a leader, offering highly automated driving in its consumer vehicles.
Nissan has established itself as a leader
ProPilot Assist is a level 2 self-driving system, which allows the vehicle to control the speed, the distance of other cars and keep the car in the desired lane with the minimum intervention of the driver. The cameras detect lane markings at highway speeds, and then the adaptive speed control, lane maintenance and blind spot detection systems keep it in that lane until it deliberately changes lanes.
Nissan has not yet announced Altima prices, but it is likely to start in the low range of $ 20,000. Compare that to the Cadillac CT6 with Super Cruise (around $ 71,300) or with a Tesla Model S with automatic pilot (around $ 77,500), and you can see why Nissan deserves your attention. It's a separate question about whether ProPilot Assist can measure up to Super Cruise or Autopilot, which sets the bar high enough for driver assistance systems. But Nissan's commitment to making its technology available at a fraction of the price of those luxury car manufacturers is really a big problem.
These types of systems are often discarded as glorified versions of cruise control, but they are also a canary in the coal mine when it comes to total autonomy. As more cars are sold with these advanced features, drivers get more experience when they let go of the wheel and trust their cars to handle them. And, soon, they may feel comfortable enough to give up all control, which is where most experts think we are headed.
for many, not for few
The Altima 2019 made its debut at the New York International Auto Show this week, but we had to check it out a few days before, as well as talk to some of Nissan's product designers and managers.
"What's really unique about the Nissan system versus the software that's on the market right now is that we add lane-centric capability," said Derek Kramer, Nissan's product planner. "So, instead of this ping-pong effect that you get with a lot of cars, it does a great job of keeping it in the center of the lane – it's a practical system, but it really reduces fatigue and stress while driving."
Kramer seemed to be making a distinction between ProPilot Assist and Cadillac & # 39; s Super Cruise, which drivers can use to use their hands free, as long as they keep their eyes on the road. Maybe that's an advantage that Cadillac has over Nissan, but the two are hardly competitors. And given Nissan's market share, more drivers are likely to experience this type of high-tech driving in an Altima or Rogue.
If the ultimate mission is to increase safety and reduce driver fatigue, it is expected that more car manufacturers will follow suit and begin to include their highly automated systems in cars that are accessible to many, not few.