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2013 Nissan Altima – High Class and High Mileage Meet

2013 Nissan Altima

The Altima has been completely re-designed for the 2013 model year and Nissan spared nothing when it took the microscope to its flagship sedan. The Altima has seen a complete re-think throughout, but hasn't lost sight of those things which made it one of the most popular mid-sized sedans on the market. Delivering both value and unusual luxury, it puts a lot on the table for others in its class to live up to.

The manufacturer says

Wouldn’t it be cool if just taking an on-ramp gave you an adrenaline rush? Or imagine knowing you’re free and clear before you made that lane-change. If the design of your seat made long trips feel less so. And your customized radio station came along for the ride. What if you even got a thumbs-up from the valet as you pulled away from the curb? The next time you get behind the wheel, everything will be different. Because we didn’t just update the Altima, we changed everything about it. All for you. The all-new 2013 Altima. Nissan. Innovation that excites.™

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Nissan
  • Year, Model: 2013 Altima
  • Class, Type: Sedan
  • Propulsion system: Fuel-injected gasoline
  • Fuel(s): Gasoline
  • Base Price: $21,500
  • MSRP as tested: $28,388
  • Availability:
  • Hitting dealerships now.

Overview

The Altima has been thoroughly re-designed for the 2013 model year. Several changes to the car's look and drive have been added while a lot of new innovations have been put into it as well. One of its most striking new selling points are the "zero gravity seats" in the cockpit and the "heads up display" at the center of the instrument cluster. Performance has been enhanced with high-tech engine designs and fuel economy has been boosted significantly as well.

The 4-cylinder engine in the Altima puts out 182 horsepower while achieving 38 miles per gallon on the highway thanks to a new intake system and better cylinder management. This gives the Altima 2.5 (base engine) the highest efficiency in its class. Yet while driving, you won't notice any sluggishness or power loss as the little four-banger is quite capable of pushing out enough power to make merging and passing easy tasks for the car. One thing to note, however, is that the little four is louder than the six, which has more power and thus smoother acceleration.

The six cylinder 3.5L achieves an impressive 31mpg on the highway, though, and puts out a lot of umph into a car this size. Both engines are mated to a smooth continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is a big contributor to the Altima's great mileage numbers.

The zero-gravity seats in the Altima are hard to describe, but easy to love once you've sat in them. It's easy to predict that this type of ergonomic seating will become standard in all vehicles in the next few years. Nissan says they looked to space and the astronauts who fly into it for inspiration, but the best description I can muster is to compare them to expensive office chairs. You hardly realize you're sitting once you're in them and very quickly, the comfort becomes something you take for granted. Both seats in the front of the Altima are easy to love.

The heads up display at the center of the instrument cluster is another smart piece of tech. Between the tach and speedo sits a display that shows, at a glance, what's happening with the car. Normally, it shows safety diagrams or quick stats of the drive so far (average MPG, trip counter, etc). When using the navigation system, turn-by-turn information is shown on this display to minimize your need to turn your head away from the road. Caller ID from your mobile when Bluetooth® connected also displays, another great eyes-on-the-road keeper. And yes, you guessed it, when you tune the radio or skip tracks on your CD, that displays on the HUD too. Using this even for just a few minutes shows you how often you normally take your eyes from the road while driving.

On the main, the Altima is a very comfortable ride with a lot of pluses. At this price point, it's one of the more luxurious mid-sized sedans you'll find and until the competition (namely the Toyota Camry and similar) enter the 2013 model market, the Altima definitely stands alone as a new gold standard to live up to.

What we like

Great mileage for a car of this size and luxury. The Altima comfortably seats 5 adults and yet it achieves 38mpg (4-cylinder). Many compacts can't make even one of those two claims and so far, no mid-sized can either.

Extreme comfort for everyone in the car. The driver has several amenities to make him or her feel great while behind that wheel, from the solid handling of the car to the high-comfort zero-gravity seating. The front passenger gets the same zero-gravity experience and rear passengers can relax in the plush seating in the back. Trunk space is ample as well – larger than many competitors.

What we don't

Soft, subdued handling is a marked step away from last year's Altima. What was once a relatively sporty car in this class has now become a smooth operator from which much of the "fun" has been eliminated. Some features like Vehicle Understeer Control and a wider stance make up for some of this.

Loss of road feel is another concern related to the above. This detracts from the driving experience as the "sense" of the road is dulled. Some drivers prefer this, but many gain insights into the vehicle and road conditions purely through this feel and will miss it.

Conclusions

The Altima has been the second-best selling car in America and is now poised to become the best seller. It's extremely comfortable and sets new standards for luxury and performance with efficiency that others in this class will have to play catch-up to achieve. Definitely a family sedan that most will find appealing on many levels.

Test Period Length and Limitations
Car was driven for about 20 minutes on city streets in a suburban area as well as, for short periods, on the highway. Total time with the car was about an hour at a Nissan-sponsored event.

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