New Nissan Altima Is A Fine Family Sedan
2013 Nissan Altima Review:
Nissan’s Altima doesn’t always get its due.
That may be about to change. The 2013 Altima has been revamped to be slightly wider and much quieter and more comfortable. Its styling includes more arrow-like front lights and a smoother overall shape. This is a fine family sedan that should send shivers down the spines of Honda and Toyota engineers.
My test car was the midlevel Altima 2.5 SV built in Smyrna, Tenn., with a bright pearl white paint job.The 2.5 tells you that this one features Nissan’s 2.5-liter I4 with an alloy engine block and cylinder heads. The SV notches in just below the SE (Special Edition), is well-equipped including 17-inch wheels, instead of the standard 16-inchers. The SV also comes with remote start and an upgraded audio system with five-color display.
It’s amazing how much power we now see from direct-injected 4-cylinder engines. This one produces 182 horsepower, among the best in this market segment and up seven from the 2012 model. The EPA rated the sedan at 27 mpg city and 38 mpg highway on regular gas. I got 32.5 mpg in about 60% highway miles. Plus, due to the use of high-strength steel in parts of the car, overall vehicle weight has dropped 80 pounds from its predecessor.
Some of the credit for the car’s fuel efficiency goes to Nissan’s continuously variable transmission, one of the few CVTs on the market that aren’t horrible. In fact, Nissan’s is the only CVT I would recommend. There are virtually no shift points, and the car smoothly moves up to speed.
Ride is excellent, the independent struts up front and multi-link suspension in back soak up bumps for a well controlled ride. ZF Sachs shocks front and rear and a 109.5-inch wheelbase help control road imperfections.
Handling is better than many midsize sedans. I wouldn’t call it quick, but it’s responsive and the car turns into corners with authority. This is a speed-sensitive rack and pinion setup.
Braking comes from four-wheel discs, the front brakes being vented. Stability and traction control are standard.
Inside, the brown over tan interior was attractive and the SV features cloth seats. Leather comes into the picture with the SL model, which includes a Bose sound system. There’s gloss black trim on the center stack and console, along with pewter-look trim on the steering wheel hub, dash, doors and around the stack.
Seating is excellent, the cloth seats being well formed and Nissan tells us their design is based on some NASA research to aid comfort. It works, with mild contouring, plus the SV has a power driver’s seat.
Head and legroom are good front and rear. I had several adult rear seat riders and they all praised the car’s comfort and legroom. There’s oodles of space in the trunk too, 15.4 cubic feet, and the rear seats split and fold down fairly flat to extend the cargo room.I like Altima’s dash layout, the simple gauges and easy controls. Behind the tilt-telescope steering wheel are two main gauges and there are trip computer, radio, cruise and phone control buttons on the wheel’s hub. Likewise the center stack is logical with air vents at the top, a big navigation/radio screen ($590 option), big radio volume and tuning knobs and other large radio and map buttons.
My lone complaint is the six dinky Touchscreen buttons that pop up on the radio/nav screen for you to program and use to select radio channels.
On the plus side, a rearview camera also is displayed on the large screen, a good safety feature. There also are large dual climate control knobs on the center stack.
Overhead is a sunroof, part of a $1,350 package that adds fog lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink system, mood lamp overhead and a side cargo net in the trunk. Sliding visors also are part of the package. The test car added splash guards for $145, a rear spoiler for $395 and floor mats for $130.
The base price for the SV is $24,100. The test car hit $27,490.
A base Altima 2.5 starts at $21,500 with the same engine, transmission and gas mileage numbers. You can go up to the S, SV and SL from there. Nissan offers a 3.5-liter V6 in several trim levels, starting with the S at $25,360. With the V6, it gets 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.