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  • 2013 Nissan Altima

    2013 Nissan Altima Mid Size Sedan

  • 2013 Nissan Altima 02 3/4 view

  • 2013 Nissan Altima Interior

2013 Nissan Altima Mid-Size Sedan

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Nissan Altima was the second best-selling car among all nameplates in the United States in 2011, the Nissan Altima has come a long way since it was first introduced.  Now, with the arrival in summer 2012 of the all-new fifth generation design – the most innovative Altima yet – Nissan promises to shake up the mid-size sedan segment again with the most engaging, innovative and stylish vehicle in its class.

A dash across hills of Tennessee to reach the airport in Nashville should consume far more than an hour, although on this run the traffic seems sparse, the course along route 55 out of Lynchburg spreads in a broad and smooth path, and that sleek sedan carrying an impatient driver melds with the blacktop and asserts itself whenever we put our foot into it.

Packing a sophisticated aluminum four-in-line engine designed not only for robust acceleration but class-leading fuel economy, our machine leaps around lesser vehicles as we run through the passing lane.

With its taut suspension tuned for precise maneuvers and a quick rack and pinion steering mechanism aboard aided by electronic-hydraulic power assistance, this car hugs contours of the road and carves out crisp corners when wiggling around curves in the hills.

Dressed in a sleek exterior shell, it slices through the air in keen aerodynamic fashion which leaves little room for wind noise to disrupt the serenity of a plush cabin, where a favored jazz melody trickles from nine speakers (including woofers) of a Bose premium audio kit.

Soft perforated leather drapes the NASA-inspired “zero-gravity” driver’s bucket, which may be the most comfortable we’ve encountered in what seems like a zillion car tests.

So much about this vehicle’s style, demeanor and handling conforms to recollections of uber-pricy touring sedans imported from Germany that we find ourselves rechecking the label to verify exactly what kind of car we’re steering. But those checks confirm this one as the 2013 Altima 2.5 SL, top four-cylinder trim in a new design for Nissan’s best-selling vehicle which comes together at Nissan assembly plants in Smyrna, Tenn., and Canton, Miss.

With this all-new 2013 Altima, Nissan rolls out the fifth generation of designs for a nameplate that traces back in Nissan’s line to the first-generation Altima sedan of 1993, the designated replacement for Stanza, Nissan’s once-venerable compact car.

A second generation in 1998 expanded Altima’s package to the mid-size category, while the third generation of 2002 drew the wheelbase seven inches longer before a fourth generation in 2007 actually chopped the length of the wheelbase by almost an inch to enhance maneuverability.

For the fifth-generation Altima of 2013, Nissan holds the length of the wheelbase at 109.3 inches but forges a wider front and rear wheel track (+1.4 inches) with deeper fenders (+0.8 inches wider on each side). The resultant broad stance — working with a chrome-encrusted grille and projector-type headlamps capping the curvy stepped hood design — makes a bold and sophisticated sheetmetal package.

There are new front-wheel-drive (FWD) powertrains aboard Altima in four-cylinder and V6 formats, plus new mechanical systems to improve ride and handling traits, and more standard content in safety equipment.

Altima for 2013 trims out in seven versions consisting of four tiers with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and three with the 3.5-liter V6.

That redesigned QR25DE dual-cam 2.5-liter four-pack with continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) generates 182 hp at 6000 rpm and 180 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. Despite the high output, it qualifies Altima for Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) status and achieves fuel consumption numbers of 27 miles per gallon for in-town driving and 38 mpg at speed on a highway. The VQ35DE V6, with twin cams on top and four valves for each cylinder plus CVVT, pumps superior muscle — to 270 hp at 6000 rpm with 251 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm. And fuel economy estimates tally high to 22/31 mpg city/highway.

Both engines link to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), with a manual shift mode and column-mounted paddle shifters going to V6 editions.

Altima’s rigid unibody structure whittles out a spacious cabin fitted with premium materials and fine craftsmanship. The layout pitches a pair of bolstered buckets in front and a second-row bench for up to three adults with a seatback that splits 60/40 and folds to expand the cargo area of the trunk, which holds 15.9 cubic feet.

Premium cloth fabric covers seats in standard editions with Piano Black interior trim and chrome finish accents.

Leather-clad seats and premium interior trim (wood-tone for Blond interior, metallic texture for Charcoal interior) show up on the slate of options.

Each Altima carries a Fine Vision meter cluster and Nissan Advanced Drive-Assist Display with four-inch LCD color display tucked amid the instruments. Active safety gear includes a sophisticated anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA), plus a traction control system (TCS) and vehicle dynamic control (VDC) device which checks lateral skidding. Packaged options range from a Convenience Package for Altima 2.5 SV to a Navigation Package for 2.5 SV and 3.5 SV models, and a Technology Package for top trims Altima 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL. The latter package installs a navigation system plus electronic safety devices like Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD).

Nissan creates a tiered price structure for the 2013 Altima sedan. Entry point is the Altima 2.5 with a MSRP of $21,500. Altima 2.5 S goes for $22,500, the 2.5 SV begins at $24,100, and 2.5 SL comes to $28,080. The V6-powered editions list as Altima 3.5 S for $25,360, Altima 3.5 SV at $27,780 and the deluxe Altima 3.5 SL for $30,080.


  • Description: Mid-size sedan
  • Model options: Altima 2.5 Altima 2.5 S Altima 2.5 SV Altima 2.5 SL Altima 3.5 S Altima 3.5 SV Altima 3.5 SL
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 inches Overall length 191.5 inches
  • Engine size:
    • DOHC 2.5-L I4/CVVT
    • DOHC 3.5-L V6/CVVT
  • Transmissions/speeds: CVT Rear/front drive
  • Front Steering: EHPS/rack and pinion
  • Braking Power: 4-disc ABS/EBD/BA/TCS/VCD
  • Air bags: 2 (front) 2 (side) 4 (side curtain)
  • EPA mileage est. city/hwy.:
    • 27/38 mpg: 2.5
    • 22/31 mpg: 3.5
  • MSRP, est.:
    • $21,500: Altima 2.5
    • $22,500: Altima 2.5 S
    • $24,100: Altima 2.5 SV
    • $28,080: Altima 2.5 SL
    • $25,360: Altima 3.5 S
    • $27,780: Altima 3.5 SV
    • $30,080: Altima 3.5