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3/4 Front Glamour 2013 Nissan Altima

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Expert's Rating

4.8Excellent

MPG 25 City / 35 Highway
Pros
  • Good handling
  • Many standard safety features
  • High-quality interior
  • Comfortable rear seats
Cons
  • Difficult to fold down back seats
  • Expensive options
, Automotive Editor -
Nissan's bread-and-butter Altima midsize sedan is new for 2013 in the company's bid to keep it in the running against ever-improving rivals like the Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Passat, Kia Optima and the best-selling Toyota Camry. The new styling is an evolution of the outgoing model's, though there are more Maxima and Infiniti influences to move the look of Nissan's mainstream sedan upmarket. There's a totally new interior that incorporates up-to-date in-car technology, with one of the least expensive navigation systems on the market available on most trim levels. Despite the redesign, the Altima stays roughly the same size as the 2012 model. It's also the value leader of the midsize sedan segment for 2013.

Introduction

While the Altima grows a little bit, it keeps its choice of four and six-cylinder engines, something growing increasingly rare in the midsize class as rivals shift to turbocharged engines to boost fuel economy. Nissan eliminated the option of a manual transmission the sedan, instead going with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) across the board. This allows Altimas with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder to make 182 horsepower and still achieve 38 MPG on the highway, a class best for gasoline-only powertrains. A 3.5-liter V6 remains an option, producing 270 horsepower and promising up to 31 MPG on the highway. Unlike the previous Altima sedan, a hybrid is not offered, nor is a clean diesel option.

Want to see our Editor's Top Sedans for 2013? Click here for our Sedan Car Buying Guide

Overall, the Altima remains one of the more conservative options for midsize sedan customers, but aims to attract customers with the available, and gutsy, V6 engine and the leading fuel-efficiency of the four-cylinder. It also offers many attractive features as standard equipment for its competitive starting price.

The Camry was redesigned for 2012 and Toyota addressed major criticisms of the old car, such as a cheap interior and the overall blandness of the design. While still hugely conservative, the new Camry looks sharper inside and out. It comes with a higher level of technology with Toyota's competent Entune system for streaming audio and pairing mobile devices. But the Camry's standard four-cylinder doesn't offer as good economy as the Altima. The Sonata has a far more striking design than most midsize competitors, even if it isn't to everyone's tastes. But the Sonata doesn't have quite the same fuel economy rating as the Altima, nor is its turbocharged four-cylinder as powerful or refined as the Nissan V6.

Like the Hyundai, the Kia Optima has a lot of features for the price, along with a look removed from the conservative lines of the Altima. The Optima packs the option of a potent turbo four-cylinder. On the flip side, Kia's in-car tech isn't as sophisticated as Nissan's. The Altima also ekes out a few more MPG than the Optima with their respective base engines. Volkswagen's Passat offers vast amounts of interior space and amenities like dual-zone automatic climate control. It too offers a V6 option, but also gives customers the chance to buy a TDI clean diesel engine, a unique proposition in the class. Where the Passat falls down is in fuel economy with the gas engines and some popular features are only available on top models.

Overall, the new Altima is a solid choice in a category loaded with strong competitors. The leading fuel economy rating on the four-cylinder and the wide availability of technology features, including one of the lowest priced navigation systems on the market, are just some of the reasons why it should remain high on midsize sedan buyer's shopping lists.

Which Style To Buy?

2013 Nissan Altima
Starting price
$12,979

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5

Recommended for: People who want a base model that isn't all that basic

Even the most basic Altima, predominantly for fleet buyers, gets the fuel-efficicent CVT transmission, power windows, door locks, air conditioning and Bluetooth with streaming audio. The 2.5 name indicates it comes only with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine This model also comes standard with keyless start, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and split-folding rear seats.

2013 Nissan Altima
Starting price
$12,979

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Recommended for: Buyers who want more popular features.

The 2.5 S adds more features popular with mainstream midsize sedan buyers, such as a six-way power driver's seat and a six-speaker audio system. Opting for the 3.5 S adds not only the 270-horsepower engine, but paddle shifters for the CVT and 18-inch alloy wheels.

2013 Nissan Altima
Starting price
$12,979

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL

Recommended for: For people who want the Ultimate Altima with all the bells and whistles

The most luxurious line of Altima starts with the 2.5 SL. That four-cylinder model gets standard leather seats, moonroof, fog lights and a premium Bose audio system with nine speakers. An optional Technology Package adds the contents of the Navigation Package, but also throws in blind-spot detection, a lane departure warning and moving object detection. SL models also get LED tail lights as standard equipment. The 3.5 SL adds standard Xenon headlights.

2013 Nissan Altima
Starting price
$12,979

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

Recommended for: For drivers who are more technology-minded and want additional functionality

The SV is the way to get the optional Navigation Package, which, for just $590, adds satellite navigation with a 7-inch touchscreen with voice recognition, traffic and weather and Google's Send-to-Car functionality. The 2.5 SV adds as standard equipment an eight-way power driver's seat, backup camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, hands-free texting capability, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote engine start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a USB input for iPod/iPhone connectivity. The optional Convenience Package adds a power moonroof, fog lights, Homelink and one-touch up/down front windows. 3.5 SV models get the moonroof, remote start and fog lights as standard.

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