2013 Nissan Altima
by John Davis
Nowhere in the automotive business is the competition more intense than among mid-size family sedans. Every full-line automaker has at least one entry, all trying to unseat a pair of industry stalwarts; the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
In recent years several competitors have made significant inroads including the Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion, and the Nissan Altima. Indeed, the Nissan Altima caught everyone by surprise last year with its surging sales despite an aging design. But, Americans know a solid car and great bargain when they see it, and that perfectly describes the Altima.
Now, ready to build on that good sales fortune is an all-new Nissan Altima for 2013. Frankly, when the redesigned Altima was unveiled at the New York auto show it didn’t exactly wow the press. But, that was at first glance. After spending some quality time behind the wheel of the all-new Altima, indicators are that Nissan has indeed done a lot to challenge Camry and Accord.
For starters, the Altima is a real joy to drive. Standard Active Understeer control brakes the inside front wheel during cornering to quicken turn-ins. You won’t forget that this is still a mid-size family sedan, but it’s one that now falls on the sporty side of things. We’ve had our issues with CVT transmissions over the years but Nissan’s is by far one of the best. It still makes for lots of engine roar when you really get it crankin’, but it remains smooth.
The interior of the new Altima gains the biggest design upgrade. There’s far less hard plastic, though it hasn’t gone away entirely. But overall, it’s a first rate upgrade overall; lavish, but not opulent.
The Altima is also spacious. Designed with more front legroom than the Camry, the front seats are pleasant for trips both short and long. The Altima’s rear legroom is more than adequate, although here it trails the Camry. Blind spot and lane departure warnings are just a few of many available safety features that complement the standard VDC and Traction Control.
Standard Altima power comes from an updated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 182-horsepower. That’s only 7-horsepower more than before, but with a better CVT transmission, and over a hundred pounds less weight than last year, the car feels much peppier than before.
As for exterior styling, the new Altima is more of an evolution than revolution. It is sleeker, with dynamically flared headlights, and definitely more substantial in appearance. Yet, it is still rather conservative looking. So the targets are clearly Camry and Accord, not Sonata and Fusion. Government Fuel Economy Ratings look impressive at 27-City and 38-Highway using regular grade gas.
With so many new competitors, it is a buyer’s market for mid-size family sedans. The 2013 Nissan Altima looks to be yet another able entry worth considering. Not only is it a very capable and well-designed, mid-size four-door, it is one that can also put a little driving fun into your daily routine.
For more of our exclusive road test results on the 2013 Nissan Altima, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3148 which begins airing on August 4, 2012. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.