The Nissan Altima is the not only the best-selling car in Nissan's lineup, but it's also the second best-selling family sedan in the U.S. For 2013 it has a new design, revamped powertrains, and a new infotainment system. Will all these upgrades help the Nissan move the Altima to the number-one family-sedan spot in the U.S.? We find out in our latest video road test.
We are sold on the Altima's attractive new sheetmetal. The front end features a swept back look while the headlights and taillights look aggressive. The complex body stampings such as the fender flares and sweeping character line mimic the Maxima, and more expensive Infinitis.
Inside the Altima has tastefully matured but stands out in sharp contrast to the sheetmetal. The center stack features a large LCD screen on models with the more advanced infotainment system, a key area where the previous-generation Altima lagged behind the competition
While the Altima hasn't gotten larger in any key area, the front seats have gotten much more comfortable, even after a couple hours of driving. In back the Altima has just enough headroom for taller passengers, and the seat back is at a fairly steep angle. There's some, but not a ton of foot room under the seats.
The base $21,500 Altima comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors, intelligent key with push button start, along with Bluetooth. Upper trim models add a power driver seat, cruise control, audio upgrades, and a rearview camera. The $28,000 top trim SL model adds heated leather seats, a Bose audio system, LED taillights, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A navigation system with a 7-inch screen is available and is a welcome upgrade over the puny previous unit.
Under the hood you'll have the option of a frugal 2.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 182 horsepower or a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6. Both engines are connected to reworked continuously variable transmissions called CVTs.
Nissan has worked hard to not only meet the competition's fuel economy, but beat it. We say well done. The four-cylinder is rated by the EPA at 27 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, while the V-6 is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
While the last Altima missed the safety-tech parade, this one comes to class prepared with options for everything from a rearview camera to blind-spot monitoring. And while the IIHS hasn't rated it yet, the NHTSA gave it five stars in all major tests along with four stars for rollover resistance.
So what's the bottom line with the new 2013 Nissan Altima? We like the brisk updates Nissan's applied for all the right reasons. It has good looks and great gas mileage, and it's a great family-sedan buy--as long as you don't mind the CVT transmission.