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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
The Altima had plenty of room for improvement in the safety arena. The 2012 model-year sedan earned some good ratings--four stars overall from the NHTSA, and "good" scores from the IIHS for frontal impacts--but its roof strength tests were less convincing, and it lacked some of the latest safety technology and options available on the newest family four-doors.
The 2013 Altima's new body structure has paid dividends. Nissan sedan's now earned a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with five-star scores in all the major tests and a four-star rating for rollover resistance. Furthermore, it gets top ('good') IIHS scores in all but the new small overlap frontal test--for a great Top Safety Pick+ achievement.
The new Altima has more safety gear than ever, starting with the requisite dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; and tire pressure monitors. Nissan uses those monitors cleverly for Easy Fill, a system that lets you put air into the tires until the horn sounds--your signal that the tire pressure's reached the recommended level, no gauge required.
While the previous Altima lacked the latest safety technology, the new one raids the high-tech cupboard for nearly every major add-on introduced in the past few years. The list will include standard or optional rearview camera, blind-spot monitors, and lane-departure warning systems. All three can be ordered together in a Technology package, bundled with a navigation system.
The last Altima missed out on the safety-tech parade; this one marches into lockstep with options for everything from a rearview camera to blind-spot monitors.