The Nissan Altima was originally introduced as a replacement for the Nissan Stanza, a car that exemplified the early days of Nissan in North America – not particularly attractive, but incredibly reliable. After nearly 20 years, the Altima has risen from a replacement to one of the best-selling and most desirable vehicles in its class, challenging models like the Volkswagen Passat and Honda Accord that have been in production twice as long. The 2013 Nissan Altima has received a complete redesign, although it is not a major one. The new Altima is bigger but lighter, with styling features that bring it in line with the rest of the corporate features and available technological and performance features that give it an added edge in its class. All of this comes in a package that is also at the less expensive end of the midsize sedan market segment.
New For 2013
The 2013 sedan is completely new, although the powertrain choices are very similar to the 2012 cars. The coupe is now offered in just one configuration: a 2.5-liter four and a continuously variable transmission. New paint choices are metallic slate, pearl white, and cayenne red.
The redesign of the 2013 Nissan Altima has given it a sportier, beefier, more aggressive look on the outside. The previous generation leaned towards the conservative, but the new generation is larger as a whole, with a stance that appears wider and curves that give it a sense of aggression and motion, especially with the front end. The side profile is fairly similar to the previous generation, except with a slightly beefier hood that has a slightly more abrupt turn down to the grille. The grille has been modified, and bears resemblance to the new Lexus corporate grille.
Interior & Cargo
The inside of the 2013 Nissan Altima is spacious enough without being overly generous, and the materials are simple and durable, if not a bit plain and hard in some places. The front seats are comfortable and spacious, while the back seat is a little on the tight side but offers a respectable amount of space. The trunk is a little above average, with 15.4 cubic feet of cargo space. The gauges are large and easy to read, and the cabin layout is ergonomically sound and simple, almost a little too conventional for a redesigned vehicle. The materials can feel a bit cheap in spots, but the fit and finish feels solid.
While the list of standard and available features inside the 2013 is fairly long, there are some notable exceptions as well as some misfires. The biggest misfire is the NissanConnect system, which has certain features that only work with certain phones, so that unless a buyer has multiple phones, they can’t fully use the system. Notable exceptions include any sort of telematics system like the OnStar system GM has had for over a decade and no panoramic moonroof. Aside from these issues, the Altima has plenty of quality features, with full power accessories, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system, keyless entry, and Bluetooth connectivity available as standard. On higher-end models or as individual add-ons, such features as six- and nine-speaker stereo systems, a five-inch LCD screen with rearview camera, a seven-inch LCD screen with navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and six- or eight-way adjustable driver seats are available.
The new 2013 Nissan Altima has received the full menu of safety features at Nissan’s disposal as either standard or optional. An electronic stability system, traction control system, and anti-lock brakes are standard, as are tire pressure monitors. A full complement of airbags is also standard. Additional safety features that can be had as optional equipment includes a rearview camera, blind-spot monitors, and a lane-departure warning system, all high-tech safety features that are normally reserved for executive or luxury class vehicles.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has yet to rate the 2013 Nissan Altima, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tested it and given it five stars for overall safety, with five stars for front and side impacts, but only four stars for rollover resistance.
The 2013 Nissan Altima provides a rather simple, sedate driving experience, with limited but predictable performance. Two engines, a 2.5-liter, four cylinder engine that provides 182 horsepower and a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that provides 270 horsepower are available, although both are matched with continuously variable transmission (CVT). While the CVT fails to turn either engine into a performance masterpiece, it does draw the best fuel economy out of the engines, which is generally the more sought-after feature in a midsize family sedan. That’s not to say that the V-6 engine is a poor performer, as it makes it up to 60 miles per hour from a standing start in 7.1 seconds. This is below average for the class, and even with this power, it still gets great overall gas mileage. The smaller engine takes a little over eight seconds to hit 60 miles per hour, about average for the market segment, but also offers the best fuel economy in the class.
The 2013 Nissan Altima isn’t just on the upper end of the class in fuel economy or power, but also in ride quality and handling. The independent suspension offers a relatively smooth ride with good control, but has traded some of the exemplary control from earlier models for a softer, cushier ride. The steering is fairly responsive, although with the change to electrohydraulic steering, it provides a little less in terms of feedback. One unique feature that all Altimas get is Active Understeer Control, a feature normally reserved for more expensive performance vehicles, that senses the inside front wheel in a turn and applies subtle braking to tighten the cornering lines.
Key Competitors For The 2013 Nissan Altima
- Toyota Camry
- Honda Accord
- Volkswagen Passat
- Ford Fusion