Reviews

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL – Real-World Performance

Long-Term 2013 Nissan Altima Update: Fall 2012 Array Miles to date: 0

You, like us, might prefer cars that are flashy, exciting, sporty, and beautiful. According to real-world sales figures, however, American consumers resoundingly prefer roomy, affordable, relatively conservative mid-size sedans — even over big-selling pickup trucks. The Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord are generally the first mid-sizers that come to mind, but Nissan’s Altima has held a strong third place in the sales race for many years, and it even eclipsed the Accord for a second-place finish in 2011. That was a relatively long time ago in mid-size-car years, though, as the Altima and several other important entrants (Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu) are all-new for 2013.

Having just bid adieu to a Four Seasons Nissan Juke, we thought it appropriate to ask our friends at Nissan for a Four Seasons Altima for our fleet. They graciously obliged, sending a top-of-the-line Altima 3.5SL to the parking lot at 1995 Highland Drive. Compared with the next-highest 3.5SV trim level, the flagship Altima adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, xenon headlamps, a Bose stereo system, and more. Like the 3.5SV, the 3.5SL has luxurious touches such as a sunroof, pushbutton starting, passive entry, remote start, foglamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, and the NissanConnect interface.

Only one major option — the $1090 technology package — is available on the 3.5SL, and we checked that box so that we could test three optional, new-to-the-Altima safety features: blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, and moving-object detection. (Each of these functions is enabled by the car’s backup camera, but while the backup camera is standard on SV and SL models, the technology suite is optional only on SLs.) The technology package includes navigation, too. We also added $185 floor and trunk mats, bringing our as-tested price to $32,135.

That seems like a reasonable amount for such a well-optioned, spacious car, especially when you consider that its EPA-rated fuel mileage is markedly better than that of the outgoing 3.5-liter Altima. (The 2013 model is rated at 22/31 mpg city/highway; the 2012 model was rated at 20/27 mpg.)

It may not be the sportiest, flashiest sedan in our fleet, but it’s unlikely that anyone will feel like they’re slumming it in the fancy new high-line Altima. Be sure to check back with us regularly throughout the next twelve months as we keep you updated on life with our cayenne red 2013 Nissan Altima.

Overview

  • Body style 4-door sedan
  • Accommodation 5-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price (with dest.) $30,860
  • As tested $32,135

Powertrain

  • Engine 24-valve DOHC V-6
  • Displacement 3.5 liters (213 cu in)
  • Power 270 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque 251 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
  • Transmission Continuously variable
  • Drive Four-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 22/31/25 (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis

  • Steering Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.75 turns
  • Turning circle 37.4 ft
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs/discs
  • Wheels 18-inch aluminum
  • Tires Dunlop SP Sport 7000
  • Tire size 235/45VR-18

Measurements

  • Headroom F/R 39.1/37.1 in
  • Legroom F/R 45.0/36.1 in
  • Shoulder room F/R 56.4/56.4 in
  • Wheelbase 109.3 in
  • Track F/R 62.0/62.0 in
  • L x W x H 191.5 x 72.0 x 58.1 in
  • Passenger capacity 100.5 cu ft
  • Cargo capacity 15.4 cu ft
  • Weight 3355 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 62/38 %
  • Fuel capacity 18.0 gal
  • Est. fuel range 450 miles
  • Fuel grade 87 octane

Equipment

  • standard equipment

    • Keyless entry and ignition
    • Power sunroof
    • Fog lights
    • Hands-free text messaging assistant
    • Bluetooth
    • Rearview camera
    • Paddle shifters
    • Active understeer control
    • Heated front seats and steering wheel
    • Cruise control
    • 9-speaker Bose audio system
    • SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month trial subscription
    • USB port
    • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
    • Automatic dual-zone climate control
    • Leather-appointed seats
    • Automatic HID headlights
    • LED taillights
    • Heated exterior mirrors

Options

  • Technology package
  • $1,090
  • 7-inch navigation display
  • Blind spot monitoring system
  • Lane departure warning
  • Moving object detection
  • Carpeted floor mats and trunk mat $185

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