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.