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1301 2013 Nissan Altima 3 5 Sl January Update
four seasons long-term tests

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL - Bring it on, Winter

WINTER 2013-nissan-altima-3-5-sl
2013 Nissan Altima reviews to date
"I was glad to be able to start the Altima from my bedroom window. The heated seats and heated steering wheel also made my cold commute far more bearable."

As Michigan has settled in for the winter season, we've yet to seriously test the seasonal mettle of the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D tires -- recommended by Tire Rack, our official supplier for such things -- that our Four Seasons Nissan Altima has been wearing since November. Drivers of our red Nissan have, however, already gotten plenty of use out of the well-optioned car's heated seats and steering wheel as well as its remote-start feature. These might seem trivial to folks who've never been chilled to the bone by a sharp February Michigan wind, but trust us -- these conveniences can significantly improve a person's commute on a chilly midwinter morning.

Heated seats have been around since 1971 (thank you, Saab), and heated steering wheels have become increasingly common since the late 1990s. Remote start has largely been the domain of American car companies, but apparently it also gets pretty cold in Nissan's new stateside hometown of Nashville, because more and more of the company's products are being offered with it.

Associate web editor Jake Holmes sure appreciates such niceties: "This morning it was 23 degrees when I left home, so I was glad to be able to start the Altima from my bedroom window. The heated seats and heated steering wheel made my cold commute far more bearable, as did the fact that the Altima had been warming up for about four minutes by the time I walked outside for the first time today."

We're pleased that our long-term Altima has the tundra trifecta, although several of us have been disappointed to discover that remote start automatically activates neither the rear defroster nor the heated steering wheel (as do some other carmakers' products).

Speaking of the Altima's electric conveniences, its infotainment system has drawn praise even though its screen is a bit on the small side. "Most menus are short enough that scrolling isn't required, which is a big plus when you're trying to keep your eyes on the road," noted one pilot after driving the car hundreds of miles over a few days. "I also enjoyed the ability to adjust brightness of the screen with a simple button that toggles between a day and a night setting."

Holmes again: "The navigation screen and voice prompts are very clear and simple. The touchscreen infotainment system is straightforward and simple to use, thanks partly to its large fonts and bold colors. I drove three friends around, and they had zero comments about the car other than to note that the navigation system is exceptionally polite (it intones 'Please...' before each spoken direction), and that the instrument-cluster LCD screen usefully shows redundant navigation information."

We've been remarkably displeased, however, with some of the Altima's other high-tech features. Associate web editor Donny Nordlicht pointedly describes what several other test drivers have complained about: "The fact that our $32,000 car comes with things like a backup camera, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot assist is great -- however, they don't work very well. All three systems use the same wide-angle, low-resolution camera mounted above the license plate. Because of the low-res quality of the camera needed for the other systems, the backup camera is almost useless, as you can't see a clear image of what's behind you. Maybe it would help if it showed a black-and-white image, since the color contrast isn't very good. Also, the lane-departure warning tends to go berserk, since the Altima's disconnected steering makes it tricky to keep the car perfectly between the lane lines. Finally, the blind-spot assist is too slow, again due to the camera setup: it watches behind the car instead of next to the car (like fender-mounted radar sensors do). More often than not, the light will come on to say that there's something in the driver's-side blind spot when there is absolutely nothing there."

Perhaps we'll end up enjoying the Altima's warmer comfort features and turning off its weaker driving assistants. We'll keep you informed as winter tightens its grasp on the Midwest.

2013 Nissan Altima Specs
  • Overview
  • powertrain
  • chassis
  • measurements
  • equipment
  • options
Body style 4-door sedan
Accommodation 5-passenger
Construction Steel unibody
Base price (with dest.)$30,860
As tested $32,135
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)
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
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
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
Packages & 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
J KangasJake696
I've got 10K on my 2013 nissan Altima 3.5.  I like the MPG's, the heated seats and steering wheel.  The CVT is OK, no complaints adjusting to that...  I hate the stock tire performance in winter roads.  I've had rear-wheel drive cars that did better!  Not sure why this is?  They must be a hard tire?  The low profile doesn't help.  I mean it's bad and the guys at the Goodyear store tell me Nissan cars are known as bad winter driving cars? 

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