12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL - Have A Seat

March 28, 2013
2013 Nissan Altima 3 5 SL Front Right View
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Long-Term 2013 Nissan Altima Update - SPRING 2013 (2 OF 5)
Miles to Date: 11,055
"What a comfortable ride. What ruins it for me are the seats."
As the calendar flips from winter to spring, our Four Seasons Nissan Altima moves into the second half of its yearlong test with Automobile Magazine. In recent months, the car has taken us to auto shows, to the airport, to the train station, to Kentucky, and across southern Michigan.
The best-selling Nissan in America is a very spacious mid-size sedan, but we can't agree about how comfortable the car is. After his first long drive in the Altima, graphic designer John Kalmar wasn't very happy with the perches on his journey to Kentucky. "I just couldn't get comfortable, and I was constantly fidgeting with the seat controls throughout the trip," he says. "I was finally able to settle into a good position, but after driving the car for four days, I left feeling less than impressed with the seats."
Road test editor Christopher Nelson echoes Kalmar: "What a comfortable ride. What ruins it for me are the seats. They're too soft, although I love how the head restraints feel. My girlfriend couldn't disagree more; she says the seats are far better than those in our departed Four Seasons BMW 328i."
2013 Nissan Altima 3 5 SL Front Right View
Associate web editor Jake Holmes agrees with Nelson's sweetheart. "Boy, are these seats ever comfortable and accommodating when I slip into them after a day at work," Holmes says. "They're soft, plush, exceedingly comfortable, and have just the right amount of support."
Associate web editor Donny Nordlicht is a huge fan of the Altima as a generally comfortable conveyance. "The Altima is a great airport car -- it deals well with traffic, has supremely comfortable chairs, boasts neat features that don't overwhelm, and takes zero thought to drive. It has remote start to help warm the cabin upon your approach in the shuttle van, burn-your-buns-hot seat warmers, and a heated steering wheel. The driving experience is pretty isolating and artificial, but who wants to deal with heavy steering and a stiff suspension after a long plane trip?"
The Altima is a desirable ride even after returning from a long ride on a train, as associate web editor Evan McCausland found out. "Seeking a means to travel to the Chicago auto show that didn't involve me racking up outrageous parking fees, I ditched the car at the Ann Arbor Amtrak station and hopped a train to the Windy City." Two days later, he returned to find the car covered with a few inches of snow. In the time it took him to cross a pedestrian bridge over the tracks, the remote-start system had warmed the engine enough that "it didn't take long to dial up a hot, 90-degree blast of heat from the defroster. The ice on the windshield quickly softened to a point where I could scrape it off without using two hands and all of my might."
Executive editor Todd Lassa further elaborates on the red Nissan's pleasantness and ease of use. "This has to be one of the nicer interiors in a mid-size sedan," he writes. "Its controls are logically laid out, and overall, the Altima is pretty easy to drive. Avoiding trying to make it look 'sporty' means that the car has a low cowl and comfortable rear seats, making it perfectly useful for its intended audience. Being so innocuous and user-friendly makes it one of the top contenders in this class."
Even seat cynic Kalmar was impressed with the Altima's straightforwardness. "I had never driven a car with so many options on the center console, but it was very easy for me to pick up on all of the controls," he notes.
Deputy editor Joe DeMatio agrees: "As others have noted, the Altima aims squarely at the middle of the market -- and does quite a fine job of it. Handsome, comfortable, roomy, refined, powerful, and predictable: these are the attributes upon which multiple-hundred-thousand-unit sales figures are built."
A quick check of the Altima's sales results prove that the approach is working well.
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
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

Long-Term 2013 Nissan Altima Reviews to Date:

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Photo Gallery

  • Picturesque Midway, Kentucky, has train tracks running straight through the middle of town. And ample parking.
  • Picturesque Midway, Kentucky, has train tracks running straight through the middle of town. And ample parking.
  • Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
  • Welcome to Frankfort, the capital of Kentucky.
  • Some people love the Altima's seats...
  • The interior has plenty of features but is well-marked and easy to use.
  • At the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
  • ...others don't find them nearly as comfortable.
  • Back home in Michigan, the Altima awakes after a February snowstorm.

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