2013 Nissan Altima Review


When generally speaking of family sedans, Nissan’s flagship Altima sails with pride and honour.  The overall looks of the Nissan Altima are kept in line with its previous generation, but with its inherent luxury qualities upscaled.  The majority of the mechanical components remain unchanged with its previous generations.  Following its reputation established for two decades, the Nissan Altima promises to delver roominess, luxury and composed ride quality.

One’s general instinctive thought of Altima’s unchanged mechanical components usually funnel down to a stale feel. However; with a second thought, it all makes sense – why change something that’s already good?  The Altima has always delivered excellent ride quality in its previous generations.  Leaving the mechanical components unchanged gave headroom for Nissan to focus on other aspects to improve the luxury qualities of the 2013 Altima.  The exterior styling is now more bold and expressive while the interior cabin space is complemented with higher quality and softer material.

When thrown into the family sedan arena, the Altima reserves its spot on podium space.   Comparing its best selling rivalries such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry with the Altima generates higher appealing factors.  The upscaled Nissan Altima can even stand its own ground when comparing with higher end family sedans in the market such as the Volkswagen Passat, Kia Optima.   We think the Nissan Altima should be one of the top cars to test drive for consumers looking into a family sedan.

Trim Levels and Purchase Options

The 2013 Nissan Altima comes with a plethora of trim levels with two powertrain options to choose from – a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine, or a 3.5 liter  six cylinder engine.  The model we tested was the 2.5 liter four cylinder engine that has four different trim levels to choose from: base model, S, SV and finally SL.

The base model comes standard with 16 inch wheels, power accessories, keyless entry and ignition, power adjustable seats, 4″ infotainment LCD screen, bluetoothe smartphone connectivity and four speaker audio with built in CD player.

Stepping up into the S model includes cruise control, automatic head lights, six way power driver seats, additional information displayed on the instrument cluster, and a six speaker audio system.

The SV model upgrades to larger 17″ aluminum wheels, dual zone climate control, a larger 5″ LCD infotainment display, rearview camera, leather wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio, remote ignition, and hands free automatic text message reader.  Adding sunroof remains a purchase option featured in this trim level.

Finally, the highest SL trim model comes standard with a sunroof, upscaled exterior features including xenon headlights and LED tail lights, leather upholstery, an 8-way adjustable drive power seat, heated power steering wheel, and a premium 9 speaker BOSE sound system.

Powertrain and Performance

The 2.5 liter four cylinder engine produces 180 hp and and 180 ft.lbs of torque.  The fuel economy is estimated at 27 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined.  These numbers are not staggering, but are definitely very respectable performance parameters for a 4 cylinder family sedan.

The 3.5 liter six cylinder engine produces a significant power improvement of 270 hp and 251 ft.lbs of torque with fuel economy scoring in at 22/h31/25 for city, highway and combined fuel economy respectively.

Both powertrain models are equipped with a continuous variable transmission (CVT).  We’ve definitely had our quirks with CVT transmissions in the past, but the X-tronic CVT transmission equipped on the Nissan Altima is one of the best and smoothest ones we’ve tested.  Despite the smoothness of the power delivery and its advanced technology in the CVT transmission contributing to better fuel economy, the engine noise leaked into the cabin space is not the most pleasant sound to the ears.

Interior Cabin Space and Features

The interior cabin space is one of the most respectable features in the Nissan Altima.  With its majority of the cabin space is lined with soft and high quality material with minimal hard plastic, the interior quality doesn’t fall too short from higher end luxury sedans.  .The central dashboard is bordered with an elegant piano black plastic molding.  Its leather seats standard on the SL model is hands down, one of the most comfortable seats we’ve sat in.  The phrase to describe the experience would be “sitting on a cloud”. The instrument cluster is also very clean with very elegant moonlight blue lighting and black contrast.  The speedometer and other vehicle telemetry such as average fuel economy are very intuitive easy to read.

The infotainment system is also fairly intuitive, but most importantly, is responsive.  We especially liked how Nissan added control knobs to help scroll and navigate through different audio settings and climate controls on the vehicle.

Last but not least, the abundance of cabin space complemented with its lavish interior styling is one of the best features we liked about the Altima.  There is a plethora of space and comfort in the front seats, but legroom in the rear seats are of average.  Trunk space is average, but still offers a lot of cargo space equating to about 15 cubic feet of space.

Driving Impressions and Final Thoughts

With its respectable power output, fine tuned suspension and luxurious interior cabin space, the Altima delivers a very comfortable and composed ride.  The steering system has also been upgraded in the all new 2013 to accommodate better handling and steering precision in delicate and tight maneuvers.   The 2.5 liter four cylinder engine is also the largest in production.  As a result, Altima drivers will enjoys excellent torque pull for its class due to larger piston strokes.  Because of the larger piston strokes coupled with the Nissan CVT transmission, we did have a very minor quirk about the gargling engine sound leaked into the cabin space when pushing the engine to higher RPMs.

The Nissan Altima continues its legacy in delivering premiums quality family sedans.  The new 2013 Altima falls nothing short of expectation.  Leaving the already excellent superb and smooth powertrain design in previous generations intact allowed Nissan to focus more in upgrading the interior cabin space and other luxurious qualities and features on the Altima.

The MSRP of our top SL model is priced at 29, 598$.  This price does peak in at a little high when comparing to other family sedans with similar specs, but the roominess, interior luxury and ride quality of the Altima is unmatched in its class.