The 2013 Nissan Altima gets a full-tilt recasting to celebrate the arrival of its fifth and by far most-ambitious incarnation. Making its world debut in New York, this mid-size, front-drive four-door matches bold new looks with impressive features and technology in ways the automaker hopes will see it take the measure of prime rivals like the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Toyota Camry. Designed in America - where it also will be produced - Nissan says the Gen V Altima also introduces innovations that will set new benchmarks for the category while delivering world-class levels of driving enjoyment and enhanced fuel efficiency.
Dramatically reshaped bodywork that's lower, wider and sleeker endows the 2013 Nissan Altima with bolder visual characteristics suitably complemented by its dynamic front/rear fascia treatments. Helping further define the new look are a lower hood, more steeply raked windshield pillars and a semi-fastback roofline that resolves into a larger, higher deck. Collectively, this aero-enhancing redesign also helps trim the new Altima's drag coefficient by nearly 5 percent.
Inside, the even larger passenger compartment of the 2013 Altima showcases an equal measure of emotion and refinement, with more premium materials and soft-touch surfaces setting the stage for a host of new technological enhancements. Arguably the most notable is the fitment of NASA-inspired "zero gravity" front seats, designed, shaped and articulated to provide superior full-body support that can minimize fatigue on longer trips. Better sound-deadening techniques used throughout the Altima's lighter, stronger unit body structure also help relax occupants by absorbing or rejecting road and wind noise. A variety of audio packages, including a 9-speaker Bose premium system, will be available to entertain as well as soothe.
The 2013 Altima will be the automaker's first vehicle to offer the new Nissan Connect system. Available with or without an equally trick navigation system, Nissan Connect seamlessly integrates smartphones and mobile devices and brings Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio, an integrated Hands-Free Messaging Assistant, Pandora, a USB connection for iPod interface and more. Another nice touch that's standard in all 2013 Altima models is a new Advanced Drive-Assist Display. Fully customizable and adjustable via buttons on the multifunction steering wheel, its 4-inch 3D color screen in the center of the instrument cluster can quickly and clearly display a variety of infobits at the driver's request. In addition to its normal capabilities, Advanced Drive-Assist Display can be linked to three optional safety systems that are being offered on the Altima for the first time - Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD).
The 2013 Nissan Altima will be available with two familiar engines. The Altima 2.5, 2.5S, 2.5SV and 2.5SL get a revised version of the well-proven 2.5-liter four that makes 182 horsepower, up from the current 175. The remake trims weight and adds variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valves for improved torque characteristics. The 3.5-liter V6 in the Altima 3.5S, 3.5SV and 3.5SL carries over unchanged with a 270-horse rating.
Both engines are paired with a new and more efficient version of Nissan's Xtronic CVT transmission that boasts improved control logic, a wider ratio spread and 40 percent less internal friction. The enhancements have Nissan projecting EPA city/highway figures for the four-cylinder to jump from 23/32 mpg to an impressive 27/38 mpg, while the V6's stats are projected to climb from 20/27 mpg to 22/30 mpg. Standard low-rolling-resistance tires and a new regenerative alternator that only charges when the Altima is coasting also aid in the mileage-maxing effort.
To take full advantage of the Altima's drivetrain enhancements, Nissan engineers also widened its track dimensions by 1.4 inches and revamped the car's underpinnings. A new hydraulically-assisted electric power steering system, premium ZF Sachs shock absorbers plus revised hardware and geometry on the multi-link rear suspension promise a smoother, more confident and better-controlled ride. Also on board is a new Active Understeer Control system that uses the Altima's Vehicle Dynamics System, traction control and antilock brakes to increase the yaw moment when cornering to help ensure the car continues on the course the driver intends.
The 2013 Nissan Altima 4-door goes on sale in June. Pricing for the Altima 2.5 Sedan will open at $22,280, while a top-line 3.5SL model is set to start at $30,860. Nissan had no comment on the next-gen Altima Coupe or the Altima Hybrid Sedan, both of which are expected to make an appearance within the next 12 months.