By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.6
Unsatisfied with the Altima's runner-up status, Nissan reaches for leadership in America's toughest car segment with a choice of fuel-efficient 4-cylinder or V6 power, the industry's best continuously variable transmission (CVT), handsome styling, sporting dynamics, and a suite of available features competitive with anyone. It follows Toyota's revamped 2013 Camry, Chevy's all-new Malibu and VW's Americanized Passat to market but precedes Honda's 2013 Accord and Ford's new Fusion by a few months. Its mission is simply to beat all of them to take over leadership in this very tough field, and we think it just could.
Most mid-size sedan competitors have moved away from available V6 engines in favor of turbocharged fours to ensure CAFE compliance, but this new Altima is the exception for those who still prefer smooth V6 power. And the wide-ratio CVT automatic delivers best-in-class fuel economy with the standard 4-cylinder engine.
While this new Altima looks plenty good, some may prefer the somewhat bolder styling of competitors as the Sonata, Optima, Malibu and Fusion. Some may also shy away from the different-feeling CVT in favor of a conventional automatic transmission, and only the Passat (so far) offers a choice of fuel-frugal diesel power.
Nearly everything but the engines is either all or substantially new, beginning with the Altima's "class-above" looks, inside and out, and extending to a raft of new features, some class-exclusive. The CVT automatic transmission, thoroughly revamped for pleaseability and efficiency, accounts for much of its class-leading fuel economy.
Driving Impressions Thanks largely to a new multilink rear suspension and the much-improved CVT, this is a finer-driving Altima than any before it. Around town, on freeways and on twisty back roads,...the 2013 Altima feels tight and nimble yet quiet and comfortable on all but the nastiest surfaces, perhaps because its engineers benchmarked the size-smaller BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Much appreciated were the electro-hydraulic power steering, more precise than typical electric boost yet more energy efficient than pure hydraulic, and Active Understeer Control, which brakes the inside front wheel slightly to help get around a curve you may have entered a bit too fast. The 3.5-liter V6 is strong, but the massaged 2.5-liter four is more than adequate – Nissan clocks it at 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds) – at least for light loads and level roads. The unique multifunction rearview camera performed its lookout jobs well, and the NASA-inspired seats proved as fatigue-reducing as claimed.
EASY FILL TIRE ALERT
The new Altima's tire pressure monitoring system does more than simply providing individual tire-pressure information. When adding air to any tire, the hazard lamps flash to tell you the system is working, then the horn beeps to let you know when you have reached the correct pressure.
MULTIFUNCTION REARVIEW CAMERA
Part of an available Technology Package, the Altima's rearview camera provides not just the usual what's-behind-me view when reversing, but also Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection, the latter two firsts in this segment.
The 2013 Nissan Altima's cabin is finely crafted with soft-touch materials, but its prime attraction is NASA-inspired "zero gravity" front bucket seats, which approach the relaxed "neutral posture" that the human body assumes in a weightless environment. We can't test them in space, but we appreciate the research, development and attention to detail that have gone into making them as fatigue-reducing as possible by lessening muscular and spinal loads and improving blood flow. Cloth seats and piano-black trim with chrome accents are standard, leather and metallic or faux wood are available, the former with a charcoal interior, the latter with blond.Exterior
About the same length as the outgoing Nissan Altima, the 2013 model sits on the same wheelbase but with 1.4-inches-wider tracks and 0.8-inch-deeper fenders to accommodate larger wheels and tires and give the sedan a strong, athletic stance. Its drag coefficient is a slick 0.299. And while the new Altima's nicely sculpted new body is less expressive than the Sonata's and maybe a bit less pretty than the Malibu's or Fusion's, it's easily more distinctive than the Camry's or Passat's.
The base Altima 2.5 offers a 6-way manual driver's seat and a 4-way front passenger seat, plus a 60/40-split/folding rear bench seat, power windows and doorlocks, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with touch controls, remote keyless entry with a pushbutton ignition, NissanConnect Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a 4.0-inch color customizable Advanced Driver Assist display. Altima S and SV models add features leading up to the top-line 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL models loaded with leather, premium trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, BOSE Premium Audio, and heated front seats/steering wheel/outside mirrors, plus 18-in. wheels and tires on V6-powered models.
With most major features attached to specific models, the 2013 Altima offers just three option packages and two stand-alone options (a remote start and rear spoiler). A Convenience Package and a Navigation Package are available on SV models, and a Technology Package further loads up top-line SL models. On SV and SL Altimas, NissanConnect comes with a 5.0-inch color audio display, integrated Hands-Free Messaging Assistant (it lets you listen to incoming texts and verbally respond with stock replies), SiriusXM satellite radio, and Pandora integration. With Navigation, NissanConnect gets a 7.0-inch touch screen with voice recognition, split-screen display and 3D-effect map views.
Running counter-trend, Nissan continues to offer a V6 as its "up" engine. The 2.5-liter four is redesigned for lighter weight and higher efficiency, while the 3.5-liter V6 is improved to reduce its fuel consumption. Both drive the Altima's front wheels through the only gearbox offered, Nissan's next-generation Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which has a wider ratio spread, improved control logic and 40 percent lower friction than the one it replaces. Not everyone loves a CVT, which drives engine revs ahead of vehicle speed during strong acceleration, but this one accounts for 15 percent of the new 4-cylinder's efficiency improvement and 10 percent of the V6's gain over 2012s, and it comes with fixed-ratio-simulating manual shift paddles on uplevel models.
182 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
180 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/38 mpg
270 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg
By Beaker on Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,200overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The Altima has a power steering assist unit and it whistles constantly.You can hear it at all times and the faster you go the higher it whistles.I have had it to the shop twice and they say this is normal..."
11 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By PA Driver on Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Int. spacious, great mpg, good power."
Cons: "Int. is a dust magnet, improve interior fabric."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Good power, excellent mpg (avg. 29-30, hwy I have gotten 42). Exterior styling is ok. I am, however, dissappointed in the interior, fabric on seats is not the quality of a previous Nissan owned, and the dash board and console is a dust magnet. The push button start, to me,is more of an inconvenience, would rather use a key. Wish it were an option."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Rev on Friday, January 16, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,045overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I avg 27-28 mpg in town and 35-36 mpg on the hwy. The car rides well and has plenty of power. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a sedan to purchase."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By new owner on Monday, January 12, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "very fun to drive, roomy, sleek"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"this is the first time i have owned a Nissan and i just love this Altima. I moved from an SUV to this Altima thinking i would never get used to driving a car again, boy was i wrong. Sleek, classy looking. I just love it!!"
9 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Alt1 on Friday, January 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good MPG, Good & useful space, Many tech features"
Cons: "Low ground clearance & Light vehicle weight"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased a '14 2.5 SL in 05/14 for $27,000, and now in 01/15 I have put about 19,500 miles on it and am overall impressed with it. I have not had any mechanical issues with it yet, and I personally like the CVT as it has a smoother ride to it than a traditional transmission. The interior features with the heated steering wheel, heated front seats, Bose audio system, Bluetooth and Navigation are very nice for a mid-size sedan at this price range. I have also been very impressed by how comfortable the seats are as my last car also had very comfortable seats. Prior to purchasing my first Nissan I rode in a KIA Optima and a Hyundai Sonata and was very surprised by how uncomfortable the seats were. During the warm months I averaged anywhere from 32-37 MPG, and during the cold winter I am achieving about 28 MPG, however I have been letting the car idle quite a bit since I work out of it at times. The Altima, along with so many sedans anymore, do ride lower to the ground and are much lighter in order to boost the MPG, so in order to get around better during the Midwest winters I put snow-tires on the front 2 tires to gain better traction. The ground clearance and vehicle weight are certainly some key ideas to keep in mind if you're debating between purchasing a sedan and SUV. With all of that said I would highly recommend this car to anyone who wants good MPG, many tech features, good interior space including a larger trunk than expected, without having to pay 30k+."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Long time buyer no more on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good Price"
Cons: "Tech Package - Blind Spot Warning safety issues."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I just purchased a 2015 Altima SV with the tech package. This package included the extra safety features that I thought would provide piece of mind, but was I wrong. There are 3 current problems with the car that I am writing about. 1. The 7" screen is very fuzzy when using the backup camera. Nissan says it's working as designed, even thou the same model car with the smaller screen is noticeably clearer. 2. The Nissan Apps that connect you with Pandora only works maybe 25% of the time, it normally says that there is an error, all while I can still stream music and make phone calls using bluetooth. 3. The third and biggest issue is with the blind spot warning system. Every time it rains or the roads are wet you will get false alarms flashing at you while driving or turning corners. This is highly distracting and makes the system useless when the roads are wet. When talking with my dealer, the service manager has the same car and same problem. I tried to call Nissan to ask for a fix and their response was the system is working as designed and to go away. Check out youtube for a couple videos on the issue. The dealers will tell you that all system do it, but that is another lie. We have a Hyundai that has never given a false alarm with the BSM and my friend has a Cadillac and no false alarms. Buyer beware, stay away from the tech package."
12 people out of 15 found this review helpful