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2013 Nissan Altima Review by John Heilig +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Nissan Altima Sedan - Made In The USA


SPECIFICATIONS: 2013 Nissan Altima

Model: 2013 Nissan Altima
Engine: 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower/Torque: 182 hp @ 6,000 rpm/180 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: CVT
Wheelbase: 109.3 in.
Length/Width/Height: 191.5 x 72.0 x 57.9 in.
Tires: P21/55R17
Cargo volume: 15.4 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 27 mpg city/38 mpg highway/31 mpg combined
Fuel capacity: 18.0 gal.
Curb weight: 3,121 lbs.
Sticker: $21,500 (base) to $24,100 for SV plus $780 destination

Top 5 Reasons to buy this car
1. Performance
2. Quality ride
3. Comfort
4. Handling
5. Features

The Bottom Line: The fifth generation Nissan Altima promises to launch the Nissan mid-size sedan to new sales heights. Compared to the competition, it has great design, an outstanding ride, and features that some other manufacturers haven't even thought about yet. It's a winner.

Fans of the Nissan Altima won't be disappointed by the 2013 fifth edition of Nissan's mid-size sedan. The dimensions are about the same - an inch longer, lower and wider - and it's a bit lighter. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine delivers enough power to satisfy all but the most power-hungry. Oddly, the 3.5-liter V6 - while offering 270 horsepower to the 182 of the four - doesn't seem that much more powerful.

But as they say, the devil is in the details, and it's in the details that the new Altima shines. For example, the interior has no cheap-looking hard plastic surfaces. They're all either soft leather-patterned leather, cloth or real leather.

And the seats. Well, they're interesting. Nissan says they used NASA "zero gravity" designs to make them more comfortable. Looking at them, they don't look any different form the average seats. But when you sit in them they give you comfort that makes a long trip less painful, even if you do have an arthritic back.

Front seat legroom is excellent, and even with the front seats move back, the rear legroom is very good.

Overall, the Altima is a nice driver. It is very stable and hugs the road. turns don't disturb it, even when they come quickly. Nissan took us over some of central Tennessee's more interesting roads and the Altima looks as if it was made for them. There was some tire noise on concrete roads, but the Altima was essentially quiet.

The Altima also has good four-wheel disc brakes. They did the job in some sudden stops when we weren't' concentrating as much as we should have been.

The styling is new and shows more curves than the previous generation (or some of the competition). There is aggressive front-end styling with deep curves in the hood. Nissan is using new stamping techniques that permit these deep surfaces. There are few flat surfaces, similar to the Hyundai Sonata in that respect.

Watch TACH's exclusive 2013 Altima promo video

It's in the features that the Altima distinguishes itself more than most cars in this segment. Like many (but oddly, not in many entry-level luxury cars) the Altima has blind spot warning. this is a device to alert the driver if there is something in the areas that aren't covered by the outside rearview mirrors. Some manufacturers use radar-based systems or small television cameras in the rear quarter panels. Nissan uses a single camera mounted in the rear with a 180-degree field of vision that notes anything in the blind spot and alerts the driver through a signal in the information panel between the tachometer and speedometer.

This camera also serves as a back-up camera, lane departure warning sensor and motion detector if another vehicle or person is in the area when you're pulling out of a parking spot.

Storage is excellent. There's a deep glove box that I couldn't reach to the rear of and a deep trunk that seems as if it will hold skis (well, maybe short ones).

The navigation system is very clear, even when you opt for an audio screen. There's a small navigation window in the audio screen. The woman's voice that give turn alerts is too soft, and my co-driver and I couldn't figure how to make it louder, but that might have required a trip to the owner's manual.

Overall, the 2013 Nissan Altima has a ton of features and ride quality at a decent price. The car goes on sale in July and production has already begun in Smyrna Tennessee and Mississippi.

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