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2013 Nissan Altima Drive and Review By Larry Nutson

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2013 Nissan Altima

2013 Nissan Altima Evolutionary and Revolutionary

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Nissan brought the Altima to the U.S. market about 20 years ago. Now in its fifth-generation, the all-new 2013 Nissan Altima is getting a good share of attention from American car buyers and thus getting its share of the fast-growing midsize car market.

American drivers are buying cars like crazy. That is, compact and midsize sedans that offer significantly improved fuel economy are hot on everyone’s mind. About 250,000 midsize cars are being bought each month and sales this year are up about 20%, surpassing 3.3 million cars. Americans are buying about 20,000 Altimas each month and their sales are up about 15%.

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Altima is front wheel drive with seating for five. It’s offered in seven different models; four powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and three featuring a 3.5-liter V6. The base-model 2.5L Altima is priced at $21,760. S, SV and SL trim levels take pricing up to $28,460. The V6 comes in the same three trim levels with pricing from $25,760 to $30,560.

I had a week of driving time in a 2013 Altima 2.5 SL, the top-line 4-cylinder with an MSRP of $28,050. A Technology Package added on for $1090 bought a Navigation System, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection. Carpeted floor and trunk mats cost $185, and with a $780 destination charge the bottom line of this top-line SL was $30,105.

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Sometimes the exterior is most important to certain car shoppers and to others the interior. I need to like the interior environment in any car I own, and then of course the outside needs to meet my desires also. The Altima offers an interior that I like. It’s refined, has a luxury look and premium feel, and is also well laid out. Seats provide good comfort and a good range of adjustment. Nissan says they turned to seating and posture research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The "zero-gravity" Altima seats help reduce muscular and spinal loads, and improve blood flow – thereby helping reduce fatigue over long periods behind the wheel.

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Other features of positive note are the power mirror switch mounted on the door for mirror adjustment while seated in the driving position, the illuminated stop/start switch making it easy to find, the huge glove compartment, and the blind spot monitoring system warning light on the inside of the front doors.

A rear view camera, usually found on luxury cars, is standard on the SV and SL. This camera enables easy addition of the features listed above in the Technology Package.

Fuel economy is indeed all the buzz today with many folks new car shopping with the intent to reduce their trips to the gas station and spend less money getting from point A to point B. The average age of new vehicles on the road is about 11.2 years. Many say that age has gone up due to the poor economy, but in reality cars are designed and engineered today to last longer and that has a lot to do with it, too. Another factor in not seeing more new cars on the road is that young people just out of college are not buying new cars to the same extent as previous generations. Communication via electronic devices and living in an urban city with good public transportation is getting it done for them.

Coming back to fuel economy, the Altima 2.5-liter is EPA rated at 31 combined mpg, with 27 city mpg and 38 highway mpg. That’s 3.2 gallons per 100 miles according to the fuel economy window label. The 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 22 city mpg and 31 highway mpg. Nissan has targeted to have the best in class fuel economy for a gasoline-engine midsize car.

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The fuel tank is fairly good sized at 18 gallons and that should get you a whopping 680 miles down the highway with the 2.5-liter. But remember, the EPA fuel economy ratings are test-derived and for comparison use when car shopping. They are not a prediction of what you will actually achieve when you drive. It’s all up to the driver to get the best fuel economy possible; and I have often exceeded the EPA numbers on a good long highway drive.

Nissan has refined and improved the Altima suspension and steering. The CVT transmission is one of the best on the market. The list of safety features and equipment is as long as your arm. A heated steering wheel is another nice offering. The trunk is quite large at 15.4cuft and will hold lots of stuff for a road trip.

I don’t often mention the spare tire, but the Altima does have a compact spare tire stored below the trunk floor. And, it did come in handy as I picked up an errant bolt in the roadway and experienced a flat that was quickly changed and handled superbly by Mid City Nissan, a Chicagoland dealer.

And speaking of tires, the Easy Fill Tire Alert function begs the question: What took the industry so long for this simple idea? When filling the tires with air, the hazard lamps flash to let the operator know the system is working. When the correct pressure is reached, a beep of the horn provides notification.

Remember to check your tire pressure often and especially when cold winter temperatures arrive.

Larry Nutson