After two decades, Nissan’s top-selling model, the Altima, enters its fifth generation with an all-new model lineup that includes 6 specific choices, with two engine options and two distinctively different feeling Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT). Three models are powered by a 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder engine and include a base model, an S model and an SV model with three available option packages: the Convenience Package, a Navigation Package and a Technology Package. The 2.5-liter powered models begin at $21,500 and all connect to an XTronic CVT gearing power to the front wheels.
The remaining three models draw their motive force from a 3.5-liter V6 that drives the front wheels through an XTronic CVT that features a manual shift mode with column paddle shifters. The trim levels include: a 3.5 S; the 3.5 SV and the top-of-the-line 3.5 SL. 3.5-liter model pricing starts at $25,360. And there are two option packages available: the Navigation Package and the Technology Package.
Option Package pricing is: $1,350 for the Convenience Package; $590 for the Navigation Package; and $1,090 for the Technology Package.
Both engines are transversely mounted up front, and are fed by sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection and four valves per cylinder with CVTC. The 2.5-liter four-banger makes 182 horses along with 180 pound feet of torque, while the 3.5-liter engine delivers 270 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque. The 2.5-liter engine delivers 38 mpg in highway driving without added eco mode charges as with some manufacturers.
Nissan’s Ellure concept show car strongly influenced the final exterior design outcome for this latest iteration 2013 Altima, with evocative, emotional styling, projector headlights, LED taillamps, curved rockers and pronounced wheel wells and fender suggestions. The sweeping accent shoulder line carries in a graceful rising rearward slope, while the greenhouse arches gently from the hood, over the sharply raked windshield and into the abbreviated rear deck lid. In profile, the new Altima reflects a coupe-like image with its blacked-out “B” pillars and reverse kink “C” pillar, outlined by a chrome window surround. The deep-draw stamping technique imparts a bold presence, featuring the deepest draw trunk in Nissan’s history.
The interior displays a sophisticated execution with NASA-inspired ‘zero-gravity’ seats that aids in the increase of blood flow, decreased muscular load and a lower fatigue factor. There’s also an advanced Drive-Assist display that appears between the tachometer and speedometer.
The driving experience of the new Altima is enhanced by a redefined rear multi-link suspension, next-generation CVT, Active Understeer Control, lighter weight and higher rigidity level. Next generation technology adds to the driving experience and confidence level with the Advanced Drive-Assist Display, streaming Audio via Bluetooth, Blind Spot and lane departure warning, and Smartphone integration via NissanConnect. Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection are both segment firsts.
I was able to experience a 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SV finished outside in Cayenne Red and inside in Beige cloth, with a base price of $27,780 and a final sticker of $29,230 after adding a rear spoiler, splash guards, floor mats and Destination and Handling on a drive from Nissan’s headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee to Lynchburg, TN. The return from Lynchburg to Franklin was done in a 2.5 SL model – also with a Cayenne Red exterior and Beige interior, but in leather. Its base sticker read $28,050 while the final tally came to $29,500 after factoring in the same options and D&H. Both vehicles were prototypes and not production vehicles.
SUMMARY: Nissan’s Kamishino design philosophy employed in producing the 2013 Altima models delivers a rewarding visual appeal in a vehicle that is longer, wider and lower, while maintaining a similar footprint to its predecessor. It is the most innovative Altima ever. It is also quieter, with enhanced and improved insulation.
Driving the 2.5-liter version seemed to deliver totally adequate acceleration except in extreme situations, such as passing in a hill, and the lack of a stepped CVT and manual control paddle shifters proved a bit of a disappointment. The 3.5-liter powered Altima on the other hand, provided a more pleasing level of power with less effort, and the stepped, manually shifting CVT was closely akin to driving a conventional automatic with the same properties. The CVT belt represents a 40 percent reduction in friction, and is expected to last for the life of the car. I personally preferred the 3.5 SV over the 2.5 SL except for the cloth seating, and it was $270 less.
The 2013 Altima is one of five all-new models being produced by Nissan over the next 15 months. The Nissan Altima goes on sale in early July, with Pathfinder and Sentra bowing this fall followed by a volume hatchback and a volume crossover.