First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima

First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima

Images courtesy Nissan

Quick, name the No. 2 best-selling car in America last year. Difficult, isn’t it?

I, for one, did not realize the Nissan Altima was the second-best selling car in the U.S. in 2011, nor have I really given it much thought (or digital ink) save for the coupe we took to New Orleans a couple of years ago.

Altima has been on sale here in the states for two decades now and for 2013 Nissan has decided to lean a little heavier towards revolutionary (as opposed to evolutionary) for what will be the fifth-generation of the car.

Granted, they have not re-invented the wheel, but they have re-invented the Altima to a class-leading midsize sedan offering champagne content on a beer budget.

First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima

Right away you will not recognize the 2013 as an Altima – more like a redesigned Maxima in my books. Up front it screams “Samurai” while the label reads “Made in the U.S.A.” – via Tennessee and Mississippi.

Obviously the bold new styling stands out aesthetically but what will get many even more excited is that the new model can reach 38 mpg on the highway from a dimensionally larger car.

The new Altima is longer, wider, and lighter. Nissan benchmarked the BMW 3-Series and the C-Class from Mercedes for this new model as they sought to deliver a “class-above” midsize sedan.

Underneath the hood we still find a choice of 2.5-liter four- or 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine but each has been improved for the new Altima. The biggest news in the powertrain story though is the next-generation CVT gearbox developed for the Altima that features 70 percent new parts and has 40 percent less friction along with an expanded gear ratio making for a much more enjoyable driving experience while also contributing to the improved fuel economy.

First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima

The news for Altima does not end with the opening of a car door. Inside one finds a cavernous environment complete with all of the newest features and technology. The dash panel has gone high-tech with its four-inch display monitor nestled between the speedo and tach and at the rear is the world’s first integrated rearview camera with cleansing system that not only provides images while backing but serves as the sensor for Altima’s new blind spot warning, lane departure, and moving object detection systems.

First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima

Also debuting on the 2013 Altima is Nissan’s new Easy Fill Tire Alert system that senses when a low tire is being aired up by flashing the hazard lights and honks the car horn once when proper pressure is reached. Should the operator add too much air the system will alert you by honking several times.

All those things are good and fine, and necessary to stay at the top of one’s game but it still comes down to price and likeability.

Pricing for the 2013 Altima will start at $21,500 for a base 2.5 model with the V-6s beginning at $25,360. Ordering one “all the way” will run in the neighborhood of 32-33 grand.

First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima

So it comes down to likeability, and there is plenty to like in this new Altima. Nissan expects 90 percent of us to like the four-cylinder over the six and men and women liking it about evenly.

On the road, the car is very smooth and quiet providing a very solid and reliable feel. It is easy to operate and easy to maneuver and watching the fuel gauge barely move during our time behind the wheel is an added benefit.

First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima  First Drive: 2013 Nissan Altima

Despite the midsize sedan segment being ever-so-crowded these days, Nissan should have no problem with segment superiority as they just made life suck a little for the competition.

About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.