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2013 Nissan Altima

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The 2013 Nissan Altima is in its fifth generation of production. The 2013 Altima is the premier of the new generation and is actually one of the better economy-class midsize sedans on the market today. Reviewers and test drivers are impressed with the practicality and sportiness of the economical sedan. Materials quality is decent all the way around and the optional safety features strike the right cord.

The only drawback to the 2013 Nissan Altima is the blandness of its exterior. Of course, that won't matter much to those who are shopping based solely on the important features - safety, economy, and performance. The one major change to the new model year Altima is in the powertrain. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) received a brand new overhaul and it appears to have helped its performance in most cases.

Expert Reviews

"The Joneses will probably be impressed by the Altima either way, so why pay Vegas lounge rates when the Elvis impersonator at the bowling-alley bar gets the job done?" (Car and Driver) This seems to be the overall consensus on the Altima; it isn't flashy, overly exciting, or jump-out-of-your-seat affordable, but it manages to overthrow the competition in nearly every category.

"The new Altima remains one of the most engaging family sedans, and now its fuel economy approaches 40 mpg on the highway. At that level, Nissan should have no problem attracting the most frugal family-sedan buyers. If you can get hybrid fuel economy without the cost of the battery packs and electric motors, why pay for them?" (Popular Mechanics)

"Now in its fifth generation, the 2013 Nissan Altima is the most refined, efficient and upscale Altima ever. Sharp handling, a well-made cabin and energetic engines instill the Altima with more character than the typical family sedan." (Edmunds)

While it shines in most areas, the lack of proper competition may also be a factor. "The Nissan Altima has a reputation for being one of the more athletic cars in its class, mainly because of its engaging handling. Test drivers think it's a good performer, especially with the optional V6 engine, but they note that the Altima competes in a class full of lackadaisical performers." (U.S. News)

Owner Reviews

"This is my second Altima and my husband now drives my 2005. The reliability on this car is awesome and that's why I bought another one. We have 162,000 miles on the 2005 and it's been nothing but Wonderful! I thought I'd be bored with a new one but, after test driving the 2013, I couldn't believe the drive and all the new interior features that come standard on the 3.5sl. It's a totally different car but, in a good way. It's a wonderful car for the money." (Owner review from Michele in California, Kelley Blue Book)

""I have owned this vehicle for around 3 months now. I traded a 2012 Altima for the purchase of this vehicle. I have had one minor issue with a fuel sensor however overall this is a great vehicle. I have read reviews and spoken with owners who have not had such a good experience with their vehicles but I must say that I have not experienced any problems with the drivetrain or other features the vehicle has to offer. It has a smoother ride and handles much better than the 2012 that I previously owned. I am happy with my choice and I would recommend this vehicle to a friend. I love the interior and it has a great deal of room with a spacious trunk which is multi-functional." (Owner review from Mississippi owner, Kelley Blue Book)

Although the experts love the new CVT transmission, that seems to be one of the few weak points for current owners. Some complain that it is noisy, bogs down under a load, and shifts hard. There are also a couple owners who have experienced computer issues that led to a minor recall. The computer issue can lead to engine trouble and a serious decrease in fuel efficiency. If you decide on the 2013 Altima and experience a sharp decline in fuel economy, get it into the shop a.s.a.p.


The 2013 Nissan Altima comes in seven different trim levels. The base model, also known as the 2.5, comes with full power accessories, Bluetooth, keyless ignition/entry, and a four-inch display screen with four-speaker sound system. Moving up to the 2.5S will earn the buyer cruise control, automatic headlights, a six-way power driver's seat, and a six-speaker sound system with a more advanced LCD screen.

One step up to the 2.5SV will get you the CVT transmission with paddle shifters. The same can be said of the 3.5SV, except that the 3.5 comes with the 3.5L V6 engine as opposed to the standard 2.5L four-cylinder. As for standard features on both choices, they include 17-inch alloy wheels, remote ignition, a rearview camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, and an upgraded sound system with satellite radio and hands-free text message reading capability.

The top-of-the-line SL class, in either 2.5 or 3.5 version, comes with the most available standard features. It adds xenon headlights, eight-way heated power driver's seat, LED taillights, sunroof (on the 2.5), heated steering wheel, and a nine-speaker Bose premium sound system with auxiliary jack.

There are also four packages available for all trim lines. The Convenience package, which gives the eight-way power seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, is the first choice. Moving up to the Premium package (which first requires the Convenience package) adds the rearview camera, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and nine-speaker Bose system.

The Leather package (requiring the Convenience and Leather packages first) includes heated front seats, leather all around, ambient lighting, and xenon headlights. The final package, the Technology package (which does require all the preceding packages), adds the navigation system, touchscreen, voice control, and Bluetooth.


The 2013 Altima's interior is well laid out, featuring functionally arranged controls, soft-touch materials, and one of the quietest rides in the class. The interior looks are somewhat conservative, but it makes sense not to worry about flash when you're striving for functional. Materials quality is much higher than previous years. There are still some hard plastics and rigid surfaces but overall the interior is a vast improvement over previous models.

Headroom and legroom are one of the few things that haven't changed from previous Altimas. Headroom is ample and legroom is commensurate for the class. Trunk space is average at 15.4 cubic feet if you choose the sedan. Go with the coupe, however, and you'll drop that number by almost half, down to 8.2 cubic feet. Overall, the inside looks and feels like a more expensive vehicle without all the bells and whistles.

One of the best improvements interior-wise is in the seats. Nissan took some inspiration from NASA and engineered seating that is designed to take pressure off all the major areas that cause discomfort and place it in an area that does the exact opposite. They call them the "zero-gravity" seats and they help to reduce the load on the spine, muscles, and other pressure points that can aggravate passengers.


There are two engine options with the 2013 Nissan Altima. The first is the 2.5L four-cylinder which pumps out 182 horsepower and 180 ft.-lbs. of torque. That may not sound like much but it took the little four-banger from zero to 60 mph in just under 8 seconds. That's an excellent time for this engine size and this class. Coupling with the CVT transmission actually makes that time a bit better and the shifts slightly smoother.

The other engine option is the 3.5L V6. It's good for 270 ponies and 251 ft.-lbs. of torque. It drops that time to 60 mph down to 6.2 seconds; this is also a great time for this class. Fuel economy for the four-cylinder is estimated by the EPA to be 27/38 mpg (city/highway), but there are owner reports of those numbers topping 40 mpg. The V6 will drop those numbers to 22/31 mpg.

For quite a few years now the Altima has been known as a decent car for those looking for a satisfying driving experience. The enhancements that Nissan has put into the 2013 model only make that driving experience better. Power is ample from either engine and maneuvering is capable through tight, crisp handling. The suspension could use a little tweaking, due to some stiff thumps over the rough spots in the road, but overall it provides a smooth ride.

Safety & Reliability

The 2013 Nissan Altima is listed as a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS and its crash test scores are perfect to prove it. It earned five out of five stars on all front, side, and rear crash tests. It even earned a top mark of Good in the roof strength test. The NHTSA seems to concur by their testing standards, as they gave the midsize Nissan five out of five stars overall as well as on front and side crash tests.

There are currently no major recalls as of this writing. The Altima comes with the standard 3-year/36,000-mile warranty along with the 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Blind spot and lane departure warning systems are both available, but reliability will only hit the average point, based on the past five years' worth of models. MSRP on the 2013 Nissan Altima ranges from $21,760 to the top-end $27,660.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Coupe - FWD
2.5 S 2dr Coupe I4 2.5 S 4 Cylinder FWD 25230
Sedan - FWD
2.5 4dr Sedan I4 2.5 4 Cylinder FWD 21760
2.5 S 4dr Sedan I4 2.5 S 4 Cylinder FWD 22280
2.5 SV 4dr Sedan I4 2.5 SV 4 Cylinder FWD 24080
2.5 SL 4dr Sedan I4 2.5 SL *Ltd Avail* 4 Cylinder FWD 28400
2.5 SL 4dr Sedan I4 2.5 SL 4 Cylinder FWD 27660
3.5 S 4dr Sedan V6 3.5 S V6 FWD 25760
3.5 SV 4dr Sedan V6 3.5 SV V6 FWD 28260
3.5 SL 4dr Sedan V6 3.5 SL V6 FWD 30560

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