Drive is sportier than that of others
Unfortunately, the headrests are oddly positioned and hard as nails. Interior room is average for this class, though rear headroom is a tad tight.
On the road, the Altima’s ride is comfortable but firm. Its predilections err more toward sporty driving than will other cars in this segment. This comes most sharply into focus when you toss the Altima into a turn and come out on the other side smiling rather than cringing.
This is possible largely because of a system on all new Altimas that will lightly feather the brake on the front inside wheel to reduce understeer. A well-balanced suspension design doesn’t hurt; neither does shedding 80 pounds compared with the previous model.
The Altima has impressive steering feel by way of an electronic-hydraulic power-assisted setup. Although it may be a smidge less fuel-efficient than the typical full-electric system, it’s a trade-off you will appreciate every time you turn the wheel.
Unfortunately, the Altima does make a concession to fuel efficiency with its gearbox. Like its predecessor, the 2013 Altima comes with a continuously variable transmission. It’s the sole detractor from the car’s sporty demeanor and the general quietude of the interior.
The four-cylinder Altima 2.5 SV I tested is rated at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 38 on the highway. This means only hybrids and diesels beat it for efficiency in this class. During nearly 300 miles of testing in mostly city conditions, I averaged 25 mpg.
The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine makes 182 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Other than its occasional noisiness, this engine is a good one and will move the car from zero to 60 in 7.4 seconds, according to Motor Trend.
A larger, 3.5-liter V-6 will run you $2,000 to $3,600 more, depending on the model. It’s good for 270 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Control freaks rejoice: Altimas with the V-6 have paddle shifters with the CVT.
All this is covered in a new, silky, wind-swept exterior. The headlights and taillights now wrap around the Altima’s corners and then stretch up the car’s sides toward one another.
Meanwhile, subtle morsels of chrome on the grille, door handles and trunk lid give the look an upscale air.
2013 Altimas should have no trouble selling as well as the previous popular version.