With a flared grille design that looks almost like a wider, exaggerated version of the hexagonal front-end found on the new Lexus GS and bulging, pointy wraparound headlamps that resemble those found on the Toyota Camry, the 2013 Nissan Altima isn't exactly distinctive. Then again, few cars in this class ever were.
For 2013, Nissan is dropping the hybrid version of the Altima. Instead, it's focusing on making its gas-powered models more efficient with a heavily retooled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and reduced weight.
The engines, a 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 182 horsepower and a 3.5-liter V6 cranking out 270 hp, carry over without many changes. Between the new CVT and a 79-pound weight reduction, the base four-cylinder Altima is expected to achieve an estimated 38 miles per gallon, which, if true, will make it the most fuel-efficient in its class. Impressive considering the Altima is missing other fuel-saving technology such as direct injection that many automakers are now starting to use on their midsize models. Also impressive given that most models have been gaining weight for decades.
Ride and handling is expected to improve on the 2013 Altima thanks to a retuned multi-link suspension with beefier bushings and dampers. Active understeer control, which applies the brakes to the inside wheels when the system senses understeer while turning, helps drivers maintain control.
Altima will be available with many electronic safety systems, such as lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and cross-path detection. Nissan's new infotainment system, dubbed Nissan Connected, also makes its debut on the 2013 Altima. The infotainment system will use Google search and send-to-car navigation features, as well as Pandora streaming Internet radio.
The 2013 Nissan Altima will hit dealerships in June of this year, with an expected starting price of $21,500 ($22,280 including destination).