Most auto columns will refer to Toyota’s Camry and Honda’s Accord as the most popular selling midsize sedans. But there’s another that deserves equal mention and it is a compelling contender.
Nissan’s 2013 front-drive Altima sedan is every bit as good as the aforementioned in all areas of comfort, styling, performance and price. So why is it overlooked by new car buyers?
Perhaps it’s because Nissan doesn’t promote it as vigorously as they should. Can you remember the last time you saw an ad for Altima, be it on TV or in a magazine? New car buyers need only drive one to experience its attributes.
Tested was the top-line Altima 3.5 SL that was powered by a potent 3.5-liter, 270-hp (258 lb/ft of torque) V6 that expels its power through one of the best CVT (with paddle shifters) transmissions on the market. The combination rates EPA mileage estimates of 22 city, 31-highway mpg, and has posted a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds. Not bad for a 3,358-pound sedan. If those figures don’t impress you, Nissan also offers a 182-hp, 2.5L four-cylinder that EPA rates at 27/38 mpg.
But the 3.5’s impressive power is not the entire story. Altima also has impressive handling for a family sedan. Some have described it as a sports car as it takes sharp turns and quick maneuvers with nary any lean or body dip. The Dunlop P235/45R18-inch SP Sport tires shod on the Altima provide excellent grip and contribute to cars good manners.
As for the ride. It’s smooth, quiet and exudes a larger car feel. Some credit for this goes to the deep cushioned, perforated leather seats that offer just the right amount of lateral support.
The back seat is equally as comfy but is more flat in design and can accommodate two adults or three tweens in comfort. And getting in back there is easy as the doors open wide for unencumbered ingress/egress. Head and shoulder room too are generous although legroom is on the tight side for tall riders.
Altima’s cabin is pleasingly styled with HVAC controls that are easy to use and see at a glance. The test car had the optional GPS nav system and a standard rearview camera (with parking assist lines) system, both of which are displayed on a 6×3-inch LCD screen. Rear visibility is good all around especially rearward where low-profile rear headrests offer a clear view.
My only gripe with the Altima is its tiny 4×2-inch accelerator pedal. It isn’t low enough to the floor, and as such, my foot slipped off several times while driving.
Trunk space is ample with a two roll-a-long bag capacity, or a single golf bag with the long clubs stacked atop the bag. For more space, merely pull two nylon tabs in the trunk and the 60/40 seats automatically flip forward.
Now here’s the interesting part. This top-shelf sedan was base priced at $30,080 and it rose slightly after adding two options; a Technology Package ($1,090) that included a GPS nav with 7-inch diagonally measured LCD screen, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection, all of which are extremely helpful to have and should rate an insurance carrier discount. To that was added $185 for (really?) floor and trunk mats, for a bottom line of $32,135. All other features like tire pressure monitoring, fog lights, auto on/off headlamps, Xenon headlights, Bose audio, heated front seats, push button ignition, heated outside mirrors and a rash of safety features, are all standard.
To test drive an Altima, stop by Rothrock Motors at 15th Street and Route 22 in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.