2013 Nissan Altima

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$6,774–$15,678 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Nissan Altima. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    26-32 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    182-hp, 2.5-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    2-speed CVT w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • V-6 power, refinement
  • Responsive CVT
  • Good handling, more compliant ride
  • Front-seat comfort, backseat space

The Bad

  • Four-cylinder drone when accelerating
  • Inconsistent steering feel
  • Available text-messaging assistant doesn't work with iPhone
  • Bland interior styling
2013 Nissan Altima exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2013 Nissan Altima

  • Redesigned for 2013
  • Four- and six-cylinder engines
  • 4-inch color screen in gauge cluster
  • Easy Fill Tire Alert honks horn when correct tire pressure is reached
  • Available text-messaging assistant, Pandora integration

2013 Nissan Altima Road Test

Mike Hanley

With the 2013 Altima's redesign, Nissan stays true to the car's sporty identity and adds to its appeal with impressive EPA-estimated gas mileage and available high-tech features.

I spent a day driving the Altima near Nissan's U.S. headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. The 2013 Nissan Altima starts at $22,280 (including a $780 destination charge). I tested both the midlevel 2.5 SV four-cylinder sedan, which starts at $24,880, and the V-6-powered 3.5 SV, which starts at $28,560. To see how the Altima's specs compare with the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Chevrolet Malibu, click here. Styling
One of the Altima's biggest styling influences appears to be Nissan's own Maxima, a premium sedan — also midsize — based on the previous-generation Altima. The 2013 model takes a Maxima design cue in the flowing, full-length shoulder line, and the headlights and rear also resemble the Maxima. Since the Altima's increase in size a few generations ago, the Maxima has always seemed like a redundant model in Nissan's lineup. It's even more so now that the Altima looks so much like it.

The 2013 Nissan Altima is wider and longer than its predecessor by about an inch in both dimensions. The minimal size increase bucks a trend that's seen family sedans grow considerably when redesigned. According to John Curl, Nissan's senior manager for product planning, current owners are satisfied with the Altima's size. See a comparison of the 2012 and ...

With the 2013 Altima's redesign, Nissan stays true to the car's sporty identity and adds to its appeal with impressive EPA-estimated gas mileage and available high-tech features.

I spent a day driving the Altima near Nissan's U.S. headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. The 2013 Nissan Altima starts at $22,280 (including a $780 destination charge). I tested both the midlevel 2.5 SV four-cylinder sedan, which starts at $24,880, and the V-6-powered 3.5 SV, which starts at $28,560. To see how the Altima's specs compare with the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Chevrolet Malibu, click here. Styling
One of the Altima's biggest styling influences appears to be Nissan's own Maxima, a premium sedan — also midsize — based on the previous-generation Altima. The 2013 model takes a Maxima design cue in the flowing, full-length shoulder line, and the headlights and rear also resemble the Maxima. Since the Altima's increase in size a few generations ago, the Maxima has always seemed like a redundant model in Nissan's lineup. It's even more so now that the Altima looks so much like it.

The 2013 Nissan Altima is wider and longer than its predecessor by about an inch in both dimensions. The minimal size increase bucks a trend that's seen family sedans grow considerably when redesigned. According to John Curl, Nissan's senior manager for product planning, current owners are satisfied with the Altima's size. See a comparison of the 2012 and 2013 models here.Four-Cylinder, V-6 Performance
There's a clear difference in performance between the standard four-cylinder engine and the optional V-6, but during a day of driving, the difference in observed fuel economy was surprisingly minimal.

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder does almost everything you want a four-cylinder to do. It revs smoothly, and it provides good off-the-line acceleration with three adults aboard, though as you might expect, power for passing on two-lane roads is relatively modest.

What it doesn't do well is sound good; an incessant drone makes its way inside the cabin when accelerating, making the engine seem less refined. It's all the more surprising because the outgoing 2012 Altima didn't exhibit anything like this when we reviewed it, and it's not a common issue among four-cylinder cars in this class.

The four-cylinder Nissan Altima gets an EPA-estimated 27/38 mpg city/highway, and Nissan drilled the highway estimate into my brain by plastering the Tennessee drive route with 38s — including the side of a barn and a stack of hay bales. A look at the trip computer after a 50-mile leg on traffic-free country roads showed average gas mileage of 32.7 mpg. Not bad considering our spirited driving and passenger count, but the number seemed less impressive after observing the V-6's results.

The V-6 Nissan Altima's trip computer tallied 30.9 mpg over 50 miles of similar country roads — not the same route — right at its 31-mpg highway estimate. Our third occupant had departed by this point, so the car was a little less burdened than the four-cylinder sedan had been, but the quick pace was consistent with the earlier drive.

The V-6 is no slouch. There's much more power in reserve to push you back in the seat when accelerating hard, and the engine makes much nicer music than the four-cylinder.

Either engine drives the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission that's been overhauled for 2013. Nissan cites the CVT as the main reason for the Altima's fuel-efficiency gains and claims that when it's paired with the four-cylinder it offers a ratio spread that's as wide as a conventional eight-speed automatic's.

One of the ways the CVT improves fuel economy is by keeping engine rpm as low as possible. Both the four-cylinder and V-6 were turning at less than 1,500 rpm when cruising at 60 mph. When you need more power to accelerate, the CVT's lack of conventional gears lets it increase engine speed more quickly than a traditional automatic; it's very responsive when you step on the gas.

The driving experience also isn't much different from a regular automatic. The CVT will keep engine rpm steady when you accelerate hard — normal for this type of transmission — but otherwise the drivetrain doesn't draw attention to itself. If you prefer the feeling and sound of engine revs rising and falling during acceleration, the DS (Drive Sport) position on the gear selector simulates the behavior of a traditional automatic. Ride & Handling
Like its predecessor, the 2013 Nissan Altima has a sportier feel than the family sedan norm. It feels more composed when driven hard into corners than a Toyota Camry or Volkswagen Passat, and the chassis does an admirable job limiting understeer, which is often a problem with front-wheel-drive cars. The new Altima comes standard with Active Understeer Control, a system that automatically applies the inside front brake during an aggressive turn to keep the car's nose tucked in. There's moderate body roll, but it doesn't take away from the feeling of control when cornering.

The Altima's suspension feels more compliant and comfortable than the outgoing car's, and more similar to the family sedan norm. It's refined, too, quickly dispatching bumps without becoming unsettled.

The car's steering tuning, however, is disappointing. The Nissan Altima uses a power-steering system that consists of a hydraulic rack driven by an electric motor. Theoretically, this electro-hydraulic system would be more efficient than the conventional hydraulic type but exhibit the steering feel that fully electric systems sometimes lack. Unfortunately, the Altima's steering feedback feels artificial, alternating between tight and firm when driving in a straight line and light during cornering. Greater consistency throughout the steering wheel's range would be preferred. There was also more than normal play in the wheel. The Inside
The Altima's restyled interior features functionally arranged controls, but the overall design is notably conservative at a time when competitors are getting bolder with their interiors. I expected to see more of the Altima's distinctive exterior flair on the inside.

One of the nice surprises was the front bucket seats. Nissan claims the design was inspired by NASA's research into how the body naturally positions itself in zero-gravity situations. While that may sound like an incredibly gimmicky (though original) way to market seats, they're actually quite comfortable. Compared with other bucket seats, where you can clearly feel what part of the cushion you're sitting on, in the Altima you feel suspended by the seat cushion, and this made for a day of ache-free driving. Unfortunately, adjustable lumbar support is offered only on the range-topping SL trim.

The Nissan Altima's three-person backseat is among the roomier spaces in this car class. Even with the front seat positioned for a 6-foot-tall driver, there's enough space in back for a 6-foot-tall passenger to ride comfortably. Connectivity Drawbacks
Bluetooth cellphone connectivity and audio streaming are standard along with push-button start. The available NissanConnect system provides enhanced cellphone connectivity and can read incoming text messages aloud to the driver. The feature also lets the driver respond with brief, preset replies using steering-wheel controls. Pandora internet radio integration is also part of NissanConnect.

The system has a few connectivity drawbacks. The text-messaging assistant works with BlackBerry and Android devices, but not the ubiquitous iPhone. Meanwhile, Pandora integration works only with the iPhone when using the USB port. Safety
As of publication, the 2013 Altima had not been crash-tested.

The 2013 Altima has standard antilock brakes and an electronic stability system, features that became required on new cars beginning with the 2012 model year. Side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for both rows are also standard.

Safety features that are part of the optional Technology Package include a blind spot warning system, lane departure warning and moving-object detection when reversing. An advanced backup camera that incorporates a unique washing/drying function enables all three systems.

Low tire pressure can be a safety hazard, but the Nissan Altima's Easy Fill Tire Alert makes filling a low tire simple. Using the car's tire pressure monitoring system, Easy Fill Tire Alert flashes the hazard lights when a tire is being filled and honks the horn when the correct air pressure is achieved.

For a full list of safety features, check out the Features & Specs page.

Altima in the Market
The familiar creed of the medical community is to first do no harm, and this concept aptly sums up Nissan's strategy in redesigning the Altima. The caution is understandable: This family sedan is far and away the brand's best-selling model in the U.S., and the prior generation was the surprise No. 2-selling car last year, benefiting in part from limited inventory among the competition.

The noisy four-cylinder and inconsistent steering feel might be deal breakers for some, but the car nonetheless gives Nissan a shot at continuing the Altima's sales momentum in the face of stylish entries like the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata and upcoming redesigned competitors like the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord. Regardless of which midsize sedan finishes the year on top, it's a great time to be shopping for a car in this class.

Send Mike an email  

 


2013 Altima Video

Besides being stylish, fuel-efficient and agile, the new 2013 Nissan Altima sedan also has plenty of clever features. One innovation, called "Easy-Fill Tire Alert," aims to maintain proper tire pressure in the Altima, Mike Hanley explains.

Latest 2013 Altima Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.2)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.3)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Manufacturers Deciect

by Ernesto59 from Atlanta on June 18, 2018

I have had this car for least than 6 months and the air conditioner compressor has gone out.I took it to the dealership , I was told this is a common issue with this car. The cost to replace it $1300, ... Read full review

(5.0)

Reliable transportation

by Nissan from Kalamazoo on June 15, 2018

Very nice stylish and reliable transportation so far. Has all the bells and whistles that one would usually look for in a nice vehicle great vehicle. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Nissan Altima currently has 11 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good

Other

Head Restraint
good
Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Nissan

Program Benefits

24 Hour Emergency Roadside Assistance, Towing Assistance, Trip Interruption Benefits, 3-month free subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio on properly equipped vehicles, Complimentary CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ and 3-Year CARFAX® Buy Back Guarantee

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from original in-service date; $50 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 167 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Altima received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker