The fifth generation of a car that started out as a roly-poly roller but which has evolved since then into a handsome and reasonably priced and high tech entry

Nissan upgrades and updates the Altima

By Jim Bray  December 7, 2012 | Comments| Print friendly | Subscribe

It’s one of the Japanese company’s bread and butter cars, a mid-size sedan they hope you’ll think is the “altimate” family car.

And it’s brand new for 2013, the fifth generation of a car that started out as a roly-poly roller but which has evolved since then into a handsome and reasonably priced and high tech entry into the mid-size sedan market.

That particular niche is full of terrific vehicles, so Nissan must hope that enough people will find the Altima better than such great cars as the brand new Honda Accord and Ford Fusion, or the older but still great Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, VW Passat, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

The car feels more up market than before – just like the competition – in this case, almost “Maxima-lite.” And a mid-sized car that feels as substantial as a larger, supposedly more luxurious vehicle is hardly something at which to snort.

The new Altima adds a bit of a sport flair to its exterior, via such stuff as raised front fenders and reasonably swoopy body work. The car is longer and wider than the outgoing model yet, as is the happy trend these days, it’s also lighter.

Power for the Altima comes via either four or six cylinder engines. My test car, from Nissan Canada, had the 2.5 liter four banger and it was plenty powerful enough for my needs during the test period. It puts out a competitive 182 horses, compared to the V6’s 270.

Power gets to the front wheels of the Altima through a horrible Continuously Variable Transmission that rubbed me the wrong way about as much as most CVT’s do. It works well, and is undoubtedly highly efficient, but it’s noisy and feels like you’re stretching a rubber band rather than accelerating through an honest-to-goodness automatic transmission. There’s no manual mode, either – though you can get paddle shifters on the V6 versions. 

There is a “sport” mode, and it’s better, but not enough better.

Altimas’ suspension is independent front and rear, with struts up front and a multilink bum – and there are stabilizer bars at both ends. The suspension is a little softer than I like, though not excessively so; the car doesn’t come close to wallowing but it’s definitely sprung on the comfort side of the equation.

Brakes are discs all around, with ABS and the usual aids, and pedal feel and performance were just fine.

The steering feel is good, performing nicely and imparting a nice quality feel. The wheel tilts and telescopes manually and feels good in the fists.

The wheels of my tester were 17 inches in diameter, wearing 215/55 series all-season tires. The projector-type headlights did a good job of lighting up the world ahead of the car and the power sliding/tilting sunroof was a nice touch.

Inside is a very comfortable and well turned out cabin – though I must admit that I could never find a perfect driving position on the comfortable, eight way power-adjusted La-z-boy-like driver’s seat. The seat angst may be more mine, however, because I’ve read other reviews in which they praised the seats.
And there’s a reasonably roomy rear seat.

The cabin is laid out well, with decent materials and plenty of high tech stuff. Maybe too much, for this Nissan offers a lot of the same type of nannies that drive me nuts on its upscale Infiniti brand – such as lane departure warnings, warnings when the car thinks you’re about to rear end someone, and blind spot monitors. You can shut most of this stuff off, or minimize its influence, via the setup menus, however, and that’s a good thing.

Not that I’m against safety, of course, but where does the driver’s responsibility to pay attention end? And what happens when you rely on the warnings and they turn out to be wrong? After all, we all know that machines are infallible…

Bluetooth is standard for phone and tunes, with a pretty easy pairing system. My sample SL trim level Altima also offered dual zone air conditioning, remote keyless entry with push button start/stop, power windows and door locks and even a remote start feature. There are automatic headlights, too, a heated steering wheel and rear view monitor.

The audio system is pretty good. It’s from Bose, which is a good place to start, and plays just about anything you can throw at it, from MP3’s to satellite radio – and there’s a USB input jack as well, which Nissan says offers iPod connectivity.

The trunk is sized decently, too – not as cavernous as a VW Passat’s, perhaps, but big enough for most sedan-type needs.

My sample Altima 2.5 SL also came with a reddish metallic pearl paint job that adds $134 to the price, and a $1100 technology package with stuff such as a navigation system and seven inch LCD screen, steering wheel-mounted navigation controls, the nannies I complained about earlier, and even some apps such as Google “Send to car,” real time traffic info, Google’s “POI” (Points of Interest), hands free text messaging and weather info.

These weren’t activated in the sample, so I have no idea if they’re life savers, annoyances, or just plain interesting.

But $1100 for all that seems pretty reasonable.

The Altima also features “Nissan Advanced Drive Assist Display”, which gives you the outside temperature, low fuel warning, audio display, and the like. The weather was cold when I had the Altima and the display liked telling me that to the exclusion of anything else, as if I hadn’t noticed the temperature when I walked from the house to the car.

My sample Altima SL, with options, tipped the financial scale at $30,833 Canadian, which seems pretty competitive.

The 2013 Nissan Altima is definitely a step up from the last Altima. Whether or not it’s good enough to pry people away from some other cars in this niche will be seen over time, but it’s probably good enough to keep Altima fans satisfied.

Copyright 2012 Jim Bray

Disqus Comments

Jim publishes TechnoFile Magazine. Jim is an affiliate with the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and his careers have included journalist, technology retailer, video store pioneer, and syndicated columnist; he does a biweekly column on CBC Radio One’s The Business Network.

Jim can be reached at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Older articles by Jim Bray

comments powered by Disqus

Most Shared CFP stories

What's New On CFP:

  1. Latest American News
    By News on the Net -- --News Headlines
  2. United Nations’ Negotiating Text Ignores UN Science
    By Institute for Energy Research -- --Global Warming-Energy-Environment
  3. It’s Time for Eureka, California!
    By Arthur Christopher Schaper -- --American Politics
  4. Have You Demanded a “Right to Kill” Recently?
    By Jim Yardley -- --Cover Story
  5. Peace and a new beginning are not on the horizon
    By Corey Hunt -- --Cover Story
  6. Consolation Following Lynch Confirmation
    By Arthur Christopher Schaper -- --Cover Story
  7. Republican leaders ignore Conservatives again
    By Jeff Crouere -- --Cover Story
  8. Hundreds of Patriots Turn Out to Support US Flag at Valdosta State (VIDEO)
    By News on the Net -- --Video
  9. Death by drone of an United States aid worker
    By Guest Column -- --Letter
  10. Climate Skeptics Descend on Vatican – Seek to Influence Pope on ‘Global Warming’
    By Marc Morano -- --Global Warming-Energy-Environment
  11. How Haiti earthquake helped enrich the Clintons
    By News on the Net -- --Video
  12. Levin: Clintons ‘Must Be Prosecuted’
    By News on the Net -- --Video
  13. State Says Bakers Should Pay $135,000 for Refusing to Bake Cake for Same-Sex Wedding
    By Heritage Foundation -- --American Politics
  14. Holder’s Corrupt Legacy Lives On in Loretta Lynch
    By Arnold Ahlert -- --Cover Story
  15. The DNA Deniers in the Media
    By Cliff Kincaid -- --Cover Story
  16. Christian Leaders Pledge Not to Cross the Marriage Redline
    By Liberty Counsel -- --American Freedom
  17. How about giving Iran a $50 billion signing bonus to seal the nuke deal?
    By Dan Calabrese -- --American Politics
  18. Flawed projector shows warranties can work when companies care
    By Jim Bray -- --Science-Technology
  19. Toyota Prius c and v offer fuel economy, low emissions and not much else
    By Jim Bray -- --Automotive News and Reviews
  20. Clintons got cash, Russians got one-fifth of all America’s uranium . . . hey, what’s the problem?
    By Dan Calabrese -- --American Politics
  21. Far-left Democrat Martin O’Malley prepares to challenge Hillary with late-May campaign launch
    By Robert Laurie -- --American Politics
  22. Hillary On Abortion: ‘Religious Beliefs And Structural Biases Have To Be Changed’ (Video)
    By News on the Net -- --Video
  23. Krauthammer: ‘Unbelievable Arrogance’ That Clintons Thought They’d ‘Get Away
    By News on the Net -- --Video
  24. Latest News On ISIS and Radical Islam
    By News on the Net -- --News Headlines
  25. Oil Price War May Benefit Both US Shale And Saudi Arabia
    By -- --Global Warming-Energy-Environment
  26. Rubio Takes on Export-Import Bank: ‘Government Should Not Be Picking Winners and Losers’
    By Heritage Foundation -- --American Politics
  27. Why “Love” Does Not Justify “Gay Marriage”
    By Rev. Michael Bresciani -- --Christianity - Religion
  28. Malik Obama interviewed by Director Joel Gilbert (video)
    By News on the Net -- --Video
  29. Vladimir Putin: Thanks to Hillary, I now own America’s Uranium Future!
    By Andrew G. Benjamin -- --Cover Story
  30. Obama Breaks Promise on 100th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide
    By Raymond Ibrahim -- --Cover Story

Caruba: Professional Writing Services

Pursuant to Title 17 U.S.C. 107, other copyrighted work is provided for educational purposes, research, critical comment, or debate without profit or payment. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for your own purposes beyond the 'fair use' exception, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Views are those of authors and not necessarily those of Canada Free Press. Content is Copyright 1997-2015 the individual authors.

Site Copyright 1997-2015 Canada Free Press.Com Privacy Statement

Powered by ExpressionEngine