2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV Sedan (2.5L 4-cyl. CVT Automatic)
Driven On 9/18/2012
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
The Nissan Altima, particularly the V6 model, is the hot rod of the usually ho-hum midsize sedan segment. But this fifth-generation Altima has found new levels of refinement, luxury, build quality, efficiency and tech features. The four-cylinder model is equally impressive.
PerformanceOne of the sportier sedans within the segment. We were impressed with the responsiveness of the continuously variable transmission. The 2.5 SV doesn't handle as well as the 3.5 SL, but it's still near the top of the 4-cylinder class.
The 4-cylinder engine is surprisingly peppy. Moves briskly from a full stop. Under full acceleration the CVT brings revs quickly to 6,100 rpm and holds them there.
The brake pedal is linear around town, very firm under panic stop conditions. Low-grip all-season tires made for average distances, and those distances did increase during testing.
The effort/amount of assist will be a tad light for enthusiastic drivers but there's very good feedback through the wheel. Responsive.
Not as flickable or composed as the 3.5 SL model we tested previously, due to less tire and softer suspension. Still, it handles with the best of the four-cylinder class.
The CVT can at times be almost too responsive, suddenly pegging the revs when you only asked for a bit more power, not 5,000-rpm-worth. But overall, this is an easy car to drive.
ComfortThe new Altima is a step up from the model it replaces in every way, especially in terms of noise (or lack thereof) and ride refinement.
The seat cushions are exceptionally comfortable and the cloth is very soft. Best-in-class front seats. Rear seats are comfy with a plush center armrest.
Smooth ride, soaks up bumps very well with no jiggliness whatsoever. The soft seats help with the ride as well.
Very hushed, just a whisper of wind rustling around the mirrors, only minor amount of tire flap over concrete gaps. Engine is quiet for a 4-cylinder, especially at highway speeds.
InteriorThe Altima's interior doesn't offer the most stylish presentation, but the fit and finish are excellent. The quality of the materials puts the Altima right near the top of the class.
For the most part the ergos are very good, the climate control is easy to use, cruise control makes sense. Only real sore point is the stereo's tuning knob, which has weak detents.
The front doors open nice and wide, making it very easy to get in and out. The rear doors could open wider, and you need to duck your head slightly to miss the ceiling.
Plenty of front headroom with decent elbow room. There's a goodly amount of knee and foot room in the rear. Headroom will only be tight for those particularly long of torso.
Smallish A-/B-pillars, large rear side windows plus helpful triangle windows and good-size rear window greatly aid visibility. Backup camera is standard.
Multilevel center armrest with large lower bin. Also has handy front bin and another bin behind the cupholders. Door pockets are easily accessible. Split-folding rear seats.
ValueA lot of value here. The interior of this 2.5 SV isn't quite as luxurious as the uplevel V6 models, but it's still near the top of the class. And it comes with just about every tech and luxury feature you could expect at this price.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Build quality is good for the $25,065 out-the-door price. Door armrests feel a little cheap and unpadded, but the seats are made of a super-cushy cloth material. Soft-touch dash.
Nice amount of features for the price, like standard Bluetooth, USB port, rearview camera, dual-zone A/C, rear vents, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
You get quite a lot for the Altima 2.5 SV's $24,100 base price. The only options on our test car were floor and trunk mats for $185.
The EPA rates the four-cylinder Altima at 27 city/38 highway/31 mpg combined. We averaged 31.7 mpg overall, along with an astounding 39.7 mpg on our 116-mile Edmunds evaluation route.
The Altima's basic warranty is 3 years/36,000 miles with 5 years/60,000 miles for powertrain, both of which are merely average.
The Altima comes with 3 years/36,000 miles worth of roadside assistance, but it doesn't have any kind of free scheduled maintenance.
Fun To DriveWe'll be honest -- the four-cylinder Altima isn't as fun to drive as the V6. This car has less power and doesn't handle quite as well. But the 2.5 SV's steering is precise, and the car offers a surprising amount of driver feedback.
The driving experience is fine as-is, but would be improved if Nissan offered the car with a way to shift the CVT manually, whether with the console lever or paddles.
There isn't a ton of personality here, what with a four-cylinder mated to a CVT. But this combo is surprisingly peppy and responsive, and the steering is sharp.
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