2013 Nissan Altima Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Strong acceleration and fuel economy for both engines
- rewarding handling
- smooth and quiet ride
- comfortable front seats
- user-friendly electronics
- solid interior quality.
- Tight rear headroom
- CVT can be overeager during moderate acceleration, resulting in excess noise from four-cylinder engine
- Altima coupe has lower mpg ratings.
Now in its fifth generation, the 2013 Nissan Altima is the most refined, fuel-efficient and upscale Altima ever. Sharp handling, a well-made cabin and energetic engines instill the Altima with more character than the typical family sedan.
Nissan has been careful with the 2013 redesign of the Altima sedan. The general look is hardly a dramatic departure, but the thorough restyling inside and out speaks to the more upscale direction for the best-selling model in Nissan's lineup. Most of the Altima's major mechanical components are carried over, but fuel economy ratings have improved significantly: The four-cylinder 2013 Nissan Altima sedan is now among the most fuel-efficient midsize cars in this price range.
We liked the previous-generation Altima for its responsive handling, composed ride and user-friendly electronic features. These attributes carry over to the redesigned sedan, but are now complemented by a higher-quality cabin that remains quiet at highway speeds. The 2013 Nissan Altima sedan's interior features a more visually interesting design, soft-touch materials and more comfortable front seats. In addition, we've noted excellent fit and finish in the 2013 Altima test cars we've driven. The only real negative in this cabin is the tight rear headroom.
As in past years, the Altima sedan comes with either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V6. Although the V6 makes for quick and satisfying acceleration, most people will find the four-cylinder's performance more than adequate. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Nissan offers instead of a conventional automatic transmission can take some getting used to (simply because it doesn't have fixed shift points), but its responsiveness in passing situations is impressive and it's the main reason the Altima earns such high EPA fuel economy ratings. With the four-cylinder engine and the CVT, the 2013 Altima has a 31 mpg combined rating, which is tops among non-hybrid, gasoline-powered midsize sedans.
Keep in mind that the Altima coupe is mechanically unchanged for 2013. It uses an older version of the CVT that isn't as efficient and has lower mpg ratings as a result. In addition, the V6 engine is not available on the coupe.
In many ways, the outgoing Altima sedan was more appealing than its fellow best-selling sedans, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. It could also stand toe to toe with the well-equipped Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Passat. When you consider the numerous refinements Nissan made to this new 2013 Altima sedan, its position as one of the most desirable family sedans has only been strengthened. Though the redesigned Accord is a worthy challenger, the 2013 Nissan Altima is a must-drive if you're shopping for a midsize sedan.
2013 Nissan Altima models
The 2013 Nissan Altima comes in sedan and coupe body styles. The sedan comes in seven trim levels -- four trims for buyers selecting an Altima with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and three trim levels for an Altima equipped with the 3.5-liter V6. The coupe comes in a single 2.5 S trim that is discussed following the sedan section below.
The base 2.5 Altima sedan comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, keyless ignition/entry, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 4-inch display screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player.
Moving from the base Altima 2.5 to the 2.5 S gets you cruise control, automatic headlights, a six-way power driver seat, more advanced functionality for the gauge-cluster LCD screen and a six-speaker sound system. The V6-engined 3.5S includes all that, plus 18-inch alloy wheels and a sport mode with paddle shifters for the CVT.
Advancing upward to the SV trim level brings 17-inch alloy wheels (2.5), dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote ignition, a 5-inch color LCD screen, a rearview camera and an upgraded sound system that includes an iPod/USB audio interface, satellite radio, Pandora radio and hands-free reading of incoming text messages. A Convenience package (optional on 2.5 SV, standard on the 3.5 SV) adds a sunroof and a few other minor extras.
The top-shelf Altima SL adds xenon headlights, LED taillights, the sunroof (four-cylinder), leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a nine-speaker premium Bose sound system with an auxiliary audio jack.
Option packages for the 2013 Altima are simple but none are available for either the Altima 2.5 or 2.5 S. The Navigation package for Altima 2.5 SV and 3.5 SV models includes a 7-inch in-dash monitor and steering wheel controls for the navigation system. The Technology package (available only for the Altima 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL) incorporates the navigation system and includes electronic safety features such as blind-spot warning, cross-traffic and lane-departure warning systems.
The Altima Coupe 2.5 S comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Convenience package includes automatic headlights, an eight-way power driver seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. The Premium package (requires Convenience package) adds a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a nine-speaker Bose sound system with a 4.3-inch color display, an iPod/USB audio interface and satellite radio. The Leather package (requires Convenience and Premium packages) includes xenon headlights, heated front seats, leather upholstery, ambient lighting and an auto-dimming mirror. The Technology package (requires all preceding packages) adds a navigation system, a touchscreen interface, voice controls, real-time traffic and weather, an auxiliary audio/visual jack and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Performance & mpg
The 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 sedan comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 182 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). In Edmunds performance testing, this engine brought the Altima from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, which makes it one of the quickest four-cylinder family sedans. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 27 mpg city/38 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined, which is excellent for a midsize sedan.
Altima 3.5 models have a 3.5-liter V6 good for 270 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. The CVT is again standard. In Edmunds testing, an Altima 3.5 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which also makes it one of the segment's top sprinters. Fuel economy is strong for a V6, with 22/31/25.
The Altima Coupe also gets a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, but it produces 175 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. It, too, gets a CVT. Its fuel economy estimates are much lower than the sedan's at 23/32/26.
Every 2013 Nissan Altima sedan and coupe come standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera comes standard on all sedans but the base and S trim levels, and is optional on the coupe. Blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert and a lane-departure warning system are also optional on the sedan.
In Edmunds testing, an Altima 2.5 SV sedan stopped from 60 mph in 130 feet, which is below average for midsize sedans. A 3.5 SL, however, stopped in a superb 114 feet, which is about 10 feet shorter than average.
In government crash testing, the Altima sedan received a perfect five stars for overall, frontal and side crash protection.
The Nissan Altima has a reputation for being one of the more rewarding family sedans to drive, and the redesigned 2013 Altima continues this legacy. The new Altima has a revised steering system this year, and feel and feedback remain accurate and consistent, reassuring the driver during tricky and delicate maneuvers. The steering combines with a retuned rear suspension that tightly controls body motions and also helps the Altima corner with more assurance. The ride quality remains very good nevertheless, while wind and road noise are pleasantly subdued.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine offers competitive performance for this class. It revs willingly and generates more than enough acceleration for everyday driving in both the sedan and coupe. Still, we prefer the version in the sedan, because it comes with a revised CVT that operates in a more refined manner and provides better fuel mileage. We suspect many drivers won't even realize this CVT isn't a conventional automatic transmission. At times, though, the Altima's CVT is almost too responsive to acceleration demands, resulting in higher engine rpm and a bit more noise than we'd like.
Meanwhile, the available 3.5-liter V6 in the 2013 Nissan Altima sedan provides some of the quickest acceleration in this class. It's a great choice if you really like to drive, but it's considerably less fuel-efficient.
The outgoing Altima sedan (and current Altima coupe) had a nice, though somewhat plain-looking, interior. In contrast, the 2013 Altima's cabin feels markedly more upscale. Materials are of visibly higher quality, particularly on the dashboard and console. The door armrests could still use more padding, but we've been impressed by the fit and finish in all the 2013 Altima sedans we've tested.
The gauge cluster is attractive, with a large, highly readable speedometer and tachometer on either side of the crisp, 4-inch LCD screen. Another highlight is the specially engineered "zero gravity" front seats used in all Altimas. With help from NASA research, the seats were designed to relieve common pressure points and improve comfort for the long haul. It works, as the new Altima's front seats are palpably different from before and more comfortable and supportive from the moment you slip in them.
In terms of space, overall interior room is almost exactly the same as before. That means headroom for the rear seat is at a premium and rear legroom is only average. Trunk space is similarly average at 15.4 cubic feet. The story is much the same in the coupe, though as is expected in a two-door, there's even less room to go around and getting in and out of the back is more of a pain. The coupe's trunk can only hold 8.2 cubic feet of luggage.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat4 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover10.3%
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
TEST What's the best-selling car in the country? Easy, right? Toyota Camry.
But what's No. 2? Honda Accord? Ford Fusion? Hyundai Sonata? Good guesses all, but wrong.
It's the Nissan Altima. That's right, Nissan's best-seller is the car that people rarely factor into the midsize sedan equation. Even we'll admit the Altima is one of those cars that slips from our minds sometimes, that is until we drive one again. Then it's, "Whoa, this car is really good — and a serious hot rod. Handles well, too."
If this fifth-generation major makeover doesn't make the Altima pop instantly to your mind in the same fashion as the Camry and Accord, it probably never will. Because the 2013 Nissan Altima just got even better. Quite a bit better, in fact.
We could read straight from Nissan's playbook and tell you about the 2013 Altima's reskinned body that's stiffer, yet weighs 80 pounds less than before. Or how its continuously variable transmission (CVT) offers better fuel economy and acceleration.
Or we could go on about how the Tennessee-built Altima offers a hands-free text messaging assistant in addition to lane departure warning and rear moving object detection systems — both of which are segment firsts. And we could tell you the interior has been completely redesigned to the point that it's now on a level with the Maxima — especially our top-shelf, leather-clad 3.5 SL test car.
But none of that matters if this Altima doesn't feel better from behind the wheel. And after an extensive test-drive, we will tell you that this midsize, front-wheel-drive sedan is still as athletic as ever, with a little extra refinement thrown in for good measure.
A Bit of a Hot Rod
So how quick is the 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL? Good question, especially since it only comes with a soul-sucking CVT while most of its competitors are now using six-, seven- and even eight-speed automatics.
How's zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds (5.9 seconds with a 1-foot rollout like at a drag strip) grab you? For perspective, that's over half a second quicker than the last Altima V6 we tested. It's also quicker than the 2012 Toyota Camry V6 and 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T by 0.4 second. And it beats the 2011 Honda Accord V6 by a not-insignificant 0.8 second. The Altima continues on through the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 99.8 mph. So in other words, it's pretty quick for a midsize sedan.
And this is with zero additional power. Yep, the 3.5-liter V6 remains unchanged from 2012, so it's still rated at 270 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Smooth and plentiful power is just a throttle jab away, even at highway speeds. It's nice to know the power is there, but we did notice that the throttle delivery can be a bit abrupt, especially when pulling away from a stop.
How Did the Altima Get Quicker?
It's lighter, for one. Our 3,358-pound test car weighed in 54 pounds lighter than the last Altima 3.5 SR we tested in 2010. It's more aerodynamic, too. Nissan says the coefficient of drag has been reduced by 5 percent.
But much of the credit goes to what's arguably the world's best CVT. Sure, there aren't that many, but it's still one of the few instances where we can remember a CVT that does what we want most of the time. For instance, upon leaving the line on a hard launch, the CVT almost immediately pegs the tach at an indicated 6,800 rpm for maximum power.
Out on the road, especially in Sport mode, the CVT never hesitates to bring on big revs without hunting for gears like traditional automatics. And the dreaded CVT rubber-banding has been greatly reduced. In fact, in regular drive mode, it almost lugs the engine too much in the interest of fuel economy.
That didn't surprise us much given the Altima's fuel mileage estimates. Compared to the previous Altima, the mileage numbers are up by 2 mpg in the city and 4 mpg on the highway (22 city/31 highway). We averaged 21.6 mpg during varied driving, much of which involved winding the engine out to test the limits of the CVT.
If those numbers aren't enough for you, there's also a reworked 2.5-liter four-cylinder available. It adds variable valve timing on both exhaust and intake camshafts along with an additional 7 hp for a total of 182 hp at 6,000 rpm. It's 11 pounds lighter than its predecessor and Nissan says it will return 27 city/38 mpg highway. Impressive numbers for a sedan of the Altima's size.
Still the Four-Door Sports Car
The Altima has built a reputation over the years for not only being the class hot rod, but also the class handler. But after our first stint in the new car, we had some reservations. It felt as if Nissan had put aside performance in favor of a cushy ride and a quiet interior.
But to our surprise, it turned in impressive track numbers that said otherwise. The new Altima snaked around the slalom cones much quicker than we expected of a car with such a compliant ride. Its 66.6-mph slalom run was not only a 0.5-mph improvement over the old Altima SR, but noticeably quicker than the last Camry, Accord and Fusion we tested. The Dunlop SP Sport 7000 all-season tires provide plenty of grip, helping the Altima generate 0.86g around the skid pad.
Even better than the numbers is the way the Altima's responsive steering and predictable chassis make it a fun tool with which to attack your favorite freeway on-ramp. Yes, there's still torque steer, but it's perfectly manageable and not intrusive.
NASA Knows Seats
A big part of the reason the 2013 Nissan Altima is such a pleasant place to spend time has to do with the front seats. They were inspired from NASA research on seating and posture, and Nissan says they reduce spinal loads and improve blood flow. Science aside, they really do deliver in the comfort department. In fact, they're probably in our top five for most comfortable seats ever.
The overall cabin space feels about the same, which came as no surprise, since this Altima has the same wheelbase as its predecessor. Up front, leg- and shoulder room are up slightly, while hiproom is down a notch. The rear seats have added about an inch of legroom, but the head- and foot room are a little tight.
Most of the major controls are easy to use, and everything looks high quality. Our top-of-the-line SL model was trimmed in leather, some sparse wood and a few metallic accents. It's classy-looking without being over the top. We were less impressed with the feel of some of the switchgear, though, as the radio knobs felt sticky and hard to dial in precisely, and the radio itself sounded only average.
A Future Number One?
The 2013 Altima 2.5 starts at $22,280 (including $780 destination), a $950 jump over the 2012 model, yet it's still cheaper than the entry-level Camry by $535. The cheapest V6 Altima (the 3.5 S) begins at $26,140, while our 3.5 SL started at $30,860.
The Tech package — which includes navigation with a 7-inch display screen, the aforementioned lane departure warning and rear moving object detection systems along with blind-spot warning — is a bargain at $1,090. They all work as advertised and provide another layer of safety on top of the car's standard wide assortment of passive safety features.
A few other small options (such as floor mats — seriously, how are they not standard on a car of this ilk?) brought the as-tested price to $32,620. Not cheap by any stretch, but as they say: There's a lot of car to love here.
Which leaves us with just one question: Is all this goodness enough for the Altima to overtake the Toyota Camry for top spot on the American Car List? For that to happen, John Q. Public will need to start including the Altima on any and all midsize sedan consideration lists.
And he/she should, because if you add up all of the Altima's parts and combine those with its more dynamic driving experience, it's a better car than the Camry, especially for anyone who has even an ounce of go-fast in their veins. And even if you're not interested in performance, the 2013 Nissan Altima still delivers impressive fuel economy, great seats and a compliant ride.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation..
Used 2013 Nissan Altima Overview
The Used 2013 Nissan Altima is offered in the following submodels: Altima Sedan, Altima Coupe. Available styles include 2.5 SV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5 S 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5 SL 4dr Sedan w/Prod. End 11/12 (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5 SL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 3.5 SL 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT), 3.5 SV 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT), 2.5 S 2dr Coupe (2.5L 4cyl CVT), and 3.5 S 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT). Pre-owned Nissan Altima models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 182 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2013 Nissan Altima comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic. The Used 2013 Nissan Altima comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2013 Nissan Altima?
Price comparisons for Used 2013 Nissan Altima trim styles:
- The Used 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV is priced between $4,995 and$19,998 with odometer readings between 21470 and222828 miles.
- The Used 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 S is priced between $6,999 and$18,990 with odometer readings between 20090 and154595 miles.
- The Used 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL is priced between $16,990 and$20,590 with odometer readings between 24232 and80132 miles.
- The Used 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SV is priced between $15,998 and$17,990 with odometer readings between 50409 and112617 miles.
- The Used 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL is priced between $13,998 and$20,990 with odometer readings between 27008 and112006 miles.
- The Used 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 is priced between $14,990 and$16,998 with odometer readings between 43827 and47308 miles.
- The Used 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 S is priced between $15,990 and$15,990 with odometer readings between 77206 and77206 miles.
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Which used 2013 Nissan Altimas are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2013 Nissan Altima for sale near. There are currently 55 used and CPO 2013 Altimas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $4,995 and mileage as low as 20090 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2013 Nissan Altima.
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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Nissan Altima?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.