Mid-size cars have long been the most important market segment in the United States. The best selling passenger-car here is the Toyota Camry, which has retained that spot for quite some time. Right behind it is Nissan’s Altima, trailed by the Ford Fusion.
The Altima hasn’t exactly been exciting, but it has no doubt struck a chord with buyers. The redesigned Altima aims to build on that success, with number one in its sights. The mid-size segment is fiercely competitive. In just an 18-month period, nearly the entire segment will have been redesigned. That is unprecedented, and all this competition inures to the benefit of the consumer.
Wait, we’ve seen this look somewhere before! The Altima draws heavily from the styling of the larger, more expensive Maxima. They two look very closely related. This is part of an effort by Nissan to make the Altima seem like a class above the rest. The surfacing looks very premium, with swooping lines and a more aggressive front end. On the exterior we think they’ve done a good job on accomplishing a more expensive aura than the 2012 Altima. The interior is a bit of a different story however. With a dated overall design it fails to push the envelope. It definitely isn’t bad, just that we were expecting more.
The technology package is very impressive though, something that can’t be discounted. Hopefully what will be improved is interior quality levels, which have never been great in past Altimas. Overall build quality needs to be upped to maintain pace. One thing that needed work on the current Altima was wind and road noise. Nissan says this has been addressed, with new materials that make for a 30 percent increase in absorption capability. These materials are put in places like the roof trim, instrument panel and floor mats.
Bucking a trend that held in the industry until just recently, the 2013 Altima hasn’t added weight. Despite being 0.8 inches longer and 1.4 inches wider, the 2013 Altima has shed 79 pounds versus the previous generation car. That is thanks to the increased use of high-strength steel and components like an aluminum hood. This focus on efficiency has paid off in the Altima’s fuel economy numbers. Nissan is claiming 38 mpg highway a class leading figure.
This for the standard’s car’s base engine 182 horsepower (previously 175) and 180 pound-feet of torque. The V-6 also remains the same, making 270 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. Instead of ditching a V-6 like the rest of the segment, Nissan has chosen to stick with it. This is the same path that Toyota is following with the Camry. It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the sales figures. Nissan has greatly increased the Altima’s appeal for 2013, a fact that should more than help it keep pace with a raft of new competitors.