When it comes to the innovations and advanced technology behind the ground-up, totally new 2013 Nissan Altima design, some things might be considered evolutionary. Take the body, the engines, transmission, suspension, steering, seats, the instrument panel, navigation system, music connection, armrest, windshield wipers, and tire pressure monitoring system. The previous generation Altima had them. This generation does too.
Not a big deal. Until you take a little closer look. Call it evolution on the edge. Or evolution to the extreme. Or simply call it a design that is about to revolutionize what people think about Altima - and what a mid-size sedan can be.
- A body, that while clearly recognizable as an Altima, is lighter, more rigid and cuts a cleaner path through the wind
- A 2.5-litre inline 4-cylinder engine that is lighter, stronger, quicker and more fuel-efficient (combined with the new transmission design) than the previous 2.5-litre design
- An next-generation Xtronic CVT® that takes Nissan's two decades of Continuously Variable Transmission leadership into a new dimension of smooth operation and fuel efficiency
- A new, refined rear multi-link suspension that could be equally at home on a premium European sports sedan
- A hybrid power steering system that combines the feel of a traditional hydraulic box with the efficiency of modern electric control
- Front seats that take their inspiration from outer space technology - for out-of-segment comfort
- An intuitive 3D-effect information display that's easier to watch than many 3D Hollywood blockbusters
- Navigation that's never out-dated and loves to tell you where to go, even more than your spouse
- An armrest that's more padded than your typical expense account
- And a tire pressure monitoring system that tells you when you are full of air
Of course, when considering an Altima that is "new and improved," you also need to consider the "new and never available before." For example, an advanced RearView Monitor camera that detects four views is utilized to bring Altima into premium sedan territory with available Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD).
Following are closer looks at just a few of the individual components and systems that make the all-new fifth generation the most revolutionary Altima ever.
Body in White (and Seven Other Great Colours)
Proving that premium doesn't have to be pricey, the new Altima body takes a big step forward in creating a quiet, comfortable foundation for a new benchmark mid-size sedan. Keeping the same basic dimensions as the previous generation (because when things are right, keep them right), new attention to aerodynamic design helps give the totally restyled body a more premium appearance. More importantly, the new body-in-white features a new front tower strut brace like found on sports cars, and additional rear structural support built into the rear parcel shelf - enhancing structural rigidity and lateral handling response. At the same time, overall body weight has been reduced through utilizing aluminum hood and bumper reinforcements and expanded use of high-tensile steel. In addition, more than half the steel in the body is "high strength steel." Total vehicle weight has been reduced by around 32 kilograms.
Since "quiet feels quality," the transmission of noise into the cabin has also been reduced through use of the more rigid body, and by intercepting and isolating noise before it enters the passenger compartment with reduced wind noise designs for the sideview mirrors and A-pillar mouldings, and improved engine, exhaust and HVAC mounts.
The idea is to first "seal" the cabin, then absorb noise inside through a significant increase in noise absorption materials in the roof, instrument panel and floor mats. This provides more of a sense of separation from the engine and creates better acoustics to enjoy conversation and the various audio sources and components.
The coefficient of drag has been reduced by five percent to 0.299 through smoothing airflow around the body, and adding six air deflectors and two large underbody panels. The 2013 Altima's exterior colour palette has been selected to emphasize presence and quality feel. A new character colour, Storm Blue, joins new Altima colours Cayenne Red, Pearl White and Java Metallic, and carryover colours Brilliant Silver, Saharan Stone, Metallic Slate and Super Black.
Redesigned 2.5-litre Engine with Improved Fuel Efficiency
Targeting best-in-class fuel economy*, estimated at 38 mpg highway, Altima's improved version of Nissan's proven QR25 engine sheds approximately 4.5 kg while adding seven horsepower to 182 hp (est.). The design adds variable valve timing on both exhaust and intake camshafts, and the new intake system opens the valves at a higher rpm to help keep the torque curve flat. Torque is rated at 180 lb-ft. (est.). Other revisions include an aluminum exhaust manifold cover (previously steel), a more efficient starter motor, and thinner cylinder head walls.
Next-Generation Xtronic CVT®
As a world leader in continuously variable transmission technology, Nissan has produced globally more than nine million CVT-equipped vehicles in the last 20 years. Always in the right gear, whether passing, merging or cornering, CVTs combine responsive acceleration and excellent fuel efficiency. And, with about third fewer moving parts than conventional automatic transmissions, CVTs feature less friction and less drivetrain shock to other parts.
The 2013 Altima's advanced Xtronic CVT® design raises the standard in class yet again, providing a premium driving experience and rewarding acceleration that evokes the feeling of a higher class sedan.
A full 70 per cent of the parts have been redesigned, which along with a downsized oil pump, lower oil level and low viscosity oil results in up to 40 per cent reduction in internal friction (versus the previous design).
The new CVT also features expanded gear ratio coverage, with a lower 1st gear and higher ratio overdrive. New control logic and expanded gear ratio coverage help reduce noise and fuel consumption while improving drivability and responsiveness. For example, during cruising the expanded ratio lowers engine rpm at highway speeds for a quieter ride and improved NVH versus an automatic transmission. When starting from a full stop the continuously varying ratios (compared to step automatic transmissions) results in seamless acceleration. And, when accelerating while passing, acceleration is smooth and confidence-inspiring due to no stepped gear changes and minimized shift shock.
The new intelligent CVT logic also includes a Lift Foot Hold function that holds the gear ratio if the accelerator pedal is momentarily released and then reapplied, such as when merging onto a freeway; and a Brake Downshift function that "downshifts" the transmission when braking is applied before entering a corner, so re-acceleration is enhanced when exiting the corner because the CVT is already in a lower gear ratio.
All V6-equipped 2013 Altima models utilize a chain drive (versus belt on 4-cylinder models) and standard paddle shifters that help mimic a step transmission (with seven simulated gear levels) when desired.
Along with greatly enhanced driver feel, the result of the new CVT redesign is an estimated 15+ per cent improvement in fuel economy with the 4-cylinder engine and a 10 per cent improvement with the V6 engine (versus 2012 Altima models).
Advanced Rear Multi-Link Suspension
As part of the desire to make the 2013 Altima the segment leader in dynamic performance, a new multi-link rear suspension incorporating Active Understeer Control was developed. The new design starts with a new structure with enhanced stiffness, helping enhance stability, tracking and response to steering inputs.
Refined toe angle control is achieved with the addition of new connect bushings, resulting in enhanced tire deformation compensation when cornering, and improved camber angle control under load helps increase tire contact with the road, also when cornering.
The suspension utilizes a new (to Altima) shock absorber design by ZF SACHS, which supplies many high-end European sports sedans. The shocks use state-of-the-art valve technology to help control wheel hop and harshness, while also helping create a smooth, flat ride. The result is reduced transmission of vibrations to the cabin, along with enhanced body control and response. The front suspension remains an independent front strut design and stabilizer bars are utilized front and rear.
The new Active Understeer Control system utilizes intelligent control logic and high-response brake actuators to brake the inside front wheels during cornering (as required) to increase yaw-moment using the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC)/Traction Control System (TCS) as its base. When a driver turns a front-wheel drive car in situations such as merging onto a freeway from a cloverleaf, the tendency is for the car to understeer. With Active Understeer Control, the Altima turns as the driver intends, making it easier for the driver - whether in dry, wet or snowy conditions. Active Understeer Control is almost undetectable when it operates. Active Understeer Control is designed primarily for everyday operation rather than emergency evasive maneuvers.
The Power (Steering) of Two
Altima's new Electronic Hydraulic Power-Assisted Steering (EHPS) system provides the best of two worlds - the natural, smooth feel of a sophisticated hydraulic power steering system, while simultaneously improving fuel economy by using electric power (rather than drawing power from the engine). The hydraulic assist allows a greater reduction ratio than with gears, while the small electric motor, which runs directly off the 12-volt power supply (no converter) does not need to be mounted directly on the steering rack since a large reduction ratio is obtained. The result is smooth, confidence-inspiring steering at higher speeds and easy assist when parking.
NASA-Inspired "Zero-Gravity" Seats
While the new Altima likes to keep its wheels and tires firmly planted on the road, the standard front bucket seats have a less-Earthly design. In the desire to help reduce the fatigue experienced during long commutes or extended road trips, Nissan turned to seating and posture research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). According to NASA, the least fatiguing seats are those that come closest to a "neutral posture" - a relaxed position that the human body takes in a weightless environment.
Utilizing a new articulated seat shape with continuous support from the pelvis to the chest and distribution of localized deformation characteristics, the "zero-gravity" Altima seats help reduce muscular and spinal loads, and improve blood flow - thereby helping reduce fatigue over long periods behind the wheel. Seat surface perforations provide increased ventilation, breathability and comfort. Heated front seats are also available.
Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display - An Improved Line of Sight
With so many external distractions in everyday driving, you don't need more inside the vehicle. Altima's new Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display (ADAD) puts key information right in front of the driver in an intuitive 3D-effect depth and tilt display that is designed to improve cognition - and help reduce the time the driver's eyes are away from the road.
Located between the tachometer and speedometer, the ADAD's 4.0-inch colour display is closer and easier to read than traditional center-stack information monitors. The system is customizable and adjustable using the steering wheel controls, so drivers can view information including: audio system display, instant MPG, trip computer, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tire pressure readouts and turn-by-turn navigation (if equipped) with the ability to match the on-screen vehicle image with the actual car colour.
ADAD also communicates input from the available suite of Safety Shield Technology features - Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD).
The NissanConnect℠ Connection
NissanConnect℠ is the Altima driver's gateway to all music, navigation, text messaging and much more. A 5.0-inch colour audio display is included with SV and SL models, or a 7.0-inch colour display when equipped with navigation.
NissanConnect℠ is designed to be as easy to use as a bank ATM and there is no monthly charge or fees.** Among its many features, it integrates Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone, USB connection for iPod® interface and other compatible devices and SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio (SiriusXM™ subscription required, sold separately).
The Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant allows drivers to manage incoming text messages via voice control. Drivers are alerted to an incoming text on the Advanced Driver-Assist Display and, after initiating the system, they can hear the text read out loud and respond via voice recognition, or via the steering wheel switches using pre-set answers such as "driving, can't text," "on my way," "running late," "okay" or a custom message. The system can be turned off if desired.
The NissanConnect℠ with Navigation system also integrates with the ADAD and includes an easy-to-use 7.0-inch touch-screen, 3D-effect map views, Voice Recognition, destination search via Google® POI. It also offers the ability to send Google® directions to the navi system straight from a smartphone. Other navigation system features include global radio capability. The navigation system is available at an M.S.R.P. of just $900 CAD.
The idea with NissanConnect℠ and NissanConnect℠ with Navigation is not to have the greatest number of total functions, but to prioritize and provide the most natural and comfortable interface with the key customer desired ones. The result is fewer touches, fewer screens and higher user satisfaction.
Armrestand TPMS (Oh, My)
When it comes to the new 2013 Altima, revolution also lives in the details. The interior's premium look and feel comes from a combination of fresh design and quality appointments. The Piano Black interior trim is highlighted by silver colour accents and chrome rings. The steering wheel has grippy, sporty tactile feel, matching that of the short shifter lever. The bright white illumination is unified between the various displays, and there is a soft feel grain on door grips. Even the center armrest receives "class-above" levels of padding.
Also offered is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tire pressure display and Easy-Fill Tire Alert function. When filling the tires with air, the hazard lamps flash to let the operator know the system is working. When the correct pressure is reached, a beep of the horn provides notification.
Advanced Safety Technologies
The new Altima offers three new available safety features, usually reserved for more expensive vehicles, thanks in part to a redesigned, next-generation RearView Monitor camera. The camera and the new Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD) demonstrate the philosophy behind "Innovation for All" - finding smart ways to bring high tech to mass market cars. The small rearview camera, mounted in the Altima's license plate finisher, offers an expanded rear view, so no extra sensors are needed for the BSW, LDW or MOD systems.
For Blind Spot Warning, when another vehicle ins in blind spot area, an indicator appears inside the door next to the side mirror and on the Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display. If the turn signal is activated, indicating the driver's desire to change lanes, the warning light flashes and a chime sounds an audible alert.
The Lane Departure Warning system uses the rearview camera to constantly monitor lane markings and alerts the driver if the vehicle crosses these markers. If Altima's next-generation RearView Monitor detects something moving behind the vehicle while in reverse, such as other vehicles, Moving Object Detection warns the driver with visual cues.
A Better Altima Experience
"As with each of the previous generations, the latest Altima design builds from a position of strength. Thoughtful innovation is about becoming better - not necessarily bigger, faster or more complex," said Judy Wheeler, Director of Marketing at Nissan Canada Inc. "With this new Altima, we've focused on both big ideas like the affordable Blind Spot Warning and Moving Object Detection, and the innovations most people probably won't notice - like intelligent headlights. When technology improves your life rather than intrudes on it, we've done our job right."
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*Fuel economy comparison against internal combustion gasoline engine-equipped mid-size sedans, and based on U.S. data - Canadian data pending. Excludes hybrid and diesel models.
** Certain remote functions require compatible phone, not included with vehicle. Cellular network provided by independent cellular companies not within Nissan's control. Cellular network not available in all areas. Nissan Connect Google® services require a subscription and owner consent to activate, subscription service for the first 36 months included in vehicle price, subscription available for purchase thereafter. Standard text rates, voice minutes, roaming charges and/or data usage may apply. HomeLink® is a registered trademark of Johnson Controls Inc. Bose® is a registered trademark of The Bose Corporation. Google® is a registered trademark of Google, Inc. iPod® is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc. All rights reserved. iPod® not included.