Two decades after the original Nissan Altima revolutionized the traditional mid-size sedan segment in North America, one of Nissan Canada's best-selling vehicles is about to shake up the category all over again. Making its world debut at the New York International Auto Show, with a starting Canadian MSRP of $23,698, the 2013 Nissan Altima is once again poised to become the new benchmark in the hotly contested segment when it goes on sale at Nissan retailers nationwide this summer.
The new Altima offers numerous segment defining attributes that enhance the ownership experience and provide real customer value, including:
- Targeted best-in-segment (5L/100km) highway fuel economy* (2.5-litre engine)
- Premium exterior styling with a powerful presence and improved aerodynamics
- Upscale interior rivaling premium luxury sedans, including NASA-inspired "zero-gravity" seats, an Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display and BOSE® Premium Audio System
- An outstanding balance of ride comfort, stability and fun-to-drive demeanour, including projected best-level acceleration
- Standard Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System and Streaming Audio via Bluetooth®
- NissanConnectSM and NissanConnectSM Navigation integrated smartphone connectivity suite with hands-free text message integration, real-time Google® POI search and more
- Next-generation Safety Shield Technologies, including Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD) systems
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with Easy Fill Tire Alert
"In a segment as critical as this, with long time nameplates and new challengers fighting for every sale, it's not enough to just target the competition. You have to think outside – and far above – the segment," said Judy Wheeler, Director of Marketing, Nissan Canada, Inc. "We created the new Altima to set a clearly recognized benchmark for many years to come."
Most Innovative Altima Ever
The 2013 Altima is one of five all-new Nissan models set for introduction in the next 15 months and, as the top-selling Japanese midsize nameplate two years in a row and one of the best-selling cars in Nissan Canada's product portfolio, much is riding on the new fifth generation Altima.
"The safe thing to do would be to follow other automakers' paths, conservatively evolving the Altima so as not to upset the existing owner base. But that would not be in keeping with Nissan's ‘Innovation for All' philosophy," explained Wheeler. "We took our most successful model and changed nearly everything – the look, the feel, the driving experience and, of course, the technology."
The result is a vehicle that builds on the strong fundamental reputation, earned over four generations and two decades, for quality and reliability and adds new levels of innovation, fuel-efficiency, dynamic performance and premium style.
"Against a fragmented competitive set, the new Altima is hands-down the most engaging, purposeful and energetic vehicle in class," said Wheeler. "If you've liked the previous Altima, you'll love this one even more. And if you've never driven an Altima before, get ready to have your notion of a mid-size sedan redefined."
A Premium Presence
Among the new Altima's many new features, perhaps the one that stands out most is its "class above" appeal, which is apparent at first look and first touch of both the exterior and interior executions.
"Mid-size sedan buyers are traditionally motivated first and foremost by the rational aspects of the purchase decision – excellent value, reliability and comfort, which Altima shares with a number of other nameplates. But Altima buyers have never been satisfied with owning just another boring mid-size sedan," said Wheeler. "The new Altima meets all of the rational purchase reasons, but delivers them in a way that is also emotionally rewarding. And it does so through both its dynamic appearance and dynamic driving performance."
The 2013 Altima's all-new exterior design starts with its wide, aggressive stance and dramatic front end styling. Though retaining the same wheelbase as the previous generation Altima, it has a wider front and rear track (+36 mm) and deeper fenders (+20.32 mm each side) – which combine with a crisp new grille design, seamless bumper and projector-type headlights to create a bold, sophisticated appearance.
Altima's new "premium proportions" continue with the longer sloping rear roofline and raised trunk that combine to create a more fluid silhouette. The A-pillar angle is now slightly more sloped, and the drip rail has been lowered and the waistline raised. In addition, the deep-stamped trunk has been raised and expanded. The new body design is capped by large taillights (with LED taillights standard on SL models) that flow from the rear into the bodysides. Chrome trim and door handles accent the available palette of eight rich exterior colors. Attention to aerodynamic fine-tuning gives the new Altima a lower coefficient of drag.
"The new Altima represents an astonishing transformation – fresh but still pure Altima, aggressive and premium at the same time. The new look is fit and athletic, just the way Altima drives," added Wheeler. "And inside, the interior is nothing short of a revolution – with one of the most dynamic, involving and complete makeover Nissan interior designs ever."
The new Altima's interior defies mid-size sedan convention, rivaling upscale luxury sedans in ambience and sophistication. Like the exterior, there is a premium look and feel – from the driver's side cockpit to the front passenger and rear seating areas – with extensive use of upscale, soft-touch materials and craftsman-like attention to detail.
"The new Altima's interior offers just the right balance of mature sophistication with a highly dynamic and emotional edge. It's refined, not gimmicky, with features that you'd expect to find on a much more expensive vehicle," said Wheeler.
NASA-Inspired "Zero-Gravity" Seats, Quiet Cabin
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.
"Reducing driver fatigue is something that shouldn't be limited to luxury vehicles, especially as Canadians are making longer commutes and looking for alternatives to flying for business trips or family vacations," said Wheeler.
Along with premium seat comfort, the new Altima offers premium quietness through efforts to reduce cabin noise coming from the powertrain (new engine and exhaust mount designs), climate system (increased HVAC mounting rigidity) and the body (increased body rigidity) versus the previous Altima design. New noise absorption materials with a 30 per cent increase in absorption capability (versus previous Altima) are also used throughout the cabin, including areas such as the roof trim, instrument panel and floor mats.
The 2013 Altima offers standard cloth seating with a 6-way driver's seat and a 4-way adjustable front passenger seat, 60/40 split folding rear bench seat with armrest, and Piano Black interior trim with chrome finish accents.
Also available, depending on model, are leather-appointed seats and trim, 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support, and metallic texture (Charcoal interior) or wood tone (Blond interior) trim finishers.
Available audio systems include an AM/FM/CD design with RDS, MP3, aux-in and six speakers, along with a BOSE® Premium Audio System with nine speakers (including woofers), designed in conjunction with BOSE® engineers during vehicle development to deliver rich sound and acoustics. The new Altima is available with SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio (SiriusXM™ subscription required, sold separately).
"With its range of available audio features, the quiet Altima cabin is an ideal place to enjoy various music collections – whether you plug in your iPod or let someone DJ from the back seat with Bluetooth® Streaming Audio," said Wheeler.
New NissanConnectSM and NissanConnectSM with Navigation
Along with the new seat design, two other items that set the 2013 Altima apart are its new NissanConnectSM and Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display (ADAD).
The 2013 Altima is the first Nissan vehicle to offer NissanConnectSM, which offers Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System and Streaming Audio via Bluetooth®, along with available integrated Hands-Free Messaging Assistant, USB connection for iPod® interface and other compatible devices and SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio (SiriusXM™ subscription required, sold separately). It includes a 5.0-inch colour audio display with SV and SL models.
With the available Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant (part of NissanConnectSM), drivers can manage incoming text messages via voice control without taking their hands from the wheel or eyes off the road. Drivers are alerted to an incoming text and, after initiating the system, 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 NissanConnectSM with Navigation system is similarly packed with a rich range of features and is incredibly easy to use with its 7.0-inch touch-screen, 3D-effect map views, Voice Recognition, and turn-by-turn navigation integrated into the Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display. With the ability to search destinations via Google®, POI data will never be out of date.
Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display
The new Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display comes standard on every model and is customizable, easy-to-use and integrates key information right in front of the driver.
Located in the center of the instrument display between the tachometer and speedometer, it features a 4.0-inch color display, more than 400 per cent larger than the previous generation Altima's vehicle information display. Utilizing more natural 3D-effect graphics, it helps the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road longer than a traditional center-stack information monitor.
"Drivers today are inundated with a flood of information from external devices, which can distract their attention from the road at any given moment," said Wheeler. "The Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display is an intuitive and thoughtful feature that helps make life in an Altima a little easier."
The system is customizable and adjustable using the steering wheel controls, so drivers can view the information that is most important to them, including:
- Audio system display
- Instant Fuel consumption
- Trip computer
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tire pressure readouts
- Navigation system (if equipped), with destination turn-by-turn information and compass, and the ability to match the on-screen vehicle image with the actual car color
The ADAD's color LCD screen displays are similar to those used in portable consumer electronic devices, with cognition enhanced by the depth and tilt of the display.
Three screens are always available (CarView, Vehicle Settings and Active Vehicle Warnings) and the driver can also select four other active screens among seven other available screens.
On vehicles equipped with NissanConnectSM or NissanConnectSM with Navigation, the Advanced Drive-Assist™ display shows navigation destination turn-by-turn information and more.
Safety Shield Technologies
In addition to its many other functions, the Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display can be linked to three new available safety features – Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD) – typically offered only on more upscale vehicles. It is the first time that LDW and MOD will be offered in the segment. The three systems are part of the optional Technology Package, which also includes the NissanConnectSM with Navigation with 7.0-inch color touch-screen and steering wheel navigation system controls. Thanks to the use of the systems' advanced, next-generation rearview camera, the BSW, LDW and MOD are integrated, intuitive and affordable.
The Blind Spot Warning System uses the rearview camera to scan the Altima's blind spots and alerts the driver if there is a vehicle in the zone. The driver is then alerted with audible and visual indicators. In the same way, the Lane Departure Warning system uses the rearview camera to monitor lane markings and alerts the driver if the vehicle unintentionally crosses these markers. Moving Object Detection detects moving objects, such as other vehicles, when the rearview camera is engaged when backing up and warns the driver with visual cues.
"Like so many other features on the new Altima, these Safety Shield Technologies are designed to help ease the anxieties of daily life. For example, parallel parking outside of school, the camera not only helps you see backwards, but also has moving guides that help you into tight spaces. At a busy shopping centre the camera can give you a 180-degree view side-to-side and the MOD system can help alert you to movement when backing out," said Wheeler.
"And getting on a freeway, A-pillar mounted light indicators, along with audible beeps, let you know if there's another vehicle in your blind spot. We're proud to offer these segment-first technologies to Altima owners in keeping with the true spirit of ‘Innovation for All.' At Nissan, we believe these features should not be restricted to just premium vehicle buyers," she continued.
Smart, Dynamic Performance
"Dynamic Performance, defined as excellent handling, driving confidence and driver excitement, has always been a part of Nissan's core values – from the early Datsun 510 sedan and 240Z sports car to today's 545-horsepower Nissan GT-R. Where the innovation comes in is in being able to offer fuel economy and responsive acceleration without compromising either," said Wheeler.
One key to achieving this modern one-two punch is found not in the drivetrain, but surrounding it – the new body design is about 80 pounds lighter than the previous body, which was already one of the lightest in the class. The new lighter and tighter body is achieved through increased use of high strength and ultra high strength steel, the addition of a larger front tower strut brace (as used in sports cars like the Nissan 370Z), and a new rear structural support built into the rear pass-through/parcel shelf.
As for the engines, a choice of two proven Altima powerplants – the 2.5-litre DOHC 4-cylinder and 3.5-litre DOHC V6 – are again offered for the new model year.
The 2.5-litre QR25 engine has been redesigned to be lighter and more efficient. It now includes 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. Featuring cutting-edge technology such as a new thermoplastic resin intake manifold, this engine simultaneously produced more power despite being lighter. Horsepower has increased by seven to an estimated 182 hp (from 175 hp), while torque remains the same at 180 lb-ft. The advanced, award-winning VQ35DE 3.5-litre V6 remains rated at 270 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
Targeted Class-Leading Highway Fuel Economy
Helping increase fuel economy with both engines is the next-generation Xtronic CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission). Nissan is an industry leader in CVT transmissions, with more than 20 years of experience in CVT design and engineering. For this next-generation design, a full 70 per cent of the parts have been redesigned and internal friction reduced by up to 40 per cent (versus the previous design). It also features new control logic and expanded gear ratio coverage, which helps reduce noise and fuel consumption while improving drivability and responsiveness.
"With fewer moving parts, less friction and less drivetrain shock to other parts, Altima's Xtronic CVT® offers better fuel economy, better acceleration and better durability versus a conventional automatic transmission," said Wheeler. "It translates the driver's intentions in the most efficient way possible, maintaining the ‘right gear' for every situation – creating a highly rewarding driving experience."
Targeted fuel economy* for the Altima 2.5-litre 4-cylinder/CVT combination is 7.4L/100km city, 5.0/100km highway and 6.3L/100km combined. Fuel economy for the 3.5-litre V6/CVT Altima is rated at 9.3L/100km city, 6.4L/100km highway and 8.0L/100km combined. Also contributing to the improved fuel efficiency are tires with reduced rolling resistance and a new regenerative alternator that only operates when the vehicle is coasting.
Dynamic Driving Performance
Building on Altima's reputation for superior dynamic performance, the 2013 Altima offers a redefined multi-link rear suspension benchmarked to leading European sports sedans.
The design features high lateral suspension stiffness, improved toe angle control (with the addition of new connect bushings) and improved camber angle control under load (for increased tire contact with the road when cornering) versus the previous generation Altima. The suspension also utilizes a new shock absorber design by ZF SACHS, similar to that used on high-end luxury sedans, to deliver stellar body control and response, while simultaneously delivering a plush, comfortable ride. The 2013 Altima's front suspension uses an independent front strut design. Stabilizer bars are utilized front and rear.
Also used for the first time on a Nissan vehicle and in the segment is a new Active Understeer Control system, which 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, Active Understeer Control is almost undetectable when it operates. It is designed primarily for everyday operation rather than emergency evasive manoeuvres.
"Our target, which we think we've achieved, is to provide outstanding levels of handling and comfort. The more secure and responsive the suspension, the less stress the driver should feel in nearly every driving situation," added Wheeler.
Responsive steering is provided by a new Electronic Hydraulic Power-Assisted Steering (EHPS) system that preserves the feel of hydraulic steering rack while offering the efficiencies of an electric power steering set-up.
Altima's 4-wheel power-assisted disc brake system was also re-engineered utilizing human ergonomic studies to optimize pedal travel and force, providing a premium blend of immediate response, confident braking and reduced fatigue. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) are standard.
A selection of wheels and tires are offered on the 2013 Altima, including 16-inch steel wheels with full covers and 215/60R16 all-season tires, or 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 215/55R17 V-rated all-season tires, on 2.5-litre models. New 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 235/45R18 V-rated all-season tires are standard on 3.5-litre V6-equipped models.
Details That Make a Difference
The team behind the development of the new fifth generation Altima didn't stop with the major components and systems – they also made numerous, almost imperceptible enhancements to nearly every aspect of the driving experience.
The team even paid extra attention to the armrests, equipping them with deep, plush padding in order to enhance comfort.
The new Altima features the Easy Fill Tire Alert function, first introduced on the Nissan Quest, for the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). 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. Unlike many competitive vehicles, Altima's individual tire pressure monitoring and readout system provides the tire pressure at each individual location and automatically adjusts positions when the tires are rotated during service. The information is integrated into the Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display,
Available from the SV grade is a factory-installed Remote Engine Start System, which allows the owner to heat or cool the vehicle from the comfort of the home. The Altima must be locked for the remote start to operate (up to 10 minutes). The Altima's remote start is the first offered with a Nissan vehicle.
The 2013 Altima offers a long list of standard safety features, including Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt sensors and an occupant classification sensor, front seat-mounted side impact supplemental air bags, and roof-mounted curtain supplemental side-impact air bags for front-and rear-seat occupant head protection.
Six Well-Equipped Models
The all-new 2013 Nissan Altima is offered in four 2.5-litre engine equipped models, 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 SV and 2.5 SL, along with two 3.5-litre V6 equipped models, 3.5 SV and 3.5 SL.
The Altima 2.5 S model includes 6-way adjustable driver's seat, Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control, Nissan Intelligent Key®, six speakers, auto on/off headlights, in-cabin microfilter, Tire Pressure Monitoring System with individual tire pressure readouts, and much more. Altima 3.5 SV adds 18-inch wheels and tires, plus paddle shifters with manual mode.
Altima SV models include , Remote Engine Start System, leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum-alloy wheels (17-inch on 2.5 SV, 18-inch on 3.5 SV), RearView Monitor, NissanConnectSM, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio (SiriusXM™ subscription required, sold separately), 5.0-inch color audio display, USB port with iPod® connectivity, Hands-Free Messaging Assistant and more. The 3.5 SV also adds a moonroof, fog lights and HomeLink® Universal Transceiver.
Altima SL models include leather-appointed seating, BOSE® Premium Audio System with nine speakers (including woofers), 8-way power driver's seat, heated steering wheel, LED taillights, LED outside mirror turn signals, premium interior trim, , auto dimming rearview mirror, and HomeLink® Universal Transceiver and more.
Two options packages are available: a Navigation Package (SV) and Technology Package (SL).
The new Altima, like previous generations, will be assembled in Canton, Miss., with engines produced in Decherd, Tenn.
"The all-new 2013 Nissan Altima offers the whole package – stylish design inside and out, outstanding ride, handling, acceleration and fuel economy, new NissanConnectSM and thoughtful technology solutions not currently found in the segment," concluded Wheeler. "For people who enjoy experiencing life to the fullest, we have the new premium mid-size sedan just for them."
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*Source: Fuel Economy from competitive midsize sedan 2012 Internal Combustion Engine models sourced from Autodata on 05-28-2012. Hybrids excluded. 2013 Altima fuel economy tested by Nissan Motor Company Limited. Actual Mileage may vary with driving conditions – for comparison only