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.