KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

It’s larger, roomier, nimbler, quicker and more feature-loaded, yet lighter and more fuel efficient. Nissan’s 2013 Altima covers all bases in its bid to overtake mid-size sedan leader Toyota Camry and stay ahead of the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, and the rest in this cutthroat competitive class.

You'll Like The 2013 Nissan Altima If...

Most mid-size sedan competitors have moved away from available V6 engines in favor of turbocharged fours to ensure CAFE compliance, but this new Altima is the exception for those who still prefer smooth V6 power. And the wide-ratio CVT automatic delivers best-in-class fuel economy with the standard 4-cylinder engine.

You May Not Like The 2013 Nissan Altima If...

While this new Altima looks plenty good, some may prefer the somewhat bolder styling of competitors as the Sonata, Optima, Malibu and Fusion. Some may also shy away from the different-feeling CVT in favor of a conventional automatic transmission, and only the Passat (so far) offers a choice of fuel-frugal diesel power.

What's New

Nearly everything but the engines is either all or substantially new, beginning with the Altima’s "class-above" looks, inside and out, and extending to a raft of new features, some class-exclusive. The CVT automatic transmission, thoroughly revamped for pleaseability and efficiency, accounts for much of its class-leading fuel economy.

Interior Features

The 2013 Nissan Altima’s cabin is finely crafted with soft-touch materials, but its prime attraction is NASA-inspired "zero gravity" front bucket seats, which approach the relaxed “neutral posture” that the human body assumes in a weightless environment. We can’t test them in space, but we appreciate the research, development and attention to detail that have gone into making them as fatigue-reducing as possible by lessening muscular and spinal loads and improving blood flow. Cloth seats and piano-black trim with chrome accents are standard, leather and metallic or faux wood are available, the former with a charcoal interior, the latter with blond.

Exterior Features

About the same length as the outgoing Nissan Altima, the 2013 model sits on the same wheelbase but with 1.4-inches-wider tracks and 0.8-inch-deeper fenders to accommodate larger wheels and tires and give the sedan a strong, athletic stance. Its drag coefficient is a slick 0.299. And while the new Altima’s nicely sculpted new body is less expressive than the Sonata’s and maybe a bit less pretty than the Malibu’s or Fusion’s, it’s easily more distinctive than the Camry’s or Passat’s.

Driving Impressions

Thanks largely to a new multilink rear suspension and the much-improved CVT, this is a finer-driving Altima than any before it. Around town, on freeways and on twisty back roads, the 2013 Altima feels tight and nimble yet quiet and comfortable on all but the nastiest surfaces, perhaps because its engineers benchmarked the size-smaller BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Much appreciated were the electro-hydraulic power steering, more precise than typical electric boost yet more energy efficient than pure hydraulic, and Active Understeer Control, which brakes the inside front wheel slightly to help get around a curve you may have entered a bit too fast. The 3.5-liter V6 is strong, but the massaged 2.5-liter four is more than adequate – Nissan clocks it at 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds) – at least for light loads and level roads. The unique multifunction rearview camera performed its lookout jobs well, and the NASA-inspired seats proved as fatigue-reducing as claimed.

Pricing Notes

The 2013 Nissan Altima starts at $22,280 MSRP (including destination), a bit more than the comparable 2012 VW Passat and 2013 Hyundai Sonata, but slightly less than the 2013 Toyota Camry or Chevy Malibu. A loaded 3.5 SL V6 stickers at about $31,000. We expect the all-new 2013 Honda Accord and Ford Fusion to come in somewhat higher when they arrive later this year. The Altima’s resale value should also be mid-pack, a little less than perennial favorites Camry and Accord, but better than the rest in this highly competitive class.

Notable Equipment

The base Altima 2.5 offers a 6-way manual driver’s seat and a 4-way front passenger seat, plus a 60/40-split/folding rear bench seat, power windows and doorlocks, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with touch controls, remote keyless entry with a pushbutton ignition, NissanConnect Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a 4.0-inch color customizable Advanced Driver Assist display. Altima S and SV models add features leading up to the top-line 2.5 SL and 3.5 SL models loaded with leather, premium trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, BOSE Premium Audio, and heated front seats/steering wheel/outside mirrors, plus 18-in. wheels and tires on V6-powered models.

Notable Options

With most major features attached to specific models, the 2013 Altima offers just three option packages and two stand-alone options (a remote start and rear spoiler). A Convenience Package and a Navigation Package are available on SV models, and a Technology Package further loads up top-line SL models. On SV and SL Altimas, NissanConnect comes with a 5.0-inch color audio display, integrated Hands-Free Messaging Assistant (it lets you listen to incoming texts and verbally respond with stock replies), SiriusXM satellite radio, and Pandora integration. With Navigation, NissanConnect gets a 7.0-inch touch screen with voice recognition, split-screen display and 3D-effect map views.

Favorite Features

EASY FILL TIRE ALERTThe new Altima’s tire pressure monitoring system does more than simply providing individual tire-pressure information. When adding air to any tire, the hazard lamps flash to tell you the system is working, then the horn beeps to let you know when you have reached the correct pressure.MULTIFUNCTION REARVIEW CAMERAPart of an available Technology Package, the Altima’s rearview camera provides not just the usual what’s-behind-me view when reversing, but also Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection, the latter two firsts in this segment.

Under the Hood

Running counter-trend, Nissan continues to offer a V6 as its "up" engine. The 2.5-liter four is redesigned for lighter weight and higher efficiency, while the 3.5-liter V6 is improved to reduce its fuel consumption. Both drive the Altima’s front wheels through the only gearbox offered, Nissan’s next-generation Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which has a wider ratio spread, improved control logic and 40 percent lower friction than the one it replaces. Not everyone loves a CVT, which drives engine revs ahead of vehicle speed during strong acceleration, but this one accounts for 15 percent of the new 4-cylinder’s efficiency improvement and 10 percent of the V6’s gain over 2012s, and it comes with fixed-ratio-simulating manual shift paddles on uplevel models.2.5-liter inline-4182 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm180 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/38 mpg3.5-liter V6270 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm258 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg

Editors' Notes

Unsatisfied with the Altima’s runner-up status, Nissan reaches for leadership in America’s toughest car segment with a choice of fuel-efficient 4-cylinder or V6 power, the industry’s best continuously variable transmission (CVT), handsome styling, sporting dynamics, and a suite of available features competitive with anyone. It follows Toyota’s revamped 2013 Camry, Chevy’s all-new Malibu and VW’s Americanized Passat to market but precedes Honda’s 2013 Accord and Ford’s new Fusion by a few months. Its mission is simply to beat all of them to take over leadership in this very tough field, and we think it just could.

Road Test Video Reviews

2013 Nissan Altima Owner Reviews

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Altima seems reliable, not really.

2013 Nissan Altima

Since purchasing this car it has been in the shop at least 4 maybe 5 times (pretty bad that it is so many times that I can no longer keep count). The first three times, it was in the shop were within in month period. The transmission kept failing, and the car wouldn't start. The first time it started failing, I was driving on the highway and was unable to pick up speed. Was pretty sure I was going to die. Nissan's engineers looked at it and failed to fix it two times because the problem kept happening. I guess the third time's the charm. But they were happy to take our money each time just the same. One of the times, I was driving the car to the dealership to get the problem addressed and it stalled out while I was taking a left turn. I nearly got killed because a car was coming. The transmission, slow to pick up, picked up at the last second. Since then, the car has seemed fine aside from the minor annoyances, such as the Bluetooth randomly not working, the screen going wonky, the speakers sounding bad, and the tire pressure being all over the place. Nissan gave us a car with paper-thin brake pads (we totally could have died), a small hole in one of the tires, and a shitty transmission. Now, the car jerks back and forth when accelerating and decelerating (but only from time to time). Nissan was happy to drive it around, waste our gas, say nothing was wrong, and take another $250 for doing nothing. 2013 Nissan Altima are lemons. Do not buy one. It costs more in fixes than the car is worth.

- Ms. Hopkins H

2013 Nissan Altima sv is a great reliable purchase.

2013 Nissan Altima

My 2013 Nissan Altima has always been fun to drive. It's great on gas mileage and get about 550 miles to the tank. It is very reliable. I only do the minimum service such as an oil change and filter and it still runs like a champ. I like Nissan service department too. They are very reasonable for dealer services and friendly. I have had my car for over 5 years now with no issues so far, knock on wood. Again, it is fun to drive, fast and handles the road well. The car also handles well in inclement weather like rain, sleet and snow. I have taken the car on several long roads trips with no problems. When taking it on road trips and driving mostly highways, the car was getting close to 750 miles to the tank which was amazing. The seats are extremely comfortable. They are cloth, very soft but still supportive. I have three little kids that fit comfortably across the backseat. At one point, we had one car seat and two booster seats in the back at one time and it all fit perfectly. The kids have never complained about being uncomfortable on any trips. The radio system is nice and has a nice led screen. I have a Siriusxm subscription in the car and I love it. The Bluetooth works great and easy to use hands free calling. It has a backup camera that I absolutely love and do not think I could buy another car without one. I have been very happy with my 2013 Nissan Altima purchase and would recommend and purchase another Altima in the future.

- Heather K

2013 spacious, comfortable Altima.

2013 Nissan Altima

When I bought my Altima, it was only three years old. It had three previous owners, and it only had one key. Though I was a little sketched out about it having been owned so many times, I have not had any service problems with it. There has only been one recall on Altimas of my model, which was a transmission problem, but thankfully mine was in the clear. There is only one small problem with mine, and it is that the gear shift is broke. I do have many other friends with Nissan Altimas, and not one of them have had this problem. Therefore, I gather it is probable not common. My car gets great gas mileage, and even though I have put about seventy thousand miles on it in the past couple of years, it still runs extremely well. They also are not super expensive. They are very safe as well, which makes it a great car for teenagers or long school or work commutes. My car has cloth seats, by choice. I am not a fan of leather, because it burns my legs in the summer and is so cold in the winter. It also has easily accessed Bluetooth, and hands-free calling. My cas has a very nicely sized, large trunk, which is great for teenagers who play sports or moms. The back seat is very spacious, and all of the seats are comfortable. I would probably rate my car 8/10, and I would definitely look into Nissan again the next time I buy a car.

- Sidney D

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