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Behind the wheel of the new 2013 Nissan Altima

Consumer Reports News: May 25, 2012 03:08 PM

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Last redesigned for 2007, the Altima has lacked the buzz that surrounds newer family sedan competitors like the current Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry. Despite that, the Altima posts sales figures that put it among the best-selling cars in America. And even though the Altima was last updated for 2010, the car consistently ranked highly by Consumer Reports and earned accolades last years as the Top Pick family sedan. It simply doesn't do much wrong. At all.

But now it's time for an extensive redesign for 2013. That means there is a lot of pressure on Nissan to get the new Altima right. (Read: Don't screw it up.) We got a chance to drive two Altimas, a four-cylinder and a V6, to get our first impressions.

Sticking with the fundamentals of the outgoing design, Nissan made a lot of improvements. Fuel economy is claimed to be best in class. While we don't do tests on borrowed press cars (we'll wait to buy our own), we observed impressive fuel economy numbers on our commutes. Interior materials are better; the new gauge cluster info screen is bright and comprehensive; audio systems are refreshingly straightforward; and there is more rear-seat room. Handling is competent if not overtly sporty. Unlike some other family sedans, the Altima is quiet inside, as well.

In other words, the new Altima appears to have gotten things right. Clearly, an interesting battle is brewing in the midsized family sedan segment. Can the Altima regain its place atop our family sedan ratings? And can it ward off competition from the impressive new-from-ground-up Ford Fusion, also arriving later this year? We'll find out when we buy both to test here at our track.

In the meantime, enjoy our first drive video of the 2013 Nissan Altima.

Tom Mutchler

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