Inroad Press

The 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL is a Beautiful Ride

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More midsized sedans are sold in the U.S. than any other type of car and in that contentious market, the Nissan Altima is the second-best selling vehicle after the Toyota Camry. This year, the 2013 Nissan Altima received a complete refresh which included updated styling and the addition of Zero Gravity seating. The Altima is now poised to become the best-seller, but Nissan will have to change a few things if that’s going to happen.

The 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL is the premium model in the Altima lineup. It takes the respectable midsize sedan and adds a racy engine, high-end luxury treatments, and a lot of little style bling that takes the relatively sedate sedan and turns it into a beautiful show piece. The base price of this premium offering is $30,560 and as we drove it, in its top form, it sells for $32,135.

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The Altima 3.5 SL is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 of all-aluminum make. It outputs an impressive 270 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque, turning the 2013 Altima into a sports car hiding in a midsize sedan’s body. The new continuously variable transmission (CVT) is smooth and handles the muscle the V6 sends it well. Nissan is one of the few companies with a well-designed CVT and this flagship sedan shows that they know how to implement this technology well.

The 2013 Nissan Altima has contemporary, but not boring, styling. Its lines and curves evoke a European sports car feel while its careful attention to proportion belies the company’s Japanese origins. In the SL package, chrome accents and beautiful spoked alloy wheels give it a premium, stand out look.

Inside, the refinements continue. The Zero Gravity seating is just what it’s title claims and these will be some of the most comfortable seats you’ve ever tried. The sculpted way they’ve been made creates a secure, floating feeling that gets more comfortable the longer you’re sitting in them. ¬†Interior layout is ergonomic and well-considered, with plenty of space for both people and things. The rear seat bench is one of the best on the market and easily accommodates three adults. The trunk is also one of the largest on the market, with enough room for three full-sized suitcases with space to spare.

The 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL competes against severeal strong contenders in the midsize class. The Toyota Camry is the top seller in this segment, but is becoming outdated in its styling. The Ford Fusion and Mazda6 are both top-notch vehicles in style to which the Altima must take a second. The Mazda6 is also larger than the Altima in terms of passenger space.

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The Altima’s most glaring issue, however, is the lack of powertrain options. Nissan offers a four- and six-cylinder engine choice in the 2013 Altima, but both Ford and Toyota have hybrid options (the Fusion also has a plug-in hybrid in the Energi) and the Mazda includes a diesel engine option. In terms of efficiency, while the Altima 3.5 SL’s 31 mpg on the highway is impressive for the class, the competition is offering drivetrain options with better efficiency – a big selling point in today’s market.

Overall, though, the 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL is a beautiful vehicle with a lot of points in its favor. It is one of the most comfortable, convenient and efficient combinations available and with the unique styling Nissan gave this sedan, it is also prettier than many others.