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Roadshow Video Reviews
2013 Nissan Altima SLThe all-new Altima sharpens it's look and it's tech.
-About the most competitive segment of the U.S. car marketing these days on what we call the mid-size sedan, Camry, Fusion, Accord. That's also where the Altima plays, but doesn't play hard enough. Let's drive this 2013 Altima SL and check the tech. Now, as you can see, this new Altima is really new. They've done a lot to get rid of the kind of rent a car the way look it used to have, but bear in mind we're driving an SL, top end trim. They won't all look this good, but it's not just up against the imports, you know, but they recently revived and very compelling Ford Fusion and Chevy Malibu, but we're looking here at a very nicely finished cabin with much better materials than in the past. Nissan was kind of behind on that compared to their competitors. To the head unit, this is not the top end. You're gonna find we don't have navigation here that is available. I'll talk about that in a minute. What we do have though now is this color display. All the sources you really care about are here. The dumb ones aren't. This works really well. USB for iPad and thumb drive is down there. AM and FM is over here with satellite radio next to it. No, HD radio in this care by the way, and of course your optical slot is here. Auxiliary can bring up and aux jack, which is right there dying to be snapped off or your Bluetooth streaming like I have my phone connected, and notice, we have some really nice Meta tags coming in. Everything fits on the screen well. They have used the real estate nicely. This is your control that lets you roll through selections or press enter. It's a simplified version of the control you see on the more elaborate head units. So, we do have sound on this guy. It's not terribly fancy. There's no fancy DSP in here. It's just bass, treble, balance, better speakers, better amps. I see a center channel up there for example. So, overall, a very successful interface except in one area-- The real gripe I have is these guys have the worst case of some button-itis. Look at this: AM and FM are one button. Satellite radio is another button. Once we're gonna do that, once you give AM/FM and satellite a button. CD and Aux go together, but not all the alternate sources because iPad gets it's own button. This is silly, just give me a source button. That's not gonna confuse anybody. We've been dealing with source knobs on stereo receivers since the late 50s. It's not a new concept. It's much better organizing principle than this sub-nonsense. This is the only car maker that does it. Now, what I wish we had was what they call the technology package. That would upgrade this to a 7-inch screen, put navigation in there. It's not a connected unit per say, but it does have Goggle fad points of interest. So, your POIs stay fresh and also send to car, so you can send your desktop a destination, but you want available when you get there. Not bad. That package also brings in something interesting called moving object detection. You would have cameras all around the car, which we've seen before on Nissans, the round view, but it would also be doing artificial intelligence to detect if there's anyone walking around you're about to run into especially in parking garages and things like that. Now, the other screen of this car is just one between the gauges here. Finally, a beautiful helper LCD in an affordable Nissan, and you can page through that to get tire pressure, MPG info, some various vehicle alerts, your settings for the screen and your lane departure and blind spot indications, rear camera of course on a car with a screen, very small. This is the only place where I find the screens a little bit tight, and the camera tends to run a little dumb as well. No trajectory, just some basic distance markings. One choice only on the Altima. No matter what model you get, you've gonna get what they call their Xtronic CVT. It's a continuously variable transmission. You have a drive and a drive sport position, which will change the behavior a bit, and of course, you have paddles, but interestingly look at them. They are mounted on the column. This is really unusual and I like it. To play shifter paddles here on the wheel and fix them, supposes that you're gonna always keep your hands there. Who the hell does that? Okay, under the hood, it's a Nissan, follow along with me, 3.5 L V6. This one sits saddles, drives the front wheels only, 270 horsepower, 251 foot pounds of torque. This car weighs about 3300, but it gets up to 60 in a very nice 5.7 seconds with this bigger engine. There's also a 2.5 liter, 4 whole different story and we're 2231 EPA estimates on this car. And part of that MPG which is pretty good comes from that fact that this year's CVT has a wider array of ratios that can synthesize if you w ill allowing it to even better keep this engine in the suite spot. Now, another cool piece of cabin tech on this Nissan barely lives in the cabin, it's mostly out here. See that tire pressure warning 'cause I've got a badly low left front. So what you do is you start pumping up the tire, and this car is gonna flash. It's hazard to acknowledge that you're doing that. Then when you get to right pressure, it's gonna beep once and that's when you stop. Let's say you go over, you keep going, you're chatting on your phone or something. It's going now flash hazard lights faster and you're gonna get 3 beeps. It gets really upset. So, you start to let air out on the value down here until you get one beep again and you know you're back where you should be kind of fool proof, kind of cool. Now, because we have the Altima V6, we have no lack of power, no lack of responsiveness. The car has got a very quite cabin. The engine makes a persistent note. You hear it all the time. I'm also having fun of the ride quality except on the smoothest roads. It's a firm suspension, that's great, but it's annoyingly transmissive. I'm getting too many little yellows or potholes that big. I don't wanna feel those. I bet they'll do a recalibrate next year to soften up the ride. Steering feels greatest, not over assisted and really comfortable cabin. They have a nice job keeping it spacious. There's the shoulder room, not a lot of fall in here on this line of the body to make you feel claustrophobic, and these seats really are some of the nicest I observed in a while. Okay, pricing a 2013 Altima SL, top stock $31,290 with destination, rolled in. There's only one option you've got to get to CNET style and you will do this because it's a scorching deal, that tech package. It's only 1090 bucks to get you 7 inch navigation with Google POIs and send to car. You're also gonna end up with lane departure warning, blind spot warning and the multiple cameras around the car that new object detection. It sounds like a typo at that price, but it's a nice package on this car.