2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL Sedan (965)


This week we’re looking at the 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL Sedan. And as you may know, it was sold under the brand name Datsun until 1985. There are many reasons given for the name change including the story that when Nissan opened its first USA factory (to build Datsun cars) it was decidedly non-union, and many union workers began a campaign to “Boycott Datsun”. As an end run, Nissan changed the name from Datsun to Nissan. At that time Nissan was virtually unknown but Datsun owners had good memories of the cars and uninformed people didn’t associate Nissan with Datsun.


I was one of those Datsun owners who would agree there were good memories.

It is said the origins of the company began when DAT was formed in 1912 by Mr.’s Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi, who named their creation after their initials. They were built by the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works, which changed its name in 1925 to DAT Automobile Works Ltd. The early DAT 41 had a 2300cc 20hp 4cyl engine.

Well they have come a long way to this very new Altima that sports a 270 horsepower engine that is smooth and quick at 5.7 seconds from zero to 60 mph. In the quarter mile it is 14.1 seconds. I can relate to that because an early day car I owned was a Corvette powered Model A which did the quarter mile in 13.25 seconds and made the cover of Hot Rod Magazine. Times have changed a lot with today’s NHRA quarter mile times at 4 seconds and well over 300 mph.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada n/a. It is assembled in Canton, OH U.S.A., Classification is Midsize. Cars from Nissan: Altima, Altima Hybrid, Armada, cube, Frontier, GT-R, JUKE, LEAF, Maxima, Murano, Murano CrossCabriolet, NV Cargo, NV Passenger, Pathfinder, Quest, Rogue, Sentra, Titan, Versa, Xterra and Z.

Handling & Performance:

Powerful with great acceleration, stable solid handling, and a nice ride overall.


Some will say it is commonplace styling. I can’t argue with that comment made to me because all cars are computer designed. The computer only looks at the efficiency and maximum fuel economy through aerodynamics that give all cars a similar look. You know there are those designs that are wild and crazy looking, square boxes and worse but they give up a lot in the economics of operation.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.


You get a lot for the MSRP and if you opt for all the options you can add only $1,000 to the price.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very good and surely it had all the features I would want on my car – even the Nav system I usually suggest you consider a portable version, but Nissan has priced the technology package realistically which includes a Nav system, Blind spot and Lane departure and Moving object detection warning systems. That I can agree to. I really liked the voice actuated Nav and it has a nice feature that view changes as you approach your next turn.

Consumer Recommendation:

In this line up it is unimaginable NOT to include the Altima in your buying decision. Nissan says it is “the most innovative Altima ever”. Well I don’t know about that, but it still remains at the top of my list in spite of the fact that Hyundai is one of my favorites.

Recognized Competition:

Nissan Altima $31,000, Buick LaCrosse $36,000, Chevrolet Malibu $27,000, Chrysler 300 $35,000, Dodge Charger $32,000, Ford Fusion $32,000, Honda Accord $33,000, Hyundai Sonata $28,000, Kia Optima $27,000, Mazda 6 $24,000, Mitsubishi Galant $24,000, Subaru Legacy $29,000, Toyota Camry $30,000.

Good News:

Great performer, comfortable sedan, good fuel economy, nice looking, nice Nav system and of course priced right.

Bad News:

The space for your hand to adjust the power seat is made narrow when the door is closed and a second thing is that the placement of the Cruise control buttons could be better. I hate to nit-pik but it bothered me. One thing I alerted the company about was a pulsating feel when the Cruise is engaged. I couldn’t make it out and it didn’t do it all the time. More later if I find the answer.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 270 horsepower V6 engine, continuous variable transmission, 18” aluminum Alloy wheels, front side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child safety system, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes with brake force distribution, traction control, dynamic control, tire pressure monitor, security system with immobilizer system, power assist steering, 8-way power leather heated driver seat with lumbar support, heated leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, Bose premium audio with 9 speakers, 5” color audio display, SiriusXM satellite radio, USB connection with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth phone, climate control, rear A/C vents, remote keyless entry with engine start, push button ignition, power locks and windows, moon roof, visors with sliding rod extension, auto dimming mirror, 2-12 volt power outlets, auto headlights, fog lights, manual folding and heated outside mirrors with turn indicators.

Options you may consider: Navigation with 7” color display, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection.

Gas Stats:

$4.21 / Gal avg.  Feb. 17, 2013


For more information.

22 City and 31 Highway MPG


MSRP $30,080.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

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