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2013 Nissan Altima: 38 MPG, $21,500

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On: Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 3:25PM | By: Chris Weiss

2013 Nissan Altima: 38 MPG, $21,500

The Nissan Altima may not be the glitziest debut at the 2012 New York Auto Show, but it's one of the cars surest to make the most people happy. The car loses weight, gains fuel economy and keeps price relatively low.

The 2013 Altima isn't just aiming to keep in its class, it's aiming to define the class. Nissan anticipates that the mid-sized sedan will lead its hot-selling class in several parameters, including weight and fuel economy.

The 2013 Altima is defined by a lighter body that leaves about 80 lbs in 2012. In working to shed pounds, Nissan increased its use of high strength and ultra-high strength steel, added a larger front tower strut brace (as used in sports cars like the Nissan 370Z), and built a new rear structural support into the rear pass-through/parcel shelf.

The 2013 Altima looks like the 2012 Altima under the hood, offering the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V-6 engine options. As anyone with a working knowledge of fuel economy knows, lighter car + same engine should equal a boost. And in the case of Altima, the lighter body, along with a lighter, slightly redesigned 2.5-liter engine and redesigned CVT transmission, boosts highway fuel economy to 38 mpg (up from 32 in 2012), though the EPA will have the final say on that when it tests the model later this year. Nissan expects city fuel economy to take a similar jump to 27 mpg (from 23).

In slight contrast to its svelter exterior, the new Altima gets a more robust interior with some new features. Nissan claims the interior rivals premium sedans with features like NissanConnect, Advanced Drive-Assist Display (ADAD) and available Bose Premium Audio. The Altima is the first vehicle with NissanConnect, a Bluetooth phone and audio-streaming interface. The four-inch, center-mounted ADAD offers 3-D-effect graphics and customizable information display. New, NASA-inspired "Zero Gravity" seats are designed to take loads off the body, stimulate blood flow and increase driver attentiveness.

In terms of looks, the Altima gets a variety of noticeable updates, including new headlamps, a new grille and new taillights. Both the front and rear tracks are wider and the cabin has revised angles.

The 2013 Altima will start at $21,500 when it goes on sale in July. For reference, the 2012 Altima starts at $20,550.

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