The all new 2013 Nissan Altima debuted at the New York Auto Show, joining a growing group of redesigned four-door sedans this year that gives family's shopping for a new car the best choices they have had in years.
The Altima, which debuts this week at the New York Auto Show, comes loaded with high-tech features, a significantly overhauled interior and a number of other improvements that should help it keep it near the top of the family sedan segment.
And the Altima should do just that industry experts conclude. The top-selling Nissan vehicle in the U.S. The Altima was, surprisingly to many, the second best selling family sedan in the U.S. last year behind only Toyota Camry. It beat Honda Accord and Ford Fusion.
To keep the pressure up on its rivals, Nissan is continuing to offer the broadest number of choices to customers. For example, unlike Ford and Hyundai, which dropped the V-6 engine offering from their lineups to boost the fuel economy in their showrooms, Nissan will keep a V-6 version for customers who crave additional power. Officials said that about 10 percent of its current customers like the bigger engine and they don't want to lose those sales.
When the Altima arrives this summer, the seven different offerings will have either a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that generates 182 horsepower or a 3.5-liter V-6 that has been tuned to create 270 horsepower.
All Altimas will feature Nissan's next generation continuously variable transmission that lacks traditional gears but helps improve gas mileage. Nissan officials did not reveal the Altima's gas mileage but said it was targeting a best in class 38 mpg on the highway.
Additionally, the Altima arrives with a slew of new technologies including blind spot detection, lane departure warning and moving obstacle detection. All versions will include an Advanced Driver Assist display, which uses a 4-inch display on the instrument panel to provide the driver with information -- instead of looking over at the center stack.
The Altima will include NissanConnect, which integrates a driver's smartphone with car, allowing for hands free phone operation, texting and navigation enhancements.
Nissan is also touting its new NASA inspired "zero gravity" seats, which are supposed to reduce fatigue and simply be more comfortable.
Pricing for the Altima begins at $21,500 and goes up to $30,080 for a top of the line Altima 3.5 SL, according to Nissan officials.
"We're seeing a lot of content and technology going into the Altima," she said. "It's pricing right along with the other vehicles in the segment.
It will need to be.
Perhaps the most cut throat segments in the auto industry, the Altima faces a lot of tough competition with so many new or refreshed filling dealerships as 2012 or 2013 models. By the end of the year, the Altima will be the third oldest family sedan.
From the radically remade Ford Fusion, which comes out this fall, to the Made for America Volkswagen Passat, the midsize sedan market remains one of the toughest to break through. Chevrolet is rolling out a new Malibu, Toyota launched a new Camry last year and Honda is due to bring out the next generation Accord.
All of that is great for consumers but will make the road a little tougher for Nissan.
Based on what we have seen and know, these are the most interesting and anticipated family sedans here now and hitting the market.
6. 2012 Toyota Camry
Already here, and we have driven it extensively. The new Camry looks a lot like the old Camry, but Toyota has changed out much of this top selling sedan. The interior is a half step behind some of the competition but since the Camry has treated so many customers so well for so many years, many continue to return for the next one.
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5. 2012 Volkswagen Passat
Here and much heralded. The all-new Passat, built in Tennessee, launched last summer as a 2012 model. It provides lots of luxury and the only family sedan that comes with an optional diesel engine that gets 42 mpg. The Passat was North American Car of the Year in 2011, and MotorTrend Car of the Year.
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4. 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
Here and very interesting. Incorporating General Motors Co.'s mild hybrid system known as e- Assist, this is the only version that will be produced and sold for several months. Maybe that was smart forecasting considering gas prices right now. But the all new Malibu offers more than just high gas mileage. The restyled interior is comfortable and plush. The interior package is a little smaller than the competition, but it's definitely worth a test-drive.
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3. 2012 Hyundai Sonata
A styling revolution for Hyundai, the Sonata continues to hold up well, even though it's one of the oldest current models in the family sedan segment. It also features a turbo model that provide power when people want it. The Hyundai brand keeps rising in popularity, so even this older Sonata, by comparison with its rivals, should continue to attract new buyers.
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2. 2013 Honda Accord
This is the mystery car. Honda has been cagey and secretive about showing any pictures of the new Accord, the number-two, in most years, best selling car in America. We got a glimpse of a concept at the Detroit Auto Show. But the production version will take on a much sportier look and should continue to have that nearly bulletproof reliability that has created so many Honda fans.
1. 2013 Ford Fusion
Completely redesigned, the new Ford Fusion will arrive later this year. It will come with three different engines, including two turbocharged EcoBoost engines, as well as a gas-electric hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version. Ford once led the family car category with the Taurus. This redesigned Fusion is meant to give it a chance to lead again. Ford woke up the styling studio, too, and produced a sleek, Euro-ish sedan that may well be the class of the category when it arrives.