With two decades of Nissan Altimas under its belt, production began today on the fifth-generation 2013 model at the company’s Smyrna, Tenn. plant.
Counting more than 4.4 million units to date, the company’s latest offering is the first of five new Nissans scheduled over the next 15 months. As we reported from this year’s New York Auto Show, the 2013 Altima comes with a host of changes including “NASA insired space seats.” The new place to post your posterior is supposed to improve circulation and be more comfortable for people of any size with a more natural position.
Turn-by-turn directions delivered through a new four-inch display mounted between the speedometer also make it into the new model, as well as an efficient 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that offers best-in-class fuel mileage (27/38 mpg city/highway). With only 182 hp on tap, though, the smaller engine still pales next to Nissan’s well-loved 3.5-liter V6 with 270 hp.
Still, the V6 is going to lose a lot of punch because both engines translate power to the front wheels through a CVT. The V6 comes with paddle shifters and simulated gear shifts, but that sounds a lot like any other simulation — it’s just not as good as the real thing.
The Base model starts at $21,500 with V6 models from $25,360 and topping out at the Altima 3.5 SL at $30,080. With production rolling forward, expect Nissan’s mid-size sedan to be sitting in a showroom near you soon.