With the 2013 Nissan Altima reaching dealers as you read this, we’ve been spending some time looking at its dimensions in relation to its competition. What we’ve found is this: the 2013 Nissan Altima is not the most powerful, largest, or most spacious in its class. Considering that the mid-size sedan segment is one of the most fiercely competitive in the country, we’re hardly surprised.
With the idea that mid-size sedan engineers are always striving to have class-leading numbers, we did find that the Altima does stand at the top of the sedan heap in one area: curb weight. At 3187 pounds with an I-4 or 3355 pounds with a V-6, the Altima is the lightest sedan of the bunch, much more svelte than the Volkswagen Passat (3225 pounds with an I-5), Mazda6 (3329 pounds with an I-4), or the Honda Accord (3433 pounds with an I-4). It may explain why Nissan predicts the 2013 Altima I-4 will best the competitors in highway fuel economy: at an estimated 38mpg, it tops cars like the Hyundai Sonata/Kia Optima (35 mpg), Toyota Camry (35 mpg), and Honda Accord (34 mpg).
As a result, the Altima’s power-to-weight ratio is somewhere between good and great: the I-4 models carry about 17.5 pounds per horsepower and the V-6 models carry 12.4 pounds per horsepower, nearly the top of the class. Only the Kia Optima/Optima Turbo has better figures with both engines, likely because the high-performance version uses a turbo four in lieu of a V-6.
The new I-4 Altima gains fuel economy relative to its predecessor, thanks to a lower curb weight (the heaviest 2013 I-4 Nissan Altima weighs five pounds less than the lightest 2012 model) and an improved transmission, but it’s also important to know that the Altima has not grown very much in this iteration. The wheelbase stays at 109.3 inches, and overall length grows from 190.7 inches to 191.5 inches. Width is up 1.3 inches to 72 inches, and height is almost exactly the same.
This explains why the Nissan Altima doesn’t lead the segment in terms of size dimensions. Cars like the Volkswagen Passat and Mazda6 grew significantly in their newest models, which explains why the Volkswagen Passat is 191.7 inches and the Mazda6 is 193.7 inches. The Honda Accord, meanwhile, is 194.9 inches long–3.4 inches longer than the Altima. As a result, passengers will have about four more cubic feet to squirm around in the Accord than the Altima, 106 to 101.9.
All in all the Altima’s dimensions, figures, and facts land it exactly in the middle of the pack, which is commendable considering the segment’s fierce competition. The Altima’s low curb weight probably won’t gain it any new buyers, although if the EPA confirms the base engine’s 38-mpg-highway figure, it will certainly curry favor with fuel-sipping commuters. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Check out our first drive of the 2013 Nissan Altima by clicking here.
Base-Engine Mid-Size Sedans:
|Sonata GLS||Optima I-4||Malibu I-4||Altima I-4||Accord I-4||Camry I-4||Passat 2.5||Fusion 1.6||Mazda6 I-4||200 I-4||Fusion 2.5|
|Base Engine||2.4-liter I-4||2.4-liter I-4||2.5-liter I-4||2.5-liter I-4||2.4-liter I-4||2.5-liter I-4||2.5-liter I-5||1.6-liter turbo I-4||2.5-liter I-4||2.4-liter I-4||2.5-liter I-4|
|Transmission||6-speed Auto||6-speed Manual or Auto||6-speed Auto||CVT||5-speed Manual or Auto||6-speed Auto||6-speed Auto or Manual||6-speed Auto||6-speed Manual or 5-speed Auto||4- or 6-speed Auto||6-speed Auto|
|Front Headroom (in.)||40||40||39||40||41.4||38.1||38.3||39.2||39.4||40.1||39.2|
|Front Legroom (in.)||45.5||45.5||42.1||45||42.5||41.6||42.4||44.3||42.5||42.4||44.3|
|Rear Legroom (in.)||34.6||34.7||36.9||36.1||37.2||38.9||39.1||38.3||38||36.2||38.3|
|Passenger Volume (cu. Ft.)||103.8||102.2||100||101.9||106||102.7||102||102.8||101.9||100.3||102.8|
|Cargo Space (cu. Ft)||16.4||15.4||16.3||15.4||14.7||15.4||15.9||16||16.6||13.6||16|
|Curb Weight (lbs.)||3316||3223||3400||3187||3433||3245||3221||3427||3329||3403||3427|
|City Fuel Econ (mpg)||24||24 (6MT or 6AT)||TBD||27||23 (5MT or 5AT)||25||22 (6MT or 6AT)||TBD||21 (6MT) / 22 (5AT)||21 (4AT) / 20 (6AT)||TBD|
|Hwy Fuel Econ (mpg)||35||34 (6AT) / 35 (6MT)||TBD||38||33 (5MT) / 34 (5AT)||35||32 (6MT) / 31 (6AT)||TBD||30 (6MT) / 31 (5AT)||30 (4AT) / 31 (6AT)||TBD|
High-Performance Mid-Size Sedans:
|Passat VR6||Optima 2.0T||Altima V-6||Sonata 2.0T||200 V-6||Camry V-6||Mazda6 V-6||Accord V-6||Fusion 2.0|
|Engine||3.6-liter VR6||2.0-liter turbo I-4||3.5-liter V-6||2.0-liter turbo I-4||3.6-liter V-6||3.5-liter V-6||3.7-liter V-6||3.5-liter V-6||2.0-liter turbo I-4|
|Transmission||6-speed dual-clutch auto||6-speed Auto||CVT||6-speed Auto||6-speed Auto||6-speed Auto||6-speed Auto||5-speed Auto||6-speed Auto|
|Front Headroom (in.)||38.3||40||39.1||38.1||40.1||38||38.1||39||39.2|
|Front Legroom (in.)||42.4||45.5||45||45.5||42.4||41.6||42.5||42.5||44.3|
|Rear Legroom (in.)||39.1||34.7||36.1||34.6||36.2||38.9||38||37.2||38.3|
|Pass. Volume (cu. Ft.)||102||102.2||100.5||103.8||100.3||101.3||101.9||101||102.8|
|Cargo Space (cu. Ft)||15.9||15.4||15.4||16.4||13.6||15.4||16.6||14.7||16|
|Curb Weight (lbs.)||3446||3385||3355||3452||3576||3420||3574||3605||3427|
|City Fuel Econ. (mpg)||20||22||22||22||19||21||18||20||TBD|
|Hwy Fuel Econ. (mpg)||28||34||30||34||29||30||27||30||TBD|