Autobytel Road Test of 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL

When Nissan set about overhauling its highly successful line of Altima family sedans, you would think that the company’s goal would be to hang on tightly to its usual hard-earned position as the third best-selling family sedan in the country. But as we all well know, the bread and butter family sedan segment has been turned up over onto its ear as of late what with the Camry suddenly discovering a “fun to drive” side and Hyundai, Kia and VW recently launching brilliant newcomers that brought them firmly in line with the family sedan mainstream in the form of the Sonata, Optima and Passat.

So given the depth and breadth of choice available, what is it that family sedan buyers want? Well, they demand that their next new purchase will exceed all of their expectations in areas like value, true stylishness inside and out, offering full luxury car amenities as well as a driving experience that is both soothing and athletic. Examples of this new family sedan work ethic can be seen in the recently released 2012 Kia Optima SXL Limited as well as in either the TDI or VR6 variants of the 2012 VW Passat. These aforementioned examples of the best of the best now manage to tickle our family sedan funny bones in a way we truly that we never thought possible. And looming still on the horizon is the next generation 2013 Honda Accord so you have to wonder what Nissan was hoping to accomplish with this very thorough redesign?

Well, first off in just its first month on sale the new 2013 Nissan Altima has usurped the current Accord’s long held rank as second best-selling car in this country (after Camry) thanks to a big boost in sales. And, no, after spending a week in a fully loaded 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL sedan we don’t think it was because a lot of those “early bird buyers” got a free maintenance package for two years as part of the deal. No, what we discovered during our week with the 2013 Nissan Altima was that we not only relished driving it but that it also passed the ever so elusive “snooty test.”

What is the “snooty test?” Well, in our case was performed in the parking lot of a very upscale and exclusive private Newport Beach Country Club where the response to the new sedan from the absurdly wealthy was overwhelmingly positive. People stopped and stared and wanted to pop their head inside to get a look at the vast improvement know as the interior of this sedan. In fact, we suspect more than one of these Club members saw in this Altima the perfect “financial downsize” as the mortgage on their McMansion and the Club dues are conspiring to make Audi or BMW payments impossible.

To Read the Rest of Our Altima Driving Impressions Click here to go to Autobytel!

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