The 2013 Altima comes at a critical juncture for Nissan.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who introduced the new Altima today at the New York auto show, is pushing the Japanese automaker to grab 10 percent of the U.S. light vehicle market, up from 8.2 percent last year and 9.3 percent so far in 2012.
Nissan said today the 2013 Altima will be priced from $22,280, including $780 destination, when it goes on sale in June. Models with a V-6 engine will be priced from $26,140, including delivery fees.
It goes into production on May 14, and it will be assembled in Canton, Miss., and Smyrna, Tenn., for the United States and 45 overseas markets.
The relatively short period between its public and showroom debuts is designed to maintain market momentum for the Altima and draw interest as competition in the mid-sized market heats up.
The styling for the new Altima has evolved only slightly, with deeper creases along the sides and across the trunk. The headlights and running lamps have been separated in front to echo the look of luxury vehicles. The door handles are now made of chrome, and chrome now encircles the car's grille and side windows.
But the car's content signals Nissan's ambitions to capture a bigger slice of the surging family sedan market.
Nissan said the next Altima will offer these features:
-- Active understeer control, an automatic steering intervention system that until now has been available only on Infiniti's luxury flagship M45 sedan.
-- NASA-inspired "zero-gravity" seats, designed using NASA research to provide optimal body positions, comfort and support during space travel.
-- A combined blind-spot and lane-departure warning system that also detects moving objects behind the Altima when the car is in reverse. Cockpit controls allow the driver to change the system's camera angle for a different view of the detected object.
-- As much as an 19 percent improvement in fuel economy, with the four-cylinder 2.5 S model promising 38 mpg highway, up from 32 mpg on the 2012 model.
-- A multilink rear suspension re-engineered for more responsive lateral handling. Nissan project leaders say the enhancement echoes technology used in the BMW 3 series and the Mercedes-Benz C class.
-- Heated front seats and steering wheel and remote engine start.
-- A 3-D Drive-Assist display visible directly through the steering wheel rather than positioned in the center console. Vishnu Jayamohan, Altima product planning specialist, said positioning the information system in the driver's line of sight is intended to help keep the driver's eyes on the road. He cited research that shows looking to a center console takes 265 milliseconds, compared with 25 milliseconds to glance at an image behind the steering wheel.
-- The 3-D Drive-Assist also displays turn-by-turn navigation, audio information and caller ID for hands-free telephoning. The vehicle allows drivers to turn on a recorded message to say that they are busy driving and can't take the call.