2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL Long-Term Update 5
Why I Want a 2005 Altima
The 2013 Nissan Altima represented a full redesign, but you don't really sense the car's new-ness by taking a look at the center stack. Sure, as I described in the third Altima update, the instrument cluster is great. Why else would Nissan use the same system with minor tweaks on the $42,000 Infiniti JX luxury crossover? I can't say I have the same affection for the Altima's center stack, whose centerpiece is a 7.0-inch screen that's mounted low on the dash, and it makes the car feel older than it really is.
The Nissan Altima didn't always place its navigation screen in a low position that requires looking down from the road to view information. The 2005 Altima -- the refreshed version of the generation that caused shoppers to take notice of the midsize sedan -- offered a navigation system with a display at the very top of the dash. Whenever I'm in the Altima and must look down to get information from the dash screen, I think about that 2005 Altima or the 2013 Honda Accord -- a midsizer with a standard display at the top of the dash regardless of trim level. Even the 2014 Mazda6 puts the navigation screen toward the top of the dash, though the smaller 5.8-inch screen isn't canted back a bit like that of the Altima.
I don't have many issues with the navigation system's functionality, though. While the car won't allow a passenger to input information if the car is in motion, you can always do the same job in about two minutes by using voice commands while you approach the highway. The easy-to-use display can switch between 2D bird's eye and 3D perspectives by pressing a button on the touch screen. If you have an active subscription to satellite radio, traffic information will appear in the form of thick, colored lines bordering the highway. The Altima will even tell you the speed limit of most highways, though we wish the numerical display filled more space on the display.
The navigation system's cost varies depending on trim level, but Nissan doesn't make it easy to pass up on 2013 models. On the mid-level 2.5 SV, it's just $590 and includes the larger 7.0-inch screen. Go for the 2.5 SL like our long-termer, and a $1090 package includes navigation on the larger display as well as blindspot monitoring, moving object detection, and lane departure warning systems. Though the quality of the systems may vary, getting a navigation system costs $2000 on the 2013 Honda Accord and $1100 on the 2014 Ford Fusion SE in a package that also adds a rear-view camera.
So Nissan is smart to price the Altima's navigation system so low, since plenty of buyers will do just fine placing their smartphones in the storage area at the bottom of the center stack and listening to directions. For those who prefer fully integrated systems, the Altima's navigation is tempting. If I were in the market for a midsize sedan, my own set of priorities would lead me to consider vehicles with screens placed as high as possible on the dash, even if I had to pay a little extra.