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On the Road in the All-New 2013 Nissan Altima

With women controlling 85% of family spending decisions, I wasn't entirely surprised that Nissan invited me to their U.S. headquarters outside of Nashville, Tennessee to the media launch of the 2013 Altima, available nationwide this summer.

2013 Altima Sedan White

In case it isn't abundantly clear from the title of this blog and the picture of me in the pink dress over there on the right, I am not an automotive expert. But, I know what I want and what I like, and for the record, was responsible for choosing my family's current vehicle.

It's not surprising that car buying for many women still remains an intimidating process. Fadra Nally wrote a great post just last week about her own experience, complete with a list of Top 10 Car Buying Tips for Women. Number 4 is "Know everything you can about the car you are looking at." As with all decision-making, knowledge is power.

Here's what I gathered during my visit to Nissan's headquarters and an afternoon test-driving the 2013 Altima that I think you'll find most intriguing and ultimately why I think families looking for a mid-size, luxury experience at a more affordable price point should consider one:

For starters, Altima is Nissan's best-seller and was the #2 best-selling car in the U.S. last year. The base price for the 2013, 2.5-liter engine is $21,500 and gets 38 miles per gallon, which is "best in class" beating out the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagon Passat, Chevy Malibu Eco, and Ford Fusion. The V6 version starts at $25,360 and gets 31 miles per gallon.

Interior, 2013 Altima Sedan

What stood out to me most is that the design objective for the 2013 Altima is “class above” appeal, meaning it looks, feels and handles like a premium vehicle but still maintains its attainable price tag and value. When I first caught a glimpse of the new model, I was surprised at how sleek and expensive it looks. If I didn't know better, I would have easily mistaken it for a luxury vehicle.

2013 Alitma Sedan Hands-Free Features

Building on Nissan's "innovation for all" philosophy, the Altima's upscale interior rivals premium luxury sedans and includes NASA-inspired “zero-gravity” seats (available in leather), an Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display and a BOSE® Premium Audio System. Other practical, family-friendly features include: Standard Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System and Streaming Audio via Bluetooth®; NissanConnectSM and NissanConnectSM Navigation with a suite of Bluetooth® phone connectivity features including hands-free text message integration, Pandora® playback, and real-time Google® POI search; Next-generation Safety Shield Technologies including Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD) systems; and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with Easy Fill Tire Alert.

The hands-free and safety features, pretty standard for premium vehicles now, should be essentials for a family car so it's awesome to see them included at this price level.

2013 Altima Sedan Navigation System

After our run-through at headquarters, we spent the afternoon on the open road test-driving our Altimas. Kris Cain from Little Tech Girl and I hopped into a sleek black one (my fave color car), left the windows down, turned the radio up, and lost ourselves in the scenic (and very hilly) Tennessee countryside:

Tennessee Countryside
Kris Cain, Little Tech Girl
Test driving the all-new 2013 Nissan Altima
Tennessee Countryside in the 2013 Altima

The Altima handled the twists and turns and ups and downs very well. While we were not exactly testing the car for speed, the pick up is good (better than the SUV I currently drive) and the ride felt smooth. I made a point of sitting in the back seat on the return trip to see what it's like and there's a tremendous amount of leg room in the spacious interior, as well as trunk space for storage.

We made two stops along the route to change drivers: a little town called Bell Buckle for Moon Pies and lemonades, and the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg for lunch and a quick tour.

Bell Buckle, TN
Jack Daniels Distillery

I had a blast and was pleasantly surprised by everything I learned about 2013 Altima and got to experience first-hand.

For more pics of my trip to Tennessee and the Jack Daniels Distillery, check out the photo diary I posted last week.

Tell me, what's most important to you when evaluating a family car and are you actively involved in the buying process?

{I was not compensated for this post. My participation in the 2013 Altima Media Launch was sponsored by Nissan who provided me with travel, hotel, and meal accommodations for review purposes. I am under no obligation whatsoever to endorse or even write about the launch. All opinions expressed herein are my own. Household spending statistic via GoGirl Finance.}