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Aaron Gold

Nissan Altima: 38 MPG highway? Really?

By August 7, 2013

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2013 Nissan AltimaOne of the headline claims Nissan is making for the all-new 2013 Altima is its EPA highway rating of 38 MPG. We've seen big highway numbers that are difficult to obtain in real life -- the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata being a couple of notable examples. So can the Altima really do it? I booked a 2013 Altima and took a 1200 mile round trip to find out.

Before I tell you the results, I have to explain that the bulk of my experiment wasn't conducted under circumstances favorable to the Altima. The outbound trip was with three people, the return trip with four, the trunk was pretty full, and we were driving between Los Angeles and Phoenix, Arizona, with big hills and high speed limits (70 to 75 MPH). Oh, and my wife Robin did a lot of the driving, and she's not exactly one to dawdle at the posted limit.

End result? The Altima averaged just over 35 MPG on our road trips, which I consider a pretty good showing under the circumstances.

I did make one trip on Phoenix freeways with lower speed limits. Cruising at 60 to 65 MPH, I had no problem nailing 38 MPG -- in fact, I was able to nurse it up to nearly 40 MPG.

So we don't have the most conclusive evidence, but based on what I observed, I'm going to call this one in the Altima's favor: Assuming you don't make every trip with a full load at 75 MPH, then yes, the Nissan Altima really does get 38 MPG on the highway. -- Aaron Gold


Photo Aaron Gold

August 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm
(1) Ron says:

Impressive mileage, but like it’s competition, it is pricey at about 25-30k for what is in reality a 4 passenger car. Try putting three child seats in the back and see how much room you have. Those high tech engines are nice but expensive. I am still looking for a true five passenger car for about 15k with AC and basic bluetooth compatable radio that gets about 30mpg. Until then I will be stuck with used minivans (or a Crown Vic?) getting closer to 25mpg. These are hard economic times that are likely to drag out for a while because the White House and Congress is full of selfserving idiots (both parties) that are trying to buy votes with barrowed tax payer money. Affordable, basic transportation please. I can no longer afford a fun car that is big enough for my family.

August 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm
(2) DFI says:

Ron, I feel your pain. I too would love to find a family car that gets decent gas milage for the under $20K mark. The problem is they really don’t exist anymore. The problem is from 2003-2013 the average new car price in the US has increased by 50%, the average corporate profit (after operating costs and taxes) has increased by 120% and the average salary for us lowly citizens has increased only 25%. So it looks like used is the new norm for anyone with three kids, a non-executive job, and a mortgage.

August 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm
(3) Hawaiian Don says:

DFI according to govt stats, the average salary of the lower 80% has only climbed 5% since 1978. However, 35mpg on that car is fantastic! Recently, in the Toronto/Buffalo area I averaged just a hair under 40mpg in a fabulous Mazda 3. Some of these cars are really hitting great numbers and those engines have good power. They may not be in Toyota Hybrid MPG Crazytown, but they are darn impressive!

August 9, 2013 at 8:15 am
(4) Eric says:

I have to agree. The days of the brand new 5-passenger large car for under $20K are gone, even for basic transportation. We will never see them again due to some of the reasons mentioned, as well as the ever increasing cost of building cars due to inflation, and ever increasing government regulations regarding safety and CAFE.

August 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm
(5) Chris says:

Just got 37.7 mpg combined in a car EPA rated at 34 highway, so I wonder if it is a reliable assumption on my part that I will be able to do better than what is posted on the sticker.

August 17, 2013 at 11:24 am
(6) Alejandro says:

The cars under 20K that still get great gas mileage used to be the family cars. The Altima was once small and squeezing five people was hard. The problem is that everyone wants a big car now and so things get expensive…like Altimas. In all reality cars under 20K with great gas mileage do exist. They are called Versas and Sentras. They are the size of what the Altima used to be. They get just about 40 mpg.

August 17, 2013 at 11:31 am
(7) Charlie says:

If the Altima is too expensive (and they start really at about 23K), then look at a Sentra.

January 26, 2014 at 8:31 am
(8) frank says:

Justed bought a 2013 Altima at Hertz 15,195 had 30.000 miles we love it.Thank you Hertz

April 15, 2014 at 9:47 pm
(9) tom r says:

we bought a 2013 Altima s 4 cylinder we have yet to get more than 28
on hwy..could something be wrong..

May 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm
(10) Tom Jones says:

No tom r, your math is actually correct, and all the others fuzzy. Fuelly.com tracked 118 2013 Altimas at over 1,000,000 combined miles and they average 29mpg. This is way more realistic than EPA and a few hyper milers looking to feel better that their car gets better mpg than their old suv.

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