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Sunday Drive: Trekking through Utah’s western frontier in the Nissan Altima

By Craig and Deanne Conover - | May 6, 2023
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Deanne with the new 2023 Altima at the Wendover Air Force Base Museum, where we learned all about the training that was done in Wendover during World War II.
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At the top of Fischer Pass, elevation 6,946 feet. There was still so much snow on the ground as we headed for Wendover.
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Inside the new 2023 Nissan Altima.
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Inside the new 2023 Nissan Altima.
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Inside the new 2023 Nissan Altima.

Completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, the Nissan Altima was given a refresh for the 2023 model year and received some awesome new additions both inside and out. During this test drive, we would have our first chance to experience the turbocharged version of the engine.

It would be hard to complain about this mid-sized sedan when combined with the turbo. We loved it when it had a V-6 and enjoyed our last time out in the Altima with the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder version. However, this time — with what Nissan dubs a VC-Turbo — the bar has been raised to another level.

Even though the turbocharged motor is smaller, it outguns the older version. Coming in at just 2.0 liters, it makes an awesome 236 horsepower (up 48 from the 2.5) and an inspiring 267 foot-pounds of torque. Combined, they would quickly propel the sedan up to speed, no matter what the situation called for.

The engine gave the sedan so much more energy. We even found ourselves looking forward to the drive to work and back each day. Is it a race sedan? No. But most will enjoy the extra punch.

We thought it might affect the fuel efficiency during our weeklong drive, so we put it to the test on Saturday. With not much on the docket and snow still on the ground, it was hard not to just get up and drive somewhere. If only we could have found somewhere close by where it was warmer!

We choose to take an extended drive out to Wendover, figuring we could get in some good highway and freeway time in the refreshed Altima. We took what may be considered the back way through Lehi and Eagle Mountain and on to Dugway.

This allowed for some mountain climbing up over Fisher Pass at 6,496 feet. We followed some twisty roadways and then a long highway stretch before meeting up with Interstate 80 and continuing on to Wendover. The Altima handled extremely well as we made our way through the mountains, and traveling out on the straight stretches to Wendover was even better. The Altima never complained and loved the 80 mph speed limit.

While taking longer drives such as this on a single day, we often find ourselves becoming tired from all the sitting in seats that may not live up to their reputation. This is not so in a Nissan; their NASA-inspired seats are the best — there is really no other way to put it.

We both commented after arriving in Wendover how nice it was not have aches and pains from the journey. The seat design is awesome and works as advertised for us every time we have the opportunity to get into one of this manufacturer’s vehicles.

The even better news was that we averaged a very nice 32.8 mpg during our trip, which was above the EPA estimate of 29. We felt this was an excellent number, especially since we encountered a pretty good headwind on our way home.

On the exterior of the Altima, the front end has been redesigned to add LED headlamps and integrated turn signals with the daytime running lights along with the addition of the new Nissan logo.

Our favorite addition to the interior this year is the 12.3-inch, high-definition touch screen infotainment system. This is a huge step forward for the manufacturer from the smaller screen it has been stuck with for years. It also came with a back-up camera using the all-around view system from Nissan, making getting in and out of tight spots easy.

Nissan’s new Safety Shield 360 is again part of the Altima package this year. At the foundation of this new shield is what Nissan calls ProPILOT Assist, which adds a button to the steering wheel that, when pressed, activates the “shield.”

In conjunction with the Altima’s radar cruise control and other safety systems, ProPILOT keeps the vehicle centered in the lane and at a driver-determined space back from the vehicle driving in front of the Altima. This system is not meant to take over the actual driving of the sedan; it simply makes it easier and safer for the driver.

This works exceptionally well with freeway driving and in heavy traffic, as we found traveling at 80 mph on the way back from Wendover. We were again impressed with this system, and it continues to improve over time. The Altima tracked very nicely down the center of the lane. This system is as close to autonomous driving as one can get in this segment of the market.

To make the ProPILOT system become a 360-degree system, the Altima also comes with new technology that will apply the brakes when a collision seems imminent while backing up at low speeds. We have actually been through a demonstration of how well this tech works during a Nissan event where we rode in the car while it backed toward a wall. With no driver intervention, the Altima stopped itself about 12 inches from the wall.

The ProPILOT system also has traffic sign recognition that will display speed limit signs on the dashboard as they come along. It will also work in conjunction with the navigation system if equipped.

The new 2023 Nissan Altima proved to be a very capable sedan, and we loved the ride it gave us, especially with the turbocharged engine. Our only hesitation would be that it only comes in a front-wheel drive setup this way.

Here in the mountains of Utah, with all the snow we can get, we would be more drawn to having all-wheel drive to get us around. That being said, the turbo was awesome. Yes, that empty nest syndrome gets the best of us!

Base price: $34,990

Destination charge: $1,095

Price as driven: $36,440


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