The all-new 2013 Nissan Altima definitely raises the bar on style and content compared to the outgoing model, but it makes significant progress in another area, as well: the 2013 Altima is expected to get a best-in-class fuel economy rating of 38 mpg highway.

That is, of course, when the new Altima is equipped with the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, mated to the latest version of Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

This combination still delivers a respectable 182 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, but more importantly it returns an estimated 27 mpg city and the aforementioned 38 mpg on the highway.

If you need more power, even the 3.5-liter V-6 (which produces 270 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque) and CVT combination returns an estimated 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

That’s roughly a 10-percent improvement over the outgoing Altima with the 3.5-liter V-6, but sadly, the six-speed manual transmission is no longer available.

A mild hybrid version, combining an electric motor with a supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine, is expected to appear in 2013 as a 2014 model.

Fuel economy may justify your purchase, but passion is likely to inspire it. The 2013 Altima gets a wider stance and a completely new front-end look, which now ties better to the family design language.

The Altima’s new shape is more aerodynamic, too, which is one of the reasons behind the sedan’s improved fuel economy.

Inside, “uncluttered” is perhaps the best way to describe the Altima’s new dash layout. It’s elegant in its simplicity, and features an eye-pleasing blend of shapes, colors and textures.

There’s science behind the Altima’s seats, however. Based on research conducted by NASA, the Altima’s seats attempt to place driver and passengers in a “neutral posture” position to reduce fatigue over long distances.

The 2013 Altima gets a new infotainment option to counter systems from rival automakers. Called NissanConnect, the system integrates a smartphone via Bluetooth to provide audio streaming, hands-free messaging and Pandora internet radio.

There’s a USB input as well, and Sirius XM satellite radio is included as part of the package.

Another unique feature is something called Advanced Drive-Assist Display, which comes standard on all new Altima models.

This four-inch color screen sits between tachometer and speedometer, and can be configured to display a range of driver-selected information, allowing the driver to stay focused on the road ahead.

Look for the 2013 Altima to hit Nissan dealers this summer, with prices starting from $21,500.

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