Right now, Nissan dealers across the U.S. are preparing themselves for the launch of the 2013 Altima.

In order to clear their inventory of old stock, dealers are likely to be offering some great deals on the outgoing 2012 Altima -- the second best selling car in the U.S. last year.

But should you wait for the 2013, or bag a bargain with last year’s model instead?

Gas mileage

For the 2013 model year, Nissan has worked hard to improve the gas mileage of its Altima family. 

Across the entire range, gas mileage is on average 3 to 4 mpg better than it was in 2012, with even the high-end 3.5-liter V-6 improving on last year’s fuel economy.

But the most noticeable difference comes from the 2.5-liter four-cylinder model, which beats last year’s 23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined with an impressive 27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined

Those figures make the 2013 Altima the most fuel-efficient mid-size gasoline car you can buy, but when it comes to filling up, there’s very little difference between it and the outgoing model. 

In fact, at current gas prices, the 2012 Altima will cost you just $200 more a year to drive 15,000 miles than the 2013 Altima. 

2012 Nissan Altima

2012 Nissan Altima

It’s worth remembering that that difference is probably much less than the discount you’re likely to get buying a 2012 Altima from a dealer eager to make way for the 2013.

Toys, connectivity

Like most new cars on the market today, the 2013 Nissan Altima comes with bluetooth handsfree and music streaming as standard across the range. It also offers MP3 compatibility and auxiliary inputs as standard on all trim levels, along with steering wheel audio controls.

While the 2012 Nissan Altima offered these features, they only came as part of a $490 value package.  No-longer made by Nissan, any remaining 2012 Altimas on dealer lots may or may not come with this package. 

Other features, such as auto-off lights, have also been added to the Altima lineup for 2013, along with its new Easy Fill Tire Alert  warning system -- a smarter tire pressure warning system that also offers tire-inflation coaching. 

Similar enough? 

Although the 2013 Nissan Altima is slightly wider and longer than its predecessor, gets better gas mileage and has a few more on-board gadgets, we think the 2012 Nissan Altima still represents a good buy. 

2011 Nissan Altima sedan

2011 Nissan Altima sedan

With identical 0-60 mph times, and almost the same amount of torque and only 7 horsepower less than its successor, the 2012 Altima is still a highly competent family car. 

Best of all, with a $20,550 list price and $780 destination, it is already $1,000 cheaper than the 2013 model.

And with Nissan offering 0 percent APR financing for 36 months on new 2012 Altima purchases until the end of July -- not to mention up to $1,500 cashback -- we think you’ll want to have a test-drive.

Even with special offers from Nissan however, there’s still room for some extra bargaining at your local dealer. 

Remember: your dealer would rather sell you a heavily discounted 2012 Altima than have it sit on the lot for weeks.


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