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Spy Shots: 2013 Nissan Altima

Fifth-generation sedan due late in 2012.

by on Dec.28, 2011

The 2013 Nissan Altima undergoing testing on Michigan roads. Credit: Jim Dunne, Car Spy.

We’ve been hearing lots, in recent months, about the problems faced by the “Japanese” as a result of the huge earthquake and tsunami that struck the country’s northeast coast last March.  While it’s true the industry was briefly sidelined, and while Toyota and Honda have struggled until recently due to production shortages, Japan’s number two automaker was quickly back in action and, if anything, the Nissan Altima sedan has been doing better than ever in recent months.

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That’s all the more impressive considering the current model isn’t exactly the newest offering in the hotly competitive midsize segment.  But Nissan has plans to build on the Altima’s current momentum with an all-new version that’s due to market a little less than a year from now carrying a 2013 designation.

Legendary spy photographer Jim Dunne captured this image of the next-gen, 2013 Nissan Altima out and about in the Detroit suburbs wearing minimal camouflage as it was put through some testing.


Inside the 2013 Chevy Malibu

We get our first chance to crawl all over Chevy’s next-gen midsize sedan.

by on Jul.28, 2011

The next Chevrolet Malibu will make its debut for 2013.

It’s not often you get a chance to crawl inside a major product more than a year before its official launch, but even as most makers are starting to push their 2012 products, we found ourselves this week getting up-close-and-personal with the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

The Malibu, you may recall, created something of a shock wave when the current version made its debut as a 2007 model – quickly grabbing an array of awards including the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy.  It remains a solid seller, but the market has moved on and with all-new versions of the top-selling Toyota Camry and Honda Accord soon to market – never mind offerings like the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion to deal with – Chevy is wisely hoping to wow us with the next-gen Malibu.

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We got a first glimpse of the midsize sedan at the New York Auto Show, a few months back, but the General Motors division had a prototype on hand – along with some of the key designers and engineers working on the 2013 program – as we headed out to its sprawling Milford (Michigan) Proving Grounds.

There’s no question that Chevrolet isn’t planning to play it safe.  As senior GM officials have stressed, the worst thing you can shoot for is simply a “competitive” vehicle.  Inside and out, if Chevy ever hopes to seriously tackle the imports it has to be bold and aggressive.


First Drive: 2011 Kia Optima

Known for cheap-and-cheerful offerings, Kia comes up with a styling benchmark with plenty of upscale features.

by on Sep.01, 2010

Striking good looks and plenty of features could help the new Optima win a new generation of buyers for Kia.

It’s not often that a single car can redefine a brand.  The original BMW 3-Series, for one, the new Hyundai Sonata at the other end of the spectrum.  Can Kia pull off the same sort of brand remake when it launches the 2011 Optima, later this year?

The Kia brand has been around for decades, though in its original incarnation its products were used to flesh out the low end of the Ford line-up, cheap-and-cheerful offerings like the Ford Aspire.  After it launched its own U.S. dealer network, in 1994, Kia continued to pursue the low end of the spectrum where only three things matter to buyers: price, price and price.


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But the automaker’s new crossover, the Kia Sorento, suggests that things just might be in for a big change, and the 2011 Kia Optima, which made its world debut at this year’s New York International Auto Show, is a sign of just how far the Korean carmaker is ready to reach.

Optima is the work of Peter Schreyer, the inordinately talented former Audi chief of design, who joined Kia several years ago with the promise of revamping the maker’s entire line-up.  If Sorento and, now, Optima are any indication, Kia could push past its big brother, Hyundai, which took control of the smaller Korean manufacturer in 1997.