As CAFE Rules Target 54.5 MPG, Nissan Eyes Trifecta of Fuel Efficiency


New U.S. corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) rules released on Aug. 28 will require automakers to reach 54.5 mpg by the year 2025, but Nissan wasn’t awaiting word from the federal government to increase the efficiency of its lineup. The Japanese automaker has been busy getting ahead of the fuel-economy curve with new vehicles like the 2013 Nissan Altima, and its focus on efficiency will shape several upcoming models as well.

According to a report from Automotive News, Nissan’s fuel-efficiency push is focused on three areas: reducing drivetrain friction, improving aerodynamics and cutting vehicle weight. The largest example of weight-loss efforts to date is the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, which is due to reach dealerships this fall. Switching to a unibody chassis from the body-on-frame platform of the outgoing model, the new Pathfinder has shed roughly 500 pounds, a change that Nissan says will help the vehicle become the most fuel-efficient midsize crossover on the market.

“Nissan has always had an eye on fuel efficiency, but it has redoubled its efforts in the last couple years, and we’re just now getting to see the results,” said Joe Lage, general sales manager of Rosen Nissan Gurnee, an Illinois Nissan dealership. “The new Pathfinder retains the nameplate’s signature capability, but it is lighter and more efficient. Meanwhile, we just saw the new 2013 Altima burst onto the scene earlier this summer as the most fuel-efficient gas vehicle in the midsize sedan segment.”

The 2013 Nissan Altima is an impressive 20 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor. Returning up to 38 mpg on the highway, a number reserved for compact cars just a few years ago, the standard 2013 Altima sports a revised 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission that has 40 percent less internal friction. There is also a 270-horsepower V6 unit available for those looking for additional performance.

Outside, the 2013 Altima sports a new, aerodynamic body featuring lightweight aluminum for the trunk, hood and roof. Underneath the surface, engineers used high-strength steel in the chassis, helping reduce the Altima’s weight even as it grows in size compared to the 2012 model.

Dropping pounds for the new Altima didn’t mean stripping the car of comfort and convenience, however. Nissan’s midsize sedan features NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats that are available with leather upholstery, as well as the optional NissanConnect suite of technologies, which range from hands-free phone calls and texting to streaming audio and navigation. Available safety equipment includes Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection.

“The 2013 Altima is proof that even as Nissan aggressively pursues fuel efficiency, it will still be delivering the style and performance that sets the brand apart,” added Lage. “Each new Nissan coming out over the next year will follow the same formula; the vehicles will squeeze out extra efficiency without making drivers feel the pinch.”

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