Nissan may have canceled its Altima Hybrid after having only limited commitment to it, and in light of its enthusiasm for all-electric vehicles, but it also now says its new gasoline-only Altima earns better highway mileage than the hybrid, and just two mpg less combined.

Having received EPA certification and reporting its 2013 Altimas are shipping for deliveries later this month, Nissan says the Altima with 2.5-liter four cylinder engine and new Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission will offer 27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 31 overall. This contrasts with the outgoing 2011 hybrid that was EPA rated at 33 mpg in all three categories.

“This is a huge day for the Nissan brand as we ramp up production and begin shipping the new, fuel-efficient Altimas to our dealers,” said Bill Krueger, vice chairman, Nissan Americas. “The new Altima is a game-changer for the mid-size market and our dealers can’t wait to share it with our customers.”

The new Altimas are being built at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tenn. plant, and production also just began at its second assembly plant in Canton. Miss. Nissan is aiming squarely at the Toyota Camry lineup and has said by year’s end, both its plants will be operating three shifts “to maximize production of the country’s second best-selling car.”

Nissan is gauging interest from a few indicators including 1.5 million visitors to a dedicated pre-order Web site from which 30,000 have said they are fully interested in the new Altima.

Customers who pre-order through this online venue are being offered free three-year scheduled maintenance which Nissan says is a $700 value.

Features beyond competitive mileage Nissan also promises include:

• Ride comfort, control and fun-to-drive demeanor, including better 0 – 60 mph acceleration than other top-selling mid-size sedans as demonstrated in independent third party testing

• Available Next-generation Safety Shield Technologies, including Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD) systems using an innovative single rear camera

• Easy-Fill Tire Alert, which sounds the car horn to notify a person filling a tire with air when the tire reaches recommended tire pressure – no gauge needed

• Headlights that automatically switch on when the windshield wipers are in use

• Windshield wipers that park themselves off the windshield when the vehicle is turned off with the wipers on and in mid-cycle

• Premium exterior styling with a powerful presence and improved aerodynamics

• Upscale interior rivaling premium luxury sedans, including NASA-inspired “zero-gravity” seats, an Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display and BOSE® Premium Audio System

• Standard Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone system and Streaming Audio via Bluetooth®

• Available NissanConnectSM and NissanConnectSM Navigation with a suite of Bluetooth® phone connectivity features, including hands-free text message integration, Pandora® playback, real-time Google® POI search and more

• Advanced Drive-Assist™ Display with 4-inch color screen standard on every model, which is customizable, easy-to-use and integrates key information right in front of the driver

• World-first multi-link rear suspension with connect bushings and Sachs damper to deliver outstanding handling

• Active Understeer Control, which uses advanced electronic stability control algorithms to improve cornering and provide a more confident driving experience

The 2013 Altima will be available for delivery later this month and will start at $21,500.