The Ultimate Nissan Altima Page

Nissan Motor Company is known for its quality and reliability as a maker of both cars and trucks. The Altima continues this legacy in the American sedan market to this day. Its origins lie in the Nissan Bluebird line, which was discontinued in 2001. Nissan first introduced the Altima for the 1993 model year as a replacement for the Nissan Stanza in the United States. Despite the company's concerns, the Altima was an immediate hit and disrupted the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry's domination of the mid-sized sedan world. The Altima's appeal is strongest with economy-minded younger drivers who are concerned about getting more miles per tank of gasoline. Altima owners also tend to mostly favor its spacious interior, exterior and interior styling, and comfortable seating. All Nissan Altima models are made in the United States.

First Generation (1993-97: U13)

The first Altimas were designed in California by Blue Studio, which was headed by Allan Flowers, and manufactured for the U.S. market in Smyrna, Tennessee. They were originally known as the Stanza Altima, and the early owner's manuals reflected this. The original four-door Altima sedans came with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 150-horsepower engine with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. They were large enough to carry four passengers, putting them on the high end of the compact class of sedans. The U13 generation of Altimas, based on the U13 production of the Nissan Bluebird, came in XE, GXE, SE, and luxury GLE versions. The basic XE was rare and had manual windows, whereas the other models had power windows. The SE was the sporty model and came with sport seats, side skirts, disc brakes, and rear spoilers, and the 1994-95 models had a sunroof. The GLE version came with adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, digital air conditioning, a sunroof, and a stereo with CD/cassette functionality. In the middle of the 1997 model year, all Altimas added side-impact safety improvements to comply with new federal standards. Its fuel efficiency was rated at 24/30 highway/city miles per gallon. The Altima's curb weight ranged from 2,828 pounds and 2,989 pounds, and its top speed was between 122 and 127 mph.

Second Generation (1998-2001: L30)

The next generation of Altimas, designed by Doug Wilson and Diane Allen, were known for having somewhat roomier-feeling cabins than their predecessors and for being more responsive on the road. The L30 Altimas were five inches longer than the U13 Altima, at 185.8 inches, and two inches wider, at 69.1 inches. The engine power also enjoyed a slight increase to 150 horsepower, and in 2000, the Altima's engine power increased to 155 horsepower. They came in the same trim choices as the U13, with the XE, GXE, SE, and GLE lines being available again. The L30 Altima came with newly redesigned glove boxes and cup-holders, and the GXE, SE, and GLE models also had a back seat that could be folded down. Leather seats came standard in the luxury GLE models, while the Altima SEs had fog lights and alloy wheels. The Limited Edition package for the Altima GXE provided a power driver's seat, a keyless entry system and car alarm combination, and floor mats. The L30 Altima's curb weight ranged from 2,859 pounds to 3,012 pounds, and its fuel efficiency rating was 24/31 city/highway miles per gallon for most models (the GLE's fuel efficiency was 22/30). The five-speed manual-transmission version of the Altima GXE went from 0 to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, the performance of the automatic GLE and GXEs was 10.1 seconds, the five-speed manual SE accelerated to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, and its automatic version's performance was 10 seconds. The XE went from 0 to 60 in 9.9 seconds for the automatic version and 8.8 seconds for the manual version.

Third Generation (2002-06: L31)

Nissan switched to the wide-stance FF-L platform for its L31 generation of Altimas to improve performance and road handling. The goal of the L31 Altima was to build a car that stood out from its competitors, and Nissan's efforts greatly increased the sedan's popularity with consumers. Touted as "the cure for the common sedan" by Nissan, the third generation of Altimas received strongly positive reviews from drivers and car critics, including the North American Car of the Year award for 2002. It featured an expanded internal volume of 118.8 cubic feet, surpassing the internal space of the Nissan Maxima. In addition, the Altima's 20-gallon fuel capacity was the largest in its class, and it was upgraded to include the option of a 3.5-liter V6 engine. In 2005, the V6 Altima engine increased in power to 260 horsepower for the SE-R model, which went from 0 to 60 in just 5.7 seconds. Even the four-cylinder, 2.5-liter engine turned in a 0-60 mph performance of 8.6 seconds. The Altima grew in size to a curb weight of up to 3,327 pounds, a wheelbase of 110.3 inches, a length of 192.3 inches, and a width of 70.4 inches, placing it firmly in the mid-size market. The third generation also introduced the six-speed manual transmission option for the SE-R models.

Fourth Generation (2007-12: L32A/D32)

Nissan switched to the Nissan D platform for the fourth generation of the Altima, which was slightly smaller, with a wheelbase of 109.3 inches for the L32A sedan and 105.3 inches for the two-door D32 coupe. The two engine types used for this generation were a 175-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 270-horsepower V6 for the coupe. As of 2008, all Altimas came with an upgraded rear suspension, anti-lock brakes, Smart Key access for push-button starts, a camera for assisting with parking, and Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones. The new Altimas also came with an expanded glove compartment as well as three cup-holders under the central console, two in the back armrest, and one for each door, for a total of nine. All Altimas were equipped with electronic stability control. The coupe was a new offering that came onto the market for the fourth generation and was uniquely designed for a sportier look and better performance. The Altima design also switched to the Xtronic CVT transmission system for cars using the automatic transmission option and eliminated the five-speed manual transmission in favor of a six-speed version. The gas mileage of the Altima ranged from 22 miles per gallon in the city for the SE and SL to 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway for the 2.5-liter S model. The curb weight of the Altima ranged from 3,055 pounds to 3,334 pounds. Production of the fourth-generation Altima expanded to a new factory in Canton, Mississippi to meet growing demand.

The Nissan Altima Hybrid sedan also hit the road as of 2007. It licensed its hybrid-drive system from Totoya and was distributed in Canada and the ten U.S. states that imposed California's strict emissions control regulations. The Altima Hybrid used a four-cylinder, 158-horsepower, 2.5-liter engine, and its electric motor pushed it up to 198 horsepower. Its fuel efficiency rating was 35 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway, with a projected range of up to 700 miles per tank of gasoline. Due to its battery, the Altima Hybrid's curb weight was greater than its siblings, at 3,470 pounds. Nissan discontinued production of the Altima Hybrid in 2011.

Fifth Generation (2013-Present: L33)

Nissan redesigned the L33 Altima to be both larger than the previous generation and lighter. Its fuel economy increased to 27 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway for the 2.5-liter four-cylinder version and 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway for the 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter six-cylinder. The six-speed manual transmission option was discontinued during the fifth generation in favor of the CVT, which is now standard for all models. The Nissan Altima coupe was also discontinued as of 2013. The current Altimas have a curb weight range of 3,153 pounds for the 2.5-liter versions to 3,374 pounds for the versions with 3.5-liter V6 engines, which are only available for the SL trim. As of 2015, Nissan Altimas all come with "Zero Gravity" front seating for better comfort and reduced muscle fatigue, and they're also equipped with streaming music technology, a push-button ignition, and Bluetooth connectivity for cell phones.

Visit these sites for pictures of the Nissan Altima across the generations:

Click these links to visit discussion forums about the Nissan Altima:

Written By: | Email | twitter
Popular Model Pages

Popular Articles