In 1993, Nissan Motors introduced a mid-sized automobile called the Nissan Altima. It is thought to be a carry-over of the Nissan Bluebird line (1957) by critics. In terms of power, size and luxury contents, it has been placed between Nissan Sentra and Nissan Maxima, i.e. higher than Sentra but lower than Maxima. The Nissan Altima is sold in North America and Middle East. A similar mid-sized sedan is marketed in certain other markets as Nissan Teana based on FF-L platform used in Altima from 2006 to 2006.
The term Altima was first used for the trim line of another mid-sized vehicle called the Nissan Laurel offered in Central America and the Caribbean prior to 1992. US-made Altima replaced the much criticized Nissan Stanza in 1993. Nissan introduced their first production Altima on June 15, 1992 as 1993 model. Initially up till 2004, the car was manufactured only in Smyrna, Tennessee after which the production of Altima was also begun in Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant to meet higher demands.
First Generation; U13 (1993–1997)
Similar to the Stanza, the Altima was essentially built on the Nissan Bluebird SSS (chassis model U13), however the styling of the vehicle carried out in Nissan’s California design studio. In the early years, the car was officially sold under the ‘Stanza Altima’ name. The 1993 model came with a sticker reading ‘Stanza’ in small letters on the left of the ‘ALTIMA’ emblem positioned on the trunk lid.
The first generation Altima was powered by KA24DE straight-4 DOHC engine coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission capable of generating 150hp (112 kW). All Altima models featured struts with stabilizer bars at both ends of the car to provide improved handling. 15-inch wheels were offered and the car had enough space to accommodate four adult passengers quite comfortably. Some of the different trim levels offered were XE, mid-line GXE, sporty SE and luxury GLE.
The base XE model came with manual windows, while the mid-line GXE featured power windows, a power retracting antenna, pass thru rear armrest, digital clock in dash, and color matched plastic speaker grilles for the rear 6 inch speakers.
Second Generation; L30 (1998–2001)
In 1998, the second generation Altima (chassis model L30) was introduced in the American market by Nissan Motors and designed at Nissan’s California design center. A redesigned glovebox and cup holders, a folding back seat (except on XE), and depowered airbags were introduced in this generation.
The different trim levels available were: stripped XE, volume-selling GXE, sporty SE, and luxury-trimmed GLE. The SE trim was characterized by body-color grille, fog lights, rear spoiler, alloy wheels, and white-faced gauges. Leather seats were made standard in all second generation GLE models.
Third Generation; L31 (2002–2006)
In 2002, the third generation (chassis code L31) was introduced by Nissan Motors. This model was only available in the North America and there was no comparable model in the Japanese market. It was based on Nissan’s new FF-L platform. Often Asian Nissan Teana was regarded as the equivalent model to Altima but in fact placed between Maxima and Altima. The only identical feature of these three models was the same platform. Compared to previous generations, this generation Altima featured larger dimensions.
Two-tone dash color was introduced for 2003-2004 models. The power of 3.5-L SE model was enhanced from 240 hp (180 kW) to 245 hp (183 kW), however, the torque was retained at 246 lb-ft (334 Nm).
Fourth Generation; L32 (2007-2012)
On April 12, 2006, Nissan unleashed the fourth generation Altima (chassis code L32) at the New York Auto Show. This generation is regarded as the first to base on the Nissan’s smaller D platform featuring new front and improved rear suspension. It has a shorter wheelbase than the previous generation. From the 2009 model onward, the same platform was also introduced in Maxima and Murano.
The fourth generation Altima received the renewed versions of the engines used in third generation Altima. Two engines offered are: VQ35DE 3.5-L V6 developing 270 hp (201 kW) and the QR25DE 2.5 L straight-4 generates 175 hp (130 kW). All the models in fourth generation receive 6-speed manual transmission as standard, while the conventional automatic transmission dropped in favor of an optional continuously variable transmission.
The fourth generation Altima comes with many distinct features including: standard “push-button start” (Called “Intelligent Key”), Bluetooth capability for cell phones, and a parking camera, larger dashboard buttons, nine cup holders, and several hidden compartments. ABS with electronic brake-force distribution was also made standard from 2008 model onward.