The Altima (pronounced ALL-teemah) is a mid-size car currently being manufactured by the Japanese automaker Nissan, and is arguably a continuation of the "bloodline" that began with the Nissan Bluebird in 1957. It is larger, has more features, and is more expensive than the Nissan Sentra compact car; but is cheaper, less luxuriously appointed, and offers less powerful engines than the Nissan Maxima sports sedan. It competes with the Honda Accord, Mazda6, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu, and Ford Fusion.
The Altima name was originally a trim line of the Nissan Laurel mid-size car sold in the Caribbean before 1992. In 1993, Nissan discontinued its much-criticized Stanza compact car, replacing it with the US-made Altima, originally as a compact car. The very first Altima rolled off the assembly line on June 15, 1992 as a 1993 model. Until June 2004, all Altimas had been built in Smyrna, Tennessee. However, in June 2004, Nissan's Canton, Mississippi, plant began producing additional Altimas to meet high demand.
The Altima has had four design generations: 1993 to 1997, 1998 to 2001, 2002 to 2006, and 2007 to the present.
First generation (1993-1997)
The original 1993 Altima was a rebadged Japanese-market Nissan Bluebird. The official name of the car was the Nissan "Stanza Altima", and the trunklid had a sticker reading "Stanza" in stylized lettering.
The 1993 Altima had a single airbag on the driver's side, and used automatic shoulder belts for the front seats in the United States.
Trim levels were XE, GXE, SE, and GLE. The sporty SE had a stiffer suspension and rear spoiler.
The Japanese Altima (Bluebird) built on the same U13 chassis was equipped with the more powerful SR20DET engine, all-wheel drive (featuring Nissan's Attessa torque transfer system) and other cutting-edge features like anti-lock brakes, a heads-up display (HUD) and featured a larger front bumper with a cutout for the front-mounted intercooler. Both manual and automatic transmissions were made available at the time. The flywheel featured on these cars was a 9.5 inch unit vs. the 8.5 inches on other models.
Second generation (1998-2001)
The second generation, codenamed L30, was an American market-only version. It was designed in Nissan's California design center. It was criticized by the public for its new styling despite largely being based on the same previous mechanical model.
It came with the same KA24DE DOHC I4 engine as the first generation Altima. In 2000, the engine was upgraded to produce 155 hp. That year, the car also received a minor facelift with a new front fascia, which included one-piece headlamps with turn signals, and new seats.
Third generation (2002-2006)
The third generation Altima, codenamed L31, first sold in 2002, was well-received by the press because of its design, power, and style. It crossed over to the mid-size class this time. It was also the first mass-market product built on Nissan's FF-L platform. It was unique to North America and had no equivalent model in Japan, where smaller vehicles tend to be favored by buyers. The Japanese Nissan Teana is similar, but is not identical and slots between the Altima and Maxima in size.
This Altima was much bigger than the previous Altima. So big, in fact, it became the size of the Maxima that came before it.
It came with either a QR25DE engine - 2.5 L straight-4 DOHC engine rated at 175 hp (130 kW) or a more powerful VQ35DE engine (the one used in the Infiniti G35, Infiniti FX35, Infiniti M35, Nissan Maxima, Nissan Murano, Nissan Quest and Nissan 350Z) - a 3.5 L DOHC V6 engine rated at 250 hp (186 kW). In 2005, the Altima received a new front grille, and the taillights received a change; the amber-colored segments were changed to red, making the entire taillight red. The 2005 model year also saw the addition of a sporty SE-R model making 260 hp (194 kW). The Altima SE-R became the first sports model for the lineup sporting 18 inch forged aluminum wheels, an upgraded braking system, upgraded suspension, performance exhaust, lower body kit and more.
Fourth generation (2007-present)
The fourth generation Altima was announced at the 2006 New York Auto Show on April 12, 2006. It is the first vehicle to use the smaller Nissan D platform, with a new front and upgraded rear suspension. The wheelbase is 1 inch shorter than the third generation Altima, but interior space is mostly unchanged. The Maxima and Murano will continue on the larger FF-L platform.
The 2007 Altima uses revised versions of the engines in the third generation model. The VQ35DE 3.5 L V6 engine will produce 270 hp, and the QR25DE 2.5 L I4 will produce 175 hp. A 6-speed manual is standard, and a continuously variable transmission replaces the traditional automatic as the optional transmission. The 2007 Altima sports some more recent innovations in the market, including, but not limited to, "push-button start", Bluetooth capability for cell phones and a parking camera.
First officially revealed at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2008 Altima Coupe is Nissan's first-ever two-door Altima. It has a shorter wheelbase, shorter overall length and lower height than the Altima Sedan.
The 2007 Altima Coupe will be available with two engines: The VQ35HR, a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 or the VQ25HR, a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder.
Nissan entered an agreement with rival Toyota to use some of its hybrid technology in the new Altima for the 2007 model year. The Altima Hybrid is Nissan's first hybrid car. The company has asserted that subsequent hybrid models will be based on hybrid technology developed in-house. Up to 40,000 per year will be built at Nissan's Smyrna plant. Sales of the hybrid model are limited to California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont for the 2007 model year, with other states possible in subsequent years.
The Hybrid Altima features a 2.5 L QR25DE engine, CVT and electric motor/generator.
- Nissan Altima Hybrid
- Nissan Altima Hybrid in Greencar.com
- Nissan Altima Hybrid - Road Test & First Drive - Motor Trend