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The Altima ( ) is a mid-size car (originally a compact car) manufactured by Japanese automaker Nissan, and is arguably a continuation of the Nissan Bluebird line, which began in 1957. It has historically been larger, more powerful, and more luxurious than the Nissan Sentra but less so than the Nissan Maxima.The Altima is available in North America as well as the Middle East. In other markets, Nissan sells a related mid-size sedan called the Nissan Teana, built on the same FF-L platform used by the 2002–2006 Nissan Altima.

The name "Altima" originally referred to a trim line of the Nissan Laurel mid-size car sold in the Caribbeanmarker before 1992. In 1993, Nissan discontinued its much-criticized Stanza, replacing it with the US-made Altima, while remaining a compact car. The very first Altima rolled off the assembly line on June 15, 1992, as a 1993 model. All Altimas had been built in Smyrna, Tennesseemarker, until June 2004, when Nissan's Canton, Mississippimarker, plant began producing additional Altimas to meet high demand.

First generation (1993–1997)

1993–1994 Altima GXE


Like the Stanza before it, the original Altima was based on the Nissan Bluebird SSS (Chassis Model U13), though its original styling hailed from Nissan's California design studio. Initially, the car's official name was "Stanza Altima," which appears on the early owners manuals. 1993 models can be seen with a sticker reading "Stanza" in small lettering to the left of the ALTIMA emblem on the trunk lid.

All Altima models used Nissan's KA24DE I4 DOHC engine mated to a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, which provided the fastest performance among all 4-cylinder competitors (10.4 seconds to with automatic,8.4 with manual). (By contrast, the Japanese Bluebird SSS could be had with Nissan's SR20DET engine and all-wheel-drive.) Suspension was composed of struts with stabilizer bars at both ends and was noted for providing sporty, satisfying handling (plus a firm ride and moderate road noise); all wheels were 15-inches. Being one of the bigger compact cars, the Altima could seat four adults fairly comfortably, though its body was too skinny for five. Trim lines consisted of the stripped XE, mid-line GXE, sporty SE, and luxury GLE. Some options included a gold emblem package, molded mud guards, and a pin stripe. All models had small cupholders under the radio and a small glovebox which were improved in the 1998 redesign.

The base XE (rare) had manual windows. The mid-line GXE had 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. The XE and GXE models only had the fixed intermittent wiper switch.

In addition to the GXE features, the SE had a stiffer suspension, fog lights, 3 leg mount rear spoiler (1993 models with a clear LED brake light), side skirts (no upper side moldings), and sport seats (plus a standard sunroof in 1994–1995). It also had 4-wheel disc brakes, which came on the other trim lines when antilock brakes were ordered.

The GLE's enhancements included a digital head-up display (1993 and 1994 only), which displayed speed in mph or km/h, turn signals, and various warning lights on a unique mirrored patch made into the windshield. The 1989 to 1994 Maxima and 240SX had similar technology but only showed speed. Other features included a coin holder built into the fuse panel cover(1993 and 1994 only), adjustable lumbar support on the front seats, automatic digital climate control, keyless entry with alarm(optional), floor mats, color matched side mirrors, cornering lights, sunroof, and a higher-powered six-speaker cassette/CD stereo which included 6X9 rear speakers with black metal "active speaker" grilles, metal color matched "active speaker" grilles for the front door speakers(1993 and 1994 only), and a pair of A pillar tweeters all powered by 2 factory amps mounted underneath the rear deck. For 1997 it gave up all of the above in exchange for standard leather (previously optional). All SE and GLE models had alloy wheels and variable intermittent wipers.

Image:93 94 HUD Windshield.JPG|94 Altima HUD WindshieldImage:HUD Night.JPG|Head Up Display at Night1993 Altimas came with a rosewood colored dash trim and only had a driver's side airbag coupled with automatic shoulder belts(the center console was slimmer to accommodate the lap belts). The 1994 Altima gained a darker burl wood dash trim, a flush mount passenger airbag and normal seatbelts. 1993 and 1994 models came with chrome inner door handles standard with an auto door lock/unlock feature on the passenger side, in 1995, the inner door handles were changed to color matched plastic and a plug replaced where the passenger auto door lock/unlock feature was. 1993 and 1994 models also had a slim 1½ armrest lid, however, if an optional leather armrest was selected, it brought the height up to about . In 1995, all the armrest lids were thicker and about tall. 1995 also brought a new venetian blind-like grille, new taillights (red and clear), and a new 2 leg mount spoiler with a red LED brake light for the SE. Some other changes included the removal of the rear speaker grilles for a flat rear deck, a cheaper cloth interior, a raised mount passenger airbag, a plastic cover replacing the rear ashtray, and the digital in dash clock was now optional. 1996 brought new wheel covers for base models. In 1997 the GXE gained a new "Limited Edition" package including alloy wheels, keyless entry, alarm, floor mats, and a Limited Edition sticker on each side near the front wheels. The majority of final-year Altima models were dubbed "1997.5" models, signifying the added crash protection necessary to meet 1997 side-impact standards.

Second generation (1998–2001)

The second generation (codenamed L30) was an American market-only version, again styled by Nissan's California design center. A new interior brought a revised glovebox and cupholders, a folding back seat (except on XE), and depowered airbags.

While total volume remained identical at 108 cubic feet, most felt it was distributed better and resulted in a slightly roomier-feeling cabin. On the downside, many were let down by the new model's plainer styling and cheapened interior; some also felt the gas pedal was now too lightly sprung.

Trim lines were the stripped XE, volume-selling GXE, sporty SE, and luxury-trimmed GLE. The SE can be distinguished by its body-color grille, fog lights, rear spoiler, alloy wheels, and white-faced gauges. In this generation of Altima, all GLEs had leather seats standard.

2000–2001 Nissan Altima SE
1999 the uplevel cassette/CD stereo got a new faceplate, GXE and SE models gained variable intermittent wipers, and GLEs gained standard alloy wheels.The majority of changes came for the 2000 model year. The engine increased in power from 150 to with 4 way sparks, and it improved the 0-60 time from 8.7 to 8.4 seconds. Gearing and final drive ratios were shortened on both transmissions, stabilizer bars were thickened, and the steering was firmed up. SE and GLE models also upgraded to 16-inch wheels with lower-profile tires, new Monroe struts with "acceleration-sensitive strut valving", and a front strut tower brace for sportier handling (all optional on GXE). The Altima grew slightly longer and got a deeper front grille, one-piece headlamps with turn signals, all-red taillights, and plastic trim on the decklid. Inside were new front seats with a driver's height adjuster, cupholders for the rear seat (automatic transmission models only), revised seat cloth, a new instrument panel with digital odometers, a new rear window antenna, and the keyless entry fob now included a trunk release. Side airbags were newly standard on GLE and available on GXE and SE. For 2001, the Altima GXE again gained a Limited Edition package: power driver's seat, keyless entry with alarm, and floor mats.

Third generation (2002–2006)

The third-generation Altima (codenamed L31) debuted for model year 2002. It was the first mass-market product built on Nissan's new FF-L platform, which was unique to North America and had no equivalent model in Japan. (The Asian Nissan Teana is similar but not quite identical, slotting between the Altima and Maxima in size; all three lines would be sharing the same platform.) The Altima grew enormously for this generation, as interior volume expanded to 118.8 cubic feet. The Altima's interior dimensions even surpassed that of the higher-end 2000-03 Maxima, so the 2004 Maxima was moved more upscale into the full-size bracket. Also biggest in class was the Altima's 20-gallon fuel tank. The new Altima also upgraded its rear suspension to a multi-link type and its brakes to 4-wheel discs.

2003–2004 models received two tone dash colour, and the 3.5 SE received an upgrade in horsepower, from 240 hp to 245 hp, though torque stays the same. 2002–2004 models with manual gearbox were the lightest of the V6 (4DR) cars.

2005–2006 Altima 2.5S
2005–2006 Altima SE-R


In 2005 the Altima received a facelift, including a new front grille, all-red taillights, redesigned interior, and an optional DVD-based navigation system. The V6 was now rated at , and its optional automatic was now a 5-speed. Also new was the SE-R model with a 260 hp (194 kW) version of the V6, a 6-speed manual transmission (automatic still optional), upgraded brakes, 18-inch wheels, a suspension even stiffer than that of the 3.5 SE's, and a high-flow exhaust.

Reception

The third-generation Altima was well-received by the press, with many critics praising the new style and extra space. It was one of the most powerful and best-handling family sedans available, making the nameplate competitive in the mid-size segment for the first time. While previous iterations received decent reviews, the third-generation Altima was the first to enjoy considerable success, and it was credited with a turnaround of Nissan's operations.

Most of the criticism centered on the interior, which was cited for using hard and brittle plastics. Some also found the steering too light and/or abrupt, and the turning circle wide due to the elongated wheelbase. There is a consistent safety recall issue and continual concerns about passenger safety.

Fourth generation (2007–present)

The fourth generation Nissan Altima was announced at the 2006 New York Auto Showmarker 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 shorter than the third generation Altima, but interior space is mostly unchanged. The Maxima and Murano also use this new platform starting with the 2009 models.

The 2007 Nissan Altima uses revised versions of the engines from the third generation model. The VQ35DE 3.5 L V6 engine produces 270 hp, and the QR25DE 2.5 L straight-4 produces . 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, standard "push-button start" (Called "Renault Card"), Bluetooth capability for cell phones, and a parking camera. The dashboard has larger buttons for easy readability and a total of nine cupholders, three hidden under the center console, two in the rear armrest, and one 20-ounce cup holders in each door. Several hidden compartments have been added as well as doubling the glove compartment space to . For 2008, all Altima models received ABS with electronic brake-force distribution.

Car and Driver tested the inline four cylinder Altima 2.5S w/ CVT to go from 0-60 mph in 7.2 sec; the 6-cylinder model w/ CVT goes 0-60 mph in 6.6 sec according to Edmunds Inside Line.

There has been speculation that the Altima will soon replace the Primera as Nissan's European competitor in the large family car market that is dominated by models such as the Ford Mondeo and Peugeot 407. Nissan has yet to confirm whether this will happen. The Primera is still made at the Sunderlandmarker plant in England, although UK sales ceased in late 2006 and an NMUKmarker spokesman warned that its direct successor might not be sold in the UK due to the old model's fall in popularity during the final year or two of its life.

2010 Nissan Altima 2.5S sedan


For the 2010 model year, the Nissan Altima was facelifted with a new front fascia, hood, and headlights, as well as new wheels and interior materials.

Coupe

2008-2009 Nissan Altima coupe


The Altima Coupe was released on May 25, 2007 as a 2008 model.

First officially revealed at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2008 Nissan 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 2008 Altima Coupe is available with two engines: The same updated VQ35DE in the sedan, a 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 or the QR25DE, a 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder. The 4-cylinder version of the coupe has a base price in the United States of $20,490, while the 3.5-liter V6 will have a base price of $24,890.

Changes to the 2009 Nissan Altima Coupe include: The 6-speed manual transmission being refined for improved operational feel; new 16-inch wheel cover design;new standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheel design for Altima Coupe 3.5 SE model, along with standard 235/45 R18 Michelin tires; new high-gloss grille finish (previously medium gloss) and new auto speed-sensing door locks. The 4-cylinder version of the coupe has a base price in the United States of $21,750, while the 3.5-liter V6 will have a base price of $26,390. These prices do not include the $720 destination and handling fee.
2010 Nissan Altima 2.5S coupe


Changes to the 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe include: A redesigned front-end, hood, and grille, shaping the Altima to look more like the latest Nissan Maxima; new projector beam headlights; the Altima Coupe 2.5 S model now comes standard with 17" x 7.5" 5-split-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, along with P215/55TR17 all-season tires, instead of the 16" Steel Wheels with Plastic Covers provided in the former; the Altima Coupe 3.5 SE model has now been renamed to Altima Coupe 3.5 SR; a revision to fabric and trim pieces in the interior; the 2010 Altima Coupe models come standard with Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control, which was previously a $600 stand-alone option; a new premium Bose audio system with a 4.3-inch color display; Nissan's next generation navigation system with a 6.5-inch color display with an internal hard drive providing 9.3GB of music storage; USB connectivity; the color Azure Blue has been replaced by Navy Blue, and there are two additional colors: Crimson Black and Ocean Gray.

Hybrid

Nissan Altima Hybrid.
The Altima Hybrid is Nissan's first hybrid car. When first introduced in 2007 and continuing through the 2009 model year, the Altima's hybrid-drive system is licensed from Toyota's hybrid technology. 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 2007 hybrid model were initially limited only to states that had adopted California's strict emissions standards: Californiamarker, New Englandmarker, New Yorkmarker, and New Jerseymarker. The Altima Hybrid is also available in Canada. The Nissan Altima Hybrid is also used as a regular taxi vehicle and as a police cruiser with the NYPD.

The Hybrid Altima features a 2.5 L QR25DE engine, CVT and electric motor/generator.

Its fuel efficiency is city and highway, based on revised EPA measures for fuel economy ratings.

Recall and Safety Issues

In over a decade of production, the Altima has been subject to multiple recall campaigns. Most prominent were excessive oil consumption in many third generation models, as well as safety issues regarding the SRS Air Bag system in first generation models.

Third generation Altimas equipped with QR25DE four-cylinder engines were affected by issues contributing to abnormally rapid oil consumption.

Screws securing an intake valve assembly in the QR25DE were prone to coming lose. Once free, the screws can be ingested into the engine via the intake ports, damaging cylinder walls and leading to rapid oil consumption. Nissan's remedy has been to remove the intake manifold, and if the screws are present, remove them and apply Loctite upon reinstalling the screws. Nissan has in some cases elected to replace entire engines, however on a selective basis.

Additionally, a flaw with the pre-catalyst design caused excessive heat buildup and potentiated failure of the catalytic converter. This could result in metal shards entering the combustion chamber, damaging the cylinder walls and allowing for excessive oil consumption. If the low-oil situation was not promptly corrected, catastrophic engine failure would result.

Safety concerns and recall issues existed with the SRS Air Bag system 1995, primarily in first generation models. Accidents involving seat-belted passengers show that 1994 and early 1995 Nissan Altima air bags have caused severe eye injuries to more than two dozen people. US Federal investigators knew of 32 such cases, and Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety have learned of others since then. The air bags have damaged retinas, caused irises to detach, led to permanently dilated pupils and can even rupture an eyeball. The victims have been left with blurred vision, light sensitivity and blindness in one or both eyes. Many people were completely blinded for weeks before regaining only partial vision. In most cases, the injuries occurred during minor, low-speed crashes in which the driver walked away unscathed. The vehicle passed the air bag safety standard, FMVSS 208, because the standard cannot measure the blinding effects on instrumented dummies used in the standards testing. These Nissan Altimas have a serious eye- injury rate for passengers that is 20 times greater than other models surveyed. Although NHTSA has been investigating since March 2001, when Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety asked the agency to look into the problem, it has taken no final action. It is estimated that about 197,500 of the 249,000 made remain on the road. Details of the Nissan Altima air bag dangers are to be found in the Testimony of Frank Clemente before the Oklahoma Legislature Joint Committee Hearing Concerning HB 2661 April 22, 2004. Also as case law discussed in The LA Times November 18, 2002 regarding the blinding effect of the faulty air bag system :

Added Clarence Ditlow, who heads the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group based in Washington: "I've never seen a defect like this, which has such a singular injury mode -- which is physically blinding someone." The air bags are the focus of a long-running investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which could demand a recall of nearly 200,000 cars if it finds they are defective.

See also



References

  1. http://autos.msn.com/research/vip/Spec_Glance.aspx?year=2002&make=Nissan&model=Altima
  2. http://autos.msn.com/research/vip/Spec_Glance.aspx?year=2003&make=Nissan&model=Altima
  3. 2010 Nissan Altima gets light updates -- AutoWeek
  4. http://iguida.com/2010-nissan-altima


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