With its big V6 and sports suspension, the Nissan Altima has suddenly turned into a sporty alternative to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Completely redesigned for 2002, the Altima offers dramatic new styling. More important, it's bigger in every dimension. About the only thing the 2002 Altima shares with the previous model is its name.
Prior to 2002, the Nissan Altima languished as a wallflower, though a very good one. The Altima was slightly smaller than the Accord and Camry, but bigger and more expensive than the highly popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. It was, as the saying goes, neither fish nor fowl. And it only came with a four-cylinder engine.
Now everything has changed.
This year marks the first time the Nissan Altima has ever offered a V6 option. It's the same 3.5-liter engine that powers the 2002 Maxima, and it's one of the best V6 engines available today. Last year's Altima was smaller than the Camry and Accord, but the 2002 Nissan Altima is bigger than either of them. This means roomier seating for four people.
Nissan Altima is available in four trim levels: 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 SL, and 3.5 SE. Two engines are available.
Nissan Altima base, S, and SL models come with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which is more powerful than last year's four-cylinder. SE models get the 3.5-liter V6.
The Nissan Altima 2.5 model won't be popular, as it does not have air conditioning. It does, however, come with power windows, green-tinted solar glass windshield, power steering, tilt and telescoping steering-wheel, fold down center armrests in front and rear, 60/40 split folding rear seat, and an in-glass antenna.
The Altima 2.5 S adds air conditioning, power door mirrors, remote keyless entry with remote trunk lock, height adjustable driver seat, cruise control, a 6-speaker audio system, seatback pockets, and a lock for the split rear seat.
The Altima 2.5 SL adds considerably more items such as alloy wheels, leather trim, power driver seat, trip computer, security system, premium sound system and other convenience features.
In addition to the V6 engine, the Nissan Altima 3.5 SE comes with 17-inch alloy wheels and many of the luxury features included with the 2.5 S. Further options can be added to all but the base 2.5 model.