Nissan is on a roll. Car after car, truck after truck, the Nissan group seems intent on reinventing the entire product line, creating exciting new designs with real performance. First it was the Z concept, then the supercharged Frontier and now, the 2002 Altima sedan. Where once the Altima served only as a mild-mannered 4-cylinder family sedan; it now stands poised to set new standards for the entire mid-sized field.
The new Altima is bigger than the car it replaces in just about every way. Its wheelbase grows by seven inches and its overall length is up by nearly six inches. The new Altima has more headroom, leg room and trunk space than its predecessor as well as more power. The base model's 2.5-liter engine churns out a respectable 180-horsepower. For the first time an optional 3.5-liter V6 can be ordered in the Altima, producing a whopping 240-horsepower. Either engine can be teamed to a 4-speed electronic automatic transmission or slick-shifting 5-speed manual. A traction-control system will be standard on all automatic V6 Altimas.
Inside, Nissan continues to mature the Altima's design with a beautifully sculpted dash and form-fitting sport seats. The center console is angled up slightly, presenting the logically laid-out radio and ventilation controls to the driver. The steering wheel houses controls for the optional cruise control as well as the volume and station set for the stereo. The base Altima comes standard with 16-inch wheels, the V6 models get 17's. Front driver and passenger airbags are standard equipment, with side-impact and side-curtain airbags offered as optional equipment.