A red 2024 Nissan Altima SL is shown parked next to a person wearing a blue jacket.

Breaking The Mold For 30 Years—The Nissan Altima

Chances are you know someone who has or has had a Nissan Altima. First released in 1993, the Nissan Altima has been a favorite for many for its affordable, reliable, and comfortable styling. I know the Altima was a favorite in our family for many years, and its quality build allowed us to pass it through several generations. When we finally retired the Altima from our family, we found it difficult to replace the dependability that it had offered us all for so long. With the 2024 Nissan Altima hitting the streets, it’s interesting to look back at where it started and the changes it has undergone over the last 30 years.

Initially known as the Stanza Altima, the famed sedan replaced what was previously the Stanza. Unsure of how well the Altima would perform, Nissan was thrilled when the Altima became a near-instant success. The first generation ran from 1993 to 1997 and offered such luxuries as leather upholstery, adjustable lumbar support, and a moonroof. For select model years, you might even have a built-in coin holder, a valued accessory before Zelle or Cash App.

The Altima slid into the next generation, which ran from 1998 to 2001, with similar styling and some luxury upgrades. A power driver seat and keyless entry could be added with the Limited Edition Package, and a power boost to the engine meant a more rewarding driving experience. Some cosmetic and dimensional changes in 2000 led the way for bigger and better things with the third generation on the horizon.

A white 2024 Nissan Altima SR VC-Turbo is shown driving on a highway.

The Cure For the Common Sedan

The third generation of the Altima, which started in 2002 and ran to 2006, was a pivotal generation for the Altima and those generations to come. It was in this generation that Nissan chose to embrace the new tagline “The cure for the common sedan.” This tag was Nissan’s challenge to itself to go its own route with the Altima and not conform to the industry norm.

This generation boasted many firsts, like an available V6 3.5-liter engine. Based on a different platform, the third generation was larger than before, providing a spacious interior for added comfort and convenience. This growth has played a significant role in the generations since, helping cement the Altima as a family staple. This growth spurt even propelled the Altima to the front of its own Nissan line-up, giving it more interior cubic footage than the Maxima, which had been intended to be the bigger brother of the set.

The many changes and upgrades of the third generation resulted in serious recognition, with the 2002 model earning the “North American Car of the Year” award. This was a major bragging moment for Nissan, especially since this was the first Asian nameplate to receive this honor. Nissan was proving it was a force to be reckoned with, something that has been confirmed time and time again. After further recognition, the Altima found itself at the top of the segment.

Seven Generations Of Greatness

It’s incredible to think that the 2024 model is part of the seventh generation of Altima. That is a long and impressive history that has firmly planted the Altima in the once-overpopulated sedan class. Despite a shift in public interest, leading trucks and SUVs to dominate sales, the sedan class is still holding on, and the Altima is leading the assault. The Altima is a fantastic reminder of why the sedan was once the go-to style of vehicle for families, commuters, and solo drivers.

The 2024 Nissan Altima is a celebration of everything that has led up to this point. A new generation is likely on the way, which is why it is so important to appreciate everything this one has to offer, and with eight trim options, that’s a lot. The 2024 model is available in S FWD, SV FWD, SV AWD, SR FWD, SR AWD, SL FWD, SL AWD, and SR VC-Turbo FWD. The option to choose most of the trims in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive is just another way to customize your Altima to match your personal and distinct needs.

The black interior and dash of a 2024 Nissan Altima is shown.

The Need For Speed… or Maybe Just Fuel Efficiency

Altima fanatics have a choice of two engine options: the inline-four or the VC-Turbo. The inline-four is the standard engine, producing decent power for a sedan. Direct-injection offers improved performance and the added bonus of improved fuel efficiency. Depending on the set-up, drivers can expect around 27 MPG in the city and between 37-39 MPG on the highway. If you are looking for a vehicle that won’t drain your bank account at the pump, the Altima should be high on your list.

The other available engine is the VC-Turbo, which stands for Variable Compression Turbo. Well-deserving of its thrill-inducing name, the VC-Turbo is a unique combination of tech and mechanics that delivers fantastic performance and stellar efficiency. While the inline-four produces around 180 hp depending on the drivetrain, the VC-Turbo produces 248 horses. That is quite a bit of jump, giving adrenaline enthusiasts something to go for.

Similarly, while the inline-four produces 178 to 180 lb-ft of torque, the VC-Turbo ups the ante by close to 100 lb-ft of torque. The VC-Turbo blasts out 273 lb-ft of torque, all while still offering 25 MPG city and an impressive 34 MPG highway. With such little sacrifice in the efficiency department, the power boost seems like an excellent option for anyone looking for a spirited sedan with some sizzle. For an even more exciting experience, the SR offers a paddle shifter for that authentic hands-on feel. Otherwise, both engines are mated to the Xtronic transmission.

Thirty Years of Comfort, Convenience, and Safety

When comparing the first Altima to the latest one, it is easy to see continuity. The first Altima offered some pretty cutting-edge features, like a digital head-up display. Head-up displays are becoming increasingly popular with today’s segment leaders, but to think that Nissan did this thirty years ago on a vehicle that was just breaking into the market is pretty incredible.

Today, you can expect every Altima to come standard with the Nissan Safety Shield 360, a suite of six safety features. Each Altima is equipped with Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Intelligent Driver Alertness, creating a safety bubble around its occupants. Other available safety features include the Intelligent Around View Monitor and Traffic Sign Recognition, further showing the attention spent on safety in the Altima.

Comforts and conveniences like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, available built-in Nissan Door-to-Door Navigation, and the premium Bose sound system are just a few more perks to enjoy with the varying trim levels. Select trims even offer a moonroof, something that was available on the very first Altima, offering a throwback to its beginnings. Carving its own path has led to some impressive things and continues to set the Altima apart from other sedans.

A white 2024 Nissan Altima is shown driving on a city street.

Are We Near the End?

The Nissan Altima has had a good run, offering affordable and reliable transportation for several decades. The Altima has succeeded in making a name for itself and will most likely continue to do so. Unfortunately, if rumors are to be believed, the Altima may not be around for another thirty years. According to Car and Driver, rumors suggest that the Altima may be in its last few years. If this is the case, it’s a sad day for the sedan segment.

The automotive industry is shifting, revealing major changes that are significantly impacting the future of many vehicles. Sales of electric vehicles are starting to gain ground on gas-powered ones, and multi-purpose vehicles are trumping single-use vehicles, like sedans. With these changes, despite the Altima’s clear appeal and popularity, it comes as no surprise that its days may be numbered. With that being said, the 2024 Nissan Altima might soon become extinct, so if it appeals to you, snag it before it becomes a relic of the past.