Arriving at Nissan dealerships in September 2001 is an all-new third generation Altima sedan. The 2002 Altima features a choice of 4-cylinder or V6 power, distinctive exterior design, sophisticated drivetrain, performance-oriented suspension and increases in all major interior dimensions.
“The 2002 Altima provides unparalleled performance, design and innovation in the midsize sedan category,” said Bill Kirrane, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “It’s a distinctive sedan with spirited performance and style designed to go head-to-head against the longtime class leaders.”
Nissan’s designers and engineers started with a clean sheet of paper when designing the 2002 Altima, including an all-new platform.
“Altima was conceived to be a spirited sedan that feels alive and secure – where car and driver feel like one,” adds Kirrane. “By focusing on three key areas – design, performance and roominess, we’ve created a vehicle that we believe sets a new standard in its class.”
Expressive Exterior Design
The 2002 Altima’s powerful design begins with its wedge shape with a high waistline and pronounced character lines. An arched silhouette, slanted back window and integrated front and rear bumper shapes give the sedan a fluid, smooth form.
The front fascia features a prominent grille with a large Nissan badge and round fog lights. The rear fascia is elegant and clean, with cutouts for the dual exhaust system (V6 only) and an optional trunk-mounted rear spoiler with integrated LED brake light providing the finishing touch.
Large 16- and 17-inch wheels give Altima a performance look with an aggressive stance. “Altima looks like it’s moving when it’s standing still,” said Kirrane. “From a design standpoint, it’s head and shoulders above the competition.”
The 2002 Altima is a much larger vehicle than before – wheelbase has been increased 7.1 inches to 110.2 inches, overall length is up 5.7 inches to 191.5 inches and the Altima is 1.3 inches wider for a total of 70.4 inches. Height has also increased by 2.0 inches to 57.9 inches. Track has been increased by 1.8 inches in front and 2.4 inches in the rear for increased handling capability and a substantial look.
A first for Nissan and Altima is the use of aluminum panels for the hood and trunk. Weight savings is 55 percent between the two pieces, making them easier to open and close.
Finely crafted combination headlights, with optional xenon bulbs on V6 models and large round taillights with clear lenses give the Altima an upscale appearance. Green-tinted UV-reducing solar glass enhances Altima’s luxury look, protects interior fabrics and improves passenger comfort.
Altima will be assembled at the award-winning Nissan North America Manufacturing Smyrna and Decherd Tennessee plants using the Intelligent Body Assembly System (IBAS), which produces panel fit accuracy within +/- 1.0 mm. Altima is the first Nissan assembled in Tennessee to utilize a one-piece bodyside structure – a key feature for uniform panel gap and quality.
Body and structural improvements made to the 2002 Altima add up to a 170 percent increase in overall body stiffness versus the 2001 model. The increased stiffness and solidity increase driving stability and ride comfort while reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
2002 Altima will be available in a choice of ten exterior colors, all chosen to complement the sedan’s body and personality.
Dynamic Performance and Innovative Technology Systems
A new 240-horsepower 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 with 246 lb-ft of torque is available in the 2002 Altima, the first time a V6 has been offered in this sedan. The 3.5-liter V6 is part of the VQ engine series, which has been recognized as one of the “Ten Best Engines” by Ward’s Auto World magazine for seven consecutive years. For silent, smooth operation, a new timing chain was added, as well as a new dual exhaust system. V6-powered Altimas qualify for Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) status.
Also available on 2002 Altimas is an all-new 175-horsepower 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder producing 180 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 20 horsepower and 24 lb-ft from the previous generation’s 2.4-liter engine. This engine, called QR25, features a silent chain drive and a balancer system that effectively negates vibrations without taking up much space – combining ideal packaging and smoothness. All 2.5-liter 4-cylinder-equipped Altimas qualify for Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) status.
Both engines feature continuously variable valve timing, modular engine design, microfinished crank journals and cam lobes, molybdenum coated lightweight pistons and electronically controlled throttles.
Backing either engine is a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmissions. Automatic transmission-equipped V6 Altimas offer an available traction control system. This advanced system uses a combination of throttle, fuel cutoff and shift schedule to aid traction in off-the-line starts and slippery situations. A 20 gallon fuel tank provides a long range between fill-ups.
The 2002 Altima features an all-new front suspension with an extensive use of aluminum parts, which is eight percent lighter than a comparable steel design. A cradle-type frame with an offset coil spring and lower transverse link layout provides better handling and riding performance, cutting 30 percent of lateral forces acting on the front suspension.
The rear multi-link independent suspension of the 2002 Altima was adapted and improved from the Japanese-market Nissan Skyline supercar and is similar to Infiniti’s flagship 2002 Q45 sedan. The rear shocks and springs are separated for reduced friction and the shock is in line with the center of the rear wheels, providing better damping and less harshness. In addition, the rear suspension is approximately six percent lighter than the rear suspension in the previous generation Altima.
Overall torsional rigidity has increased by 70 percent, which should help provide confident handling. For a quiet ride, numerous countermeasures have been taken to improve noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
All 4-cylinder Altimas come with 205/65R16 tires on either steel or aluminum-alloy wheels and V6 models have standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and 215/55R17 tires.
Braking is provided by standard 4-wheel disc brakes with an optional 4-wheel, 4-channel, 4-sensor Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). ABS-equipped Altimas feature two advanced braking systems - Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), which optimizes brake force depending on load condition (passengers and cargo) and Brake Assist, which senses hard or panic pedal application and helps provide maximum braking capacity.
Inviting Interior Design
2002 Altima’s all-new interior is a contemporary design that is relaxed, modern and comfortable, emphasizing a harmony between driver and machine.
The large cabin is designed to be among the best in class with cabin volume at 103.2 cubic feet, up 9.2 cubic feet from the previous Altima. All major interior dimensions increase from the previous vehicle, including a 1.3-inch increase in front headroom, 1.9-inch increase in front legroom, 2.6-inch increase in rear legroom and increases of front and rear hip and shoulder room.
A new interior color and design strategy was created by Nissan designers for the 2002 Altima. Instead of standard interior color selections, there are distinctive “environments” that encompass both seat cloth or (optional) leather color and interior surface trim finish, including audio faceplate and HVAC controls. The three atmosphere choices feature colors of Charcoal, Blond and Frost. Wood-tone trim is also available in 2002 Altima.
The instrument panel is designed to fall away from the occupants for increased legroom and improved ingress and egress. The panel is a high tech design with a three-gauge “cockpit” instrument pod. The gauges feature a fine vision meter illumination system for superior visibility. In the gauge cluster is a multi-function trip computer, which includes an odometer, twin trip meters and a display for outside air temperature, driving time, average speed, fuel consumption and distance to empty.
For the driver, there’s a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable center console armrest and gated automatic transmission shifter with a formed gearshift knob design. HVAC and audio controls are grouped in a single unit, reducing complexity.
Additional features include a power port inside the center console storage area for a mobile phone, large cup holders that can hold up to a one-liter bottle, roof-mounted map light and sunglass holder. Power windows and locks are standard and windows can be opened remotely via key fob for cabin venting.
Audio systems include a standard 6-speaker AM/FM/CD with an available in-dash 6-disc CD changer with radio data system (RDS), speed-sensitive volume control and steering wheel audio controls. Optional is an 8-speaker Bose® Premium audio system with an AM/FM/in-dash 6-disc CD changer with RDS, speed-sensitive volume control and steering wheel audio controls.
The 2002 Altima also features a large trunk with cargo net. The trunk measures 15.6 cubic feet, a full 1.8 cubic feet larger than the 2001 model.
From a safety standpoint, Altima comes with standard dual-stage supplemental air bags that sense seatbelt use and collision severity and deploy accordingly. Optional are front seat side-impact supplemental air bags and roof-mounted side-impact curtain air bags for front- and rear-seat occupant head protection. Also standard are seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchors and tether system.
Models and Options
The 2002 Nissan Altima will be available in four different models – the base 2.5, mid-grade 2.5 S, luxurious 2.5 SL and the V6-powered 3.5 SE. Options range from an automatic transmission to leather-appointed seats, audio systems, front seat side-impact air bags and roof-mounted side-impact curtain air bags.