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The 10 Best Nissan Altima Models of All-Time

2019 Nissan Altima

The Nissan Motor Corporation, currently headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, was originally founded by a group of investors on December 26, 1933. Currently, there are three brands that come from the company's production plants; Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun. Since teaming up with Groupe Renault of France in 1999 and Mitsubishi Motors in 2016, Nissan has catapulted itself as one of the leading car manufacturers on a global scale. As of 2018, Nissan has become the world's largest electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, proving they've come a long way since their humble beginnings in Tokyo, Japan.

Nissan Altima

The mid-sized car known as the Nissan Altima first went into production in 1992. As a continuation of Nissan's Bluebird line that began in 1955, the Altima serves as a slight upsize from the compact Bluebird models. The first Altima was built in Nissan's factory in Smyrna, Tennessee. That same factory continued to manufacture all the Altima models until 2004.

The workload has since split that has the Canton, Mississippi plant keep up with the supply and demand of this popular Nissan brand. In 1992, when Nissan began the production of the Altima series, the company discontinued manufacturing its Stanza lineup, which was actually a clone to the Nissan's Bluebird.

First Generation

The first generation of Nissan Altima models ran from 1993 until 1997, which started off with a 150 horsepower engine. Interested buyers of these cars had the option between the 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic. Within this time span, a number of cosmetic and performance changes were made to keep up with the times, as well as government regulations, but the first generation of Nissan Altima models remained mostly the same.

Second Generation

The second generation of Nissan Altima models was made available only to the North American market. From 1997 until 2001, the newly designed interior, plus a few performance upgrades, this lineup focused more on satisfying the demands of the American market, which is considerably different than the demands elsewhere in the world.

Third Generation

The third generation of Nissan Altimas ran from 2001 until 2006. This lineup had a new chassis that made its debut for the 2002 models, which made it a larger vehicle than the previous two generations. Now at 118.8 cubic feet of interior space, instead of looking roomier on the inside, it actually became roomier.

The first two generations of the Altima models were designed as compact cars while the third generation grew to become closer to a mid-sized version. Still somewhat compact, the size upgrade, plus the design upgrade, made this generation come across as a more grown-up version than its predecessors. By the time the fourth generation of the Nissan Altima models came out in 2007, a number of design changes and upgrades continued to reshape this particular lineup that saw the variety among third-generation Altimas vary considerably between each other.

Fourth Generation

The fourth-generation saw the Nissan Altima no longer come strictly as a four-door sedan. Starting in 2008, the two-door coupe became an option for drivers to choose between the two different versions the Nissan Altima models now came in. It was also in 2007, upon the introduction of the fourth generation of Altimas, that Nissan would introduce to the market its first hybrid car.

The hybrid Altima series was discontinued in 2011, along with the rest of the fourth generation lineup. From 2012 until 2018, the fifth generation of the Nissan Altima went back to becoming a four-door sedan as it was clear with the hybrids and two-door coupes that car buyers were not nearly as interested in those models as they were with the sedan. 2012 marked the year the Nissan Altima was redesigned from the inside out, borrowing all of it from the 2010 Ellure Concept and the Nissan Maxima.

Fifth Generation

The fifth generation of Nissan Altimas also saw a run of models that stuck with automatic transmission only. There were no manual transmission options made available. The sixth-generation began in 2019 and is still in production today. Like all the generations before it, the Nissan Altima has made a number of design changes and upgrades as a means to not just accommodate the demands of the driving consumer, but surpass them.

2018 Nissan Altima

10. 2018 Nissan Altima

The start of the sixth generation of Nissan Altimas has the 2018 focus on doing more than simply keeping up with the race of technological improvements their competition has made. The three-way partnership Nissan shares with Groupe Renault and Mitsubishi Motors sees this new influence featured in the 2018 series by combining their resources to help keep the Nissan Altima up to date with the times.

2022 Nissan Altima

9. 2022 Nissan Altima

It's still too early yet to determine if whether or not the 2022 Nissan Altima has what it takes to stand the test of time like the earliest models from its first generation, or the latest models from its fourth generation, but so far it has received favorable enough reviews from some of the toughest car critics in the business. While it doesn't have any perfect scores, it's still high enough to make this lineup from the Altima series the nod of approval.

2020 Nissan Altima

8. 2020 Nissan Altima

It makes a good, family-sized sedan that has generous passenger space, as well as all the technology needed to work as a solid automobile that's safe to drive without any serious issues. The fuel economy is one of its highlights, which is ideal for travelers who do a considerable amount of road trips, especially as a family. The five out of five-star safety rating provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, plus the top safety pick recognition by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which not every 2020 vehicle of the mid-sized sedan class shares.

7. 1993 Nissan Altima

The first year Nissan brings the Altima series to the consumer market featured a car that is still on the road today. Drivers who still own a 1993 Nissan Altima are not the least bit shy to admit it's one of the most reliable vehicles they own, including some who have newer models of any given vehicle as recent as 2021. When visiting the car reviewing the site Edmunds, they talk about the 1993 Nissan Altima as almost always positive.

6. 1994 Nissan Altima

The second year the first generation of the Nissan Altima is in production sees an improvement on something the Japanese automobile production company started. 1994's lineup of Altimas has a near-perfect rating among consumers who've found it to be one of the most trustworthy cars they've ever driven. According to the Kelley Blue Book, the consumers who wrote in their reviews of the 1994 Nissan Altima has been mostly positive, each of them sharing stories about their own 1994 Altimas.

2017 Nissan Altima

5. 2017 Nissan Altima

The fuel economy of the 2017 Nissan Altima was one of the biggest pros for car critics and consumers when it came to rating this particular lineup of the Altima series. The seating was also considered the most comfortable in its class as a mid-size sedan. Both the engine and the automatic (only) transmission have also proven their reliability, which has been instrumental in boosting the confidence of consumers looking for a good, quality vehicle that is still small enough to pass as a compact car, but large enough to pass as a mid-sized one, too.

2011 Nissan Altima

4. 2011 Nissan Altima

According to the research presented by Olive, the tail end of the fourth generation of the Nissan Altima series had so far produced the most reliable lineup throughout the entire history of the Altima series since 1992. The new facelift the Altima received in 2010 played a factor in Nissan wanting to improve on what they started into the 2011 lineup. This improvement included an upgraded engine, an improved infotainment system, as well as the SmartKey.

2012 Nissan Altima

3. 2012 Nissan Altima

The final year of the Nissan Altima's fourth generation saw the 2012 model continue where the 2011 lineup of Nissan Altima models left off. Both the 2011 and 2012 models have been the most budget-friendly when it comes to keeping up with vehicle maintenance. For people and families who are not as willing or able to stretch the dollar for newer Nissan Altima models, both the 2011 and 2012 lineups have established themselves to be the best choices.

2012 Nissan Altima

2. 2021 Nissan Altima

With three quality awards for having the fewest amount of problems, plus an award for dependability, the 2021 Nissan Altima has managed to win over the mix of critics and reviewers after a rather disappointing 2020. The 2021 lineup featuring the upgrades in all the areas consumers and critics expressed issues regarding the 2020 model, showed Nissan was paying more than enough attention to ensure they didn't make the same mistake two years in a row. Reliable and quiet, the 2021 lineup seems to prove its worth in reliability as it received high scores from tough critics, such as J.D. Power.

2019 Nissan Altima

1. 2019 Nissan Altima

The 2019 Nissan Altima so far sports the official crown as the best of the entire Altima series. With a number of accolades and awards under its belt, this is the hardest Altima to beat ever since the production of the series began in 1992. According to critics, reviewers, and consumer input, no other Altima has been as highly regarded as this one.

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Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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