1993 Nissan Altima: Nissan’s ‘Goldilocks’ of midsize sedans

1993 Nissan Altima: Nissan’s ‘Goldilocks’ of midsize sedans

A homegrown hero, the original Altima laid the groundwork for more than three decades of midsize sedans in the U.S.

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  • The 1993 Altima marked a turning point for Nissan in the U.S., signaling a deeper investment in American design, engineering, and manufacturing.
  • The Altima's enduring popularity over six generations speaks to its timeless design, practical features, and overall value proposition.

Alongside thrilling sports cars, hardy pickup trucks and forward-thinking concepts, the Nissan Heritage Collection is also home to everyday vehicles that played a massive role in Nissan's success. Take, for instance, this 1993 Nissan Altima GLE – the starting point for one of the company's most popular and successful nameplates.

Launched in 1992 as a 1993 model, Altima was a U.S.-assembled replacement for the imported Nissan Stanza1. It exemplified the company's increasing investment in America:

Altima Rear

"Job One" production of the 1993 Nissan Altima began on June 11, 1992.

The car seen here is a well-preserved "Job One" example, the first production Altima rolled out in Smyrna. A fully loaded GLE model, it features a head-up display, automatic digital climate control, a sunroof and a six-speaker cassette/CD player audio system. All versions used a 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4 engine.

"This level of cleanliness is a design and engineering challenge that was a great achievement," said David Woodhouse, vice president of Nissan Design America. "It's a Goldilocks of its time: just enough, not too much; a sweet car, with sensibility just right for a mainstream sedan."

Altima debuted to widespread positive reviews. The New York Times described the suspension as, "of the taut European variety," and opined that the interior was, "one of the better of today's offerings." Car and Driver praised the "excellent arrangement of major controls and instruments," and wrote, "staffers thoroughly enjoyed driving the Altima."


1993 Altima sketch
Altima One Profile

This early sketch shows design inspiration for the shape and proportions of the 1993 Nissan Altima.

Six generations of success

Altima has remained a core of the Nissan lineup through six generations, the most recent of which was introduced in 2018 at the New York International Auto Show.

Altima timeline infographic

Today, the 2024 Nissan Altima delivers an exceptional level of advanced technology, including available 12.3-inch color HD display, Intelligent All-Wheel Drive2, ProPILOT Assist3, standard Nissan Safety Shield® 3604 technologies and fuel economy rated up to 39 mpg highway5.

Proudly assembled in the U.S.

With over 7.2 million produced in the U.S. to date, Altima's role on the company's manufacturing history is undeniable.

Its introduction marked a landmark in the four-decade story of Nissan manufacturing in the U.S. Adding Altima production at Nissan's Smyrna facility, which at the time assembled Sentra and Nissan trucks, helped boost employment to around 6,000 workers by the end of 1992.

Today, Smyrna's capacity is 640,000 vehicles annually, and it remains one of the largest auto manufacturing facilities in the U.S. It's part of a U.S. manufacturing footprint that has collectively supplied nearly 20 million vehicles and a collective 18 million engines and eMotors since 1983.

2019 Altima Start of Production

The first 2019 Nissan Altima (sixth generation) rolled off the assembly line at the Nissan Smyrna Assembly Plant in August 2018.

About the Nissan Heritage Collection
The Nissan Heritage Collection, currently open via private tour only, contains a number of production and concept vehicles significant to the brand's U.S. operations.

See more highlights from the Nissan Heritage Collection:

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  1. Manufactured with U.S. and imported parts.
  2. Intelligent All-Wheel Drive cannot prevent collisions or provide enhanced traction in all conditions. Always monitor traffic and weather conditions.
  3. ProPILOT Assist and ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link cannot prevent collisions. It is the driver's responsibility to be in control of the vehicle at all times. Always monitor traffic conditions and keep both hands on the steering wheel. System operates only when lane markings are detected. Does not function in all weather, traffic and road conditions. System has limited control capability and the driver may need to steer, brake or accelerate at any time to maintain safety. See Owner's Manual for safety information.
  4. Nissan Safety Shield technologies can't prevent all collisions or warn in all situations.  See Owner's Manual for important safety information.
  5. CITY, HIGHWAY and COMBINED: 2024 Altima EPA Fuel Economy based on regular fuel: Altima 2.5-liter S, SV: 27/39/32 mpg FWD; 26/36/30 mpg AWD; Altima 2.5-liter SR, SL: 27/37/31 mpg FWD; 26/36/30mpg AWD; Altima 2.0-liter FWD 25/34/29 mpg. Actual mileage may vary with driving conditions - use for comparison only.

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Kevin Raftery
Manager, Nissan Storytelling & Content