2003 Nissan Altima Commercial
TV Commercial for the 2003 Nissan Altima
The Altima has historically been larger, more powerful, and more luxurious than the Nissan Sentra but less so than the Nissan Maxima. The first through fourth generation cars were manufactured exclusively in the United States and officially sold in North and South America, along with the Middle East and Australia.
The name "Altima" was originally applied to a top trim line of the Nissan Leopard for the Japanese market in 1986, and then to the Nissan Laurel mid-size car sold in Central America and the Caribbean before 1992. In 1992, Nissan discontinued the Stanza which was a Nissan Bluebird clone, replacing it with the US-built Altima, while remaining a compact car. The first Altima was produced in June 1992, as a 1993 model. All Altima models were built in Smyrna, Tennessee, until June 2004, when Nissan's Canton, Mississippi plant also began producing the model to meet high demand.
The third-generation Altima (chassis model L31) debuted for the 2002 model year. It was the first mass-market product built on Nissan's new FF-L platform, which was unique to North America and had no equivalent model in Japan. The Asian Nissan Teana is similar but not quite identical, designed for Southeast Asian market requirements; all three model lines shared the same platform. The Altima grew significantly for this generation, as interior volume expanded to 118.8 cubic feet (3.36 m3). The Altima's interior dimensions even surpassed that of the higher-end 2000-03 Maxima, so the 2004 Maxima was moved more upscale into the full-size bracket. Also, the biggest in class was the Altima's 20 US gal (76 L; 17 imp gal) fuel tank. Additionally, the Altima upgraded its rear suspension to a multi-link type and its brakes to 4-wheel discs. This was the first generation to offer a V6 engine.
2003–2004 models received two-tone dash color, and the 3.5 SE received an upgrade in horsepower, from 240 hp (179 kW) to 245 hp (183 kW), though torque stayed the same at 246 lb-ft (334 N⋅m). 2002–2004 models with manual gearbox were the lightest of the V6 (4DR) cars. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine accelerated the sedan from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.6 seconds.