2002 Nissan Altima Review
Sporty alternative to the ubiquitous Camry and Accord.
Compared to most of its Japanese competitors, the new Altima offers distinctly aggressive styling akin to a German car. Styling cues from the Volkswagen Passat can be seen in front with design elements similar to the Audi A6 in the rear. That's not a bad thing as many people regard both of those cars as stylish vehicles.
The wheels are located near the four corners, which helps give the car a more aggressive look as well as helping it handle better. The car's grille and front bumper stick out quite far but are nicely set off by multi-parabola projector-beam type headlights with four bulbs set behind a large triangular-shaped cover. Although the grill opening is fairly large by modern standards it doesn't look awkward.
The rear of the car is the most striking styling element as It has a sloping roof line that is more reminiscent of a coupe than a four-door sedan. It ends in a high trunk line that is set off by bold round taillights, turn signals and backup lights all set behind a triangular-shaped clear cover. The trunk has a large opening and the trunk volume is better than that of both the 2001 Camry and Accord. Gooseneck hinges are used, however, which do intrude into the useable space.
A long wheelbase allows the Altima to have large doors, which makes it look somewhat larger than it is. The base Altima comes standard with 16-inch wheels compared to 14-inch wheels on the Accord and Camry, which improves its looks and its handling.
Compared to the dramatically styled exterior, the interior is sedate, but still stylish nonetheless. The dashboard is set relatively low with three pods in a binnacle located in front of the driver containing the speedometer, tachometer, water temperature and fuel gauge. The instruments are lit with a nice orange glow in the dark.
Sound system controls and display are in an ovoid raised panel in the center of the dash. Climate control knobs are directly below the radio and are well located with a nice feel to them. The vents are flush mounted on the dash rather than being located in protruding pods as in many cars. Even the seams for the passenger-side airbag are totally invisible, despite being located in a large expanse of unembellished dashboard surface. All in all the whole design gives the car a feeling of spaciousness.
It's not an illusion. Front legroom in the Altima is more generous than all but the largest vehicles on the road. It's certainly a class leader in this area, and Nissan claims the Altima is roomier than the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Decent sized seats in front complement the legroom. In the rear, there's good head and legroom as well. There's enough room for a 6-foot, 4-inch back-seat passenger to sit behind a 6-foot, 4-inch driver. The center passenger in the rear gets a full seat belt with shoulder harness.
Nissan has provided places to put stuff. Two big cup holders are located in the center console and there's an adjustable elbow rest and a small storage bin. The parking brake, a proper handbrake, is located on the center console. There's even a small cubbyhole at the front of the console under the climate controls complete with a cover. However, when five people are in the car, there are no cup holders in the rear as they are located in the fold down center arm rest.
Getting into and out of the Altima is easy thanks to a slightly higher front seating position than normal. A large door that does not have any rear wheel intrusion, thanks to the long wheelbase, aids getting into and out of the rear seats.
Altima boasts a bigger trunk than Camry and Accord, according to Nissan.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2002 Nissan Altima, click here: 2002 Nissan Altima.