Nissan Altima Continues to Provide 'Affordable Luxury' for 2001; New Limited Edition Model Offered on GXE

Fresh from the major enhancements made to the 2000 Altima, the 2001 model continues to provide "affordable luxury," spirited performance, active safety abilities, numerous amenities, quality and competitive pricing.

Though the second generation Nissan Altima was introduced only three years ago, the popular mid-size sedan received major changes for the 2000 model year, enhancing its competitiveness in the increasingly crowded mid-size sedan segment. For 2001, changes have been mainly evolutionary, making an already outstanding car even better. Improvements include a new Limited Edition (LE) package on GXE models and an in-dash 6-disc CD changer (standard on SE, optional on GXE).

Refinements that were made to the 2000 Altima include a dozen styling modifications, more than 20 noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) improvements, 18 comfort and convenience enhancements, 11 engine hardware changes and a greatly revised suspension system - including the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) passenger car application of acceleration-sensitive strut valving.

"It's unusual to make such an extensive hardware investment midway through a vehicle's product cycle. But with the introduction of the all-new 2000 Maxima and all-new 2000 Sentra, we wanted to pump up Altima's performance, luxury and value at the same time," said Bill Kirrane, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. "We now have the strongest sedan lineup in Nissan history - with Maxima, Altima and Sentra all feeling like they were cut from the same cloth."

First introduced as a 1993 model, Altima has been best-in-class in J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study (IQS) three of the past four years, an IntelliChoice "Best Overall Value" winner five straight years and a Consumer Digest "Best Buy" four times.

Exterior Design

The Altima's North America-designed exterior was freshened in 2000 with an aggressive new front fascia (with a distinctive lower treatment for the SE model), new grille and new integrated clear-lens headlights. The headlights include turn signals and cornering lamps in a one-piece, wrap-around design, giving Altima a longer, wider look. Clear lens foglights are standard on Altima SE and GLE models. The previous external radio antenna was also replaced by a rear window in-glass antenna for an improved overall appearance.

The vehicle's front end was lowered seven millimeters, giving the new Altima a slightly pronounced rake. 16-inch wheels with lower profile tires for the SE and GLE models (standard 15-inch wheels for XE, GXE) provide a smooth, sporty silhouette. In the rear, a revised fascia with bright red taillights and a rear deck lid finisher continue the elegant styling theme. Overall length of the 2000 model was increased slightly (+2.1 inches) versus the 1999 car.

The 2001 Altima's coefficient of drag remains unchanged at a low 0.32. Body stiffness remains high through use of a rear tunnel brace and front strut tower brace (on models with 16-inch wheels). Altima is assembled at Nissan North America Manufacturing Smyrna & Decherd Tennessee Plant using the Intelligent Body Assembly System (IBAS) - the same method used to assemble the Infiniti Q45 - to produce panel fit accuracy within +/- 1.0 mm.

The 2001 Altima is offered in nine colors, including two new colors - Satin White and Opal Blue Metallic.

nterior Design

Inside, the 2001 Altima receives a new 8-way cloth power seat (standard on SE, part of the LE package on GXE), as well as a new AM/FM stereo with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer.

These enhancements complement the improvements made to the 2000 Altima, which included new front seats for improved cushion and seatback comfort, revised seat cloth for GXE and SE models, new combination instrument cluster (including a LCD odometer with dual trip meters), a center console with dual level storage and dual rear cupholders (automatic transmission vehicles only), new audio units, an overhead sunglass storage compartment, a vehicle immobilizer security system and redesigned sunvisors with available HomeLink Integrated Transceiver.

Extensive attention was paid to reducing noise, vibration and harshness levels - including measurable improvements in wind, road and engine noise. Among the many NVH changes that were made for 2000 are new outside mirror designs, use of expandable foam in the windshield pillars, roof rails, front doors and sills, thicker front door glass, new foam seals in the engine compartment, increased suspension mounting stiffness and a new driveshaft design with low friction joints (automatic transmission models).


The 2001 Altima continues on with the acceleration and handling improvements that made the driving experience different between the 2000 Altima and the previous year's edition. "The Altima feels much more spirited, from the first push of the throttle from a standing stop to the flatter cornering and firmer, sportier steering feedback," said Kirrane.

The front-wheel drive Altima's proven 2.4-liter in-line 4-cylinder powerplant received subtle refinements in 2000 that add up to a significant performance improvement - including a 0.8-second reduction in 0 to 60 mph acceleration (Nissan preliminary testing). Horsepower was increased to 155 at 5,600 rpm, while torque is rated at 156 ft-lbs at 4,400 rpm.

For this power gain, the engine's cam profile was changed to increase torque at low- to mid-range rpm levels. In addition, aluminum valve lifters, reshaped intake valves and reduced valve spring rates were adopted. The exhaust manifold was modified and exhaust system backpressure was reduced.

Dual-tipped platinum spark plugs with 100,000-mile service intervals were added, and all 2001 Altimas are now 50-state emissions certified.

A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on Altima XE, GXE and SE models. Standard on Altima GLE and available on XE, GXE and SE is an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission.

Both transmissions received new final drive ratios in 2000 (3.823:1 versus 3.650:1 manual, 4.087:1 versus 3.619:1 automatic) for quicker acceleration. First through third gear ratios were revised on the manual transmission, and the automatic features a refined shift schedule to improve acceleration from slow speeds.

The 2001 Altima's responsive 4-wheel independent strut suspension with coil springs and rear Super Toe Control features an acceleration-sensitive strut design developed by Monroe exclusively for Altima (available with 16-inch wheels and tires only). These struts automatically adjust dampening firmness, using an oil flow bypass valve to reduce compression damping at a preset vertical acceleration (0.5g), to improve handling without sacrificing ride quality.

A front strut tower brace (16-inch wheel models), large front and rear stabilizer bars, increased front and rear spring rates (SE model) and low profile 16-inch tires (205/55R16) ensure that Altima is ready for when the roads get twisty.

Steering is provided by a power rack-and-pinion design. Both the power steering pump and steering gear have been tuned to provide a firmer, sportier steering feel. Altima XE, GXE and GLE models offer power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, with 4-wheel discs standard on the SE model. Optional on GXE, SE and GLE models is a 4-channel/4-sensor Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

Safety and Security

Standard safety equipment includes a new-for-2001 emergency inside trunk release, as well as second generation dual front supplemental air bags, child safety rear door locks, child safety anchors and tethers (called LATCH - Lower Anchors and Tether for CHildren) and pipe-style steel side-door guard beams. Every Altima features 3-point front and rear seat belts (now including the center rear position) with standard pretensioners on the height-adjustable front belts. Front seat side-impact supplemental air bags are now offered as standard equipment on the GLE model and optional on GXE and SE models.

An Immobilizer Enhancement System is optional on GLE and SE models.

Model Availability

Four models of Altima are again available for 2001: the entry level XE, value-oriented GXE, luxurious GLE and sporty SE. In addition to separate options, three special option packages are offered: the XE Option Package, the GXE Value Option Package (VOP) and new for 2001, the GXE Limited Edition Package. The GXE Limited Edition Package includes a cloth power driver's seat, remote keyless entry with trunk release, vehicle security system, floor mats and special badging, plus all of the features on the GXE VOP.

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