The Nissan Altima Wasn't Always Just a Rental Car

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When was the last time you thought about the Nissan Altima? Buyers hardly do anymore, given the current sedanocalypse. The new one has all-wheel drive, but... so do any number of better cars? Probably the last time you thought about the Altima was when you flew to Minneapolis or Phoenix for a work conference and it was your rental. But things weren’t always this way. Regular Car Reviews dives into a time when the Altima was actually decent.

Let’s flash back to 1994. We’re two years into the production of the then-new Altima, a replacement for the blah Nissan Stanza (and one that briefly even shared that name.) Though built in America, this Altima came at the tail end of Japan’s Bubble Era period of over-engineering, making it a tough, well-built competitor to the Toyotas and Hondas of the world.

The one you wanted was the Altima SE with a manual gearbox and the robust KA24DE four-cylinder also found in the American 240SX. This is not a bad car at all. Far from it, in fact. Today if you need inexpensive Craigslist transportation that also happens to be sort of fun, you could do significantly worse than this. It definitely feels more special than your rental Altima does these days.


Is it a glamorous dream car? Hell no. Even now, it’s cheap, dependable transportation that, with the right equipment and the right setting, can be kind of fun. It’s as solid as a Regular Car can be.

And with the right driver, like a Harris Hill Raceway track instructor at the helm, it can maybe even chase down supercars. RCR’s driver said she felt confident she could’ve had that Ferrari 488 after a few corners of chasing.


I don’t know about that, but as Mr. Regular says here, an old manual 1990s Altima is the kind of thing that can overcome its humble origins and become something more.