Nissan's gamble on the Altima has paid off in excellent sales. The name "Altima" was introduced by Nissan in April 1992, with production beginning on June 11, 1992, and sales on September 1, 1992. The Altima had a single body style and a single powerplant. Its chief competitors, Honda's Accord and Toyota's Camry, each had three body styles, and optional V6 engines. At first glance, it looked like the Altima had a lot less to offer. But the result of this simplified model strategy was a decided price advantage for the roomy, good-handling Altima.
When the Versa replaced the old Sentra as the entry-level model in 2006, the Sentra took the Altima's rank as Nissan's uplevel car in October of that year. The new Sentra was priced at as much as a 1995 Nissan Altima. As of 2013, modern-day Sentras are now as big as a second-generation Nissan Altima.
The Altima was distinctly different than its competition. It had less front and rear overhang than average, in other words, more usable interior space in a handier package. The Altima also had better handling than either of its major 4-cylinder rivals.
The Altima's big, 2.4-liter 150-horsepower 4-cylinder engine had better low-speed torque than either of its major 4- or 6-cylinder competitors, and felt perfectly at home with either the standard manual or optional automatic (standard on the GLE).
The major changes for 1995 included a new grille, new rear taillights and five new color choices. Standard on all four trim levels (XE, GXE, SE, GLE) were power steering, fully independent suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, tinted glass, dual power mirrors, cloth seat trim, full and cut-pile carpeting.
ABS was available across the line. Leather upholstery was an option on the SE and GLE, both of which had a power sunroof and aluminum wheels standard (GXE has the sunroof available as an option). All but the XE had power door locks.
As of April 18, 1994:
- $13,999 (1994 Nissan Altima XE)
- $15,279 (1994 Nissan Altima GXE)
- $18,279 (1994 Nissan Altima SE)
- $19,279 (1994 Nissan Altima GLE)
As of late 1994:
- $14,799 (1995 Nissan Altima XE)
- $15,799 (1995 Nissan Altima GXE)
- $18,869 (1995 Nissan Altima SE)
- $19,889 (1995 Nissan Altima GLE)
As of June 1, 1995:
- $14,999 (1995 Nissan Altima XE)
- $16,319 (1995 Nissan Altima GXE)
- $19,099 (1995 Nissan Altima SE)
- $20,319 (1995 Nissan Altima GLE)
As of August 28, 1995:
- $15,649 (1996 Nissan Altima XE)
- $16,999 (1996 Nissan Altima GXE)
- $19,299 (1996 Nissan Altima SE)
- $20,999 (1996 Nissan Altima GLE)