Compact car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,000 – $4,400*

1998 Nissan Altima GLE

2000 Nissan Altima GXE

1999 Nissan Altima GLE interior

2000 Nissan Altima SE

2000 Nissan Altima GXE interior

  • Passenger room
  • Quietness
  • Ride
  • Automatic-transmission performance

Acceptably solid and well-finished, Altima remains a must-see for value-minded buyers, due largely to its low noise levels and soft ride. Trunklids have felt tinny, however. Though unexceptional, Altima ranks as a nice family compact–less bland after the 2000 revamp.


Nissan’s compact sedan got a major restyling for 1998, adopting a harder-edge appearance, in contrast to the rounded look of its predecessor. Slightly larger in size, though on the same wheelbase as before, Altima also got a mildly revised powertrain and suspension. Overall length grew by 2.6 inches, width and track by about 2 inches. Head and leg room also grew a bit. Four models were available: base XE, volume-selling GXE, sporty SE, and luxury GLE. A firmer suspension went into the SE, which also got standard alloy wheels, wider tires, rear disc brakes (instead of the usual drums), and a body-colored rear spoiler. The GLE included leather upholstery and a power driver’s seat. All models used the same 2.4-liter dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine, producing 150 horsepower and mated to a standard 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic transmission. Internal engine changes aimed to improve low-speed power delivery, and the automatic transmission was reprogrammed for smoother operation. Antilock brakes were an option. Nissan claimed a 20 percent increase in structural stiffness. Altima had been the company’s best-selling U.S. model, fighting in the tight compact family sedan market. Rivals to the restyled edition included the Ford Contour, Mazda 626, and Mitsubishi Galant.

Yearly Updates

1999 Altima
Few changes were evident on Nissan’s compact sedan. The SE and GXE gained variable-intermittent wipers, and the GLE got standard alloy wheels. A power antenna now was included in the GXE’s optional Security and Convenience package.
2000 Altima
Just two years after a major redesign, Altima earned a thorough makeover. That included availability of front side airbags, standard in the GLE and optional for SE and GXE. The 2.4-liter engine gained 5 horsepower. SE and GLE sedans gained standard 16-inch tires, replacing the prior 15-inch rubber. They also added a cross-car brace in the engine bay. All Altimas got revisions to steering and suspension, as well as fresh front and rear fascias, a new center console (with automatic transmission), and new rear cupholders. Antilock braking remained optional, except on the base model. A new Appearance & Convenience Package includes the GLE’s suspension and 6-speaker audio system. Leather upholstery remained standard for the GLE, optional for SE.
2001 Altima
No significant changes were made for 2001.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Altimas had a 2.4-liter, dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine, making 150 horsepower. Either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission might be installed. The engine gained 5 horsepower in 2000.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/146
Engine HP 150-155
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 154-156
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Acceleration is little-changed from the prior generation–in short, nothing to shout about. Our test GLE ran 0-60 mph in a so-so 10 seconds with automatic transmission. The 2000 models should be a bit swifter. There’s also little change in the transmission’s reluctance to downshift promptly, or in its abruptness when it does. Our test GXE returned a somewhat disappointing 20.3 mpg, while our GLE averaged 23.4 mpg, despite hard city driving and performance testing.

Expect a smooth, absorbent ride except on washboard surfaces, where minor wheel pattering disturbs the calm. Alas, the ride exacts a tradeoff in mediocre body control over big humps and dips, plus more body lean in tight turns than we prefer. Even so, Altima handling is competently agile, aided by quick steering with good feedback. Braking with ABS proved to be safe and undramatic, if unexceptional by today’s standards.

Unlike previous Altimas, the current generation allows 6-footers to sit comfortably in tandem. The cabin still is not wide enough for three adults in back, but leg, knee, and foot space are all good, as is overall head room even with a power moonroof installed. Front bucket seats in the 2000 models are more supportive and better bolstered.

The dashboard is nicely laid out, with clean gauges and convenient, guess-free controls that complement a comfortable driver’s post. Commuters should welcome the new console-mounted dual cupholders–much more useful than the rickety pull-out contraption of old. Visibility is good except over-the-shoulder, due to high tail styling and wide rear roof posts. Trunk space is good, but not great. A wide rear-bumper shelf makes for some back-straining reaches, and the lid hinges intrude into the cargo area. The cabin has plenty of places for bric-a-brac, though not accessible to rear seaters.


Model Tested: 1999 Nissan Altima XE/GXE

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 6

Total: 49


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.1 183.5 69.1 55.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.8 15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 37.7 42.0 33.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Altima 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Rear Passenger Injury - 3


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 103
Injury 143
Theft 112

Trouble Spots

Engine noise
Description: Noisy timing chain might be due to broken lower-chain guide. (1998)
Keyless entry
Description: The remote keyless-entry system is difficult to program. (1998)
Rough idle
Description: If the spark plug vent holes get clogged, the engine may run rough and/or the check engine light might illuminate. (1998)
Rough idle
Description: Rough idle and stalling could be due to weak springs between the coils and spark plugs in coil-over-plug assemblies. (2002)
Vehicle noise
Description: A broken BTV valve bracket causes a rattle under the hood. (1999-2000)

Recall History

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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