Used 1996 Nissan Altima Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

New wheel covers, power lock logic and fresh GXE upholstery update this hot-selling sedan.

Vehicle overview

Talk about a runaway success. The Altima is quite a popular car, with hundreds of thousands of the jelly-bean-shaped sedans sold since its 1993 introduction. Its predecessor, the Nissan Stanza, was a practically invisible car to consumers, and we can't help but wonder whether the name change or Nissan's expensive advertising campaign touting the Altima as an affordable luxury car dictated the tides of change.

What we do know is that the Altima has the right mix of good looks, sedan capability, spunky personality and affordable price that Honda and Toyota used to make the Accord and Camry best-sellers. The Altima is a fun car, and plays the roles of pedestrian family hauler and pseudo-sport sedan with equal aplomb. Heavily subsidized national lease deals on the GXE trim level haven't hurt sales either, and virtually guarantee an excellent used Altima market in the near future.

This year, Nissan pops new wheelcovers on lower trim levels, puts new upholstery into the GXE, and gives cars with power door locks new lock logic. Four trim levels are available: entry-level XE; midpriced GXE; sporty SE; and luxury-oriented GLE. The GXE is the best seller, and when equipped with air conditioning, cassette stereo, automatic transmission, cruise and anti-lock brakes, stickers for about $20,000.

Guess what. That's loaded Ford Contour SE territory, and is just a couple thou' shy of a similarly equipped Maxima GXE. The Ford performs better than the Altima, has a slightly higher equipment content, and offers a refined V-6 powerplant. Still, Altima lease deals are hard to beat, and it's a good car. The competition is getting better though, even from within Nissan itself.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.