Used 1998 Nissan Altima

1998 Nissan Altima
List price range
1998 Nissan Altima


  • Big car in a small package. Lots of standard equipment.


  • Dumpy hindquarters and lower build quality than we have come to expect from Nissan.

Used 1998 Nissan Altima for Sale

Nissan Altima 1998 XE 4dr Sedan
313,395 miles
Used 1998
Nissan Altima
ListNot Listed
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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

When Nissan introduced the Infiniti J30-like Altima in 1993, it became an instant hit. The term affordable luxury became synonymous with Altima, and those who wouldn't have been caught dead in the Altima's predecessor, the unloved Stanza, rushed out in droves to buy this car. Five years have passed since the Altima was introduced, and although it has been a huge seller, it was beginning to show its age.

When Nissan embarked on the redesign, their primary task was to improve on the Altima's original design and to not screw anything up. It looks like they got the formula about half right. Although the 1998 Altima is better in many ways, it certainly doesn't have the attractive looks that the original car possessed.

First, the good news. The Altima's size has been improved in nearly every dimension. This means that those riding in the back seat are no longer eating their knees, and that there is enough room in the trunk for a family getaway to the mountains. Wood trim accents have been added to make the cars look more upscale, and CD players adorn the dash of all but the lowliest models. The interior layout of the Altima is quite functional with easy-to-use buttons and dials for most of the car's secondary functions.

The bad news is that the car no longer looks like a miniature J30. The arse-end of the Altima is now wedge-shaped and rather dumpy, making the car look fat from rear three-quarter angles.

While the Nissan may exhibit good value, it doesn't necessarily show exceptional luxury. Luxury, to Edmund's staff, implies a sort of elegance and craftsmanship that the example we sampled didn't have. Nevertheless, the Altima is a good buy that will probably run forever. No one is going to call it a Jr. Infiniti anymore, though.

1998 Highlights

Altima is totally, and unnecessarily, redesigned for 1998. The Altima's new look is more wedge-shaped, with a trunk that looks like it has met the business end of a band saw. Standard equipment is up, including a CD player on every model except the XE.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Nissan Altima.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Good old Reliable.
Bought a 1998 Nissan Altima brand new off the dealer lot in cerritos with only 5 miles. I loved everything about it, the interior, the way it drove, and not to mention its reliability. It never once broke down on me....ever. I loved its reliability so much, I wish I could buy another one. I was sooo sad the day I totaled it at 148,000 miles. Me and my family drove it everywhere from San Francisco to Minnesota to Las Vegas and back, it was also a great commuter car for getting to and from work. I now drive a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe, only time will tell just as to how reliable it is.
High Mileage Altima
I bought my 98 Altima in March 2001 with 30,000 miles. Now it has over 200,000 miles! I've had almost NO problem with this car either. I had to replace the alternator at 120,000 miles and the the CV joints at 150,000 miles. The car has never broken down, and has made several long trips to New York, Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta from Tampa Bay. About 65% of the miles are higway and about 35% are city. It currently runs strong, just as it did when I first bought it. It does burn some oil (1 quart every 4,000 miles) and it's a bit slower then it was 170,000 miles ago. I don't maintain it as good as I should though. I change the oil every 5,000 miles.
Our Marshmallow Car
My grandkids call this the marshmallow car, because it's white & looks like a big marshmallow. I've replaced the CV joints on it and that's about it. I have fun driving my car, it has got me out of some scary jams on the freeway. It accelerates rapidly & is easy to speed in. I got my last ticket in it about 3 years ago going over 100 mph as I had neglected to set the cruise control. I hadn't even noticed. I have 128,000 miles on it & almost feel like it's a pet. I've never been one to attach to material objects but this one has inspired emotional attachment. I'll keep it until it's ready for the scrap heap. I'll never trade it off. I willing to paint it or whatever, it's a keeper.
great delivery car
This is a great car. The handling is really good, not what you expect when looking at it. U-turns can be a problem. Has great power concerning the 2.4 4 cylinder engine. Roomy on the inside & I'm 6'4''. Everything is in a good place to reach. The outside is nice, only the back doesn't look right without the spoiler. The sound is great with standard cd & tape players. Very good on gas. I've been a delivery driver since 05 & put well over 100,000 miles on it. Besides the normal (tiers, brakes, oil) i only spent about $700 on a fuel pump. I only paid $500 for the car but would have paid 4x that.
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Features & Specs

21 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
150 hp @ 5600 rpm
21 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
150 hp @ 5600 rpm
21 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
150 hp @ 5600 rpm
20 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
150 hp @ 5600 rpm
See all Used 1998 Nissan Altima features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger2 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1998 Nissan Altima
More About This Model

Years ago, in the tiny one-stop-sign-town of Maybee, Michigan, my mother's oldest brother was sittin' on a tree stump one day when a few of his younger siblings came along. They noticed that the stump he was sitting on was that of a Cedar tree and … somehow, my uncle emerged from this encounter with the nickname Cedar. And it stuck. Well, Uncle Cedar is now well into his eighties and living in Florida, and I doubt he's spending much of his time sitting on uncomfortable tree stumps. That is, unless he's been riding around in a 1998 Nissan Altima GXE.

My first comment after driving the Altima on the highway for 45 minutes was: "My back is killing me … this justifies a massage!" The driver's seat has no lumbar support at all; you might as well be sitting on a tree stump for all your back will know. If I had purchased this car myself, I would surely have invested in a small back pillow to ease the pain.

Back pain aside, however, the redesigned 1998 Altima has a lot going for it. When the first-generation car debuted five years ago, it was an instant success, snatched up by young and old alike. This year, Nissan gave their hot-selling midsize sedan a complete makeover, adding standard luxuries such as wood-tone trim, dual airbags and CD players on most of the models-while keeping the cost down.

Nissan engineers struggled to satiate their customers by not changing too many features on the new model, yet still making needed improvements. They retained the thick A- and C-pillar structure, but added a few inches in both length and width for a roomier interior. The 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine makes 150 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, treating both drivers and passengers to a gutsy show of power and making up for the fact that there is only one engine option on all four trim levels. And, thanks to the 20 percent increase in platform rigidity, the '98 Altima handles well and is still fun to drive.

Even our test car, which wasn't equipped with any of the fancy optional items like power sunroof, alloy wheels and remote keyless entry, offered a feeling of luxury at an affordable price. Granted, you won't get the same charge that occurs when you slide behind the wheel of a plush Mercedes-Benz, but then, you won't get those $650 monthly payments, either. And that in itself can be a luxury.

Having had a chance to drive the Altima earlier in the year, our editorial staff voiced several opinions about the 1998 models. Interior ergonomics felt right and stereo performance was excellent; on that, we could all agree. One editor was happy to see that the car had shed its lozenge-shaped exterior in favor of more distinct styling, including cuts and creases on the hood which make the vehicle's corners more visible to the driver. Yet others mumbled about the cheap tin feel of the metal and likened it to driving around inside a tuna can.

Other complaints included the smashed-looking stout rear of the car, the lack of interesting color options for '98 (too many "putrid" earth tones), and its "buzzy engine." We were also disappointed that the Altima didn't have ABS since it is standard on many competing models.

"Well, the Altima is all grown up," commented one fellow editor as he stepped out of the GXE after taking it for a spin around Colorado's Front Range. He mentioned that the ride was smoother, the build more solid and the interior more sophisticated than its predecessor. While I agreed with most of his comments, the Altima still has a way to go before it rises to the pinnacle of adulthood.

The common denominator, though, was that the car just didn't excite anyone. The fatal flaw in Nissan's plan to "not mess up the Altima" was that they were too cautious in their redesign. We would've liked to see things jazzed up a little.

Nissan boasts that the Altima is "the affordable luxury midsize sedan," but we have to point out that there are similar buys out there: the Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique both offer a V6 and a lower price tag, the Chevrolet Malibu LS comes with more standard equipment and a V6, the Buick Century throws in a V6 for the same price, the Subaru Legacy L Sedan gets you all wheel drive for an extra $1500, and the Plymouth Breeze, Mitsubishi Galant ES, Mazda 626 LX, Honda Accord LX and Dodge Stratus ES are all in the same price range as the Nissan.

Still, for the $18,539 sticker price, this family sedan remains competitive in its class-even if you can tell where the cost-cutting came in. Don't disregard this smooth-driving car, but we suggest you look at all your options … and be sure to check for comfortable seats.

Used 1998 Nissan Altima Overview

The Used 1998 Nissan Altima is offered in the following submodels: Altima Sedan. Available styles include XE 4dr Sedan, GXE 4dr Sedan, SE 4dr Sedan, and GLE 4dr Sedan.

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Can't find a used 1998 Nissan Altimas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan Altima for sale - 9 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $20,072.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan for sale - 8 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $9,961.

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 Nissan Altima?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Nissan lease specials
Check out Nissan Altima lease specials