The Altima name was originally a trim line of the Nissan Laurel mid-size car sold in the Caribbean before 1992. In 1993, Nissan discontinued its much-criticized Stanza, replacing it with the US-made Altima, while remaining a compact car. The very first Altima rolled off the assembly line on June 15, 1992 as a 1993 model. All Altimas had been built in Smyrna, Tennessee until June 2004, when Nissan's Canton, Mississippi, plant began producing additional Altimas to meet high demand.
The Altima has had four design generations: 1993–1997, 1998–2001, 2002–2006, and 2007–present.
Like the Stanza before it, the original Altima was based on the Nissan Bluebird SSS (Chassis Model U13), though its original styling hailed from Nissan's California design studio. Initially, the car's official name was "Stanza Altima," which appears on the early owners manuals. 1993 models can be seen with a sticker reading "Stanza" in small lettering to the left of the ALTIMA emblem on the trunk lid.
All Altima models used Nissan's 150hp (112kW) KA24DE I4 DOHC engine mated to a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, which provided the fastest performance among all 4-cylinder competitors (8.7 seconds to 60mph (100km/h) with automatic). (By contrast, the Japanese Bluebird SSS could be had with Nissan's famous SR20DET engine and all-wheel-drive.) Suspension was composed of struts with stabilizer bars at both ends and was noted for providing sporty, satisfying handling (plus a firm ride and moderate road noise); all wheels were 15-inches. Being one of the bigger compact cars, the Altima could seat four adults fairly comfortably, though its body was too skinny for five. Trim lines consisted of the stripper XE, mid-line GXE, sporty SE, and luxury GLE. Some options included a gold emblem package, molded mud guards, and a pin stripe.
The base XE (rare) had manual windows. The mid-line GXE had power windows, a power retracting antenna, pass thru rear armrest, digital clock in dash, and color matched plastic speaker grilles for the rear 6 inch speakers. The XE and GXE models only had the fixed intermittent wiper switch.