All three of Nissan's sedan nameplates get a big boost from the new engines of 2002. The Maxima receives a new 255-hp version of its award-winning V-6 engine, along with sport-tuned suspension settings. The Altima, Nissan's best-selling four-door sedan, scales up to the mid-size class for 2002. Larger engines -- including a V-6 rated to 240 hp — and a new independent suspension gives the Altima agile road manners, yet there's also generous space for passengers in an expanded cabin. Nissan's compact Sentra revives its SE-R sports model with a Spec V model that has 180 hp and a six-speed manual stick. As for the Nissan trucks, a supercharged V-6 engine is now available for the Xterra sport-utility wagon as well as the Frontier, Nissan's compact pickup. Nissan's larger SUV, Pathfinder, looks tougher and draws power from a 3.5-liter V-6 pumped up to 250 hp. The Quest, the made-for-America Nissan minivan, has more content this year, including an optional video entertainment system or the standard 130-watt Super Sound system.
MAXIMA: Nissan's top-end sedan receives a new 3.5-liter V-6 in all its different guises: entry-level GXE, sporty SE and deluxe GLE. The high-revver produces a class-leading 255 hp, some 38 hp more than last year's Maxima. A reinforced four-speed automatic transaxle is standard for all editions, but the SE has a six-speed manual standard, and offers a limited-slip differential to boot. The Maxima's exterior has been revised to include a bolder front grille and more aggressive lines that sweep rearward over a sleek body. In the posh cabin, there are seats for five clad in luxurious cloth fabric or soft leather. An improved 200-watt Bose audio system is aboard with in-dash CD changer for six discs and steering wheel audio controls. The palette of colors for Nissan's flagship sports new choices like Tungsten Blue or Glacier Pearl.
ALTIMA: The new athletic persona of Nissan’s mid-size Altima belies its much larger cabin and trunk space. With an independent suspension and new engines, the Altima is an instant contender among the best of the family sedans. Four trim levels are offered: the Altima 2.5, mid-grade 2.5 S and deluxe 2.5 SL have a 2.5-liter in-line four with 175 horsepower standard, while the Altima 3.5 SE packs a 240-hp 3.5-liter V-6. A five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic can be had with either powerplant.
Preview: 2002 Nissan Altima by Bob Storck (8/6/2001)
SENTRA: A fifth generational treatment of the compact sedan from Nissan came in 2001 with the body stretched in length and width to make a larger vehicle with more cabin space. Three trims and two four-cylinder engines went to the revised Sentra, and these editions extend to 2002. The three are joined this year by a new sporty model split into two versions, SE-R and SE-R Spec V. Power for the latest Sentras stems from a raucous twin-cam 2.5-liter four that hits 175 hp for the Spec V performance edition, or 165 hp for SE-R. The Spec V also stocks serious performance hardware, including a six-speed manual shifter, limited-slip differential, four-wheel disc brakes, 17-inch wheels and tires, and tighter suspension tuning. A nine-speaker and 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio kit with eight-inch subwoofer is optional. Sentra's base 1.8-liter plant delivers 126 hp for Sentra XE and GXE. Sentra SE shows a 2.0-liter aluminum four that nets 145 hp.
FRONTIER: With the 2002 model year, the Frontier pickup adds a new Crew Cab Long Bed and loses the two-door Regular Cab. In place of Frontier's Regular Cab, the King Cab XE 2WD will be available with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine as a price-leader. In all, there are 19 different models for 2002. The King Cab XE is the only four-cylinder choice. Next, the Desert Runner 2WD uses the King Cab body and Nissan's 170-hp 3.3-liter V-6 engine, with trim choices of XE, deluxe SE and the S/C package with a supercharged V-6 and 17-inch aluminum wheels plus performance tires. The Frontier King Cab also comes in rugged four-wheel-drive editions in the same three trim levels of XE, SE and S/C. Then there's the four-door Crew Cab Frontier in both 2WD and 4WD and the same three trims but a choice of box lengths — either the regular bed at 56.3 inches or a new Long Bed. The longer version, a flat rectangular box, stretches for more than six feet and spreads wide to five feet.
2002 Nissan Frontier and Xterra by Sue Mead (7/9/2001)
XTERRA: Nissan's sport-utility vehicle seats five and rides on the Frontier 4x4 chassis. It also uses Frontier's four-cylinder and V-6 engines, with choices for rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. The twin-cam 2.4-liter in-line four has 143 hp and comes with either manual or auto shifters; the 3.3-liter V-6 nets 170 hp. The supercharged model, new for 2002 on the Xterra XE or SE, tops off at 210 hp. Exterior styling gets tweaked too, with a new fascia, round headlamps, angular stamped fender flares and a pronounced power bulge for the front hood. The cabin gets a redesigned dash and instrument cluster and a premium sound system with in-dash six-disc CD player standard on SE but optional for XE trim. The Xterra's four-wheel-drive mechanism has a two-speed transfer case with high and low ranges for off-road trekking.
2002 Nissan Frontier and Xterra by Sue Mead (7/9/2001)
PATHFINDER: For 2002, Nissan’s sport-ute gets more equipment, such as titanium-accented step rails and a roof rack on the SE, and more standard features in the deluxe cabin. There's a new steering wheel with a restyled chrome badge at the center, a new faceplate on the new audio system and a six-disc in-dash CD changer aboard that operates quicker. The SE also gets titanium-colored faces on the instruments, as opposed to white faces for LE. The Pathfinder comes with either manual or automatic transmission and choices of rear-wheel-drive or a part-time four-wheel-drive mechanism. The optional four-wheel traction device uses a transfer case for switching from rear-wheel to four-wheel high-gear mode while underway at speeds up to 50 mph.
QUEST: Nissan’s minivan has four passenger doors, seats seven and sports a 170-hp V-6 engine. This year there are revised wheel designs and new two-tone exterior colors — Dark Shadow Gray with Quicksilver. Trim levels begin with the base GXE and move up to include the mid-level SE and the deluxe GLE with standard anti-lock brakes. The 130-watt Super Sound audio system with seven speakers and CD player becomes standard on the SE and GLE this year. Also available is the Family Entertainment System, which has a ceiling-mounted video screen tied to a video cassette player and audio controls set near rear seats. The SE also has sporty suspension settings that tone up the minivan's handling and stability.
350Z: In late summer, the long-anticipated new generation of the legendary Z-car, the 350Z, will go on sale. The sleek new rear-wheel-drive Z, Nissan’s first sports car offering in the U.S. since the 300ZX was discontinued in 1996, will come with the same 3.5-liter V-6 that’s offered in several different Nissan products, but with 280-plus horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission will be standard, with a five-speed automatic optional. The 350Z will go on sale with a base price of $26,269. Several higher-priced, better-equipped models will be offered, with the top-range Track model—which features Brembo high-performance brakes, a limited-slip differential, a stability control system, aluminum pedals, and 18-inch lightweight wheels—starting at less than $35,000.