2002 North American Car of the Year

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Updated: January 24, 2002

North American Car of the Year2002 Nissan Altima

Nissan’s Altima was named North American Car of the Year by a jury of 49 independent journalists for its spirited performance, fresh styling, and value among staid mid-size family sedans.

“Driving the new Altima 3.5 SE is an absolute blast,” said Mitch McCullough, editor of New Car Test Drive and one of 49 journalists on the North American Car of the Year jury. “The free-revving V6 is one of the best available, delivering strong acceleration performance and smooth cruising power on the highway. The chassis is superb, extremely rigid, and the Altima SE handles like true sports sedan. In terms of driving dynamics, I think it’s the best mid-size sedan available today.”

North American Car of the Year is designed to recognize the most outstanding car based on such factors as design, innovation, performance, handling, driver satisfaction, safety, quality, functionality, value, price, and fuel economy. Vehicles must be substantially changed from the previous model. Nissan completely re-engineered its Altima for the 2002 model year. The jurors are from print, broadcast and electronic media.

2002 Nissan Altima
2002 Nissan Altima
2002 Nissan Altima
Read NCTD review of the 2002 Nissan Altima

New Car Test Drive feels this is North America’s most prestigious automotive award because the automotive journalists who comprise the jury are completely independent; most do not associate with one another and many do not even know each other. The journalists vote in confidence. Ballots are counted by Deloitte & Touche, and the winner is kept secret until early January when it is announced at a news conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Therefore, it is not possible for advertisers, publishers, or even peers to have any significant influence over the voting. Jurors are given 25 points to divide among the eligible cars. However, no more than 10 points may be given to a single vehicle.

“This award is one of the most prestigious accolades in the automotive industry,” said Jed Connelly, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Nissan North America, upon accepting the award. “It’s a tremendous honor for the Altima.”

Altima earned 267 votes. It was followed by the Cadillac CTS with 203 votes, and the Ford Thunderbird with 160. Other nominees included Acura RSX, Audi A4, Infiniti Q45, Jaguar X-Type, Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe, Subaru Impreza WRX, and Toyota Camry.