Sorry to belabor the point, but the responses beg the question, when should a car be given a new name then?
I owned a 1994 Altima for 4 years. I know from personal experience what a great car it is for the money. But the new new Altima is bigger, more luxurious, more powerful... it's simply much better in every way than it's previous version, and is built specifically to go head-to-head with the Camry and the Accord, while the previous version was not. If this list of changes isn't extensive enough to warrent a name change then I don't know what is.
I understand the point about name recongnition but if the Altima name is perceived to be an inferior product to the Camry and Accord with which it is supposed to compete, then name recognition will do Nissan more harm than good, in my humble opinion.
With this all said, I think Nissan will sell the hell out of these cars nonetheless.
Judging by what we know about the new Altima, it should be a successful car. You can take a great car and call it whatever, and it will still sell (at the right price). Just look at the Accord and Civic of today, they are nothing like the original but they have kept their names over many model changes and they have somewhat of a reputation.
On the other hand, Acura dropped the Legend name and struggled. They are making the same mistake with the Integra.
Maybe this is off-topic, but you guys have me thinking about automotive name changes in general. I've noticed that some companies hold very tightly to their classic names, such as Buick (Century, Regal, LeSabre, Park Ave) and Cadillac (DeVille, Seville, Eldorado), while others seem all too eager to change names. Since I tend to be a nostalgic person, I usually dislike the idea of automotive name changes. Some that specifically stand out to me as stupid and unnecessary include the Pontiac Montana (formerly Trans Sport, which was a much cooler name in my opinion) and Toyota Echo (replaced the Tercel, which I think was a better and more recognized name). Call me crazy, but I wouldn't mind if the Avalon were rechristened Cressida. My opinion: use new names for truly NEW cars that have no real predecessors (Rendezvous, Aztek, Avalanche, Highlander, Escape, etc.) and use classic names for cars with obvious roots. As for the Altima question, I'm glad to see the Altima name being reused on the new car. But for that matter, they could have chosen to do something really unexpected...2002 Nissan Stanza, anyone?
the whole article more or less sounded like a typical propaganda.... but those price estimates sound true along with everyone's predictions. Let's just wait until these reviewers actually get to test the car for some real evaluations and conclusions.