Nissan Altima vs Competitors




The midsized sedan segment may not get a lot of flashy headlines, but it’s a very important one, especially to commuters. Many people, whether they hit the highway every day or not, prefer a good, straightforward four-door car over the trendy crossovers and lumbering SUVs. The all-new 2019 Nissan Altima is one of those trusty sedans, and it’s gotten even better with its redesign – it’s more comfortable than ever, it boasts innovative engine technology, and it’s even available with all-wheel drive.

The competition is stiff, though, in a class that’s stacked with strong rivals like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. That said, Autotrader named the ’19 Altima among its Best New Cars for 2019, a very nice accolade. Other competitors include the Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, Volkswagen Passat, Hyundai Sonata, and Subaru Legacy. Let’s look at the Altima’s strengths in the face of this competition.


All-Wheel Drive Availability and Safety Features

All-wheel drive is tough to come by among midsized sedans that don’t carry a German logo. While the Subaru Legacy comes standard with AWD, that feature is an option on the Altima, meaning that the buyer can forgo it if they choose (perhaps to save money or get slightly better fuel economy). Most New Englanders, though, will jump at the chance to have this safety-boosting feature, and they really appreciate it on an affordable vehicle.

Speaking of that safety factor, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Altima its Top Safety Pick rating based on crash-test performance and standard safety equipment, which is highlighted by the ProPilot Assist technology package, part of the award-winning Nissan Intelligent Mobility. While some competitors have also earned this rating, most of them (including the Accord and Camry) lack rear automatic braking and, of course, aren’t available with AWD. The Altima’s Intelligent Forward Collision Warning is also exclusive in this class.

Comfort, Convenience, and Connectivity

Midsized sedans tend to be used for commuting, and that means they ought to be extra comfortable for dealing with those potentially long spells in stop-and-go traffic. The 2019 Altima stands out with its Zero Gravity seating, which was designed by NASA. It’s also offers a tad more legroom than its top two rivals, the Camry and Accord. For convenience, especially in severe temperatures, the Altima comes standard with key-activated remote start, but this feature isn’t even offered on the Camry.

The Altima is also stacked with more standard connectivity features than others in its class. For one, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on every trim of the Altima (as well as on the Passat, Legacy, Optima, and Sonata), while you’ll only find both of those features on the more expensive Accord and Fusion trims. Toyota only includes Apple CarPlay on the Camry: Android users are out of luck. Nissan has also become the first in the class to change over to USB type-C ports; since so many device manufacturers are switching to type-C, those who buy vehicles with the older-style ports will need to get adapters if their devices have the newer type.

Engine Performance

There’s one thing no other midsized sedan can claim: that it has a variable compression turbo (VC-Turbo) engine under its hood. That’s right: this first-in-the-world technology is entirely the Altima’s, and it’s available on the SR and Platinum trims and standard on the Edition ONE trim. The technology works by continuously varying the engine’s compression ratio to achieve either the maximum power (for accelerating) or the best fuel economy (at cruising speed) – whichever the driving situation calls for at that moment. As if that’s not enough to brag about, the VC-Turbo makes 248 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque.

The Altima’s base engine holds its own against the rivals’ powerplants, though. This 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder’s output is 188 hp and 180 lb.-ft., leaving it in close ranks with the two Korean sedans, Sonata and Optima (both make 185 hp and 178 lb.-ft.). The Legacy and Fusion trail with 175 hp. As far as fuel economy, the Altima stands proud with its EPA-rated 28 mpg around town/39 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg combined. The worst performer in this bunch is the Fusion, which gets only up to 23 city/34 highway.