2019 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Mazda 6

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Altima have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Altima are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Altima SV/SL/Platinum has standard Rear Automatic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Altima offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Altima’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Altima and the Mazda 6 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

There are over 86 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Mazda dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Altima’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Altima has a 120-amp alternator. The Mazda 6’s standard 100-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 22nd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 15th in reliability. With 22 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

The Altima’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 61 more horsepower (248 vs. 187) and 87 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 186) than the Mazda 6’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Nissan Altima 2.5 4 cyl. is faster than the Mazda 6 4 cyl.:

Altima

6

Zero to 30 MPH

3.1 sec

3.6 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.6 sec

9.2 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.5 sec

5.5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.9 sec

17.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92 MPH

86 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Altima gets better fuel mileage than the Mazda 6:

MPG

Altima

FWD

S/SV/SL 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

28 city/39 hwy

SR/Platinum 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

2.0 VC turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

AWD

S/SV/SL 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

SR/Platinum 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

Mazda 6

FWD

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

23 city/31 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Altima’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Nissan Altima higher (7 out of 10) than the Mazda 6 (3 to 7). This means the Altima produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Mazda 6 every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Altima has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Altima stops much shorter than the Mazda 6:

Altima

Mazda 6

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Altima SR/Platinum’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Mazda 6 (235/40R19 vs. 225/55R17).

The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Mazda 6 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature’s 45 series tires.

The Altima has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Altima Platinum handles at .91 G’s, while the Mazda 6 Signature pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Altima Platinum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Mazda 6 Touring (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Altima S’ turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the Mazda 6’s (36.1 feet vs. 36.7 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Nissan Altima amounts to more than styling. The Altima has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .26 Cd. That is lower than the Mazda 6 (.285) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Altima get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the Altima uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Altima Platinum is quieter than the Mazda 6 Grand Touring (40 vs. 42 dB).

Passenger Space

The Altima has .8 inches more front headroom, 1.6 inches more front legroom, 1.2 inches more front hip room, 2.3 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear hip room and 2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Mazda 6.

Cargo Capacity

The Altima has a larger trunk than the Mazda 6 (15.4 vs. 14.7 cubic feet).

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the Altima. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Ergonomics

The Altima Platinum’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Mazda 6 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

If the windows are left open on the Altima the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Mazda 6 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Nissan Altima and the Mazda 6, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Nissan Altima outsold the Mazda 6 by almost seven to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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