2020 Audi A4 vs. 2020 Nissan Altima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/09

The A4’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Altima doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the A4 and Altima have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The A4 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Altima’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The A4 has a standard Audi Backguard System, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Audi Backguard System moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Altima doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The A4 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Altima doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the A4’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Altima doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

Both the A4 and the Altima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, 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 lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The A4 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Altima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The A4’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Altima’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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The Audi A4’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Altima’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

Engine

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The A4 has more powerful engines than the Altima:

Horsepower

Torque

A4 40 TFSI 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

188 HP

236 lbs.-ft.

A4 45 TFSI 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

248 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder

182 HP

178 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder

188 HP

180 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the A4 40 TFSI is faster than the Nissan Altima 4 cyl.:

A4

Altima

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

7.4 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91 MPH

90.2 MPH

As tested in Motor Trend the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the Nissan Altima 2.0:

A4

Altima

Zero to 60 MPH

5 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

13.7 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.4 MPH

97.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the A4 40 TFSI FWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Altima FWD CVT turbo 4 cyl. (27 city/35 hwy vs. 25 city/34 hwy).

Transmission

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The A4’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Altima doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the A4’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Altima:

A4

A4 Quattro

Altima

Front Rotors

12.4 inches

13.3 inches

11.65 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11.02 inches

Opt Rear Rotors

11.5 inches

The A4’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Altima are solid, not vented.

The A4 stops much shorter than the Altima:

A4

Altima

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

176 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

119 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the A4 has larger standard tires than the Altima (225/50R17 vs. 215/60R16). The A4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Altima (245/40R18 vs. 235/40R19).

The A4’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Altima S’ standard 60 series tires. The A4’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Altima SR/Platinum’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A4 has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Altima S.

Suspension and Handling

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The A4 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Altima’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The A4’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56% to 44%) than the Altima’s (59% to 41%). This gives the A4 more stable handling and braking.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the Altima SV AWD pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.4 seconds quicker than the Altima SV AWD (25.3 seconds @ .74 average G’s vs. 27.7 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

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The A4 is 6.8 inches shorter than the Altima, making the A4 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the A4 Prestige Quattro is quieter than the Altima SR AWD:

A4

Altima

At idle

42 dB

45 dB

Full-Throttle

70 dB

77 dB

70 MPH Cruising

63 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

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The A4 has .5 inches more rear headroom and .5 inches more rear legroom than the Altima.

Cargo Capacity

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With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the A4 offers cargo security. The Altima’s non-lockable folding seat defeats cargo security.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the A4’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Altima doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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The A4 has a 3968 lbs. towing capacity. The Altima has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The A4 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Altima uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the A4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Altima. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 25% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 17th.

Ergonomics

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The A4 Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Altima doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The A4’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Altima’s parking brake has to released manually.

The power windows standard on both the A4 and the Altima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the A4 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Altima prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The A4’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Altima’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Altima SV/SL/Platinum’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

The A4’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Altima’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A4 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Altima doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 Prestige has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Altima doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the A4 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Altima doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the A4 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Altima doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.

The A4’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan charges extra for heated mirrors on the Altima.

When the A4 with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Altima’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The A4’s standard rear view mirror and optional side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Altima offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The A4 has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the Altima, and aren’t available on the Altima S. The A4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Altima.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the A4 Premium Plus/Prestige keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Altima doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The A4 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Altima SV/SL/Platinum.

Both the A4 and the Altima offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A4 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Altima doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Audi A4 Premium Plus/Prestige has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Altima doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The A4 Prestige’s Park Steering Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Altima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A4 is less expensive to operate than the Altima because typical repairs cost less on the A4 than the Altima, including $100 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/09

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Audi A4 and the Nissan Altima, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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