2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Buick LaCrosse

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

Your buying experience includes...

business_centerProfessional Staff
account_balanceSimple Financing
local_gas_stationFull Tank of Gas
local_car_washFree Car Wash

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 Buick LaCrosse doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

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 LaCrosse doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Altima Platinum has a standard Around View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The LaCrosse only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

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 LaCrosse doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

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

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Altima the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The LaCrosse was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Buick vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 6 more problems per 100 vehicles, Buick is ranked 11th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 5 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The Altima’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 268) than the LaCrosse’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Nissan Altima 2.0 VC turbo is faster than the Buick LaCrosse eAssist:

Altima

LaCrosse

Zero to 30 MPH

2.4 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

7.8 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

9.5 sec

13.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.7 sec

22.4 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.4 sec

8.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.6 sec

4.2 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.1 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

14.5 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99 MPH

86 MPH

Top Speed

142 MPH

130 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

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 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

LaCrosse

FWD

eAssist 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl. Hybrid

25 city/35 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

20 city/30 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

20 city/29 hwy

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 Buick LaCrosse (5). This means the Altima produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the LaCrosse 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 LaCrosse doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Altima stops shorter than the LaCrosse:

Altima

LaCrosse

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

173 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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 LaCrosse doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Altima Platinum handles at .91 G’s, while the LaCrosse Essence pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Altima Platinum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the LaCrosse Premium (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 26.8 seconds @ .66 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Altima S’ turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the LaCrosse’s (36.1 feet vs. 38 feet). The Altima SR/SV/SL/Platinum’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the LaCrosse’s (37.4 feet vs. 38 feet).

Chassis

The Nissan Altima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 400 pounds less than the Buick LaCrosse.

The Altima is 4.6 inches shorter than the LaCrosse, making the Altima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Altima has .8 inches more front headroom, 1.8 inches more front legroom, .5 inches more front shoulder room and .5 inches more rear shoulder room than the LaCrosse.

Cargo Capacity

The Altima has a larger trunk than the LaCrosse (15.4 vs. 15 cubic feet).

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

Ergonomics

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 LaCrosse can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Intelligent Key standard on the Altima allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Buick LaCrosse’s Keyless Access doesn’t unlock the trunk.

The Altima’s speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The LaCrosse’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Altima’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the LaCrosse’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Altima detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The LaCrosse doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Altima owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Altima will cost $200 less than the LaCrosse over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Altima is less expensive to operate than the LaCrosse because it costs $300 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Altima than the LaCrosse, including $173 less for a water pump, $207 less for a muffler, $91 less for front brake pads, $110 less for a starter, $82 less for a fuel pump, $537 less for front struts, $521 less for a timing belt/chain and $410 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Nissan Altima will be $6617 to $7415 less than for the Buick LaCrosse.

Recommendations

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

The Altima was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2019. The LaCrosse has never been an “All Star.”

The Nissan Altima outsold the Buick LaCrosse by over 13 to one during 2018.

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

How much is your car worth?

Get the best value for your car from an Asbury dealership.

Featured Videos