2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Chrysler 300

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 Chrysler 300 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 300 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 300 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 300 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 300 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Altima and the 300 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver 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.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Nissan Altima is safer than the 300:

Altima

300

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

59

222

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

4 cm

9 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

19 cm

28 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.4/.5 kN

3.7/3 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.53/.45

1.21/.58

Tibia forces R/L

.9/.4 kN

3/4.7 kN

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 300 was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The Altima’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the 300 runs out after 100,000 miles.

Reliability

For smoother operation, better efficiency and fewer moving parts, the engines in the Altima have an overhead cam design, rather than the old pushrod design of the 5.7 V8 in the 300.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Altima’s reliability 20 points higher than the 300.

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 Chrysler vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 27 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chrysler is ranked 25th, 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 Chrysler vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 15th in reliability. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chrysler is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Chrysler vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 10 places higher in reliability than Chrysler.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Altima 2.0 VC turbo is faster than the 300S V6:

Altima

300

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

6.4 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

14.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97.4 MPH

97.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Altima gets better fuel mileage than the 300:

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

300

RWD

3.6 DOHC V6

19 city/30 hwy

5.7 OHV V8

16 city/25 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

18 city/27 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 300 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 Chrysler 300 (3). This means the Altima produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 300 every 15,000 miles.

The EPA certifies the Nissan Altima as a “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV). The Chrysler 300 is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

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 300 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Altima stops shorter than the 300:

Altima

300

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

175 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

131 feet

137 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

143 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

The Altima S’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 300 Touring’s standard 65 series tires. The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the 300S/300C/Limited’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 300 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Altima Platinum handles at .91 G’s, while the 300 Limited pulls only .82 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 300 (26.3 seconds vs. 27.2 seconds).

For better maneuverability, the Altima S’ turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the 300’s (36.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet). The Altima SR/SV/SL/Platinum’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the 300’s (37.4 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

The Nissan Altima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 800 to 900 pounds less than the Chrysler 300.

The Altima is 5.7 inches shorter than the 300, making the Altima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Nissan Altima amounts to more than styling. The Altima has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .26 Cd. That is significantly lower than the 300 (.32) 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 300 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Altima SL/Platinum uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The 300 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Altima Platinum is quieter than the 300S (79 vs. 80 dB).

Passenger Space

The Altima has .6 inches more front headroom and 2 inches more front legroom than the 300.

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 300 can only close the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 300’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Altima is less expensive to operate than the 300 because typical repairs cost much less on the Altima than the 300, including $97 less for a water pump, $1381 less for a muffler, $22 less for front brake pads, $25 less for a fuel pump, $642 less for front struts, $100 less for a timing belt/chain and $542 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 $7018 to $8068 less than for the Chrysler 300.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Nissan Altima, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Chrysler 300 isn't recommended.

The Altima was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2019. The 300 hasn’t been picked since 2007.

The Nissan Altima outsold the Chrysler 300 by over four to one during 2018.

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

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