2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Ford Fusion

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 Ford Fusion 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 Fusion 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 Fusion 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 Fusion 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.

Both the Altima and the Fusion have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front 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, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, 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 Fusion was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Reliability

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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 15th in reliability. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 4 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

As tested in Consumer Reports the Nissan Altima 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Fusion 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.:

Altima

Fusion

Zero to 30 MPH

3.1 sec

3.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.6 sec

9.2 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.5 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

15.9 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92 MPH

84.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

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

Fusion

FWD

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

21 city/31 hwy

1.5 turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/31 hwy

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/29 hwy

2.7 turbo V6

17 city/26 hwy

Regardless of its engine, the Altima’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Ford only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Fusion 1.5 ECOBoost.

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 Ford Fusion (5 to 7). This means the Altima produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Fusion 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 Fusion doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Altima stops shorter than the Fusion:

Altima

Fusion

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

178 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

120 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

145 feet

Consumer Reports

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 Fusion doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Altima Platinum handles at .91 G’s, while the Fusion Sport AWD pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Altima Platinum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Fusion SE (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.4 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Altima S’ turning circle is 1.4 feet tighter than the Fusion’s (36.1 feet vs. 37.5 feet). The Altima SR/SV/SL/Platinum’s turning circle is .1 feet tighter than the Fusion’s (37.4 feet vs. 37.5 feet).

Chassis

The Nissan Altima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 350 pounds less than the Ford Fusion.

Passenger Space

The Altima has .4 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear hip room and .2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Fusion.

Ergonomics

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 Fusion’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Altima is less expensive to operate than the Fusion because typical repairs cost much less on the Altima than the Fusion, including $166 less for a muffler, $76 less for front brake pads and $233 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

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

The Altima was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2019. The Fusion Hybrid hasn’t been picked since 2010.

The Nissan Altima outsold the Ford Fusion by 20% during 2018.

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

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