2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Honda Civic

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 Honda Civic 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 Civic 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 Civic 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 Civic doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Altima Platinum has a standard Around View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Civic only offers a rear monitor.

To help make backing safer, the Altima’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Civic doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

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 Civic doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Altima and the Civic have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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 and blind spot warning systems.

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 Civic 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 Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 16th, 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 Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 15th in reliability. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Honda vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 1 place higher in reliability than Honda.

Engine

The Altima has more powerful engines than the Civic:

Horsepower

Torque

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. AWD

182 HP

178 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. FWD

188 HP

180 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

248 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

Civic 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

158 HP

138 lbs.-ft.

Civic 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

174 HP

162 lbs.-ft.

Civic Hatchback Sport 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

180 HP

177 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Altima 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Honda Civic 2.0 4-cylinder (automatics tested):

Altima

Civic

Zero to 60 MPH

7.4 sec

8.6 sec

Quarter Mile

15.7 sec

16.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.2 MPH

86.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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 Civic doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Altima AWD’s standard fuel tank has 3.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Civic (16 vs. 12.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Altima FWD’s standard fuel tank has 3.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the Civic (16.2 vs. 12.4 gallons).

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 Honda Civic (3 to 7). This means the Altima produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Civic every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Nissan Altima comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Civic.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Altima

Civic

Front Rotors

11.65 inches

11.1 inches

Rear Rotors

11.02 inches

10.2 inches

Opt Rear Rotors

11.5 inches

The Altima stops shorter than the Civic:

Altima

Civic

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Altima SR/Platinum has standard 19-inch wheels. The Civic’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

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 Civic doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Altima’s wheelbase is 4.9 inches longer than on the Civic (111.2 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Altima is 2.5 inches wider in the front and 1.9 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Civic.

The Altima Platinum handles at .91 G’s, while the Civic Touring Sedan 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 1.3 seconds quicker than the Civic Sport Sedan (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Altima S’ turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the Civic Sport Hatchback’s (36.1 feet vs. 37.8 feet).

Chassis

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 Civic 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 Civic 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 Civic Sport Sedan (79 vs. 80 dB).

Passenger Space

The Altima has 3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Civic Sedan (100.8 vs. 97.8).

The Altima has 1.5 inches more front legroom, 1 inch more front hip room, 1.2 inches more front shoulder room, 7.2 inches more rear hip room and 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the Civic Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Altima has a larger trunk than the Civic Sedan (15.4 vs. 15.1 cubic feet).

The Altima’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The Civic LX Sedan’s standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.

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

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the Altima Platinum, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Civic doesn’t offer a memory system.

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 Civic doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 Civic LX/Sport’s standard fixed intermittent wipers only have one fixed delay setting, so the driver will have to manually switch them between slow and intermittent.

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 Civic’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

On extremely cold winter days, the Altima’s optional (except S) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Civic doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Altima has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Civic Coupe/LX doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

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

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Altima owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Altima with a number “1” insurance rate while the Civic is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Altima is less expensive to operate than the Civic because typical repairs cost much less on the Altima than the Civic, including $36 less for a water pump, $298 less for a starter and $125 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

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

The Altima was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2019. The Civic hasn’t been picked since 2017.

© 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