2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

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 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 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 Sonata Hybrid 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 Sonata Hybrid 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 Sonata Hybrid 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 Sonata Hybrid only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or 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 Sonata Hybrid doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Altima and the Sonata Hybrid 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.

Warranty

There are over 29 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Hyundai dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Altima’s warranty.

Engine

The Altima’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 55 more horsepower (248 vs. 193) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 271) than the Sonata Hybrid’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

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 Sonata Hybrid doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Altima has larger standard tires than the Sonata Hybrid (215/60R16 vs. 205/65R16). The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sonata Hybrid (235/40R19 vs. 215/55R17).

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 Sonata Hybrid’s standard 65 series tires. The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Sonata Hybrid’s optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Altima SR/Platinum has standard 19-inch wheels. The Sonata Hybrid’s largest wheels are only 17-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 Sonata Hybrid doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The Altima has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Sonata Hybrid; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Chassis

The Nissan Altima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 100 to 300 pounds less than the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

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 Sonata Hybrid 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 Sonata Hybrid doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Altima has .3 inches more front shoulder room and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Sonata Hybrid.

Cargo Capacity

The Altima has a much larger trunk than the Sonata Hybrid (15.4 vs. 13.4 cubic feet).

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

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Nissan Altima and the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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

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