2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Toyota Avalon

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 Toyota Avalon 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 Avalon doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Altima offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Avalon doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

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 Avalon doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Altima and the Avalon 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, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

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 Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 8th.

Engine

The Altima’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 267) than the Avalon’s 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Nissan Altima 2.0 VC turbo is faster than the Toyota Avalon V6:

Altima

Avalon

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

6.1 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.7 sec

15.3 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.4 sec

6.7 sec

Quarter Mile

14.5 sec

14.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99 MPH

98 MPH

Top Speed

142 MPH

132 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

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

Avalon

FWD

XLE 3.5 DOHC V6

22 city/32 hwy

XSE/Limited/Touring 3.5 DOHC V6

22 city/31 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 Avalon doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Nissan Altima uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine for maximum performance). The Avalon requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Altima AWD’s standard fuel tank has 1.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Avalon XLE’s standard fuel tank (16 vs. 14.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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

Brakes and Stopping

The Altima stops shorter than the Avalon:

Altima

Avalon

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

122 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 Avalon doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Altima SR handles at .89 G’s, while the Avalon Touring pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Altima Platinum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Avalon Touring (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Altima S’ turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Avalon XLE’s (36.1 feet vs. 37.7 feet).

Chassis

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

The Altima is 3 inches shorter than the Avalon, making the Altima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

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 Avalon doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Altima has .7 inches more front headroom and 1.7 inches more front legroom than the Avalon.

Ergonomics

The Altima has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Avalon doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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

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 Avalon XLE/Touring’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Avalon is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Altima is less expensive to operate than the Avalon because typical repairs cost much less on the Altima than the Avalon, including $140 less for a water pump, $13 less for front brake pads, $212 less for a starter, $96 less for fuel injection, $67 less for a fuel pump, $122 less for front struts and $898 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

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

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

The Nissan Altima outsold the Toyota Avalon by over six 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