2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Toyota Prius

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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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 Prius 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 Prius doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Altima Platinum has a standard Around View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Prius 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 Prius 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, 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.


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.


The Altima’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 61 more horsepower (182 vs. 121) and 72 lbs.-ft. more torque (178 vs. 106) than the Prius’ 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The Altima’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 67 more horsepower (188 vs. 121) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (180 vs. 106) than the Prius’ 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The Altima’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 127 more horsepower (248 vs. 121) and 167 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 106) than the Prius’ 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Nissan Altima 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Toyota Prius:



Zero to 30 MPH

3.1 sec

3.6 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.6 sec

10.3 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.5 sec

6.5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.9 sec

17.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92 MPH

81 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Altima AWD’s standard fuel tank has 5.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Prius AWD-e’s standard fuel tank (16 vs. 10.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Altima FWD’s standard fuel tank has 4.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Prius FWD’s standard fuel tank (16.2 vs. 11.3 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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



Front Rotors

11.65 inches

10 inches

Rear Rotors

11.02 inches

10.2 inches

Opt Rear Rotors

11.5 inches

The Altima stops much shorter than the Prius:



70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

149 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Altima has larger standard tires than the Prius (215/60R16 vs. 195/65R15). The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Prius (235/40R19 vs. 215/45R17).

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 Prius’ standard 65 series tires. The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Prius XLE/Limited’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Altima S has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Prius. The Altima SR/Platinum’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Prius XLE/Limited.

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 Prius 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 Prius (111.2 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Altima is 3.4 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Prius.

The Altima Platinum handles at .91 G’s, while the Prius pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Altima Platinum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.6 seconds quicker than the Prius L Eco (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 28.9 seconds @ .55 average G’s).


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 Prius doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the Altima Platinum is quieter than the Prius (70 vs. 72 dB).

Passenger Space

The Altima has 7.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Prius (100.8 vs. 93.1).

The Altima has 1.5 inches more front legroom, 1.3 inches more front hip room, 3.2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.8 inches more rear legroom, 2.6 inches more rear hip room and 4.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the Prius.

Cargo Capacity

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


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 Prius doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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 Prius 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 Prius doesn’t offer an easy entry 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 Prius 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 Prius’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Altima has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Prius has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the XLE/Limited.

The Altima SV/SL/Platinum’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Prius doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Altima and the Prius 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 Prius 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 Prius 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 Prius because typical repairs cost much less on the Altima than the Prius, including $94 less for a water pump, $63 less for a muffler, $326 less for fuel injection, $93 less for a fuel pump, $562 less for a timing belt/chain and $569 less for a power steering pump.


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

The Nissan Altima outsold the Toyota Prius by over two to one during 2018.

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

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