2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2020 Mercedes A-Class

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/04/06

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Altima are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Mercedes A-Class doesn’t offer height-adjustable 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 A-Class 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 A-Class doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

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 A-Class doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Altima and the A-Class have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, 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 around view monitors.

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 125 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The A-Class has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Altima 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the A-Class. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the A-Class ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 3 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Altima’s warranty.

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Altima’s reliability 56 points higher than the A-Class.

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 Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 10 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

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The Altima’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 60 more horsepower (248 vs. 188) and 52 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 221) than the A-Class’ 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Altima turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Mercedes A-Class:

Altima

A-Class

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

6.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

15.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97.4 MPH

94.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/04/06

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

The Altima AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the A-Class (16 vs. 13.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Altima FWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the A-Class (16.2 vs. 13.5 gallons).

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Nissan Altima higher (7 out of 10) than the Mercedes A-Class (5). This means the Altima produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the A-Class every 15,000 miles.

The EPA certifies the Nissan Altima as a “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV). The Mercedes A-Class is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

Transmission

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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 A-Class doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Altima stops shorter than the A-Class:

Altima

A-Class

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Altima has larger standard tires than the A-Class (215/60R16 vs. 205/55R17). The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the A-Class (235/40R19 vs. 225/40R19).

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 A-Class 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 A-Class; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed. Some tire options on the A-Class don’t have a run-flat feature, either.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Altima’s wheelbase is 3.8 inches longer than on the A-Class (111.2 inches vs. 107.4 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Altima is 1.5 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the A-Class.

The Altima SR handles at .89 G’s, while the A 220 pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

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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 A-Class 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 A-Class doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Altima a Mid-size car, while the A-Class is rated a Compact.

The Altima has 7.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A-Class (100.8 vs. 93).

The Altima has 2 inches more front legroom, 3.1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear legroom and 3.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the A-Class.

Cargo Capacity

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The Altima has a much larger trunk than the A-Class (15.4 vs. 8.6 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

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Consumer Reports rated the Altima’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the A-Class’ headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Altima has standard extendable sun visors. The A-Class doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/04/06

Consumer Reports® recommends the Nissan Altima, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes A-Class isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Altima first among midsize cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The A-Class isn’t in the top three.

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

The Nissan Altima outsold the Mercedes A-Class by almost 12 to one during 2019.

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