2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2020 Toyota Corolla

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 Toyota Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Altima and the Corolla 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 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 Corolla has not been tested, yet.

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 has more powerful engines than the Corolla:

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.

Corolla 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

139 HP

126 lbs.-ft.

Corolla SE/XSE 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

169 HP

151 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the Nissan Altima 2.0 VC turbo is faster than the Corolla SE/XSE:

Altima

Corolla

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

8 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.7 sec

22.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.4 sec

8.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.5 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99 MPH

87 MPH

Top Speed

142 MPH

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

The Altima AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the Corolla (16 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Altima FWD’s standard fuel tank has 3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Corolla (16.2 vs. 13.2 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 Toyota Corolla (5 to 6). This means the Altima produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Corolla every 15,000 miles.

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

Brakes and Stopping

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

Altima

Corolla

Front Rotors

11.65 inches

10.8 inches

Rear Rotors

11.02 inches

10.2 inches

Opt Rear Rotors

11.5 inches

The Altima stops shorter than the Corolla:

Altima

Corolla

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Altima has larger standard tires than the Corolla (215/60R16 vs. 195/65R15). The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Corolla (235/40R19 vs. 225/40R18).

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 Corolla L’s standard 65 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 Corolla L. The Altima SR/Platinum’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Corolla SE/XSE.

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 Corolla 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 Corolla (111.2 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Altima is 2.9 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Corolla.

The Altima Platinum handles at .91 G’s, while the Corolla XSE pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The design of the Nissan Altima amounts to more than styling. The Altima has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .26 Cd. That is lower than the Corolla (.29 to .3) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Altima get better fuel mileage.

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 Corolla 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 Corolla doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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

The Altima has 12.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Corolla (100.8 vs. 88.6).

The Altima has .9 inches more front headroom, 1.5 inches more front legroom, 1.7 inches more front hip room, 3.4 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear legroom, 10.6 inches more rear hip room and 2.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Corolla.

Cargo Capacity

The Altima has a much larger trunk than the Corolla (15.4 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the Altima. The Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla L’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 Corolla LE/SE/XLE/XLS’ manually variable intermittent wipers don’t change delay with speed.

The Altima’s optional rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Corolla doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

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 Corolla doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Corolla doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Altima and the Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla is rated higher at a number “3” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Altima is less expensive to operate than the Corolla because typical repairs cost much less on the Altima than the Corolla, including $17 less for a water pump, $2 less for a muffler, $97 less for a starter, $57 less for a fuel pump and $468 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

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

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

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

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