2021 Volvo S60 vs. 2020 Nissan Altima

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 2020/10/22

The S60’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Altima doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the S60 and Altima have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The S60 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Altima’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The S60 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Altima doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The S60 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Altima doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the S60 and the Altima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, 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 and available around view monitors.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the S60 its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 82 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Altima is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

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The S60 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Altima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The S60’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Altima’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the S60 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Altima.

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the S60 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The Altima’s standard 120-amp alternator and largest (2.0 VC) 150-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

The battery on the S60 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the S60’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Altima’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

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The S60 has more powerful engines than the Altima:

Horsepower

Torque

S60 T5 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

250 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

S60 T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

S60 Recharge 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid

400 HP

472 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder

182 HP

178 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder

188 HP

180 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

248 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the S60 T5 is faster than the Nissan Altima 2.5:

S60

Altima

Zero to 30 MPH

2.3 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

7.4 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

15.2 sec

19.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7 sec

8.3 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.5 sec

4.8 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.7 sec

5.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

91 MPH

Top Speed

131 MPH

119 MPH

As tested in Motor Trend the S60 T6 is faster than the Nissan Altima 2.5:

S60

Altima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

7.4 sec

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.2 MPH

90.2 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the S60 Recharge running on electricity running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Altima:

MPGe

S60

AWD

Electric Motor

70 city/68 hwy

Altima

MPG

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 VC 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

The S60 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 22 miles. The Altima must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the S60 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Altima doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The S60 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Altima doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the S60’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Altima:

S60 T5

S60 Polestar

Altima

Front Rotors

12.7 inches

14.6 inches

11.65 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

12.6 inches

11.02 inches

Opt Rear Rotors

11.5 inches

The S60’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Altima are solid, not vented.

The S60 stops much shorter than the Altima:

S60

Altima

70 to 0 MPH

163 feet

176 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

110 feet

119 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

139 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the S60 has larger tires than the Altima (235/45R18 vs. 215/60R16).

The S60’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Altima S’ standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S60 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Altima S.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S60’s wheelbase is 1.9 inches longer than on the Altima (113.1 inches vs. 111.2 inches).

The S60’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (55% to 45%) than the Altima’s (59% to 41%). This gives the S60 more stable handling and braking.

The S60 R-Design AWD handles at .91 G’s, while the Altima SV AWD pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The S60 Polestar executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.3 seconds quicker than the Altima SV AWD (25.4 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 27.7 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

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The S60 is 5.5 inches shorter than the Altima, making the S60 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the S60 Momentum is quieter than the Altima SR AWD:

S60

Altima

At idle

42 dB

45 dB

Full-Throttle

75 dB

77 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

© 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 2020/10/22

The S60 has .6 inches more front hip room and .3 inches more rear headroom than the Altima.

Cargo Capacity

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To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the S60’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Altima’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the S60’s optional rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Altima doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the S60 offers cargo security. The Altima’s non-lockable folding seat defeats cargo security.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the S60’s trunk can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Altima doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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The S60 has a 2000 lbs. towing capacity. The Altima has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The S60 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Altima uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Altima Platinum, the S60 R-Design/Inscription has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The S60 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Altima doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The S60’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Altima’s parking brake has to released manually.

The power windows standard on both the S60 and the Altima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the S60 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Altima prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The S60’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Altima’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Altima SV/SL/Platinum’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

The S60’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Altima’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the S60 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Altima doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The S60’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Altima’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Marginal.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The S60 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Altima doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the S60 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Altima doesn’t offer cornering lights. The S60 also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The S60’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan charges extra for heated mirrors on the Altima.

When the S60 is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Altima’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The S60’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Altima offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the S60 and the Altima offer available heated front seats. The S60 T6/Recharge also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Altima.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the S60 Inscription keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Altima doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The S60 Inscription offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Altima.

The S60 has a 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. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Altima SV/SL/Platinum.

Both the S60 and the Altima offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the S60 has available rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Altima doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Volvo S60 offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Altima doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The S60’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Altima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the S60 is less expensive to operate than the Altima because it costs $46 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the S60 than the Altima, including $11 less for front struts, $155 less for a timing belt/chain and $137 less for a power steering pump.

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 2020/10/22

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2019 issue and they ranked the Volvo S60 R-Design AWD higher than the Nissan Altima SV AWD.

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