The Altima was fully redesigned for 2019. The Accord was redesigned for 2018.
The Honda Accord and Nissan Altima are two of the most popular midsize sedans on the market today. The Altima was redesigned just last year and is now available with all-wheel drive, Nissan‘s ProPilot Assist system and a new optional turbocharged engine that uses trick technology, which enables it to make more power without sacrificing fuel economy. The Accord was all new for 2018, and it falls back on its reputation for refinement and driving pleasure, offering two turbocharged engines, a sporty fastback design and an available manual transmission — a rarity in this segment today. Below we’ll compare these two popular midsize sedans across a number of categories to give you an idea of which one is a better buy for your needs in 2020.
Both of these vehicles wear modern designs, but they follow different philosophies. The new Altima is an evolution of the design of the outgoing model, and it incorporates angled front headlights that meet via a v-shaped front-grille design, which is a common theme in Nissan’s current design language. Along the side, the Altima has a thin roofline with a plastic trim piece at the back that gives it a floating appearance, another common design trend. See the 2020 Nissan Altima models for sale near you
The Accord wears a striking new design with a long sloping roofline and a short rear decklid, making for a profile not unlike that of more premium sedans, like the Volkswagen Arteon, Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS. Up front, the Accord’s grille is flat and broad, with bejeweled headlights that give it an overall futuristic, robotic look. Around back, things are a little more conservative, with narrow c-shaped tail lights bracketing a trunk-mounted license plate. See the 2020 Honda Accord models for sale near you
Since both of these vehicles were redesigned fairly recently, both offer modern interiors that improve upon those of their predecessors. Both vehicles offer standard 8-in center infotainment screens mounted atop the dashboard along with an available digital gauge cluster.
When it’s equipped with an automatic transmission, the Accord uses a clever push-button gear selector, while the Altima gets a traditional shift knob. Altogether, both vehicles come with good interiors that are laid out in similar ways.
The 2020 Honda Accord can be had with one of two traditional gas-powered engines or a hybrid powertrain. The Accord’s base engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. The higher-end engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes a respectable 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. 1.5T and 2.0T sport models are available with a 6-speed manual transmission. Otherwise, the 1.5T is offered with a CVT, and the 2.0T gets a 10-speed automatic, which we prefer to the continuously variable unit. Equipped with their respective automatics, Accords packing the 1.5T earn 33 mpg combined, while 2.0T models earn 27 mpg overall.
As for the Accord Hybrid, its powertrain is largely a carryover from the previous-generation model. The combined output comes in at 212 hp — a very reasonable figure for a midsize sedan. Fuel economy is impressive too, coming in at 49 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
Because it doesn’t offer a hybrid option, the Altima is offered with just two different engines. Base models come with a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder that makes 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. While the Accord is FWD-only, Altimas equipped with this base engine can be optioned with AWD, giving them an advantage in markets that see snowy winter weather. With FWD, Altimas with this base engine return 32 mpg combined, while AWD models net 30 mpg overall.
The Altima’s optional upgraded engine is a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that Nissan has branded the "VC-Turbo." This engine uses a new "variable compression" technology that allows it to adjust to driver input and emphasize either power or fuel efficiency. The VC-Turbo, which is only available with FWD in the Altima, puts out 236 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque and returns 29 mpg combined. Still, while this technology is cool, it isn’t necessarily revolutionary on paper, as the Altima VC-Turbo nets only a 2-mpg advantage over a 2.0T-equipped Accord in combined driving, and the Accord comes with a great 10-speed automatic. The Altima’s lone transmission option is a CVT.
The recently redesigned Altima comes standard with an 8-in infotainment screen offering Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on every model. As a thoughtful touch, Nissan has included USB-C ports in addition to the basic USB-A ports.
The Accord also comes standard with an 8-in center infotainment screen. While some Hondas in recent years have eliminated physical buttons, the current-gen Accord has both a physical knob and redundant buttons. For whatever reason, Honda limits Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to the Sport trim up, which is pretty stingy considering how many competitors (including the Altima) offer this technology as standard.
Both vehicles offer heated and ventilated front seats with a heated steering wheel, but only the Accord offers heated rear seats. Finally, it’s worth noting again here that the Altima is available with AWD, which is largely unique in this segment.
The Accord and Altima have both been awarded Top Safety Pick designations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and both earn top scores across the board in most testing categories. The lone blemishes for both come in the form of pedestrian detection and headlight performance. Altogether, though, both vehicles should be viewed as extremely safe options
The Altima and Accord also come with a good array of active safety tech. The Accord comes standard with adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors are introduced with the EX trim.
While it’s optional on the base S trim, every other Altima comes with the company’s "Safety Shield 360" system, which consists of automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic monitoring and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control with low-speed stop-and-go functionality is also available. Starting with the SV trim, the Altima also offers Nissan’s ProPilot Assist system, which combines adaptive cruise control with a lane centering feature to help pilot the vehicle down highways in stop-and-go traffic and at higher speeds.
Accord and Altima buyers should both see generally good reliability from their vehicles, as Nissan and Honda both score well in most dependability studies. Both brands offer a 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is on par with most of the competition, although it does lag behind offerings from Hyundai and Kia.
Factoring in destination charges, a base 2020 Accord starts at $24,800, while a base Altima comes in at $24,795 — a whole $5 less. An Accord with the higher-performance 2.0T engine costs at least $27,460, or just over $31,000 if you want an automatic transmission. For an Altima equipped with a more powerful engine, you’re looking at a little under $31,000, but keep in mind that this comes standard with the automatic. Altima buyers looking for AWD will pay a $1,350 premium, and the Accord is FWD only. For a fully loaded Accord 2.0T, you’ll pay just over $37,000, while a loaded Altima with the VC-Turbo engine will run you a little over $37,000 as well. Altogether, pricing for these two vehicles is remarkably close, but keep in mind that the feature content does differ somewhat between the two.
Choosing between these two vehicles is tough. The Accord seems to focus on offering an elevated driving experience, thanks to its two different turbocharged engines and the two engaging transmission options in its available 6-speed manual and 10-speed automatic, in addition to a CVT. The Altima, on the other hand, offers some unique features of its own, with the main one being its available AWD system, which is a rarity among vehicles in this segment except for the Subaru Legacy.
While Nissan’s VC-Turbo engine offers a few extra mpg, it can’t be paired with AWD, and the Accord’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is both powerful and efficient. While the Altima’s available AWD system will certainly win over some buyers, 4-wheel traction aside, choosing between these two vehicles will largely come down to subjective points. Namely, which one you think looks better and which one is offered with better incentives by your local dealer. Find a Honda Accord for sale or Find a Nissan Altima for sale