The 2021 Nissan Altima Has Something the Camry, Accord, and Mazda6 Don’t

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The 2021 Nissan Altima doesn’t garner as much press as other midsize sedans. Though it offers a comfortable ride, it lacks the Mazda6’s fun handling. It also offers fewer standard features than the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Even Consumer Reports‘ review doesn’t betray any hidden talents in the Altima. It boasts a high overall score, but its predicted owner satisfaction rating is low. However, the 2021 Nissan Altima offers something its rivals don’t.

The 2021 Nissan Altima’s powertrains

Unlike the 2021 Mazda6 and Honda Accord, the 2021 Nissan Altima offers all-wheel drive. The popular Toyota Camry recently reintroduced AWD to better compete with SUVs, Car and Driver reported. Moreover, the AWD upgrade costs only $1,400 for both sedans, which isn’t too high for better performance.

But not even the almighty Toyota Camry offers Nissan’s VC-Turbo engine. According to Nissan, it’s the first variable compression engine designed for maximum power and efficiency. The turbo engine is capable of 248 hp — that’s 60 horses more than the standard powertrain.

Unfortunately, you can’t have AWD and the VC-Turbo engine on the same Altima. Car and Driver reports that this engine is predictably faster, but it’s available only on the Altima SR. This trim also comes with a sportier suspension, which makes the overall ride quality slightly less comfortable. 

Despite its athletic demeanor, the Altima SR’s cabin is still relatively quiet. Even better, the 2021 Altima’s VC-Turbo engine definitely lives up to its reputation in terms of efficiency. It’s officially rated for 25/34 mpg city/highway but achieved 37 mpg on the highway in C/D’s testing.

The Nissan Altima has a nice cabin, with only a few hard plastic parts and many well-fitting materials. C/D’s reviewers loved the extra interior features on their SR tester, including smartphone integration and a leather steering wheel.

Both rows of seats are comfortable and spacious, with a variety of lumbar support options. The Nissan Altima also offers plenty of cargo and interior storage space, but its second row doesn’t rest flat when folded.

Nissan’s ProPilot Assist program

The Nissan Altima SL and Platinum trims also come standard with the ProPilot Assist self-driving feature. Though you still have to keep your hands on the wheel, the feature can keep your car centered in lanes. It can also follow cars on the highway at a safe distance, stopping and moving with traffic flow.

Consumer Reports’ testers found ProPilot Assist to be highly effective at reducing stress in congested traffic. It always stays at a safe speed and doesn’t make any jarring steering maneuvers. However, CR cautions that ProPilot Assist can’t make any steering adjustments if driven below 37 mph.

Optional features in competing sedans

Both the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry boast Consumer Reports’ recommendation and Green Choice designation. Still, both lack a semiautonomous driving feature. Higher trims of the Accord come with parking sensors, a head-up display, a rear-seat reminder blind-spot monitors.

The Toyota Camry also offers these features, plus a surround-view parking camera system like the Nissan Altima. The 2021 Mazda6 isn’t a Green Choice, but CR still recommends this car for its ride quality and classy interior. It also offers some safety features that its rivals don’t offer, such as adaptive headlights and traffic sign recognition.

Overall, the 2021 Nissan Altima isn’t perfect, but it’s worth checking out for its standout drivetrain and advanced safety features.

RELATED: 2021 Nissan Maxima vs. Nissan Altima: Which Is the Better Buy?

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