With all the time we’ve spent comprehensively covering and comparing the 2018 Honda Accord and 2018 Toyota Camry, you might forget that there’s an entire class of midsize sedans waiting to grab buyers who aren’t super loyal to one of those rivals. The biggest non-Camry rival to the Accord is probably the popular Altima, and a new one has been revealed at the 2018 New York auto show. After seeing the new 2019 Nissan Altima at the show along with the 2018 Accord, here are our initial impressions on how they compare.
The 2019 Altima doesn’t just have a new design. I would argue it’s a better one. Although I’m not sure if I like the car’s floating roof look, the rest of the Altima looks sharp, with a low hood, crisp character lines, and refined taillights that continue the brand’s boomerang theme we’ve seen on other models.
The Accord also has a gently sloping rear deck, and from the side, the Honda has a rear quarter window behind the rear doors. Aside from the top of the Accord’s grille, the Accord is also an attractive midsize sedan. For me, this category is a tie, though I do prefer Honda’s 19-inch wheel designs to the Nissan’s.
The biggest news with the 2019 Altima is its availability of all-wheel drive on every trim of the base engine. AWD isn’t available on the Accord, and Nissan doesn’t make you pay for an engine upgrade to get it.
If you feel you need AWD where you live, that could push you toward the Nissan. However, if you prefer to shift a car yourself, Honda offers a manual transmission on both of its non-hybrid engines (a CVT is standard on every Altima), and at least for now, in this pairing only Honda offers a hybrid.
Both cars offer a full package of advanced active safety tech, but only Honda makes it standard on every trim. The Altima’s system is standard on the SV, SL, and Platinum trims but not available on the S or SR. One Nissan advantage is that it offers rear automatic braking, whereas Honda’s system merely warns of an obstacle. Still useful but not the same.
Base Model Goodness
Today’s base-model midsize sedans are far better-equipped than their predecessors. The 2018 Accord LX, for example, includes 17-inch alloy wheels, Honda Sensing active safety tech, and LED headlights. The 2019 Nissan Altima S wears 16-inch steel wheels with covers, but it has an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus an eight-way power driver’s seat.
The 2018 Accord is ready for buyers who want luxury features without the luxury badge. The Accord Touring gets a head-up display, heated and ventilated front seats (Altima only gets heated), and heated rear outboard seats. Before you get too disappointed about the Altima not offering ventilated seats on its lower-volume Platinum trim, consider that the car does have a helpful multicamera surround-view system and a heated steering wheel.
Both cars are spacious yet have sloping rooflines that might encroach on headroom for taller rear-seat passengers. Both cars have a screen perched at the top of the dash, but the Accord goes for more of its great-looking fake wood trim to the Altima’s mix of good fake wood, satin silver trim, and some beige trim around the HVAC controls. The Nissan also has comfortable Zero Gravity front seats.
We can’t wait to drive the new 2019 Altima and compare it against the Honda Accord, especially as Nissan has addressed (or claims to have addressed) a couple of the issues we had with our long-term 2013 Altima, a car we enjoyed overall.