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2021 Nissan Altima vs 2021 Toyota Camry

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  • 2021 Nissan Altima

    A grey 2021 Nissan Altima is angled left.

    Starting at

    $24,550*

    2021 Toyota Camry

    A grey 2021 Toyota Camry is angled right.

    Starting at

    $25,045

    273Max Torque (lb-ft)267
    15.4Cargo Volume (cu.ft)15.1
    36Fuel Economy (mpg hwy)34

    The Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry could be considered as two of the most renowned midsize sedans on the market at the moment. These titans have been competing for dominance and prominence within their respective segments for some time, pushing the boundaries and elevating the standards of what car shoppers expect from sedans. The 2021 Altima introduces new packages for the model year, while the 2021 Camry revises some of its driver-assist technologies and infotainment features. How do the individual parts culminate as a whole when comparing the 2021 Nissan Altima vs 2021 Toyota Camry? And which of the two is the better buy?

    The 2021 Nissan Altima is available in six different trims, including the base S, the SV, the SR, the SL, the SR VC-Turbo, and the top-of-the-line Platinum. The 2021 Camry is available in seven, which start with the LE, followed by the SE, the XLE, the XSE, the TRD, the XLE V6, and the XSE V6. The different trims come with a variety of features in the technology, safety, and performance variety, but only one of these sedans does it better than the other.

  • Performance

    A red 2021 Nissan Altima is shown parked in a modern gallery.

    Both midsize sedans come with two different powertrain setups: a base engine and a more powerful option. In the case of the Toyota Camry, it features a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder as its base powertrain across the majority of its line-up. The 4-cylinder delivers capable performance, although the exact horsepower figures vary slightly depending on which trim you choose. The interesting thing about the 4-cylinder in the Camry is that it's configured slightly differently depending on if you go with the front-wheel drive or the all-wheel drive model.

    Toyota: I-4 or V6

    No matter which version you end up with, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder features a dual overhead camshaft with 16-valves and dual-injection with an intelligent variable valve timing system. This is what helps it achieve its fuel economy ratings. The top-end of the 4-cylinder's front-wheel drive is 28 miles per gallon in the city and up to 39 miles per gallon on the highway.

    The upper-end powertrain for the Camry is the 3.5-liter V6 for the TRD, XLE V6, and XSE V6. It manages up to 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Both the 4-cylinder and V6 are paired up with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Due to the extra power output for the XLE, the fuel economy drops down to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway.

    Nissan: I-4 or VC-Turbo

    The Nissan Altima also has a standard and optional powertrain line-up, with a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder being the base option. It manages 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Much like the Camry, the Altima's 4-cylinder is a direct injection gasoline engine featuring a dual overhead camshaft configuration. It manages a fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon in the city and up to 39 miles per gallon on the highway, just like the Camry. Where it diverges from its rival is with the Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, which allows the Altima to achieve slightly better fuel economy than its rival in an all-wheel drive setup. This option is rated for 36 miles per gallon highway instead of the 34 miles per gallon of the all-wheel drive Camry.

    The same applies to the trim-exclusive 2.0-liter VC-Turbo 4-cylinder engine offered on the SR VC-Turbo trim for the Altima. Despite having fewer cylinders than the Camry's V6, the Altima's turbo gives it an impressive 273 pound-feet of torque. Plus, just like the base 4-cylinder, it's paired with a continuously variable transmission. That means while the Camry's more powerful V6 takes a significant hit to its fuel economy, the VC-Turbo's 4-cylinder is more accommodating, topping out at 25 miles per gallon in the city and up to 34 miles per gallon on the highway.

    To Approaches to Engineering

    In the end, the Toyota Camry may offer slightly more total horsepower with both engines, but it lacks the low-end torque that the Altima can produce. The difference between the Camry's 8-speed automatic transmission and the Altima's continuously variable transmission also plays a role in how both sedans maximize their fuel economy. Nissan has managed to hone their craft with the Altima, and in the end, it beats the Camry where it counts in the fuel economy ratings, both with all-wheel drive and with the more powerful engine option.

  • Capacity

    A red 2021 Nissan Altima is shown from the side after winning a 2021 Nissan Altima vs 2021 Toyota Camry comparison.

    There are a lot of different ways that both the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry excel in the midsize sedan space. They represent the pinnacle of their respective engineering achievements, but the Altima manages to edge out the Camry ever-so-slightly when it comes to passenger and cargo volume. The differences may not be huge, but they are present.

    Cabin Design

    The Camry, for instance, tops out with a total interior passenger volume of 100.4 cubic feet of space. It also has a cargo volume behind the rear seats of 15.1 cubic feet. This gives passengers enough room to move around in the two rows, which seat up to five people in total. There is a tiny loss in passenger volume when opting for a Camry that comes equipped with a moonroof for those who are interested.

    The Nissan Altima also comes with a moonroof, giving drivers and passengers the option to soak in the sun or experience the moonlit sky while driving. However, without the moonroof, the Altima manages to beat out the Camry in total passenger volume, clocking in at 100.8 cubic feet of total space. It may be a small difference, but that small difference still determines how much interior space you have to move around within the Altima's cabin.

    The Roomier Sedan

    There is also slightly more cargo space available for the 2021 Altima compared to the 2021 Camry. In the trunk, there are 15.4 cubic feet of space available to store items. This is still only slightly larger than what you get in the Camry, but ultimately you have more space available both for storage and passenger volume in the Altima. Even if you don't see these differences as being huge, if you were considering a sedan based on the maximum amount of space you can enjoy within the cabin and in the trunk, then the Altima does look like the more attractive option between the two midsize sedans.

  • Interior

    The black interior of a 2021 Nissan Altima shows two rows of seating.

    When it comes to the interior of the 2021 Nissan Altima vs 2021 Toyota Camry, both sedans come with a bevy of technology, safety, security, and comfort features. When it comes to infotainment and smart device connectivity, neither vehicle will leave you wanting. Both come with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, as well as voice-activated support via Bluetooth wireless technology. HD touchscreens and driver information displays are also standard on both midsize sedans. You also have access to the Toyota Safety Sense suite in the Camry and the robust Nissan Safety Shield 360 in the Altima.

    The differences between the two sedans when it comes to the interior are centered around some of the materials, accents, and comfort features. For instance, the 2021 Toyota Camry offers a soft-material, linear-dark interior, or wood-inlay interior, along with optional leather or SoftTex-trimmed seating with heated and ventilated options. Dual-zone climate control, optional heated steering wheel, and illuminated accent panels on the upper-end trims.

    The Altima is Designed for Comfort

    The Nissan Altima features many of the same comfort and convenience amenities, including a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, as well as the Nissan Intelligent Key with remote engine start and push-button ignition and intelligent climate control. The Platinum trim also comes with specialized interior accent lighting and the HomeLink universal transceiver. But there are a few more features available with the Altima that help separate it from its midsize rival.

    While the Altima comes with cloth seating, sport-appointed seating to rival the SoftTex trimming, and leather-appointed seats, the Altima offers a few additional features. For instance, the interior of the Altima of the Platinum comes with wood-tone trimming throughout the cabin, along with piano black interior accents. Even if you don't go with the Platinum trim, even the base trims come with carbon-fiber interior accents to help elevate the sports-car appeal of the midsize sedan. Like many of the other categories, the differences don't need to be huge to be noticeable, but for those who wanted that extra sporty or luxury appeal within the interior of their sedan, the options and standard implementations are more than apparent with the 2021 Nissan Altima.

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