Which is better, the 2021 Honda Accord or the 2021 Nissan Altima?

Which is better, the 2021 Honda Accord or the 2021 Nissan Altima?

The 2021 Honda Accord and 2021 Nissan Altima are popular midsize sedans that help define their respective brands. Let’s see how they compare.

2021 Honda Accord

Starting price: $25,725

Above average: Roomy interior; athletic handling; two engine choices; available hybrid.

Below average: No AWD available; awkward gear selector.

Consensus: The 2021 Honda

Accord does nearly everything well and is a top choice in this class. For the 2021 model year it gets a bump in fuel economy, an 8-inch touchscreen across the board, and wireless smartphone integration.

2021 Nissan Altima

2021 Nissan Altima starting price: $23,945

The Nissan Altima


Above average: Available AWD; choice of two engines; comfortable seats; long highway driving range.

Below average: CVT transmissions only; can’t pair AWD with the turbo engine.

Consensus: The 2021 Nissan

Altima is a roomy and capable midsize sedan with a long list of available safety and driver assists. The addition of AWD adds to Altima’s appeal, especially in the Snowbelt.

Accord vs. Altima: Popular and versatile midsize sedans

Honda Accord

The 2021 Honda Accord is a driver’s car, and its chassis exhibits deft control of body motions and lively responses. Note, though, that the available larger wheels hurt ride quality. The 192-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged base engine mates to a CVT, while the 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo pairs with a 10-speed automatic. Sadly, Honda has dropped the manual transmission. The base engine’s combined fuel economy is up to 33 mpg (depending on trim). The 2.0-liter turbo produces 26 mpg. The available Accord Hybrid, meanwhile, returns up to 48 mpg.

Also see: Which is better, the 2021 Toyota Corolla or the Mazda3?

This latest Accord boasts swoopy styling, yet Honda engineers have carved out a big interior. Rear-seat legroom is expansive, though passengers will need to duck their heads getting in. Trunk space is best in class. Up front, narrow pillars and a low dash make for good visibility. An 8-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone integration is now standard on all trims. Honda has added some more user-friendly knobs, but the transmission’s oddball pushbuttons remain. A long list of safety features is included, although blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are only on the top three trims.

Nissan Altima

The 2021 Nissan Altima makes its case on technology, comfort, and efficiency. Most Altimas use a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 188 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. The step-up engine is a 2.0-liter turbo with 236 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. It’s limited to the sporty SR trim. The 2.5-liter is offered in five different trims: S, SV, SR, SL, and Platinum. All-wheel drive is optional on the three middle trims and standard on the Platinum, but frustratingly, it can’t be paired with the 2.0-liter turbo. The base engine returns 31–32 mpg (EPA combined estimates), and the highway range can top 600 miles. AWD subtracts 1 to 2 mpg. The 2.0-liter turbo’s combined estimate is 29 mpg.

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Both engines are paired with CVTs, which is never the keen driver’s favorite. But Nissan’s Xtronic is tuned to imitate a conventional automatic. The Altima is pleasant to drive, with the SR offering a firm suspension. Ride quality suffers from the 19-inch wheels. Nissan’s ProPilot Assist combines adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and semi-automated lane centering. It’s offered on the SL, Platinum, and 2.0 SR. All Altimas get forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure, blind-spot, and rear cross-traffic alerts standard on all but the S. The interior is roomy, the seats comfortable, and cabin tech is user-friendly, though the S is denied Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.


A long list of available safety features; choice of two engines; continuously variable automatic transmissions; roomy interiors and spacious trunks.

2021 Honda Accord advantages

More engaging handling; stylish exterior; available hybrid; a reputation for reliability and good resale.

2021 Nissan Altima advantages

Lower pricing; available AWD; available ProPilot Assist driving feature.

Final recommendation

The 2021 Nissan Altima performs well in all areas but isn’t really a standout in any. Its available AWD is a win as is its somewhat lower pricing. The 2021 Honda Accord, however, boasts driving dynamics that are a class above, a large cabin, and a sophisticated 10-speed automatic with the optional turbo engine. It also offers a hybrid with high fuel economy. The Accord remains the class leader.

This story originally ran on KBB.com.

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