2019 Hyundai Sonata vs Nissan Altima
Trying to find the right sedan can be nothing short of a chore. Newer vehicles are all being equipped with a lot of similar standard and optional features. That is why it is important to do some research prior to even taking a test drive. It's all about knowing what to expect before even setting foot on a dealer's lot.
So, what should potential buyers know before testing out the 2019 Hyundai Sonata or 2019 Nissan Altima? First, know that these are two different vehicles that will not drive the same way or cater to the exact same needs. The Hyundai Sonata has been hailed as one of the better midsize sedans, but the totally overhauled 2019 Nissan Altima is looking to shake things up a bit for the model year.
While the Sonata has an excellent warranty and good list of standard features, the Altima will likely appeal to those wanting more semi-autonomous driving features. Which one is the better bet? It is time to find out.
Having a few good powertrain options is the sign of a well thought-out line-up. Unfortunately, base engines tend to be unappealing for anyone wanting power, and this is the case for the 2019 Hyundai Sonata. Its 2.4-L 4-cylinder engine, which comes on the base SE trim level, only generates 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. It comes matched up with a standard 6-speed automatic transmission.
While the base trim is not too exciting, upgrading one trim level to the Eco will get you a 1.6-L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. This more fuel-efficient engine makes 178 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Of course, if that is not enough power, there is the line-topping Limited 2.0T's 2.0-L turbo 4-cylinder engine. This engine generates 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and has an 8-speed automatic transmission to round out the powertrain.
The driving dynamics are none too sporty on any of these trim levels, but many will likely opt for the 1.6-L turbo engine. The 2.0-L turbo engine does give a good thrust of power for those craving a little bit more and who do not mind sacrificing their mpg.
The 2019 Nissan Altima has two decent engine choices in their line-up that are worthy of consideration. First of all, there is the base 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine, which is able to garner 188 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. Its powertrain is rounded out with a continuously variable transmission (often referred to by its acronym, CVT), and front-wheel drive is standard. There is an option for all-wheel drive on this engine.
Those who want something beefier should consider the Altima's optional turbocharged 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine. This gets 248 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque and has a CVT, but it is only available on the SR and Platinum trims and strictly features front-wheel drive. The optional 2.0-L takes away AWD but is clearly the more powerful engine here, making it the more favorable pick of the two.
Between the Sonata and the Altima, it is the Altima that wins out with its strong optional 2.0-L turbo engine. Nissan clearly did the right kind of revising when it came to giving the Altima more power.
Of course, having a strong powertrain is not the only thing that makes a vehicle delightful to drive. There are many other factors that impact drivability. Is the vehicle able to brake in a timely fashion? Is there any wind or road noise? How well do the tech features function? All of these things are important buying factors.
The 2019 Hyundai Sonata might not have the strongest engine in the midsize sedan segment, but this is a well-mannered vehicle. The Sonata can get from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.4 seconds, which is fairly adequate for this type of car. While braking, there is some noticeable nosedive, but in regular conditions, the brake pedal feels appropriately firm and secure. And, for being a midsize sedan, being able to make a panic stop from 60 mph in 118 feet is pretty respectable.
The steering system does not provide a whole lot of feedback to the driver. However, the steering does feel appropriately weighted, making it easy to navigate parking lots and highways. Handling is even better, reducing body roll to an absolute minimum. Mid-corner bumps get smoothed right out. The drive isn't exactly sporty, but it is far from being dull, and even the low-resistance tires do not cause too much of a fuss when veering around corners.
The Sonata's suspension was updated and marks a vast improvement over those from the past. This gives the Sonata a comfortable ride quality, and this is accentuated by the cozy seats. The seats are well-padded, and the driver's seat offers plenty of adjustments, making it easy for drivers to find the right driving position. Even the flat-ish back seats do enough to conform to the body and provide support for adults. Also, noise barely seeps into the cabin with just a tiny amount of white noise being cast in from the side mirrors. Even the climate control system is smartly composed, and the optional ventilated front seats are truly luxurious.
The rest of the cabin seems thoughtfully laid out. The controls are positioned in just the right spots, and they are easy for drivers to read and reach. There are plenty of physical controls too, not just pesky digital ones on the touchscreen. Getting in and out is easy thanks to the wide doorframes and doors swinging out wide.
The rear roof pillars are a little bit thick and cut back on visibility, but there is a rearview camera that comes standard which helps with visibility. Frontal visibility is about as good as it can get, and the touchscreen display is mounted high on the dash so as to not be a distraction. Quality isn't the highest, but most of the materials seem durable and functional.
As far as utility goes, the wireless charging pad has plenty of grip, and there are enough small item storage areas for the average driver. The 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space is certainly adequate, and the hands-free trunk release is a handy feature.
The infotainment system is not as up-to-date as some of its competition, and the premium sound system is only average in terms of quality. Smartphone app integration is easier to use than most of Hyundai's features, but even its native features are fairly user-friendly.
While the 2019 Hyundai Sonata has a lot of good things to offer, the 2019 Nissan Altima does too. The totally redesigned Altima gets a lot of pizzazz from its optional 2.0-L engine. The SR trim has superb handling, even above the other trim levels, but the standard suspension is certainly good enough for most drivers. Cutting around quick turns is easy, and the Altima can get up to highway speeds in a respectable time. The brakes feel nice and solid, too.
One of the highlights of the new Altima is the Zero Gravity seats. These were crafted based on NASA technology and are some of the comfiest bucket seats that can be found. The ride quality is also excellent on the finely-tuned suspension, and it is every bit what should be expected of a totally redone, contemporary vehicle. There is some road noise that seeps in, but it otherwise stays muted.
The cabin does not reek of upper-crust luxury, but it definitely looks pleasing. The slimmed-down instrument panel creates the sense of extra space up front. There is plenty of leg and head room in the front and rear, and getting in through any door is easy since the doors open wide.
The trunk is smaller than the Sonata's with 15.4 cubic feet of cargo space available. The lower liftover height makes loading and unloading easy though, and the 60/40 split-folding rear seats allow for toting lengthy items.
Technology on the new Altima is plentiful, even on the base trim level. There is a nice 8-inch touchscreen, standard smartphone app integration, and Bluetooth connectivity on every trim.
Both of these models have quite a few good things going on, but if you need the utmost in cargo space, the Sonata is one of the best choices in this segment.
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Safety is, quite naturally, a concern when it comes to buying a new vehicle. Knowing how sturdily a vehicle is built, which safety features it has, and how it performed on its crash tests is important in making the decision to purchase.
The 2019 Hyundai Sonata is loaded with all kinds of standard and optional safety features, including lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and smart cruise control with automatic start-stop. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (also known as NHTSA) gave the Sonata 5/5 stars overall and noted that there was a 10.5% risk of rollover.
Meanwhile, the 2019 Nissan Altima is similarly equipped with the ProPilot suite of driver aids. This includes ProPilot Assist (a semi-autonomous driving feature), forward emergency braking, and stop-start cruise control. A rearview camera comes standard, but there is an all-around camera available as an option.
NHTSA also gave the Altima 5/5 overall stars, although it did end up losing a few points on its tests, getting several results that were 4/5 stars. NHTSA noted that there was a 9.2% risk of a rollover.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) gave both cars 'good' marks on all of their tests.
As far as safety is concerned, the Altima might have a few things to smooth over with how the body is designed to withstand crashes. The Sonata, however, seems to have no such issues and has an impressive line-up of standard safety features that give it the edge over the Altima.
Which Has the Best Value?
The 2019 Hyundai Sonata is about $2,000 cheaper than the Altima, which has a starting MSRP of $24,000. Hyundai and Altima both offer 5 year/60,000-mile warranties that add to their value. While there sure are a lot of things to like about the redesigned Altima, the Sonata is a tried-and-true, reliable vehicle with a history of having good value.
Which is Better?
Both of these vehicles are decent buys and are worthy of at least getting a test drive. However, there can only be one top choice. The 2019 Altima is a great redesign, but the 2019 Sonata takes the top spot. It is the more affordable option and has the best overall design. The safety ratings are stellar, the available features are spot-on, and the turbo engine option provides ample power to this midsize sedan.