2021 Honda Accord vs. 2021 Nissan Altima Comparison

Erin Riches-Wong | Apr 13, 2021

It's a golden age for midsize sedans. Whether you're talking about the driving experience, interior comfort, or safety features, and crashworthiness, today's midsize cars outrank their forbears in every measurable category.

Unless you have specific needs related to utility or ease of access, you'll probably find that sedans like the 2021 Honda Accord and 2021 Nissan Altima offer as much or more value as similarly priced SUVs.

The current Accord is a best-seller among midsize sedans. This handsomely furnished car is a joy to drive, and nearly every function in its spacious cabin is simple to understand and use. Honda offers two different 4-cylinder engines, plus there's an Accord Hybrid if fuel economy is your top priority.

Nissan doesn't sell nearly as many Altimas as Honda does Accords, but this medium-size sedan remains an appealing and budget-friendly option in this class. Like the Accord, the Altima engages its driver. And it's comfortable whether you're sitting in the front or the rear. It also offers an all-wheel-drive (AWD) option for those who want extra capability in winter weather.

If you're shopping for a car that accommodates two to four people with ease, at least one of these midsize sedans should be on your test-drive list. Here's a 2021 Honda Accord vs. 2021 Nissan Altima comparison to help with your research.

Price and Value

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Gray Front Quarter View

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

If you're interested in a 2021 Honda Accord, you will find that this midsize sedan ranges in price from $24,970 to $36,900, not including a $995 destination charge. Trim levels are LX, Sport, Sport SE, EX-L, Sport 2.0T, and Touring.

Most Accords come with a capable, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. For buyers wanting more performance, the Sport 2.0T and Touring feature a more powerful engine, though it's still a turbo 4-cylinder.

Alternatively, you might consider the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid, which combines a gasoline-fueled engine with an electric-drive motor. The hybrid Accord ranges in price from $26,570 to $36,440. Trim levels are base, EX, EX-L, and Touring.

All 2021 Honda Accords come with connected services, but features are few on the lower trim levels. For example, if you choose an Accord LX or base Accord Hybrid, you can use the Honda Link app to schedule service appointments, summon roadside assistance (during the warranty coverage period), and get recall notifications.

If you step up to the Accord Sport or Accord Hybrid EX, you can use the app to check mileage and fuel level. You'll also receive notifications for warning lights and required maintenance. If your Accord has factory navigation, you can send locations to the nav system.

The really good stuff is limited to the Accord Touring and Accord Hybrid Touring, which offer automatic collision notification, live emergency assistance, and rapid access to roadside help. These services are free for the first year of ownership.

Other features are complimentary for the first three months. This list includes remote door locking and engine start, anti-theft alarm notifications, geofencing (allowing you to set limits for less experienced drivers), a stolen vehicle locator, a vehicle finder feature for crowded or unfamiliar parking facilities, and an Amazon Alexa skill that allows you to send commands to your Accord.

You also get premium features like 24-hour live concierge services and, rare for this class, Amazon in-vehicle package delivery.

Only the Accord Touring trims come with a Wi-Fi hotspot. The 3-month trial subscription allows you to use up to 3 GB of data.

Honda does not offer complimentary scheduled maintenance on the 2021 Honda Accord. But if you're interested, the automaker will sell you a prepaid maintenance plan.

The Accord is an all-time great when it comes to resale value. The current model was the top-ranked midsize car in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Resale Value Awards.

If you're researching the 2021 Nissan Altima, you will find that it ranges in price from $24,350 to $34,150, not including a $950 destination charge. Trim levels are S, SV, SR, SL, and Platinum.

Most versions of Nissan's mainstream midsize sedan come with a 4-cylinder engine that gets the job done in everyday driving situations. The SR trim level alone gives you a choice between that base 4-cylinder and a more vigorous turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

You can equip most Altimas with AWD as a $1,400 option (it's standard on the Platinum). The AWD system is available only with the base engine. 

Nissan's midsize sedan offers a lengthy list of connected services via NissanConnect, but only on the SL and Platinum trim levels. During your first three years of ownership, you'll have access to remote locking via the NissanConnect app, plus vehicle health reports and maintenance notifications. You can also use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to lock the doors or remotely start the engine.

Other connected services are complimentary for six months. This list includes automatic collision notification, quick access to emergency services, geofencing, anti-theft notifications, and a vehicle finder feature for parking facilities. 

Since both the Altima SL and Platinum have factory navigation, you also can share destinations directly to the midsize sedan's nav system during that 6-month trial. 

Unlike the Accord (and other Nissan sedans equipped with NissanConnect), the 2021 Altima does not have a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.

There's no free scheduled maintenance on the Altima. Nissan offers prepaid maintenance plans instead.

Advantage: Honda Accord

Reliability and Quality

2021 Nissan Altima SR SIlver Front Quarter View

2021 Nissan Altima SR

The Honda Accord did not rank high in either the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Accord comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles (10 years or 150,000 miles in California emissions states)
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles

The Nissan Altima also did not rank high in either the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Altima comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Advantage: Neither. The Accord has additional coverage for the hybrid model, but otherwise, their warranty terms are identical, and neither leads the segment for quality or reliability.

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Interior Dashboard

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

You'll find a turbocharged, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in most 2021 Honda Accord sedans. This engine generates 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard, as is front-wheel drive. The CVT behaves like a regular automatic transmission, and the Sport and Sport SE include paddle shifters to access the CVT's simulated manual shift mode. 

Honda offers a larger, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine on the Sport 2.0T and Touring trim levels. It makes 252 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. Instead of a CVT, you get a 10-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. Paddle shifters are standard.

Your other option is the hybrid Honda Accord. Every 2021 Accord Hybrid features a non-turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine, two electric motors, and a lithium-ion battery pack. One of the electric motors drives the car's front wheels. The other starter/generator electric motor functions as a transmission in the form of an electronic CVT (eCVT).

Although the hybrid Accord's gas engine generates only 143 hp and 129 lb.-ft. of torque, this car feels quick. Credit goes to the electric-drive motor's contributions, which helps the Accord Hybrid to a total system horsepower rating of 212.

Equipped with its 1.5-liter, turbocharged engine, the 2021 Honda Accord rates 33 mpg in combined driving (32 mpg in Sport and Sport SE trim). With the turbo 2.0-liter under its hood, the Accord has a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg.

If fuel economy is a top priority, you can't go wrong with the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid. The EX and EX-L versions earn a 48 mpg EPA fuel economy rating in combined driving. The Accord Hybrid Touring rates only 43 mpg due to its standard 19-inch wheels, which sacrifice aerodynamic efficiency in the name of style.

A 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard on all trim levels of the 2021 Nissan Altima. On front-wheel-drive Altimas, this engine is rated at 188 hp and 180 lb.-ft. of torque. If you opt for AWD on your Altima, the ratings drop slightly to 182 hp and 178 lb.-ft. of torque.

A CVT is standard across the board. Most consumers will find that it functions like any other automatic transmission. 

If you want a higher-performance option, proceed directly to the 2021 Nissan Altima SR. It has an optional, turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine.

Known as the VC-Turbo (VC stands for the engine's variable-compression design), this 2.0-liter engine generates 236 hp and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. That's on 87 octane fuel. If you're willing to pay for premium, it maxes out at 248 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. A CVT is standard on the Altima SR with the VC-Turbo, as is front-wheel drive. You can't get AWD with this engine.

Front-wheel-drive Nissan Altimas with the 2.5-liter engine carry either a 31 or 32 mpg fuel economy rating in combined city and highway driving, depending on the trim level. With AWD, the Altima rates 30 mpg combined (29 mpg on the AWD SR and the Platinum).

Even with its extra power, the Altima SR with the VC-Turbo engine rates 29 mpg in combined driving. Keep in mind that turbocharged engines are more sensitive to driving style than non-turbo engines, so your actual mpg might vary considerably.

Advantage: Honda Accord

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Nissan Altima Interior Dashboard

2021 Nissan Altima

Both the 2021 Accord and 2021 Altima offer advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), but Honda and Nissan package their technology differently. If you're looking for a specific type of assistance, you'll want to pay attention to precisely what's available on your preferred trim levels.

All 2021 Honda Accords have Honda Sensing as standard equipment. This ADAS technology package includes adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision warning system, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance (known as Road Departure Mitigation), driver-attention monitoring, automatic high-beam headlight control, and traffic-sign recognition.

Honda Sensing also includes lane-centering assistance, but the automaker confusingly calls this feature a Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS).

Since it has both adaptive cruise control and lane centering, the Accord provides what is known as Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance. The adaptive cruise control offers what Honda calls Low-Speed Follow. Otherwise known as stop-and-go capability, this means that the cruise control will automatically resume after a brief traffic delay. When using these features, you must keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times.

The EX-L, Sport 2.0T, and Touring also come with a blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning system. On the Accord Hybrid, all trims except the base version have this vital safety feature as standard. All Touring models come with a low-speed, front and rear automatic emergency braking system to help you avoid parking lot mishaps.

A rear-seat reminder system is standard starting on the Sport SE trim level on the regular Accord. This feature is unavailable on the Accord Hybrid.

The Honda Accord has a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for overall crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2021 Accord a Top Safety Pick+, its highest safety designation.

All 2021 Nissan Altimas come with a version of Nissan Safety Shield 360. Although worthwhile, this is a more basic ADAS technology package than what you get with Honda Sensing. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, lane-centering assistance, and traffic-sign recognition are not standard equipment.

You can get a blind-spot warning system with a rear cross-traffic warning and a rear automatic emergency braking system on the Altima S. These items are standard on other Nissan Altimas. Lane-keeping assistance (which Nissan calls Intelligent Lane Intervention) is optional on the Altima SV and standard on the SL and Platinum. It's not available on the S or SR trims.

Nissan's ProPilot Assist is standard on the SL and Platinum. ProPilot Assist includes both adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assistance. This a less advanced version of ProPilot than you'll find in the recently redesigned Nissan Rogue. It allows only a 3-second traffic delay before the adaptive cruise disengages. As on the Accord, your hands must remain on the steering wheel.

Altima SL and Platinum trim also include traffic-sign recognition, while a surround-view camera system is exclusive to the Platinum. A rear-seat reminder system is standard on all 2021 Nissan Altimas.

The Nissan Altima earned a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for overall crash protection. However, it received only four stars for front-passenger protection in frontal-impact crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2021 Altima a Top Safety Pick+.

Advantage: Neither. The Accord and Altima offer similar driver assistance aids and safety ratings.

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Silver Rear Quarter View

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

If you're looking at the 2021 Honda Accord LX or the base Accord Hybrid, you probably won't be disappointed with the standard media offerings. Both have an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, two USB inputs, and four audio speakers. 

The Accord Sport swaps in an eight-speaker audio system. It also comes with two additional USB ports, both in the backseat.

The EX-L has wireless integration for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a wireless phone charging pad. It also includes HD radio, a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, and a premium 10-speaker audio system. The Accord Sport 2.0T and Accord Hybrid EX get all these same upgrades, except for the premium audio system.

Factory navigation is standard on the Accord Touring and Accord Hybrid Touring, including Honda HD Digital Traffic. These trims also have near-field communication (NFC) capability to speed up the pairing process for new devices and a head-up display.

Unless you give low priority to connectivity, you probably won't care for the standard infotainment interface in the 2021 Nissan Altima 2.5 S. It has a 5-inch display, Bluetooth with text messaging capability, a single USB input, an auxiliary jack, and six audio speakers. There's no smartphone integration.

There's more value in the Altima SV, which has an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, four USB inputs (two in the front and two in the back), and a 3-month SiriusXM satellite radio trial subscription.

The SL and Platinum models come with a navigation system and an upgraded Bose audio system with nine speakers. You also get three months of SiriusXM Travel Link traffic and weather information.

Wireless phone charging is not available on the 2021 Nissan Altima.

Advantage: Honda Accord

Comfort and Utility

2021 Nissan Altima SR Silver Rear Quarter View

2021 Nissan Altima SR

Basic amenities in the 2021 Honda Accord LX sedan include dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, driver's seat height adjustment, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and push-button start.

The Sport adds a 12-way power driver's seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

If you want a smart keyless system that allows you to access the Accord without removing the remote from your pocket or purse, you'll need to step up to the Sport SE trim level. The Sport SE also provides leather upholstery, heated seats, and a 4-way power passenger seat that lacks height adjustment.

Rear air-conditioning vents are standard starting on the Accord Hybrid EX and Accord EX-L models. The EX-L also has driver memory settings and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The Touring trims add ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. The Hybrid Touring alone offers ambient lighting for the interior door pulls.

Every Honda Accord offers an impressive 16.7-cubic-foot trunk. This includes the Accord Hybrid, which locates its battery pack under the rear seats to preserve cargo space. The Accord LX has a single-piece folding rear seat-back, but all other trims offer a more useful 60/40 split.

Standard equipment on the base 2021 Nissan Altima S includes manual air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and a push-button start with a smart keyless system (no need to get out the remote). Nissan's Easy-Fill Tire Alert feature is also standard, which assists with the often-dreaded task of adding air to the tires by sounding the horn when you've reached the correct pressure.

An 8-way power driver's seat is standard on the Altima SV, and you can pick up power lumbar adjustment and heated front seats via an option package. The Altima SL is your ticket to dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning vents, leather upholstery, and a 4-way power passenger's seat. As is true in the Accord, it lacks height adjustment.

The Platinum alone comes with driver memory settings and ambient interior lighting.

The Nissan Altima has a 15.4-cubic-foot trunk. The rear seat folds in a 60/40 split on all trim levels.

Advantage: Honda Accord

Learn More About the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima

If you'd like to learn more about these compact sedans, be sure to read our expert reviews of the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on April 13, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker's website or your local dealership.

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