2021 Nissan Altima vs. 2021 Toyota Camry Comparison

Erin Riches-Wong | Apr 06, 2021

If you're on the hunt for a sanely priced car that can accommodate just you, or you and your spouse, or even you and two children, a midsize sedan might be a great fit.

Although crossover SUVs are more fashionable right now, medium-size sedans are as good as they've ever been. They also offer many of the desirable features you'll find in utility vehicles, including available all-wheel drive.

The 2021 Nissan Altima and the 2021 Toyota Camry are both worthy of consideration among midsize cars. The Altima offers a more engaging driving experience than you'll typically find in this class. It's also known for its spacious interior and comfortable seats.

The Toyota Camry is a perennial sales leader, and it's well known for its resale value. The current Camry also ranks highly for the smoothness and sophistication of its advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). Its diverse engine lineup includes a strong 4-cylinder, a potent V6, and an amazingly efficient hybrid.

Given both sedans' overall competence, your purchase decision is likely to boil down to the details. Here's a 2021 Nissan Altima vs. 2021 Toyota Camry comparison to help you sort them out. 

Price and Value

2021 Nissan Altima SR SIlver Front Quarter View

2021 Nissan Altima SR

Consumers looking at the 2021 Nissan Altima will find that it comes in S, SV, SR, SL, and Platinum trim levels. Pricing for this midsize sedan stretches from $24,350 to $34,150, not including a $950 destination charge. 

Most Nissan Altimas come with a capable 4-cylinder engine. The SR trim level alone gives you a choice between that base 4-cylinder and a more powerful turbocharged engine.

You can opt for AWD on most trim levels (it's standard on the Platinum). The Altima's AWD system costs an extra $1,400 and is available only with the base engine. 

For shoppers interested in connected services, the 2021 Altima offers a lengthy list of them via NissanConnect, but only on the SL and Platinum trim levels. Complimentary services for the first three years of ownership include remote locking via the NissanConnect app, plus vehicle health reports and maintenance notifications. You can also gain remote access to your Nissan Altima via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Other connected services are free for six months. This list includes automatic collision notification, quick access to emergency services, geofencing (which allows you to set boundaries for less experienced drivers), anti-theft alarm notifications, and a vehicle locator feature for crowded parking structures. 

Since both the Altima SL and Platinum have factory navigation, you can share destinations directly to the midsize sedan's nav system during that 6-month trial. You will also get three months of SiriusXM Travel Link traffic and weather information as part of the standard satellite radio trial subscription on these trims.

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

Nissan also does not offer complimentary scheduled maintenance on the Altima. Instead, there are prepaid maintenance plans available for purchase.

Trim levels on the 2021 Toyota Camry include the LE, SE, SE Nightshade, XLE, XSE, and TRD. The Camry ranges in price from $24,970 to $35,545, not including a $995 destination charge.

There's also the Toyota Camry Hybrid. It comes in LE, SE, XLE, and XSE trims. Pricing on the hybrid Camry sedan starts at $27,270 and goes up to $32,720.

Most 2021 Camrys come standard with a 4-cylinder engine that provides solid performance. The Camry Hybrid has a hybrid-specific version of that engine, two electric motors, and a battery pack. Lastly, there's a V6 engine. It's standard on the TRD trim and optional on the XLE and XSE.

As for the Altima, you might want to consider the optional AWD system ($1,400). Toyota offers it only on Camrys with the base 4-cylinder engine.

Toyota makes connected services available to all Camry buyers. Even the base version of this midsize sedan comes with a complimentary year of Safety Connect, which provides automatic collision notification and rapid access to emergency responders. And you'll get a 3-month free trial of the Camry's built-in Wi-Fi (you can use up to 2 GB of data).

There's also Remote Connect, which allows you to lock the doors, start the engine, and find your Camry in unfamiliar parking facilities. A 12-month subscription to Remote Connect is standard on the XLE and up, and optional on the lower trims.

Also standard on the XLE and optional on less expensive Camrys, a 10-year subscription to Service Connect makes it easier to stay current on maintenance and safety recalls. 

On the higher trim levels, you can get Destination Assist, a 24-hour concierge service. It's packaged with the optional factory navigation system.

Scheduled maintenance is on the house for the first two years or 25,000 miles that you own your Camry. 

The Toyota Camry is known for its strong resale value. It ranked second among midsize cars in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Resale Value Awards.

Advantage: Toyota Camry

Reliability and Quality

2021 Toyota Camry XLE Blue Front Quarter View

2021 Toyota Camry XLE

The Nissan Altima did not rank 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

The Toyota Camry also did not rank in the 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or 2020 Initial Quality Study. 

The Camry 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: 10 years or 150,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 2 years or 25,000 miles

Advantage: Nissan Altima 

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Nissan Altima Interior Dashboard

2021 Nissan Altima

All trim levels of the 2021 Nissan Altima come standard with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. With the available AWD system, the ratings drop slightly to 182 hp and 178 lb.-ft. of torque.

In either case, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard. Most consumers will find that it functions like a regular automatic transmission. 

If you desire brisker performance, you'll want to look at the Nissan Altima SR, which has an optional, turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. This engine is known as the VC-Turbo, with the "VC" a reference to the engine's variable-compression design. In the Altima SR, this engine makes 236 hp and 267 lb.-ft. of torque on 87 octane, or 248 hp and 273 lb.-ft. if you're willing to pay for premium gas.

A CVT is standard on the 2021 Altima SR with the VC-Turbo, as is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not available for the turbocharged Altima.

With the 2.5-liter engine and front-wheel drive, the 2021 Nissan Altima has either a 31 or 32 mpg EPA fuel economy rating in combined city and highway driving, depending on the trim level. With the AWD system, the Altima rates 30 mpg combined (29 mpg for the AWD SR and Platinum)

The VC-Turbo Altima SR rates 29 mpg in combined driving. Bear in mind, though, that turbocharged engines are more sensitive to driving style, and it's often not as easy to match their EPA ratings in real-world driving.

Consumers shopping for a 2021 Toyota Camry have three engine choices to consider. As on the Altima, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is the base engine. The Camry's 2.5-liter has slightly different horsepower ratings, depending on the trim level. It makes anywhere from 202 to 206 hp. Torque ranges from 182 to 186 lb.-ft.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard with this engine. You'll need to decide between front-wheel drive and AWD. 

For buyers wanting a more dynamic drive to work, there's the 3.5-liter V6 engine. It's optional on the XLE and XSE and standard on the Camry TRD model. The V6 generates 301 hp and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. 

There's no AWD option with the V6, but with the 8-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels, you will have a very quick Camry. 

The 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid uses a hybrid-specific version of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine rated 176 hp and 163 lb.-ft. of torque. It combines that with two electric motors and a battery pack. One of the electric motors drives the front wheels, while the other effectively functions as a transmission in the form of an electronic CVT (eCVT). The total system power is 208 hp.

The front-wheel-drive Camry LE and SE earn a 32 mpg rating in combined city and highway driving. The higher trims rate 31 mpg combined. The optional AWD system drops those ratings to 29 mpg and 28 mpg, respectively.

The V6 Camry rates 26 mpg in combined driving (25 mpg in TRD trim). Hybrids return a stellar 52 mpg in combined driving in LE trim. Other Camry Hybrids rate 46 mpg combined.

Advantage: Toyota Camry

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Toyota Camry Interior Dashboard

2021 Toyota Camry

You'll be able to get advanced driving assistance systems on both the 2021 Nissan Altima and the 2021 Toyota Camry, but differences in standard and optional equipment might sway your buying decision.

All 2021 Nissan Altimas come with a basic package of ADAS technology called Nissan Safety Shield 360. It includes a forward-collision warning system, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, driver attention monitoring, and automatic high-beam headlight control.

Optional on the base Altima S and standard on higher trims is a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic warning and a rear automatic emergency braking. Lane-keeping assistance (which Nissan calls Intelligent Lane Intervention) is optional on the SV, standard on the SL and Platinum, and not available on the S or SR.

The SL and Platinum have Nissan's ProPilot Assist as standard. ProPilot Assist adds both adaptive cruise control and lane centering and takes the Altima into the realm of Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance. This a less advanced version of ProPilot than you'll find in the redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue, and it allows only a 3-second traffic delay before the adaptive cruise disengages.

Traffic-sign recognition is standard on the Altima SL and Platinum, and a surround-view camera system is also included on the Altima Platinum. A rear-seat reminder system is standard on all 2021 Nissan Altimas.

The Nissan Altima has a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for overall crash protection. However, it earned only four stars for front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2021 Altima a Top Safety Pick+, which is the highest IIHS designation for safety.

The collection of ADAS on the 2021 Toyota Camry is called Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+). It's standard on all Camrys, and it has all the features you get in the Altima's standard Safety Shield 360 package.

In addition, all Camrys come with lane-centering assistance (Lane Tracing Assist) and adaptive cruise control. But if you want full-speed adaptive cruise control that takes you all the way down to a stop in heavy traffic, you'll need to restrict your search to the XLE and higher trims.

The 2021 Toyota Camry's forward-collision warning system is more sophisticated than the Altima's. It's able to detect both pedestrians and cyclists. Also, it can warn you and, if necessary, take corrective action if you're about to make an ill-advised left turn in front of an oncoming vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist.

Lower trim levels can pick up blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning via the options list, while Camry XLE and higher trims have those features as standard. An enhanced system with rear automatic emergency braking is optional on the XLE and XSE, as is a surround-view camera. A rear-seat reminder system is on every Toyota Camry.

The Camry has a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, including five stars for front-passenger safety in frontal crashes. The IIHS named the 2021 Toyota Camry a Top Safety Pick+ among midsize cars.

Advantage: Toyota Camry

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Nissan Altima SR Silver Rear Quarter View

2021 Nissan Altima SR

The standard infotainment interface in the 2021 Nissan Altima 2.5 S is very basic. You get 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.

Most consumers will prefer 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 have a navigation system and a premium Bose audio system with nine speakers. A wireless phone charging pad is not available.

In contrast, even the least expensive 2021 Toyota Camry comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display, Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay integration, two USB ports, and a 3-month satellite radio trial. As in the Nissan, the standard audio system has six speakers.

Toyota offers an upgraded 9-inch touchscreen interface as either standard or optional equipment on all Camrys. It's packaged with a premium JBL audio system with nine speakers. On the high trims, it includes factory navigation as well.

Wireless phone charging is available on most versions of the 2021 Camry. A head-up display is optional on the XLE and XSE trim levels.

Advantage: Toyota Camry

Comfort and Utility

2021 Toyota Camry XLE Blue Rear Quarter View

2021 Toyota Camry XLE

Standard amenities on the base 2021 Nissan Altima S include manual air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and a push-button start with a smart keyless system (so the remote can stay in your pocket or purse). In addition, every Altima comes with Nissan's Easy-Fill Tire Alert feature, which takes the stress out of adding air to the tires by sounding the horn when you've arrived at the correct pressure.

The SV has a standard eight-way power driver's seat, and you can pick up power lumbar adjustment and heated front seats via an option package. 

The SL has standard dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning vents, leather upholstery, and a four-way power passenger's seat (still no height adjustment, though). Driver memory settings and ambient interior lighting are exclusive to the Platinum.

The Altima has 15.4 cubic feet of trunk capacity. The rear seat folds in a 60/40 split on all trim levels.

You'll find all the basics in the 2021 Toyota Camry LE, which has manual air conditioning, an eight-way power driver's seat, a six-way manually adjustable front passenger's seat, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.

Dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat air-conditioning vents is available via an option package on the LE. You can also get heated seats and a smart keyless system.

The Camry SE trims have a standard, single-zone automatic climate control system sans the rear vents (or you can still get the more deluxe dual-zone system as an option), along with Toyota's SofTex leatherette upholstery.

Leather upholstery, an eight-way power passenger's seat, and ambient interior lighting are standard on the XLE. Heated and ventilated front seats are optional on the XLE and XSE. Most trim levels have access to an optional heated steering wheel.

The Camry offers 15.1 cu.-ft. of trunk capacity. That includes the Camry Hybrid, which has its lithium-ion batteries packaged under the rear seat. A 60/40-split folding rear seat is standard on all trims, except the TRD, which has a fixed (non-folding) back seat.

Advantage: Neither. The Camry comes with more features, but our independent vehicle testing experts prefer the rear-seat accommodations in the Altima. 

Learn More About the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry

If you'd like to learn more about these midsize sedans, be sure to read our expert reviews of the 2021 Nissan Altima and the 2021 Toyota Camry. 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 6, 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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