Sedans are a special class of vehicle: created to provide a comfortable and often luxurious ride to those who have passed beyond the need to stick to the compact class. These slightly larger vehicles offer options the compacts and subcompacts wouldn’t dream of, and have the associated price tags to match.
When you consider the Nissan Altima versus the Volkswagen Passat, you’re looking at a battle of the beauties. Both vehicles are sleek and lovely with loads of extras, great space available, and plenty of options to enjoy. The Altima isn’t the roomiest of the mid-size sedan offerings, but it is one of the most handsome and certainly the sportiest of the offerings. The Volkswagen Passat’s claims to fame are a massive rear seat and excellent fuel economy and rear-seat leg room.
The two models have comparable fuel economy, and at 22/23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, either is a good option for commuting and tooling around the city. The mid-size sedans are fuel sippers and both get excellent range for their class of vehicle. A bigger fuel tank on the Altima gives you a pretty good bit more distance between fill ups than the 18.5 gallon Passat.
The Passat’s extra leg room and comfy rear seat are balanced by the use of a grainy plastic on the interior as well as excessive wind and road noise that definitely are not optimal. The Altima, on the other hand, can seem a bit tight in the rear seat but boasts a simple, comfortable interior although some materials do look a tad drab. The front seats on the Nissan are larger than average, and make the interior feel even more spacious. Enjoy leather seats on the Nissan, but only as an optional package.
While both get great gas mileage, neither of the mid-size sedans offer air compressors to maximize power output, making them both feel underpowered. The drivetrain is not good enough for off-road or poor weather driving on either sedan.
Safety features offer no real surprises for the class, with both vehicles offering antilock brakes standard as well as 5 airbags, disc brakes, child door locks and more. However, neither of these sedans offers a roadside assistance program.
You’ll have to consider whether you’re looking for comfort or value when you consider these two fine sedans.