2019 Toyota Camry vs. 2019 Nissan Altima: Compare Cars

May 8, 2019
2019 Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

Meat-and-potatoes sedans like the Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima once were staples in American households like TV dinners and Twinkies. But time and tastes have evolved toward more variety, both in cars and in TV channels.

The 2019 Toyota Camry and 2019 Nissan Altima are spicier takes on the mid-size meal plan; loaded with a la carte items the two border on luxury-car accommodations.

The two vie for buyers’ interests beyond basic fare without giving up their main mission, comfort, and a shelf-life to rival any Twinkie or nuclear-fortified snack cake.

The Camry and Altima fare well on our ratings scale but for different reasons. The Altima earned a 6.3 thanks to its comfortable interior and good standard features. The Camry earned a 6.8 mostly due to its impressive safety ratings and handsome looks. The Altima’s score may rise once more safety information is made available, but for now the Camry outpoints the Nissan in a few key areas.

READ MORE: Read our 2019 Nissan Altima and 2019 Toyota Camry reviews

2019 Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

Style and performance

Both sedans sport newer bodies that skip the boring curves of recent memory and shape the four doors into more appealing, contemporary cars.

The Altima was redesigned for 2019 with a sharper, crisper exterior and a cleaner hood that moves the shunt lines off the top and along the front fenders. The deeply plunging Nissan’s V-neck duds lower the Altima closer to the ground with good results, and the body rises toward an athletic tail with wider hips.

The Camry’s beak doesn’t dip as far as the Nissan’s, but the Toyota thumbs its nose at convention in wild color combinations in sportier trims. We’d opt for the Camry’s interior, which is less plain than the Altima’s, even though it borders on busy.

DON'T MISS: Toyota will retrofit 2018 Camry, Sienna with Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa compatibility

Under the hoods, the Altima and Camry stick with tradition but offer intriguing combinations at the edges to shake up the daily march to the office.

The Altima’s workaday base 2.5-liter inline-4 makes 188 horsepower and isn’t thrilling, but it is new. Paired exclusively to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), it’s aimed at the fattest part of the consumer bell curve—nothing fancy, just enough. All-wheel drive is available on cars equipped with the base powertrain for $1,350 more, which is Nissan’s play for more buyers in a shrinking segment.

At the edge, the Altima offers a higher-power turbo-4 borrowed from the Infiniti QX50 that makes 248 hp and slingshots the sedan forward with alacrity. But its high-tech variable compression design doesn’t radically alter real-world fuel economy compared to the outgoing V-6, and the turbo-4 also isn’t available with all-wheel drive. Bummer.

2019 Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

The Camry is normally powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes about 200 horsepower mated to an 8-speed automatic. The Toyota mill is more refined and its 8-speed is a little more positive compared to the CVT. The Camry offers an old-world V-6 option for now, but we’re more intrigued by the hybrid powertrain that manages more than 45 mpg combined—52 mpg combined in one trim. Not long ago, asking for more than 50 mpg combined required a Prius badge—and a strong stomach.

The Camry gets a slight nod for performance based on its standard powertrain, but the outliers for both models offer something interesting on dealer lots. That’s more than their predecessors can say.

2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Comfort, safety, and features

The 2019 Altima nudges ahead of the Camry in comfort, mostly due to rear-seat space. The Altima’s good for NBA front-courters with plenty of stretch out space. The Atima’s front seats are all-day comfortable, the net result of Nissan’s ergonomic rethink a few years ago that’s paid off, according to our knees.

The Camry’s a little smaller in the back and their seat bottoms are a little less sculpted; we advise taking the keys or calling shotgun. For front-seat riders, the Camry’s a little nicer than the Altima thanks to softer and better-looking materials.

Both sedans offer more than 15 cubic feet in the trunk for storage, which is on par for its class.

Although both Nissan and Toyota stuff their sedans with the latest safety tech, only the Camry has a complete scorecard from both major safety rating organizations.

2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

The Camry aced federal and independent testers’ crash tests including a Top Safety Pick+ nod from the IIHS, and that’s assuming it gets into a crash at all. Every Camry is equipped with automatic emergency braking that was rated “Superior” by the IIHS, and includes active lane control and adaptive cruise control.

The Altima received high marks from the IIHS, but headlight performance kept it from the TSP+ award (it’s just a Top Safety Pick). Federal testers haven’t yet rated the Altima for safety, but like the Toyota, every Altima is equipped with standard automatic emergency braking, and most will include blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control.

Both sedans cost nearly the same—about $24,800 to start—and we see good value near the middle of the range.

READ NEXT: 2019 Nissan Altima price breakdown: Here's what you get for $24,645 to start

A Camry LE costs about $26,500 and includes 17-inch wheels, power adjustable driver’s seat, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay compatibility, and Bluetooth connectivity. A $1,200 upgrade adds blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and keyless ignition that are useful features.

An Altima SV costs nearly as much—$28,500—and includes similar features but uses an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and offers four USB chargers.

Both cars fare well in our ratings, although the Camry gets a slight nod for its daring exterior and more refined powertrains.

Even though some buyers have moved on, the 2019 Camry and 2019 Altima are bread-and-butter sedans that offer good value for new-car shoppers.

Summary

6.3
Expert Rating
The 2019 Nissan Altima is a sharper sedan now, made better with great active safety features and a newly available turbo-4.
6.8
Expert Rating
The 2019 Toyota Camry discards its plain vanilla personality in favor of vanilla bean.

Styling

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Altima’s honed exterior is sharper and cleaner.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Toyota Camry is, dare we say it, stylish.
Read More

Performance

5.0
Expert Rating
Around town, the 2019 Nissan Altima excels from stoplight to stoplight; a new turbo-4 picks up the pace.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Toyota Camry has a comfortable ride, but it’s not as fun as its styling suggests.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

7.0
Expert Rating
Spacious and comfortable, the 2019 Nissan Altima easily accommodates four adults or more.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Toyota Camry is quiet and refined, but rear-seat access is compromised by its daring design.
Read More

Safety

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Nissan Altima puts safety into the standard column.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
Top safety scores and a wide range of crash-avoidance tech make the 2019 Toyota Camry an exceptionally safe choice.
Read More

Features

7.0
Expert Rating
There’s good value in the middle of the 2019 Altima lineup—even more in the base version, too.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
An exceptionally broad lineup makes it easy to find the right 2019 Toyota Camry.
Read More

Fuel Economy

6.0
Expert Rating
Fuel efficiency has always been a calling card for the Nissan Altima.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Toyota Camry is thrifty in any guise but especially impressive as a hybrid.
Read More

MSRP

from $24,000
from $24,095

Invoice

from $22,371
from $22,046

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

32
34

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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