If you’re debating between buying the 2017 Toyota Camry or the 2017 Nissan Altima, we can make this really easy for you: buy the Camry.
No, but really, you should buy the 2017 Toyota Camry. Of course, you’d probably like to know why we think the Camry lays the smackdown on the Altima, and we’re more than happy to share that information with you. And lest you think we stand alone in our opinion that the 2017 Toyota Camry is the superior vehicle, realize that U.S. News & World Report gives the 2017 Camry the number one ranking in its list of top midsize cars. The 2017 Nissan Altima also makes the list, grabbing the twelfth spot. Not exactly close competition there.
What sets the two cars so far apart? Let’s take a look.
Here’s the thing: there are some car enthusiasts who don’t care about the interior amenities in a car – in fact, some people think that the more gadgets in a car, the more it detracts from the actual point of the car: the drive. However, for the rest of us, the idea of sitting through a 45 minute commute with no entertainment aside from the purr of the engine is just torture. I like a nice smooth ride as much as the next person, but I’m also pretty into my heated seats.
So how do the 2017 Nissan Altima and the 2017 Toyota Camry compare when it comes to creature comforts? Well, for starters, it depends on which trim level you look at. The 2017 Nissan Altima offers five trim levels (seven, if you count two additional engine options) while the 2017 Toyota Camry comes in your choice of four trims. Let’s start with the base level trim – the 2.5 for the Altima and the LE for the Camry.
In the 2017 Nissan Altima 2.5, standard features include remote keyless entry, Bluetooth, a four-speaker sound system, full power accessories, manually adjustable front seats, a push-button start, a CD player, and cloth upholstery.
The 2017 Toyota Camry LE comes standard with heated mirrors, automatic headlights, keyless remote entry, a sunroof, power front seats, Bluetooth, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, a six-speaker sound system, USB port, and a rearview camera.
Obviously, the base model Camry is better equipped than the Altima, but will you have to pay much more for all the goodies? Nope. The starting MSRP for the 2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 is $22,500. The starting MSRP for the 2017 Toyota Camry is $23,070 – a difference of just $570.
Of course, money is money, and no one wants to spend unnecessarily. But when it comes to buying cars, you have to take the long view. The 2017 Nissan Altima 2.5 is so basic that it will probably have very little resale value in a few years – after all, most cars these days do come standard with some sort of touchscreen interface and a USB port. Additionally, the Camry LE offers some sweet features that are typically only found in higher trim levels across any make or model – such as the sunroof and power front seats.
Of course, there are always higher trim levels and certainly you could purchase a 2017 Nissan Altima with all the best features if you decide to buy the 2017 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL – the top-of-the-line trim. It will cost you $32,690. The top-of-the-line 2017 Toyota Camry? The XLE with a V6 engine starts at $31,370.
What you’ve probably just noticed is that both of the top trim levels feature powerful engines – both manufacturers offer 3.5-liter V6 engines, in addition to their standard 2.5-liter four-cylinders. When it comes to performance, the two models are almost neck-and-neck, with the 2017 Toyota Camry getting 178 horsepower out of its four-cylinder, just a hair below the 2017 Nissan Altima’s 179 horsepower.
While their engines may be virtually the same, when it comes to fuel economy, there is a marked difference, and surprisingly, it’s the Altima that pulls ahead. The 2017 Nissan Altima gets an EPA-estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway with its 2.5-liter four cylinder. The 2017 Toyota Camry falls short, getting just 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Nissan not only bests Toyota when it comes to fuel economy, it actually beats out most of the other cars in the class.
So at this point, you have to ask yourself, is the marginal savings on fuel economy enough to sway you from the better-appointed Camry?
Reliability & Safety
Herein lies the problem with comparing the Camry and the Altima – the Altima is not a bad car by any means. In fact, it’s almost difficult to come up with a an extremely compelling argument for why the Camry is better. But the thing, the Camry is just that – slightly better. For instance, although the 2017 Nissan Altima has better-than-average predicted reliability score from J.D. Power at 3.5, it’s certainly not comparable to the 2017 Toyota Camry’s perfect five-out-of-five score. There’s a reason that the Camry is the best-selling car in America – it’s just a solidly good, reliable car, which makes it really difficult to compete against.
However, if you want to break out of the mold and go with the 2017 Nissan Altima, you can be confident that you’re driving a very safe car – in fact, the Altima performs better in crash testing than the Camry. While both the the 2017 Nissan Altima and the 2017 Toyota Camry have five star overall safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Altima has five-out-five stars for frontal crash tests, while the Camry only has four.
That doesn’t mean the cars aren’t both super-safe though. In fact, both cars have serious bragging rights when it comes to safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS awarded the 2017 Nissan Altima and the 2017 Toyota Camry the highly sought after title of IIHS Top Safety Pick+, so no matter which car you choose, you’ll be driving an award-winning vehicle that’s one of the safest on the road.
Can’t Go Wrong with a Camry
While we certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with the 2017 Nissan Altima, it’s ultimately just a better buy to go with the Camry. You’ll enjoy better amenities without losing out on power and performance, and you won’t have to worry about the dependability of your car. The Altima is certainly a good car, but in the end, the Camry is just a great car.