MPG

Altima

FWD

Auto

S/SV/SL 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

28 city/39 hwy

SR/Platinum 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

AWD

Auto

S/SV/SL 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

SR/Platinum 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

Jetta GLI

FWD

Manual

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/32 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/32 hwy

Regardless of its engine, the Altima’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Volkswagen only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Jetta GLI Auto.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Nissan Altima uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine for maximum performance). The Jetta GLI requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Altima AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the Jetta GLI (16 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Altima FWD’s standard fuel tank has 3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Jetta GLI (16.2 vs. 13.2 gallons).

Transmission

The Nissan Altima comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Jetta GLI.

The Altima has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Altima SR/Platinum’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta GLI (235/40R19 vs. 225/40R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Altima SR/Platinum has standard 19-inch wheels. The Jetta GLI’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The Altima has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Altima’s wheelbase is 5.6 inches longer than on the Jetta GLI (111.2 inches vs. 105.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Altima is 2.5 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Jetta GLI.

Chassis

The front grille of the Altima uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Altima SL/Platinum uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Altima a Mid-size car, while the Jetta GLI is rated a Compact.

The Altima has 6.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Jetta GLI (100.8 vs. 94.7).

The Altima has .7 inches more front headroom, 2.7 inches more front legroom, 2.3 inches more front shoulder room and 3.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the Jetta GLI.

Cargo Capacity

The Altima has a much larger trunk than the Jetta GLI (15.4 vs. 14.1 cubic feet).

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the Altima. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the Altima the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Jetta GLI can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Altima detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

On extremely cold winter days, the Altima’s optional (except S) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Both the Altima and the Jetta GLI offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Altima SV/SL/Platinum has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Altima SV/SL/Platinum has a standard Intelligent Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Altima SL/Platinum’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Jetta GLI’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports? recommends the Nissan Altima, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Altima was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2019. The Jetta GLI has never been an “All Star.”

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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