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Zero to 30 MPH
Zero to 60 MPH
45 to 65 MPH Passing
Speed in 1/4 Mile
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 Auto.
The Altima AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the Jetta (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 (16.2 vs. 13.2 gallons).
The Nissan Altima comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Jetta.
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 doesn’t offer a CVT.
For better stopping power the Altima’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Jetta:
Opt Rear Rotors
The Altima stops much shorter than the Jetta:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
60 to 0 MPH
For better traction, the Altima has larger standard tires than the Jetta (215/60R16 vs. 205/60R16). The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta (235/40R19 vs. 205/60R16).
The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Jetta R-Line/SEL Premium’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Altima SR/Platinum has standard 19-inch wheels. The Jetta’s largest wheels are only 17-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 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
For superior ride and handling, the Nissan Altima has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Volkswagen Jetta has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.
The Altima has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Altima flat and controlled during cornering. The Jetta’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Altima’s wheelbase is 5.5 inches longer than on the Jetta (111.2 inches vs. 105.7 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.
The Altima Platinum handles at .91 G’s, while the Jetta R-Line pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
The Altima Platinum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Jetta SEL (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s).
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 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Altima a Mid-size car, while the Jetta is rated a Compact.
The Altima has 6.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Jetta (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.
The Altima has a much larger trunk than the Jetta (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 doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.
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 can’t use the remote to operate the windows.
The Altima’s speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Jetta’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
Consumer Reports rated the Altima’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Jetta’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Altima’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Jetta’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”
Both the Altima and the Jetta 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 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
Insurance will cost less for the Altima owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Altima with a number “1” insurance rate while the Jetta is rated higher at a number “3” rate.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Altima is less expensive to operate than the Jetta because typical repairs cost much less on the Altima than the Jetta, including $426 less for a water pump, $326 less for a muffler, $363 less for a starter, $100 less for fuel injection, $147 less for a fuel pump, $173 less for front struts and $42 less for a power steering pump.
Consumer Reports? recommends both the Nissan Altima and the Volkswagen Jetta, based on reliability, safety and performance.
The Altima was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2019. The Jetta has never been an “All Star.”
The Nissan Altima outsold the Volkswagen Jetta by over two to one during 2018.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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