2021 Nissan Altima vs 2021 Subaru Legacy

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  • 2021 Nissan Altima

    A red 2021 Nissan Altima is angled left.

    Starting at

    $24,550*

    2021 Subaru Legacy

    A blue 2021 Subaru Legacy is angled right.

    Starting at

    $22,895

    43.8Legroom (in)42.8
    15.4Cargo Volume (cu.ft)15.1
    32Fuel Economy (mpg combined)30

    In the realm of midsize sedans, two popular nameplates that have persisted over the years are the Nissan Altima and the Subaru Legacy. These two titans within their segment continue to duke it out with new model years, new features, and new updates. However, which one is right for you? We go through the process of breaking down the differences so that you know which one suits you best between the 2021 Nissan Altima vs 2021 Subaru Legacy.

    The 2021 Nissan Altima is available in six different trims and has three different drivetrain configurations, including front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The trims include the base S trim, the SV, SR, SL, SR VC-Turbo, and the Platinum. The Subaru Legacy is also available in six trims, including the base, the Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT, and the Touring XT. However, it only has two drivetrain configurations to choose from.

  • Performance

    A blue 2021 Nissan Altima is shown from the front driving through a city.

    Performance isn't usually the most important feature most people look for when purchasing a sedan. Even still, how well the cars perform on the road is an important facet when it comes to the expectations of handling, safety, and gas mileage. Both the 2021 Altima and 2021 Subaru Legacy are more than capable in the powertrain department and accomplish these efforts well, but the Altima does edge out the Legacy in some important places.

    Engine Options

    Both sedans can be equipped with one of two optional powertrains. For the 2021 Subaru Legacy, the base engine is a 2.5-liter boxer engine that delivers 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The second option, the 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer engine, makes 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. The 2021 Altima also features a standard 2.5-liter engine, but it is of the more common inline design and produces 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. A more powerful 2.0-liter variable compression turbocharged engine (known as the VC-Turbo) delivers up to 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

    While there are many similarities between the Subaru and Nissan engine options, there are some important differences. The inline engine designs used in the Altima are considerably less complex and easier to work on than the boxer engines of the Legacy. The Altima is also a significantly more efficient vehicle, especially when the more powerful engine with its exclusive variable-compression design is considered.

    Fuel Economy

    The 2022 Subaru Legacy tops out at 27 miles per gallon in the city and just 35 miles per gallon on the highway with its base engine. The Altima, alternatively, tops out at 28 miles per gallon in the city and an excellent 39 miles per gallon on the highway in its standard configuration. Even with the higher-end performance trims, you still fare much better with the Altima, as the turbocharged Subaru nets you 24 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway, while the Altima reaches 25 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon with its innovative VC-Turbo. Overall, the Altima possesses a clear advantage in the fuel economy department.

  • Technology

    A red 2021 Nissan Altima is shown from the front after winning a 2021 Nissan Altima vs 2021 Subaru Legacy comparison.

    For a sedan, the technology both inside and out makes up a large part of the appeal, whether it's for the way the vehicle handles or the comfort it provides within the cabin. Suffice to say, both the Altima and the Legacy come jam-packed with a litany of tech features that many shoppers would find themselves salivating over. However, which one tops out with the better tech?

    Subaru Tech Features

    The Subaru Legacy is outfitted with a number of nifty tech aids, including an Auto Vehicle Hold system that keeps the vehicle in place when the brake pedal is released, as well as a brake override. The brake override cancels out the acceleration of the vehicle if both the brake and accelerator are held down simultaneously. This works hand-in-hand with many of the active and passive safety features available for the Subaru, such as the DriverFocus distraction mitigation system and reverse automatic braking. These systems help prevent or avoid unnecessary collisions.

    Coupled with blind-spot detection, cross-traffic alert, and the Starlink security system, you have plenty of active and passive safety features sprinkled throughout the Subaru. This also includes an anti-theft security system, adaptive cruise control, and both a 180-degree front view monitor and a rear-vision camera. On the infotainment front, the Starlink multimedia station includes all the basic amenities you would expect, from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to Wi-Fi hotspot support, Bluetooth streaming, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

    Nissan Safety Features

    The 2021 Nissan Altima also comes with a number of safety and security features. This includes all the standard airbag support, LATCH system, and pressure monitoring systems. The rest of the active and passive safety features are anchored to the Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and frontal collision reduction, as well as blind-spot warnings, and cross-traffic alerts. There's also the added benefit of the automated ProPilot technology, which includes aided semi-autonomous driving, helping avoid collisions and prevent accidental lane departure.

    ProPilot has been a huge tech success for Nissan and helps with a number of driving conditions in aiding drivers both on the open road and highway. This works in conjunction with Nissan's Intelligent Around View technology, so you can accurately see what's surrounding the Altima, helping to aid in parking and avoiding collisions. There are very few models that compete with the Altima when it comes to standard safety features, and while the Legacy comes close, it isn't quite there yet.

    Nissan Infotainment Features

    On the infotainment front, you have a wealth of options and features, starting with the available NissanConnect infotainment suite, which includes SiriusXM satellite radio, voice recognition, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as standard integration of Siri Eyes Free technology. This means you can easily take advantage of hands-free messaging and calls from your smartphone without having to take your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.

    To top off the Altima's tech is the standard integration of a multi-function information display unit in addition to the touchscreen display unit. The available Advanced Drive-Assist Display helps give drivers all the necessary telematics through a customizable digital instrument cluster. These added benefits and technologies certainly help give the Altima a leg-up on its competition.

  • Interior

    A person is shown driving a 2021 Nissan Altima.

    Sedans aren't designed to be SUVs or pickup trucks; they compromise size for a lot of comfort, ride handling, and fuel efficiency. So there is a specific set of expectations going in when it comes to interior capacity and room. However, you might be pleased to know that both midsize sedans from Nissan and Subaru are actually quite spacious inside.

    The Subaru Legacy features a trunk capacity of 15.1 cubic feet of space. It's just enough to store various small items, groceries, and other trinkets. The 2021 Altima manages to achieve a storage space of 15.4 cubic feet of space in its trunk, giving it an edge over its midsize rival. In the interior department, both models come with available power-driver and power-passenger seating with lumbar support, but the Altima offers additional interior amenities not found on the Legacy.

    The Altima Brings Luxury

    For instance, if you wanted to add some extra spice to the cabin of the Altima, wood-tone trimming is available, along with piano-black livery. Alternatively, you can go with a carbon-fiber look, complete with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. While the Subaru Legacy does come with a leather steering wheel and optional Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery, it lacks a few special features, such as the Altima's incredibly comfortable Zero Gravity Seats. These small added touches give the edge to Nissan in the 2021 Altima vs 2021 Subaru Legacy showdown.

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