The 2018 Nissan Altima and Hyundai Sonata might be evenly matched in most ways, but the Altima is way more fun. In this comparison guide, that's the theme. Which car will bring a smile to your face and make you happiest that you bought it. It's more than starting price and fuel economy; it's about the fun.
Driving: 2018 Nissan Altima
First of all, do yourself a favor and get the powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine on the Nissan Altima. With it, you get 270 horsepower and 251 pounds per feet of torque. It's paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It's a little thirstier than the base engine, but at 22 city and 32 highway miles, you're still doing pretty well at the pump. We recommend this option because you'll love the Altima's passing power. It's quiet, solid, and stable, but, boy, can it move!
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata does pretty well. We'll skip its weaker engines (since we're focusing on the fun) and look at the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine. It gets almost the same gas mileage as the Nissan, but, at 245 horsepower, offers a little less power than the Altima's V6. It's paired to a 8-speed automatic transmission, which sounds appealing if you're skeptical of CVT, but some experts have complained of how the Sonata overworks itself on steeper climbs. This comparison is close, but given the extra horsepower and smoother acceleration, we're calling this one in favor of the Altima.
Sportiness: 2018 Nissan Altima
This category might sound a lot like the previous category, but we're going to focus specifically on the sportiest trim each car can offer. For the Nissan Altima, that's the SR trim. It features paddle shifters, rear spoiler, sport-tuned suspension, eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. That sounds race-track worthy. The best news is that the SR trim is only $1000 more than the base model.
Oddly, the Sport trim on the Hyundai Sonata doesn't sound too sporty. The only improvements between the Sonata Sport and the trim before it are its sunroof, sport seats, and some styling differences. The seats are a nice touch, but we were hoping for more. And it doesn't even come with the best engine. For that, you need to step up to the Sport Limited 2.0T trim, the most expensive one in the lineup.
Fun Features: 2018 Nissan Altima
Besides the sporty features that come with the Altima SR and 3.5 SL, there's also the nine-speaker Bose premium sound system, ambient lighting, leather seats in the 2.5 SL and higher trims. You can throw in a sunroof as well. That takes your Altima to a whole new level.
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata is a little more practical. The Sonata's got plenty of safety features, power sunroof, sport seats, leather upholstery, and Infinity audio system. But when you're itching for a good time, it's hard to get excited about those parking sensors and ventilated front seats. You won't find a stitch of ambient lighting anywhere either.
If you're looking for a car that screams fun, the 2018 Nissan Altima is made for you. The Altima has the sporty chops and cool features that make you feel like you've won the lottery. Adulthood can be hard--don't take the fun out of it by choosing a boring vehicle.