Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2014 Volkswagen Passat VS 2014 Nissan Altima Near Phoenix, AZ

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2014 Volkswagen Passat

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2014 Nissan Altima

Safety Comparison

The Volkswagen Passat has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Altima Sedan doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Passat Wolfsburg/SE/SEL has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Altima Sedan doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Passat and the Altima Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volkswagen Passat is safer than the Nissan Altima Sedan:


Altima Sedan



5 Stars

5 Stars




Neck Compression

9 lbs.

59 lbs.



5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.6 inches

Neck Injury Risk



Leg Forces (l/r)

52/27 lbs.

537/329 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen Passat is safer than the Nissan Altima Sedan:


Altima Sedan

Front Seat


4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Movement

1.4 inches

1.4 inches

Hip Force

477 lbs.

493 lbs.

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

58 G’s

58 G’s

Hip Force

581 lbs.

677 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

17 inches

Hip Force

671 lbs.

711 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty Comparison

The Passat’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Altima Sedan’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volkswagen pays for scheduled maintenance on the Passat for 2 years and 24,000 miles. Volkswagen will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Altima Sedan.

Reliability Comparison

The Volkswagen Passat’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Altima Sedan’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Passat has a standard 140-amp alternator. The Altima Sedan’s standard 110-amp alternator and largest (V6) 130-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Passat has a standard 570-amp battery (640 V6/diesel). The Altima Sedan’s 550-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without their vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports predicts that the Volkswagen Passat TDI’s reliability will be 93% better than the Nissan Altima Sedan V6 and the Volkswagen Passat 2.5 is 88% better than the Nissan Altima Sedan 4 cyl.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2013 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are better in initial quality than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 23rd in initial quality. With 22 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 30th.

Engine Comparison

The Passat V6’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 10 more horsepower (280 vs. 270) and 7 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 251) than the Altima Sedan 3.5’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

The Passat’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 56 lbs.-ft. more torque (236 vs. 180) than the Altima Sedan 2.5’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Passat V6 is faster than the Altima Sedan 3.5 (automatics tested):


Altima Sedan

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

5.9 sec

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Passat TDI Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Altima Sedan 2.5 (30 city/40 hwy vs. 27 city/38 hwy).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the Passat’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Altima Sedan:


Altima Sedan

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11.7 inches

The Passat stops much shorter than the Altima Sedan:


Altima Sedan

70 to 0 MPH

169 feet

188 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

152 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Passat’s wheelbase is 1.1 inches longer than on the Altima Sedan (110.4 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The Passat’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.4% to 41.6%) than the Altima Sedan’s (60.4% to 39.6%). This gives the Passat more stable handling and braking.

The Passat SE handles at .83 G’s, while the Altima Sedan 2.5 SV pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Passat SEL executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Altima Sedan 2.5 SL (26.9 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 28 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Passat SE is quieter than the Altima Sedan 2.5 SV (73 vs. 75 dB).

Passenger Space Comparison

The Passat has .5 inches more front shoulder room, .7 inches more rear headroom, 3 inches more rear legroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Altima Sedan.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Passat has a larger trunk than the Altima Sedan (15.9 vs. 15.4 cubic feet).

Ergonomics Comparison

When three different drivers share the Passat SEL, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Altima Sedan doesn’t offer a memory system.

The power windows standard on both the Passat and the Altima Sedan have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Passat is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Altima Sedan prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Passat’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Altima Sedan’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. The Altima Sedan’s optional windows’ rear windows don’t close automatically.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Passat SE/SEL to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Altima Sedan doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Passat has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The automatic headlight on/off feature is not available on the Altima Sedan Base 2.5.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Passat SEL has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Altima Sedan doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the Passat owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Passat will cost $115 to $2380 less than the Altima Sedan over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Passat is less expensive to operate than the Altima Sedan because typical repairs cost less on the Passat than the Altima Sedan, including $10 less for a fuel pump and $15 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations Comparison

The Volkswagen Passat has won recognition from these important consumer publications:


Altima Sedan

Consumer Reports® Recommends



Car Book “Best Bet”



Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its December 2012 issue and they ranked the Volkswagen Passat SE first. They ranked the Nissan Altima Sedan 2.5 SV fourth.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Passat first among midsize cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Altima Sedan isn’t in the top three.

Motor Trend selected the Passat as their 2012 Car of the Year. The Altima Sedan has never been chosen.

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