Family sedan practicality-off: 2019 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Mazda6 vs. 2019 Honda Accord

Prices: Altima 2.0 Edition One VC-turbo, $37,240; Mazda6 Signature, $36,440; Honda Accord 2.0T Touring, $36,870.

The 2019 Mazda6 keeps moving the needle on the already enjoyable previous generation. It was redesigned for 2018.
Mazda
The 2019 Mazda6 keeps moving the needle on the already enjoyable previous generation. It was redesigned for 2018.

This week: We sit inside these three recently redesigned sedans from Japanese automakers and oooh and ahhh.

What’s new: The Altima gets a whole redesign for the 2019 model year, two new engines, and a new look.

The Mazda6 has long been the handsome largish sedan of the Mazda lineup, and this model year is no exception. Redesigned to much fanfare in 2018, the model offers more power with an available turbo and more features than before.

The 2019 Honda Accord also underwent a redesign for 2018, with new engine and transmission. The impressive sedan seems to just keep improving.
Honda / Honda
The 2019 Honda Accord also underwent a redesign for 2018, with new engine and transmission. The impressive sedan seems to just keep improving.

The Accord was all new for 2018, with Honda’s first turbocharged engine, a 10-speed transmission, and new sheet metal.

Previous Mazda6 and Accord generations garnered the Mr. Driver’s Seat seal of approval, while the Altima did not come through with such raves.

Driver’s Seat: The Altima’s 8-way leather-appointed Driver’s Seat offers comfort and plenty of adjustability. I didn’t notice old Mr. Driver’s Seat suffering at all after hour-long trips throughout the week of testing. The seats came heated on the trim level, but sans ventilation no matter the trim level.

The Nappa leather-trimmed sport seats in the Mazda are easily adjustable and offer plenty of support and comfort as well. They didn’t even seem as stiff as Mazda seats usually are — the advertised “high-density, vibration absorbing urethane foam” must work. The seating position is fairly low, but I didn’t feel a whole lot of bending to get into the sedan.

The Accord’s lumbar is just a hair too strong for me and the headrest too far away, but otherwise, the week in the Accord was spent in high comfort. Gauges are thoughtfully designed and controls easy to reach.

The leather-trimmed seats came both heated and ventilated in both the Mazda6 and the Accord.

Disadvantage, Altima.

The 2019 Nissan Altima follows Mazda and Honda into the realm of the stand-up touchscreen that resembles a tablet.
Nissan
The 2019 Nissan Altima follows Mazda and Honda into the realm of the stand-up touchscreen that resembles a tablet.

Friends and stuff: The Altima’s rear seat offers pretty nice space for its class. Legroom and foot room are pretty good, although there’s not a lot of room to stretch out. Headroom is just enough for 5-10 Mr. Driver’s Seat, but not a lot of room to spare. Middle-seat sufferers will feel perched up quite high, and their legs sit high atop a largish hump. Cargo space is 15.4 cubic feet.

In the Mazda6, rear-seat passengers will enjoy even a tad more legroom but sit closer to the road. Cargo space is 14.7 cubic feet.

In the Accord, rear-seat occupants will enjoy primo accommodations, and that’s not just because the rear seats were heated. The seats in the Touring were comfortable and spacious, with plenty of legroom, headroom, and foot room. Cargo space is 16.7 cubic feet.

Advantage, Accord.

Play some tunes: The stereo systems get a touch of high-tech. The Altima has a charming 8-inch touchscreen taken straight from a Mazda or BMW, but with standard left-right dials for volume and tuning. Buttons underneath help with selecting the mode or other functions, and the touchscreen itself works pretty smoothly. The Bose Premium Sound System delivers A- sound, which means a clear, realistic playback but without that concert-level sound that some more upscale cars offer.

Mazda and the Mazda 6 sedan led the way with the iPadlike screen and dial controller as well, following BMW.
Mazda
Mazda and the Mazda 6 sedan led the way with the iPadlike screen and dial controller as well, following BMW.

The console-based dial-and-button setup continues its long Mazda tradition. It’s not perfect, especially if you’re in a mood to switch stations frequently, but it works well and doesn’t require a lot of eyes-off-the-road time. Sound remains impeccable from the Bose 11-speaker surround sound system, as expected.

Honda and Acura offer some of the best stereos out there, and the featured premium audio system with 10 speakers was no different. Songs sound rich and full. And the beauty of the Accord over an Acura is a simple control system, with dials for tuning and volume, buttons for sourcing, and a touchscreen that does what’s asked of it.

So, in the stereo department, it’s close, but the Accord squeaks ahead.

The 2019 Honda Accord takes a page from Acura with its stereo and touchscreen, but keeps away from touchpads, thankfully.
Honda / Honda
The 2019 Honda Accord takes a page from Acura with its stereo and touchscreen, but keeps away from touchpads, thankfully.

Looking backward: This may be a positive or a negative, but the high trunk and low seating position mean cars following the Altima can disappear pretty dramatically. It keeps those shiny nighttime tailgaters at bay but makes backing up an adventure. The two other models didn’t have this condition, or it wasn’t as noticeable.

Where they’re built: The Altima hails from Canton, Miss.; the Mazda6 from Hofu, Japan; and the Accord from Marysville, Ohio.

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the Mazda6 to be a 5 out of 5, while the Altima and Accord garner a 3 out of 5.

Next week: Let’s take these babies for a spin.