An orange 2022 Nissan Altima is shown from above rounding a city corner.

A Performance Showdown: 2022 Nissan Altima vs 2022 Subaru Legacy

These days, it seems as though we only talk about performance features in trucks and SUVs, but what about sedans? Although there are now more options out there for drivers to choose from to cater to their every traveling need, the sedan is still holding strong, which is made possible by a few overachievers. The Nissan Altima showcases a brilliant performance, armed with an engine that’s unlike many others on the road, and with expert handling and control, the ride doesn’t get much better than this. Another favorite is the Subaru Legacy, known for its classic Subaru qualities, including exceptional all-wheel drive capabilities and its sturdy build. When it comes to the 2022 Nissan Altima vs 2022 Subaru Legacy in terms of performance, you’ll find that both vehicles go head-to-head, giving it their all, but one mesmerizes us more than the other.

VC-Turbo vs Turbo Boxer

The Altima is known for its spirited ride, which is made possible by the available world’s first 2.0L VC-Turbo engine. Operating unlike other vehicles on the road that utilize a fixed compression ratio, the VC-Turbo is constantly adjusting and adapting to changes during the drive. By variably raising and lowering its pistons, the VC-Turbo is able to offer a lower compression ratio when your foot hits the gas to deliver ample power and a higher compression ratio when sailing down the highway for maximum efficiency. The result is the best of both worlds, a lively and exciting ride marked by ample fuel efficiency, allowing the Altima to be the go-to car for a number of drivers seeking out an all-around better ride.

You’ll also find that its Xtronic CVT transmission showcases the widest gear ratio in the industry, offering intense efficiency as well as a smooth and refined ride. Pair this with an engine that has been in the works for over two decades, and you’ve got a ride that’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced in a sedan. Able to travel an average 25 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway, the Altima continues to hold its own amongst larger travelers on the road, further enhancing its appeal to more drivers everywhere.

The Legacy can be armed with an exciting 2.4L direct-injection Turbo Boxer engine, which claims to offer unmatched power and efficiency as well. It, too, pairs with a Continuously Variable Transmission, but it’s nothing like Nissan’s Xtronic version; it’s just a standard CVT, which showcases a smoother ride than a traditional automatic transmission. Although it’s able to provide ample power and acceleration to the ride, it falls short with its efficiency, as it only averages 24 MPG city and 32 MPG highway. It’s also been reported to be a bit boring to drive. All in all, when it comes to powertrains, the Altima is the clear winner here with its outstanding VC-Turbo engine, paired perfectly with its smooth and efficient Xtronic CVT transmission.

A white 2022 Subaru Legacy Touring XT is shown from the side driving on an open road.

Intelligent All-Wheel Drive vs Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive

If there’s one thing that really sets these two sedans apart from the rest, it’s their incredible all-wheel drive capabilities. Coming to the rescue, especially in inclement weather situations, the 2022 Nissan Altima and its Intelligent All-Wheel Drive capabilities offer another layer of assurance during any drive. Consistently adapting to changing road conditions in an instant, the Altima is able to adjust accordingly, whether you’re navigating bumpy terrain or icy roadways. Allocating power to all four wheels for enhanced traction and effortlessly switching to two wheels for everyday driving, the Altima proves that it’s able to take on some of the most treacherous driving conditions with confidence.

Being that it’s a Subaru, the Legacy is, of course, armed with standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, which offers maximum control in any road condition. With optimal balance and weight distribution, the Legacy is able to offer more control during the ride. Allocating power to all four wheels consistently allows for the most traction on any surface, whether it’s wet, icy, or rough. Providing unmatched stability and efficiency to any type of journey, the Legacy and its stellar all-wheel drive capabilities allow drivers to have enhanced confidence anywhere they travel. Although impressive, some believe that distributing power to all four wheels constantly may be a waste of resources, especially for those usually traveling under normal driving conditions.

Ride Enhancements

There are a few other features that affect the overall performance of each vehicle, and when ride quality is on the line, you’ll want to pay attention to some of the fabulous options available for the Altima. Intelligent Mobility features allow the Altima to provide a seamless ride, no matter the circumstances. Active Ride Control effortlessly adjusts engine torque to accommodate for rough terrain, applying the brakes when needed, allowing for a smooth and refined ride. Hill Start Assist provides the help you need when navigating steep driving conditions, preventing you from rolling backward on a hill. Intelligent Trace Control is also ready to assist, applying the brakes to each individual wheel to maximize steering and handling around tight curves.

In addition to these outstanding features in the Altima arsenal, you’ll also find that this midsize sedan also showcases impeccable steering response through its dual-pinion, electric-powered steering system. This type of system utilizes one pinion for performance and another for assistance, creating a more efficient steering system that offers better handling and control. Pair this with its independent rear suspension system featuring monotube shocks, and the Altima is able to travel with confidence, control, and stability, no matter what.

The Subaru Legacy showcases a few enhancements designed for a better ride, including active torque vectoring. This feature allows the outside rear wheel to navigate turns slightly faster than the inside wheel, offering increased control around twists and turns, which is similar to Intelligent Trace Control in the Altima. Upgrading to its Sport trim will allow drivers to take advantage of various drive modes to navigate better, depending on the road condition and terrain. In order to enjoy some of the more performance-based features, the Legacy pretty much forces you to upgrade to its more expensive trims, which may not be possible for those on a budget.

A blue 2022 Nissan Altima is shown from the front driving on an open road during a 2022 Nissan Altima vs 2022 Subaru Legacy comparison.

2022 Nissan Altima vs 2022 Subaru Legacy: Top Performer

There’s no denying that both of these cars are exceptional in more ways than one. The Altima showcases an incomparable engine that maximizes power, efficiency, and delivers an awe-inspiring ride, no matter where it’s traveling. The Legacy offers standard all-wheel drive capabilities and a controlled ride, no matter the terrain. The defining factor when it comes to performance is the engine, as the Altima’s VC-Turbo is one of the best around, and paired with its enhanced CVT transmission, drivers will be in for an exciting yet controlled ride that’s efficient and capable. Combine this with available all-wheel drive capabilities, as well as the selection of ride enhancements mentioned above, and you’ve got a car that far surpasses much of its competition.

Unfortunately for the Legacy, although its Boxer Turbo engine is powerful, it lacks efficiency, and its CVT is just a standard CVT, nothing special like the Xtronic version in the Altima. Its all-wheel drive capabilities are top-notch; however, we’d like to see more ride-enhancing qualities available for a smoother, more efficient ride. In the end, the 2022 Nissan Altima is the top performer. Not only does it deliver an inspiring ride for all on board, but its capabilities and features continue to make it extraordinary. As long as the Altima is on the scene, sedans continue to reign supreme for many drivers.