Skip to main content

For midsize sedans, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry consistently trade places atop the standings. Behind them, a scrappy group of contenders dwindles by the year, but those remaining have stood the test of time for a reason. Both the 2024 Nissan Altima and Kia K5 lag behind the competition in sales, but that isn’t the whole story. If you’re looking for the best of the rest, these two are in contention, but one model stands out as a hidden gem.

No all-wheel drive is a miss in the Kia K5

A blue 2024 Kia K5 midsize sedan driving down a tree-lined street
2024 Kia K5 GT | Kia

Both the 2024 Kia K5 and Nissan Altima offer two different engine configurations, and they offer remarkably similar performance across the lineup. The base Altima uses a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, while the Kia K5 is a 1.6-liter turbo four. The Altima makes 188 horsepower while the Kia offers 180 ponies. Torque is 195 pound-feet in the K5 versus 180 pound-feet in the Nissan. The result is that the base Kia K5 is much punchier than the base Altima, making it nearly a second faster to 60 mph. That said, fuel economy is definitely on Nissan’s side, offering up to 39 mpg highway.

As for each midsize sedan’s performance variant, the Kia once again takes the performance crown. The 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque from the 2.5-liter turbo takes the K5 from zero to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds in Car and Driver tests. That’s a tick quicker than the Altima’s Variable Compression Turbo, even without the help of all-wheel drive.

And that’s the problem. The base Kia K5 offers all-wheel drive, but the K5 GT does not. And with all that torque going through just the front wheels, the Kia is unrefined and unruly off the line. Meanwhile, the Altima’s VC-Turbo goes through a continuously variable transmission that nerfs engagement and power delivery. So in both models, you get a compromised driving experience that leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Nissan Altima 2.5Nissan Altima VC-T SRKia K5Kia K5 GT
Engine2.5L 4-Cyl N/A2.0L 4-Cyl Turbo1.6L 4-Cyl Turbo2.5L 4-Cyl Turbo
Fuel Economy (EPA)28 city/39 hwy25 city/34 hwy27 city/37 hwy24 city/32 hwy

Interior Comparison: Nissan Altima vs. Kia K5

NissanConnect Services menu displayed on a 2023 Nissan Altima touchscreen
2024 Nissan Altima | Nissan Motor Corporation

If it’s interior space you want, the Kia K5 is in another league compared to the Nissan Altima. With more space everywhere except for across the rear seats, the 2024 Kia K5 offers a more accommodating interior for everyone on board. In addition, the Altima’s 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space is among the worst in this class, alongside the aging Toyota Camry.

Nissan AltimaKia K5
Front leg room:43.846.1 in
Front headroom:39.140.2 in
Front shoulder room:58.258.0 in
Rear leg room:35.235.2 in
Rear headroom:36.937.8 in
Rear shoulder room:57.156.1 in
Cargo space:15.4 cu. ft.16.0 cu. ft.

Is the Kia K5 a better value than the Nissan Altima?

A white 2024 Nissan Altima midsize sedan parked in a driveway
2024 Nissan Altima | Nissan Motor Corporation
Related Kia K5 vs. Hyundai Sonata: Which Midsize Sedan Is More Popular?

Kia K5 vs. Hyundai Sonata: Which Midsize Sedan Is More Popular?

At base, both the Kia K5 and Nissan Altima are just a shade over $25,000. As close competitors, each midsize sedan offers incredibly similar features as well. Both come with the same standard driver assistance tech, including blind spot monitoring and pedestrian detection. Overall, the punchy turbo and added cabin space of the Kia make it a more enjoyable drive. Even if you give up a little efficiency to get there.