Jones Ford Buckeye Compares 2003 Ford Taurus VS 2003 Nissan Altima Near Surprise, AZ

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2003 Ford Taurus

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2003 Nissan Altima

Safety Comparison

Both the Taurus and the Altima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, available front seat side-impact airbags, head airbags and four wheel antilock brakes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH front offset crash tests on new cars. In this test, results indicate that the Ford Taurus Sedan (which the IIHS chose as “A Best Pick”) is safer than the Altima:



Overall Evaluation









Front Headrests



Chest compression

28 mm

28 mm

Tibia index



(This test is not comparable to the NHTSA NCAP 35 MPH front crash test.)

The Taurus’ bumpers sustained $1521 less damage than the Altima in an IIHS ( Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) 5 MPH bumper test.

Warranty Comparison

The Taurus comes with free roadside assistance for 3 years 36,000 miles. Ford will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Nissan doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Altima.

There are almost 4 times as many Ford dealers as there are Nissan dealers, which makes it much easier to get service under the Taurus’ warranty.

Engine Comparison

The Taurus’ standard 3.0 V6 produces 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (185 vs. 180) than the Altima’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

The Taurus with its standard V6 gets better fuel mileage than the Altima automatic V6 (20 city/28 hwy vs. 19 city/26 hwy).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The Taurus with optional antilock brakes stops shorter than the Altima with antilock brakes:



60 to 0 MPH

139 feet

144 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the Taurus has larger standard tires than the Altima (215/65R16 vs. 205/65R16). The Taurus’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Altima (225/60R16 vs. 215/55R17).

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Taurus has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads The Altima’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Taurus has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Altima doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Taurus LX Sedan goes through Motor Trend’s slalom faster than the Altima 3.5 SE (63.1 vs. 62.3 MPH).

Chassis Comparison

The design of the Ford Taurus amounts to more than styling. The Taurus has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .3 Cd. That is lower than the Altima (.32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Taurus get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Taurus SEL Sedan is quieter than the Altima 3.5 SE:




73 dB

73 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

71 dB

70 MPH Coasting

67 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the Taurus Sedan is rated as a Large car by the EPA, while the Altima is rated as a Mid-size.

The Taurus Station Wagon offers optional seating for 8 passengers; the Altima can only carry 5. The Taurus Sedan has standard seating for 6.

The Taurus Sedan has 1.4 inches more front hip room, .6 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom, 2.5 inches more rear legroom, 3 inches more rear hip room and .5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Altima.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Taurus Sedan has a much larger trunk than the Altima (17 vs. 15.6 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Taurus easier. The Taurus’ trunk lift-over height is 26 inches, while the Altima’s liftover is 27.6 inches.

Ergonomics Comparison

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

The Altima’s standard power locks don’t automatically lock the doors. The Taurus’ standard doors lock when the transmission is engaged. This is an important feature for occupant safety. Locked doors are proven to open less often in collisions, and they are also effective in preventing crime at traffic lights. (The power lock’s automatic feature may have to be activated by your dealer.)

To improve comfort and visibility, the Taurus offers optional secondary sun visors that block glare from two directions simultaneously. The Altima doesn’t offer any similar feature.

Both the Taurus and the Altima offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Taurus w/bucket seats has included rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Altima doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the Taurus’ passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation which can trigger allergies or asthma. The Altima doesn’t offer a filtration system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the Taurus owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Taurus will cost $400 less than the Altima over a five year period.

The Taurus is less expensive to operate than the Altima because of its lower insurance rate. It also costs $67 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Taurus than the Altima, including $168 less for an alternator, $102 less for a starter, $60 less for fuel injection, $42 less for front struts, $187 less for a timing belt/chain and $32 less for a power steering pump.

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