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A red 2021 Chevy Malibu is parked in front of a tan brick building.

Chevy Leaves Nissan in the Dust

Chevrolet and Nissan are two of the most recognized auto brands on the planet. They offer similar solutions for everyday transportation problems affecting individuals, families, and working people all over. Both brands sell well in the United States, but Chevrolet holds a decided edge, with about 2 million passenger vehicles sold last year against about 1.2 million for Nissan. This difference in sales figures results from Chevy’s qualitative edge, and you are more likely to find your perfect vehicle at a GM dealer near you than you are at a Nissan dealership.

Comfortable Midsize Sedans

The Chevy Malibu is the flagship sedan for Chevrolet and sold over 120,000 units in 2019. It ranks as Chevy’s fifth-best-selling vehicle behind the Silverado and Colorado pickups and two SUVs offerings. The Malibu has been in production for several decades and is a highly recognized model. Chevy offered five trims that seat up to five passengers and offer a strong engine under the hood.

The base engine is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with a turbocharger delivering up to 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque going to the front wheels. An optional 2.0-liter version is also available for the top-of-the-line Malibu Premier and greatly improves power to 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The turbocharged 1.5-liter engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission while the turbocharged 2.0-liter has a nine-speed traditional automatic transmission.

Fuel economy is excellent, with an estimated 29 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway with the 1.5-liter engine. The 2.0-liter motor is good for 22 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the freeway. The 2.0-liter also will do 0-60 mph in about six seconds, while the 1.5 liter takes more than nine seconds to reach that speed mark.

Nissan counters with the Altima, which is its best-selling car in America. With more than 209,000 cars sold in 2019. The four-door midsize sedan seats up to five and has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder motor that gives you up to 188 hp. There is also a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that significantly boosts power to up to 248 hp. A continuously variable transmission delivers power to the front wheels, but you also can get an Altima with all-wheel drive.

The turbocharged version can go from 0 to 60 mph in around six seconds, matching the more powerful Malibu variants. It is not a race car by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have plenty of real-world quickness to get you up to speed and out of any trouble while driving in town or on the freeway. The Altima is rated for an excellent 39 MPG on the highway and 28 MPG when driving in town.

A dark blue 2022 Chevy Equinox, coming soon to a GM dealer near you, is parked in front of a cloudy blue sky.

Proven SUV Platforms

Years ago, Chevrolet was a builder of the iconic station wagon that fulfilled many family-oriented transportation duties. The eventual emergence of the SUV vehicle class eclipsed the station wagon with better work and off-roading capability while still carrying plenty of people and cargo. The advantages of higher ground clearance and 4×4 drivetrains made the first SUVs much more versatile than a station wagon.

The Chevy Equinox is the American carmaker’s best-selling SUV platform with more than 346,000 sold in 2019. The Equinox is a compact SUV that offers your choice of turbocharged 1.5-liter or 2.0-liter engines. They are the same motors that power the Malibu and offer comparable fuel economy, power and performance.

You also get your choice of either the standard front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive for improved performance. Four doors provide access to front and rear seating for up to five passengers. A rear hatch enables access to the rear cargo that grows in size with the rear seat folded down.

Nissan’s best-selling SUV in the United States is the Rogue, with some 350,000 models sold on American shores in 2019. Nissan’s compact SUV seats up to five and has a 2.5-liter inline-four sending up to 170 hp to either a pair of front drive wheels or all four drive wheels via a continuously variable transmission. However, unlike the Chevy Equinox, the Nissan Rogue does not offer a more powerful engine option. With compact SUVs now dominating sales, the Chevy Equinox and Nissan Rogue help to deliver great solutions for four seasons of driving difficulties.

Pickup Trucks for Work and Play

A white 2020 Chevy Silverado is driving on a dirt road.

The classic American pickup truck can perform daily driving duties during the week and head out for fun and adventure on the weekend. Chevy and Nissan each build popular pickup trucks, with Chevrolet offering a larger selection and one of the oldest continuously manufactured truck brands in the business. Nissan has a more limited selection of pickups that mostly handle light-duty tasks.

The Chevy Silverado is a long-standing model that is among the best-selling pickups on the planet. The Silverado 1500 is a classic half-ton pickup with your choice of a regular cab, extended cab, or a crew cab that can seat up to six. On-demand 4X4 and a wide range of engine choices make the Silverado an absolute winner. In 2019, Chevy sold over 575,000 of the Silverado 1500 and its heavy-duty brothers.

With such large numbers selling every year, the Silverado 1500 is a very popular American truck. Engine options are a turbocharged 2.7-liter engine that produces 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque. It can tow up to 7,100 lbs and carry 2,260 lbs of cargo in the bed. Fuel economy is a fairly consistent 23 MPG on the highway and 20 MPG in the city.

A 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V6 will give the Silverado 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. Towing capacity increases to 7,900 lbs while cargo capacity remains about the same. Fuel economy dips slightly to 21 MPG on the highway and 16 MPG in the city. A bigger 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 increases horsepower to 355 and torque to 383 lb-ft. That enables 11,600 lbs of towing capacity or 2,202 lbs in the bed. Fuel economy is relatively low at 24 MPG on the freeway and 17 MPG in town.

An even bigger 6.2-liter V8 drives horsepower to 420 and torque to 460 lb-ft. That is good for 13,400 lbs of towing capacity and 2,090 lbs of cargo in the bed. The potent engine is rated for 20 MPG on the highway and 16 MPG in the city. A 3.0-liter Duramax Turbo-diesel greatly improved fuel economy to 33 MPG on the highway and 23 MPG in the city. Towing capacity drops to 9,300 lbs while the cargo capacity increases to 2,302 lbs.

Nissan offers the Titan as its full-size pickup, but it sold only 31,000 units in 2019. It is a powerful pickup that comes standard with a 5.6-liter V8 that offers 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque under the hood. That one engine configuration manages to tow up to 9,310 lbs and carry 1,690 ;bs in the bed, putting it far behind the top engines in the Silverado 1500. Combine this with an older interior and tech options, and it is not difficult to see why sales of the Nissan Titan are a small fraction of those of the Chevy Silverado.

Chevy vs Nissan

In the final assessment, Nissan does offer some popular and well-built vehicles, especially its sedans. However, when it comes to challenging Chevy with SUVs and trucks, Nissan falls short. Not only does Chevy have a decided advantage thanks to its edge in performance and technology, but it also has a larger selection of models and trims so that you can more easily find the exact vehicle that you need.

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