If you’re looking for a reliable, dependable car, minivan, or SUV and are considering Honda vs. Nissan, how do you make the choice between them? Here are some suggestions to help you decide.

Check Safety Ratings

Always thoroughly check out the vehicle’s safety ratings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – no matter which automaker you’re considering. A five-star NHTSA rating in front, side impact and rollover testing is the best, as well as a “Good” rating in all IIHS testing and/or a Top Safety Pick nod. At the very least, make sure the vehicles under consideration have standard electronic stability control (ESC) and available or standard anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control. Other safety features to look into include backup camera, night vision/heads up display, and blind spot warning systems (the latter two are usually found on luxury vehicles).

Which Automaker Has Models Right for You

Naturally, you’ll want to check out the types of vehicles that are right for your family or individual circumstances and needs. Fortunately, both Honda and Nissan have models in each of the major categories: car, SUV, minivan or van, and pickup truck.

There are compact and midsize cars available from both automakers for 2010, a total of five from Honda (Accord, Civic, FCX, Fit, and Insight) and six from Nissan (370Z, Altima, GT-R, Maxima, Sentra, and Versa). As for SUVs, Honda offers four in 2010 (Accord Crosstour, CR-V, Element, and Pilot), while Nissan has five (Armada, Murano, Pathfinder, Rogue, and Xterra).  Each has one minivan or van, the Honda Odyssey and the Nissan Cube. Honda’s sole pickup entry is the Ridgeline, while Nissan has two, the Frontier and Titan. Check out other model years as well.

While you may have an idea of the type of vehicle you’re after, including number of passengers you normally need to carry and the amount of cargo capacity you require, also pay attention to how the vehicles “fit” you and your passengers. Are they comfortable, offering enough headroom and leg room for each, including in the rear-most rows? Do the materials look and feel high quality? How are the acoustics? Is there sufficient buffer from road and engine noise? Are all the controls within reach and work easily? How about fuel economy? There are fuel-efficient models as well as hybrids available.

Reliability is Important as Well

While Honda has a well-deserved reputation for reliability going back years, Nissan makes quality, dependable vehicles as well. Check out the reliability for any model you are considering. You don’t want to be saddled with engine, transmission, braking, safety or other problems if there’s been a history of them in the car, truck, minivan or SUV you’re considering.

Price is a Consideration

Of course, you want to factor in price. Honda models, depending on whether you’re looking at the base or more contented models, can be either a very good deal or pricey with options. The same could be said of Nissan models, although Nissan is generally considered to be less expensive than Honda. Some would say Nissan tends toward Spartan, but for many consumers, less is more.

Remember that you get what you pay for. So if extra amenities, size or space is important to you, you may be willing to pay a bit more for it. In the end, whether you choose Honda vs. Nissan is a personal choice – and there are no bad picks among them.

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