Nissan Altima vs Maxima: Is The Price Difference Justified?

Nissan offers an impressive range of sedans and SUVs. Even when you’re dead set on buying a Nissan sedan, you still end up with hard decisions to be made when you choose between the many different models.

Take the Nissan Altima and the Nissan Maxima, for instance. These two upper-end models are popular among American buyers, but how are they different? With these sedan siblings sharing so much in their DNA, how should one differentiate between them? That’s what we’ll be taking a look at today.

Quick Summary

Despite Nissan classing their flagship Maxima as a full-size sedan and the Altima a mid-size sedan, the Altima is oddly the bigger car. However, the more expensive Maxima is built with performance and luxury in mind, whereas the Altima is a more standard sedan offering.


If you’re on a budget, the Nissan Altima is the obvious choice. It’s the next model up from the Nissan Sentra compact sedan, with a starting price of $24,550. That’s far below that of the Nissan Maxima, which starts at $37,240.

Related: Nissan Sentra vs Nissan Altima

Nissan Altima front 3/4 view
Nissan Maxima front 3/4 view

The Nissan Altima comes in 6 different trim levels, namely the S, the SV (from $25,550), the SR (from $26,550), the SR Midnight Edition (from $28,300), the SR VC-Turbo (from $30,900), and the SL (from $29,990).

The Nissan Maxima comes in just 3 trim levels, namely the base-level SV, the SR (from $42,400), and the Platinum (from $42,550). Regardless of trim, the Nissan Maxima is targeting a different market.

Nissan Altima rear 3/4 view
Nissan Maxima 40th anniversary edition rear 3/4 view

Exterior Styling

At first glance, it seems that both of these Nissan models are offering you a handsome, athletic-looking executive sedan that is also versatile enough to be a comfortable family car or even just your daily runaround car. Both present themselves as a car for all seasons.

Much of the exterior styling follows similar cues, with strong lines, a sporty sloping rear roof, neat alloy wheels, a pleasing executive profile, and a bold (but not exaggerated) grille design.

The key sense in both the Altima and Maxima is that of subtle elegance and universal appeal. Nissan produces good-looking cars, and it’s hard not to like both.

Despite costing less, it’s the Nissan Altima that has the longer wheelbase and therefore a slightly roomier interior, especially in the rear seats where that wheelbase delivers a whole inch of additional legroom. In other interior and exterior dimensions, they are quite even.


Both offer great styling on the inside, with refined and tasteful interiors. The Nissan Maxima does take luxury to a higher level with finer detailing like premium Ascot leather-appointed seats, contrasting stitching being used more prominently, and a great application of soft-touch high-quality materials.

Nissan altima sedan interior
nissan maxima interior

The Nissan Altima in 2022 isn’t quite up to the level of luxury found in the Maxima, but huge strides have been taken to make the Altima a far better interior than those of its predecessors in the Altima line.


The Nissan Altima is powered by a 4-cylinder 2.5L standard engine delivering up to 188-hp. There is an optional 2.0L turbocharged option getting up to 248-hp, and both of these options come with Xtronic CVT transmission as standard. If you want to take advantage of the variable-compression technology, it’s only available with the 2.5L engine.

The Nissan Maxima is powered by a 3.5L V6 engine that sounds fantastic when you open up the car on the highway. It delivers up to 300-hp and is paired with a CVT like the Altima. The transmission is the only downside, as it lacks the punch needed for such a capable engine. It does get from 0 to 60 in just 5.7 seconds though when applied in the Platinum trim level. That puts it in line with some notable sports sedans like the Kia Stinger or even lower Dodge Charger trims.

Important to note is that only the Nissan Altima offers intelligent AWD, the Nissan Maxima models are all front wheel drive only.

Behind the wheel, the Nissan Maxima is just the better overall performer, but that’s not to say the Nissan Altima suffers. The main problem with the Altima is the lack of acceleration, but it offers decent steering, and if you get the sport-tuned suspension it feels confident on twisty country roads. The Maxima still offers more, though, with minimum body lean, even better handling, and very good damping for a sportier model.

Fuel Economy

In the Nissan Altima, EPA estimates show a gas mileage of 25-mpg in the city and 34-mpg on the highway. That’s not so bad in the base-level 4-cylinder engine, and the figures don’t go down dramatically in other models, even when packing the VC-Turbo engine. Some actual mileage tests have shown that a top-level estimate could be as high as 41-mpg.

The performance-oriented Nissan Maxima is expectedly less fuel-efficient, getting 20-mpg in the city and 30-mpg on the highway.

Nissan Altima side view
Nissan Maxima side view


Both Nissan sedans seat up to 5, with the Altima offering slightly more room for passengers in the rear row of seats.

The Nissan Altima also offers slightly more in the way of cargo space, giving up to 15.4 cubic feet compared to just a standard 14.3 cubic feet on the Maxima.

In fairness to the Maxima, that 14.3 is about average and comparable to most other similar sedans. The Altima, therefore, delivers a pleasing extra cargo capacity boost for those that need it.

Technology & Features

Highlights for both include a pleasing 8-inch infotainment screen, the presence of some physical infotainment controls for ease of use on the road (e.g., volume control), available premium Bose speakers (though the Maxima gets 11 speakers to the Altima’s 9), built-in navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the NissanConnect infotainment system and plenty of ports for charging and connecting your devices.

Another available feature in both is the Advanced Drive-Assist Display which includes features such as displaying incoming text messages, Bluetooth streaming, and turn-by-turn navigation right on your instrument panel for ease of view.

As sibling models, you might expect the features to be similar, but it’s perhaps a downside to the Maxima that you pay so much more but the technology options aren’t significantly richer.


Everyone loves Nissan because they’re generous with ADAS and safety features, but how do things compare on these two Nissan cars?

The Nissan Altima gets tire pressure monitoring, intelligent forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking as standard features, with an available 360-degree camera, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert as available options.

As for the Nissan Maxima, while the 360-degree monitor and rear cross-traffic alert remain optional, the rest of the features mentioned above are all standard. So you do get more standard safety features in your Maxima but don’t forget you have to pay so much more for even the base model.

The Nissan Maxima also gets teenage driver limiting capabilities, so parents can add speed restrictions, curfew alerts, and more.

Key Rivals

The Nissan Altima finds itself in a more crowded market segment, going up against the likes of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Hyundai Sonata.

As a more luxurious offering, the Nissan Maxima’s rivals are similarly expensive sedans such as the Toyota Avalon and Volkswagen Arteon.


Both offer a pleasing level of safety and added features to make every drive fun and enjoyable. The Nissan Maxima, however, stands out as the better performance model. If you want the added bonus of that power on the road, as well as much better handling, then the Maxima is better.

The Altima, however, delivers a solid performance and many of the same features but with a smaller price tag. It’s not quite as plush as the Maxima, it’s true, but if you value the function more than the luxury, it’s a great option.

Because for most practical purposes the Nissan Altima is just as good as the Nissan Maxima, we’d recommend booking a test drive at your local Nissan dealership to see whether the improved performance of the Maxima is worth your money.

Comparison Table

2022 Nissan Altima2022 Nissan Maxima
Engine2.5L Inline-4 Gas3.5L V6 Gas
Horsepower188 hp @ 6000 rpm300 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque180 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm261 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
TransmissionContinuously Variable Automatic (CVT)Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
DrivetrainFront-Wheel DriveFront-Wheel Drive
Steering TypeRack-PinionRack-Pinion
Rear SuspensionMulti-LinkMulti-Link
Rear Wheel SizeP215/60HR16P245/45VR18
Front SuspensionStrutStrut
Front Wheel SizeP215/60HR16P245/45VR18
Turning Diameter (ft.)36.1-
Fuel Economy
MPG/MPGe - Hwy3930
MPG/MPGe - City2820
MPG/MPGe - Combined3224
Gas Tank Size (gallons)16.218.0
Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)631.8540.0
Size and Weight
Height (in.)56.756.5
Length (in.)192.9192.8
Weight (lbs)32083565
Max Width (in.)72.973.2
Wheelbase (in.)111.2109.3
Interior Dimensions
Seating Capacity55
Trunk Volume (cu. ft.)15.414.3
Front Seat Leg Room (in.)43.845.0
Front Seat Head Room (in.)39.239.4
Front Seat Hip Room (in.)54.754.2
Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)58.256.7
Rear Seat Leg room (in.)35.234.2
Rear Seat Head Room (in.)36.936.7
Rear Seat Hip Room (in.)54.553.5
Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)57.155.7
Infotainment Features
HD RadioNot AvailableNot Available
MP3 PlayerStandardStandard
WiFi HotspotNot AvailableNot Available
Satellite RadioNot AvailableStandard
Bluetooth ConnectionStandardStandard
Entertainment SystemNot AvailableNot Available
Premium Sound SystemNot AvailableNot Available
Auxiliary Audio InputStandardStandard
Smart Device IntegrationNot AvailableStandard
Hard Disk Drive Media StorageNot AvailableNot Available
Interior Trim
Cloth SeatsStandardStandard
Vinyl SeatsNot AvailableStandard
Leather SeatsNot AvailableStandard
Premium Synthetic SeatsNot AvailableStandard
Bucket SeatsStandardStandard
Sun/MoonroofNot AvailableNot Available
Leather Steering WheelNot AvailableStandard
Woodgrain Interior TrimNot AvailableNot Available
Comfort Features
Rear A/CNot AvailableNot Available
TelematicsNot AvailableNot Available
Seat MemoryNot AvailableNot Available
Seat-MassageNot AvailableNot Available
Keyless EntryStandardStandard
Keyless StartStandardStandard
Cruise ControlStandardStandard
Multi-Zone A/CNot AvailableStandard
Power LiftgateNot AvailableNot Available
Climate ControlNot AvailableStandard
Head-Up DisplayNot AvailableNot Available
Power Mirror(s)StandardStandard
Automatic ParkingNot AvailableNot Available
Navigation SystemNot AvailableStandard
Power Driver SeatNot AvailableStandard
Cooled Rear Seat(s)Not AvailableNot Available
Hands-Free LiftgateNot AvailableNot Available
Heated Rear Seat(s)Not AvailableNot Available
Remote Engine StartStandardStandard
Cooled Front Seat(s)Not AvailableNot Available
Heated Front Seat(s)Not AvailableStandard
Power Passenger SeatNot AvailableStandard
Remote Trunk ReleaseStandardNot Available
Heated Steering WheelNot AvailableNot Available
Adaptive Cruise ControlNot AvailableStandard
Navigation from TelematicsNot AvailableNot Available
Universal Garage Door OpenerNot AvailableNot Available
Steering Wheel Audio ControlsStandardStandard
Safety Features
Brake AssistStandardStandard
Night VisionNot AvailableNot Available
Rear Parking AidOptionalStandard
Traction ControlStandardStandard
Stability ControlStandardStandard
Blind Spot MonitorOptionalNot Available
Cross-Traffic AlertNot AvailableNot Available
Lane Keeping AssistNot AvailableNot Available
Tire Pressure MonitorStandardStandard
Lane Departure WarningStandardNot Available
Knee Air BagStandardStandard
Driver Air BagStandardStandard
Seatbelt Air BagNot AvailableNot Available
Passenger Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Head Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Side Air BagStandardStandard
Front Head Air BagStandardStandard
Front Side Air BagStandardStandard
Basic3 Years / 36,000 Miles3 Years / 36,000 Miles
Corrosion5 Years / Unlimited Miles5 Years / Unlimited Miles
Drivetrain5 Years / 60,000 Miles5 Years / 60,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance3 Years / 36,000 Miles3 Years / 36,000 Miles