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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|2022 Nissan Altima||2022 Nissan Maxima|
|Engine||2.5L Inline-4 Gas||3.5L V6 Gas|
|Horsepower||188 hp @ 6000 rpm||300 hp @ 6400 rpm|
|Torque||180 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm||261 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm|
|Transmission||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)|
|Drivetrain||Front-Wheel Drive||Front-Wheel Drive|
|Rear Wheel Size||P215/60HR16||P245/45VR18|
|Front Wheel Size||P215/60HR16||P245/45VR18|
|Turning Diameter (ft.)||36.1||-|
|MPG/MPGe - Hwy||39||30|
|MPG/MPGe - City||28||20|
|MPG/MPGe - Combined||32||24|
|Gas Tank Size (gallons)||16.2||18.0|
|Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)||631.8||540.0|
|Size and Weight|
|Max Width (in.)||72.9||73.2|
|Trunk Volume (cu. ft.)||15.4||14.3|
|Front Seat Leg Room (in.)||43.8||45.0|
|Front Seat Head Room (in.)||39.2||39.4|
|Front Seat Hip Room (in.)||54.7||54.2|
|Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||58.2||56.7|
|Rear Seat Leg room (in.)||35.2||34.2|
|Rear Seat Head Room (in.)||36.9||36.7|
|Rear Seat Hip Room (in.)||54.5||53.5|
|Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||57.1||55.7|
|HD Radio||Not Available||Not Available|
|WiFi Hotspot||Not Available||Not Available|
|Satellite Radio||Not Available||Standard|
|Entertainment System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Premium Sound System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Auxiliary Audio Input||Standard||Standard|
|Smart Device Integration||Not Available||Standard|
|Hard Disk Drive Media Storage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Vinyl Seats||Not Available||Standard|
|Leather Seats||Not Available||Standard|
|Premium Synthetic Seats||Not Available||Standard|
|Sun/Moonroof||Not Available||Not Available|
|Leather Steering Wheel||Not Available||Standard|
|Woodgrain Interior Trim||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Telematics||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat Memory||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat-Massage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Multi-Zone A/C||Not Available||Standard|
|Power Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Climate Control||Not Available||Standard|
|Head-Up Display||Not Available||Not Available|
|Automatic Parking||Not Available||Not Available|
|Navigation System||Not Available||Standard|
|Power Driver Seat||Not Available||Standard|
|Cooled Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Hands-Free Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Remote Engine Start||Standard||Standard|
|Cooled Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Standard|
|Power Passenger Seat||Not Available||Standard|
|Remote Trunk Release||Standard||Not Available|
|Heated Steering Wheel||Not Available||Not Available|
|Adaptive Cruise Control||Not Available||Standard|
|Navigation from Telematics||Not Available||Not Available|
|Universal Garage Door Opener||Not Available||Not Available|
|Steering Wheel Audio Controls||Standard||Standard|
|Night Vision||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear Parking Aid||Optional||Standard|
|Blind Spot Monitor||Optional||Not Available|
|Cross-Traffic Alert||Not Available||Not Available|
|Lane Keeping Assist||Not Available||Not Available|
|Tire Pressure Monitor||Standard||Standard|
|Lane Departure Warning||Standard||Not Available|
|Knee Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Driver Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Seatbelt Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Passenger Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Basic||3 Years / 36,000 Miles||3 Years / 36,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||5 Years / Unlimited Miles||5 Years / Unlimited Miles|
|Drivetrain||5 Years / 60,000 Miles||5 Years / 60,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||3 Years / 36,000 Miles||3 Years / 36,000 Miles|