Difference Between Altima and Maxima


Nissan Altima and Nissan Maxima are known and prominent models of Nissan. Both have been options of choice for motorists interested in sedans since the 1990s (although, technically, the Maxima first came to prominence during the 1980s as the Datsun 810), and have since become staples for their respective niche markets. Surprisingly, most non-enthusiasts are unaware of the subtle differences between the Altima and Maxima, since they are both relatively similar-sized sedans made by the same company.

The Nissan Altima is a family sedan that can seat up to five passengers comfortably. It has been credited with excellent handling and overall performance, which are its main selling points. Power is also one of its distinguishing features, thanks to the options available at purchase. The Altima is no slouch in the presentation department either, with the standard or coupe variant available. The most recent generation (fourth, to be exact) from 2007 (with the coupe debuting a year later) is little different from its predecessors. It has the standard 3.5-litre 175bhp engine, which can be optionally upgraded to the more powerful 3.5-litre V6. The latter’s more aggressive engine can do 0-60 in 6 seconds, which is quite unusual for a family sedan.

Transmission options include a manual, a six-speed version, or the much more preferred Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The preference between the transmission options is entirely based on the customer’s choice, since the first one is very difficult (or at least unwieldy) to operate. As expected of a family sedan, the Nissan Altima offers ample space for an average group, although the latest generation is a bit smaller than its predecessors. The latest 2010 version includes hardware upgrades, ranging from an iPod dock, a better sound system and GPRS navigation. To save fuel, the Altima gets 20 miles per gallon (city, 27 highway). Additionally, the Altima offers a hybrid model that can get up to 35 miles per gallon. The price of the Altima is around $20,000 to $30,000.

2009 Nissan Maxima

The Nissan Maxima, on the other hand, had its seventh generation launched in 2009. Originally tagged as the Datsun 810, it was rebadged as the Maxima in the early 1980s. The Maxima is a front-wheel drive midsize sedan, and it comes with the 3.5-liter V6 engine as standard, which can churn out 290 hp. It also comes with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) as standard for the model. Maxima has larger internal space than the Altima, and the base model has standard amenities and safety features. However, the SV models have more luxurious accommodations.

Regardless of the model chosen, there are multiple options available for entertainment, navigation and security systems. Highlights include a Bose speaker system, an iPod interface, a rear-view camera, and voice navigation systems. It also has a very sturdy suspension compared to others of its kind. Fuel efficiency for the latest Maxima clocks in at 19 miles per gallon (city, about 26 for highway trips). The standard Maxima price range is about $30,000 to $35,000.


1. The Altima has a 3.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that pumps out 175 hp; The standard Maxima model has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower. However, if the buyer requests it, the Altima can also be equipped with the latter.
2. Altima has a choice of 6-speed manual transmission or CVT; The Maxima comes standard with a CVT.
3. The Maxima has roomier and more spacious interiors; Altima offers a hybrid model for better fuel efficiency, though there’s very little difference between the base miles per gallon (mpg) of the two.
4. The Altima is relatively cheaper, with the standard model running about $5,000 cheaper than the base Maxima option.

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