It doesn’t take an expert to understand that the sedan market is in a freefall. Consumers continue to purchase utility vehicles in record numbers, thus sedan models are disappearing. Nissan, though, remains bullish on it four-door cars, offering not one, but two midsize models. The Altima is the standard model, while the Maxima is a premium sedan with near-luxury aspirations. We’ll compare the two then conclude with our verdict.
2023 Nissan Altima and 2023 Nissan Maxima
Introduced for the 1993 model year, the Nissan Altima originally was known as the Stanza Altima, keeping its previous name before dropping it completely a few years later. Upon its introduction, the Altima was a compact sedan, then moved up to midsize status from 1998 forward. About the same time, the subcompact Sentra was overhauled and expanded, replacing the Altima as Nissan’s compact from 1999 forward. During its fourth generation (2007-2013), a coupe version joined the sedan, then disappeared with the next update. But throughout the Altima’s six-generation run, a sedan has always represented this model line.
The Nissan Maxima has an even older pedigree, debuting in 1981 as the Datsun Maxima, itself based on the Datsun 810. When Nissan finally replaced Datsun in 1984 as the brand for America and the world, the Nissan Maxima asserted its rightful place in the market. Initially, the Maxima was offered in four-door sedan and five-door wagon configurations. It was also front-engine, rear-wheel drive, before switching to front-wheel drive from 1985 on. The Maxima grew from a midsize model to full size by its seventh generation, but shrunk slightly starting in 2008 with its seventh generation.
Exterior Styling Elements
The Altima far outsells the Maxima, thus it is subject to many more overhauls and updates than the Maxima, especially in recent years. Both models are sporty, although it is the Maxima that’s inscribed with 4DSC etching, including on the headlights. The terms stands for “four-door sports car,” a term used early on, then resurrected in 2016 with the release of the eight-generation model.
Nissan imbues the Altima with a horse-collar grille, a look that identifies modern Nissan models. The Maxima, too, has a unique V-shaped grille, a designed edged with brightwork trim. Where the Altima stands upright, the Maxima has a flatter roof and a more muscular and squat appearance overall. Its distinctive beltline kicks up near the rear, giving this sedan a “floating roof” vibe. The Maxima also has the edge in exterior trim with more sophisticated colors, upscale wheels, and enhanced lighting choices.
Room for Five
Both midsize Nissan sedan hold five adults with ease. Legroom, though, is better in the Altima as it has a two-inch edge in its wheelbase, translating to more room in the rear passenger compartment.
The Altima is dressed in soft-touch materials, brightwork trim, and dark plastic pieces. Fabric-covered seats come standard, while leather-trimmed seats are reserved for the top trim. On the other hand, the Maxima comes with standard leather seats with available alcantara inserts and quilted leather available. Further, the Maxima offers more high-end materials throughout the cabin, including aluminum touchpoints. The pattern, though, seems dated even if it seems Infiniti’s designers may have been involved.
Both Nissan midsize sedans come with a standard 8-inch touchscreen display. However, a 12.3-inch touchscreen display is optional on all but the base Altima model, but it’s standard on the top grade. The Altima has a standard 6-speaker audio package or an available 9-speaker Bose package. As for the Maxima, this model comes with an 8-speaker audio system or an available 11-speaker Bose system.
The duo also come with the usual contingent of tech enhancements. These include Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Curiously, neither model offers a head-up display.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognized both models with its Top Safety Pick+ award for 2022, its highest rating. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assigns its top five-star rating to the duo.
All models and trims come with automatic emergency braking front and rear, blind-spot monitoring, and a driver-attention monitor. The Maxima adds active lane control and adaptive cruise control.
The 2023 Altima comes with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or an available 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Meanwhile, the Maxima comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine only. All three engines work with a continuously variable transmission.
The standard Altima engine earns upwards of 188 horsepower, while the turbo puts down upwards of 248 horsepower, but only when fueled with premium grade gasoline. As for the V6, this engine puts down an even 300 horsepower.
Engines make a difference in most models, thus the Maxima’s V6 easily outperforms the Altima’s base engine while still maintaining a healthy edge over the available turbo. Notably, the Altima’s turbo is the same variable compression ratio engine offered in various other Nissan and Infiniti models. It accelerates marginally better than the base engine while sipping more fuel and premium grade at that.
Only the Altima offers available all-wheel drive and that’s limited to the base engine. Otherwise, both models rely on torque vectoring technology to mitigate torque. Specifically, the moment there is a slight nudge to the steering wheel, a counterforce redirects steering according to Auto Trends Magazine.
The Altima is priced $13,000 less than the Maxima. It has more interior room, a slightly larger trunk, and offers available all-wheel drive. For budget-minded consumers, we believe it offers a better choice. What the Maxima does offer, though, is a more sophisticated design with upscale touches that seem influenced by Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand. The V6 engine is strong and willing, although it loses some of its gusto due to the CVT. We believe a well-equipped Altima is a better deal than the Maxima, thus our pick goes with the best seller here.
Padgett, M. (2022, June 9). 2023 Nissan Altima. The Car Connection.
Sayles, J. (2022, November 2). 2023 Nissan Maxima Review. U.S. News.
Keegan, M. (2016, January 8). Second Look: 2016 Nissan Maxima. Auto Trends Magazine.
2023 Nissan Altima & Nissan Maxima Specifications
|Segment||Midsize Sedan||Segment||Midsize Sedan|
|Price Range||$25,490 to $35,190||Price Range||$38,340 to $44,450|
|Destination Charge||$1,095||Destination Charge||$1,095|
|Drivetrain||Front engine, front- or all-wheel drive||Drivetrain||Front engine, front-wheel drive|
|Engine No. 1||2.5-liter I4||Engine No. 1||3.5-liter V6|
|Horsepower||182/188 @ 6,000 rpm||Horsepower||300 @ 6,400 rpm|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||178/180 @ 3,600 to 4,000 rpm||Torque (lb.-ft.)||261 @ 4,400 rpm|
|Bore x Stroke (in.)||3.50 x 3.94||Bore x Stroke (in.)||3.76 x 3.20|
|Compression Ratio||12.0:1||Compression Ratio||10.0:6|
|Engine No. 2||2.0-liter Turbo I4||Engine No. 2||None|
|Horsepower||236/248 @ 5,600 rpm||Horsepower||N/A|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||267/273 @ 4,000 rpm||Torque (lb.-ft.)||N/A|
|Bore x Stroke (in.)||3.31 x 3.55/3.50||Bore x Stroke (inches/mm)||N/A|
|Compression Ratio||8.0 – 14.0:1||Compression Ratio||N/A|
|Curb Weight (pounds)||3,244 to 3,456||Curb Weight (pounds)||3,608 to 3,730|
|Wheelbase (inches)||111.2||Wheelbase (inches)||109.3|
|Length (inches)||192.9||Length (inches)||192.8|
|Width (inches)||72.9||Width (inches)||73.2|
|Height (inches)||56.8||Height (inches)||56.5|
|Headroom (f,r…inches)||38.0/36.7||Headroom (f,r…inches)||39.4/36.7|
|Legroom (f,r…inches)||43.8, 35.2||Legroom (f,r…inches)||45.0, 34.2|
|Shoulder room (f,r…inches)||58.2, 57.1||Shoulder room (f,r…inches)||56.7, 55.7|
|Hip room (f,r…inches)||54.7, 54.5||Hip room (f,r…inches)||54.2,53.5|
|Cargo Storage||15.4||Cargo Storage||14.3|
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)||4,482||Gross vehicle weight (pounds)||4,685|
|Towing (pounds)||500 to 1,000||Towing (pounds)||2,240|
|Payload (pounds)||N/A||Payload (pounds)||N/A|
|Fuel||Regular or Premium||Fuel||Premium|
|Fuel Tank (gallons)||16.0/16.2||Fuel Tank (gallons)||18.0|
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined)||25/34/29 to 27/39/32||EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined)||20/30/24|
|Manufacturing Plant||Smyrna, Tenn. & Canton Miss.||Manufacturing Plant||Smyrna, Tenn.|
See Also — By the Numbers: 2022 Nissan Altima
Photos courtesy of Nissan North America, Inc.